Tag Archive - next step

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[Repost] How to get Easter Guests to Come Back to your Church

A couple of years ago I wrote a post on how to get guests who come to Easter services at your church to come back to your church. It went on to be one of the top 10 most popular posts on my blog that year. With Easter weekend coming up I thought I’d share it with you again in an effort to help you think through any last minute opportunities to leverage Easter to its fullest at your church and help guests come back.

In a couple of days churches all across the country are going to be hosting guests at their Easter services, hoping they say yes to following Jesus, and hoping that they come back the next week and get connected in the life of their church. I hope that happens too. But hope is not a strategy.

Here’s a couple of ideas that should help you develop a strategy to keep those guests coming back well after Easter.

1. Help Guests Self-Identify

Instead of head hunting for guests, create simple ways for guests to let you know that they are there. Guest parking, children’s check-in, a physical guest services location, and a communication card located in your church program or bulletin are all simple ways to create avenues for guests to let you know they are there, when they’re ready to let you know.

2. Don’t Spam People

Please don’t show up on people’s doorstep or bombard them with multiple emails and letters the week following Easter. Many of the companies out there that are the best at guest services don’t overtly pursue guests. Rather they are available to guests and their needs when their guests engage them and express a need.

3. Make the Next Step Easy

People come to church on Easter for all kinds of reasons, but they’ll stay at a church because of relationships and responsibility. What is the one, clear, simple, and easy step you want all of your guests to take…and why should they take it? How are you going to get guests quickly and easily connected to relationships and responsibility at your church?

4. The More Personal the Better

Instead of sending the same generic follow up letter to everyone make it personal. If guests are giving you personal information such as their name and the names of their children, and if someone is personally greeting them and hosting them then reach out to them in the same personal manner. Why not have the person that greeted them and hosted them write a hand-written card thanking them for being a guest at your church and that they’re looking forward to seeing them again next week.


Posted in Leadership

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7 Things All Growing Churches Have in Common

Once a month at Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the privilege of serving at) we gather all of our staff from all of our campuses to have some fun, celebrate wins, keep everybody on the same page and often times do some leadership development training. Last week Chad Moore, who serves as the Lead Pastor at Sun Valley shared 7 Things that All Growing Churches have in Common…I thought these may be helpful to you in your local church context…

  • Church is not a building that you come to it’s a movement that you choose to be a part of to help people meet know and follow Jesus.
  • You can’t come to church because you are the church.
  • To get the right answers about church you have to ask the right questions.
  • The book of acts is all about how the early church acted

1. Passionate and Proficient leaders

The starting point for any movement is highly competent leaders who are deeply committed leaders to the cause. Without highly competent leaders the church will prematurely hit a leadership capacity lid. Without deeply committed leaders the church will be stunted due to leadership turnover when things get too difficult.

2. Clearly Defined Vision and Goals

Jesus gave the early Church a clear vision to get this movement going in Acts 1:8, we don’t have to make up the mission (why we exist) of the church. But we do get to lean into the vision (where we are going next) of the church. Most churches just say things like, “We are just going to follow the Spirit.” Which sounds really spiritual but is usually code for, “We don’t know where we’re going or what we’re doing.” Most churches forget that planning is spiritual, Proverbs is in the Bible too and God has a plan…He’s not just winging it. Hope is not a strategy; if you don’t have a target you’ll hit it every time.

3. Culture that Supports the Vision and Strategy

Culture is the soft squishy stuff that most organizations have a difficult time clearly defining. Culture is how the people in the organization think, feel, what they value, and how they actually behave. Regardless of what’s written on the wall, it’s what’s happening down the hall. Of all the things that a leader does the most important is what the leader does to protect and fuel the culture.

4. A Strong Communicating Leader (cultural architect)

The early church had Peter and Paul (among others). Contrary to popular belief in church-world; teaching on the weekends is not the most important thing we’re doing. The most important thing we’re doing is building culture and we’re using the Bible to reinforce and build this movement called the church. The primary purpose of the pulpit is not teaching, it’s leading.

5. Generous, Consistent Giving

When I first started giving I was nervous to do it, now I’m nervous not to do it. 2 common barriers that hold back the movement of the church are leaders and money. It is the leaders responsibility to not just develop leaders but also develop generosity in the heart of the church to fuel the vision.

6. Passionate and Proficient Next Step Leaders

Growing churches must have people on the team who are great at helping people take their next step with Jesus. The ministry of Jesus can be broken down into 4 categories:

  • Come & See: The woman at the well (John 4)…”come and see a man who knew all about me, could He be the Messiah”
  • Follow Me: This is a line in the sand (John 6)…you’re either going to follow Jesus or you’re not
  • Be with Me: Up close and over time…this is Jesus and the disciples
  • Remain in Me: This person knows the Bible, can read it and apply it on his or her own and lead others (John 15)

Preaching can only do the first two. Next Steps are the next two. The first two are message and mission. The last two are relationship and responsibility.

7. Unapologetic Focus on Evangelism

At the end of the day the church is all about helping people meet Jesus. Growing churches make decisions based on whom they are trying to reach, not whom they are trying to keep.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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A New Leadership Podcast I’m Listening To

There are literally dozens of excellent podcasts you can subscribe to for insights from well-known pastors, authors and leaders. If you’re already listening and learning from some of those podcasts I think you should probably keep listening to them.

For this new podcast, we wanted to offer you a chance to learn from pastors just like you who are taking significant steps to get unstuck. The team at the Unstuck Group is in hundreds of churches each year, of all different sizes and denominations. I think we have a unique perspective and unique access to stories that will both encourage and challenge you right where you are now.

In each episode of The Leadership Unstuck Podcast, we’re going to share three things:

1) Insights from Pastors

We will interview pastors about specific challenges and wins they’ve experienced in aspects of church leadership we believe are essential for getting unstuck.

2) Practical Next Steps

We’ll build on the same topic in a practical conversation with members of The Unstuck Group team to give you ideas for your next steps.

3) Laughs

We’re going to have some fun… because you need to laugh more.

Our aim with this is to bring you stories you can relate to that inspire hope. But we also know hope alone is not a strategy, so we’ll always take the conversation to practical next steps.

We can’t wait to get these first episodes out to you. We’re working hard and should have them out on iTunes and Google Play this month.

Opt-in here, and we’ll email you the links to the first two episodes as soon as we release them.


Posted in Leadership

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Top 10 Reasons Churches get Stuck

For more than 18 years I’ve been working full-time in a local church setting. The last 13 of those have been in large mega-church and multi-site settings. I’ve had the unique opportunity to work with an incredible team of people at a the Unstuck Group a successful consulting firm specializing in helping churches get unstuck. Over this span of time I’ve seen churches get and stay stuck for all kinds of reasons but there are 10 catalysts for church stuckness that I see come up over and over again. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Insider Focus

Alright so I said these weren’t in any particular order, well that’s mostly true. All except for this one. The most common area where I see churches get stuck is this issue of being insider focused. And it’s rooted in this fundamental question, “What is the church for?” I feel like I write about this topic a lot so I won’t regurgitate it here, just search “insider focus” in the search bar to your right and you’ll get a grocery list of stuff. Bottom line is a majority of churches that are stuck get that way and stay that way because they’re focused on insiders instead of outsiders. They would resist that diagnosis and the label, but they’re practices, language, guest services (or lack thereof), and low number of annual conversations and baptisms tell a different story.

2. Staffing and Structure

There are very common growth barriers that churches hit and get stuck at. A start up church that is setting up and tearing down in rented space, the medium sized church, the megachurch and multisite church aren’t different in size or economies of scale. They are completely different organizations. To get through these barriers and stay past these barriers takes more than momentum it takes changing the staffing and organizational structure of the church, and often times the way the Church Board operates in relationship to the staff. Do you have a staffing plan to get you where you want to go? Do you know what structure best fits your size and strategies?

3. Misalignment

A majority of churches do not organize around a central vision. Many don’t have a clearly stated, meaningful, actionable, and relevant mission statement, vision statement, or organizational values. Or if they do they’re on a piece of paper in a drawer somewhere. It’s the rare church that actually organizes the staffing strategy, budgeting process, ministry calendar, weekend teaching schedule, and communication strategies to synergistically move the whole church in a particular direction. There is no clear plan to move from where they are to where God wants them to be. And a failure to plan is planning to fail.

4. Leadership

I love what Bill Hybles, the Sr. Pastor at Willow Creek has said about leadership, “Everyone gets better when the leader gets better.” A leader can be the lid on a church. In other words, sometimes churches get stuck because the leader is stuck. And it’s one thing to get stuck and a whole other thing to stay stuck. Leaders need to invest in their own leadership gifts and keep growing or they’ll end up being the reason the church gets stuck.

5. Teaching

So I may be about to get some speaking pastors a bit upset. But speaking/preaching is a gift. Not everyone has it. Right? The other truth is not everyone who has a preaching gift has that gift given in the same amount. There are some that are simply great preachers. And guess what. Mediocre teaching, even good solid teaching is a barrier to growth and can lead to stuckness if great teaching isn’t developed or hired. Your church may be stuck because the teaching is stuck.

6. Weekend Experience

A lot of ministry segment leaders aren’t going to like what I’m about to say here, but it’s true, even if you don’t like it. In North America, it’s all about the weekend experience. That total street to seat experience that people have when they come to your church. It’s why your children’s ministry is growing (kids don’t drive themselves to church because they like the crafts that much), it’s why people say things like, “I’m not sure what it is but there is something special going on here.” New people bring new people when the weekend experience is going well. But when it’s stuck, there are no new people.

7. Volunteers

I rarely come across a church that says they have all the volunteers they need. I also rarely come across a church that makes it easy for people to get connected and start volunteering and they view volunteering as a part of the discipleship process. Meaning that when you serve you are actually becoming more like Jesus. In most churches the same people are still doing everything that they’ve always done. And until things change, nothing is going to change.

8. Finances

Many churches are stuck because of finances. Some are over extended in debt with no clear plan to pay it off. Many don’t have and haven’t thought through a clear strategy to engage the givers in their churches. Few have a clear and effective budgeting process, much less know what financial health looks like in a church setting. Many don’t teach about generosity for fear of sounding like all they care about is money. Your church doesn’t have a generous culture and as a result the Kingdom isn’t taking the ground that it should be. If you don’t have a clear plan to manage today’s resources for tomorrow, your church is probably stuck financially.

9. The Past

I commonly see churches that are still enamored with past practices and ministry programs that worked years ago to connect new people to Jesus, but now only serve to keep the committed comfortable. Most churches don’t know how to gracefully put old ministry programs out to pasture. Unfortunately as a result those same churches continue to engage in ministry practices that were successful in the past but keep them from being successful in the future.

10. Next Steps

Many churches haven’t defined next steps for people who are attending their church. What is the next step coming out of a sermon? Now that I’ve attended for the first time as a guest, what do I do now? How do I get into a Bible Study? How do I get involved volunteering? How do I financially contribute? Has your church defined the win regarding spiritual maturity and what you hope people will look like, and have you clearly charted a road map to help them get there?

What are some other reasons you’ve seen churches get stuck? What would you add to the list?

Does this list resonate with you? Is your church stuck in one or more of these areas? It might be worth a conversation with the Unstuck Group, we specialize in helping churches get unstuck!

Photo Credit: tricky (rick harrison) via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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Why Churches Refuse to Change

In the “real world,” change is normal, it’s expected, and it’s even celebrated! When your team wins the Super Bowl no one ever looks around and complains about the stadium being too full. When your business takes ground and expands no one ever complains about experiencing success. When a new child is born into a family no grandparent complains about having to buy more Christmas presents. Change like this is celebrated. So much so, that we go around and show pictures of our new grandchild to everyone, we leverage the success of our business, and we buy t-shirts and other paraphernalia from the winning football team.

In the church it’s different. Even if it means growing, reaching more people, planting a new church, taking a risk, or even simply making the right change so that the church can be more effective with it’s mission; most churches avoid change like the plague. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Avoiding the Brutal Facts

Most churches would rather avoid reality by ignoring it, or explaining it away than dealing with it head on. Dealing with it would mean having to take ownership and responsibility.

2. Trapped by Past Practices

Many churches have been doing the same things methodologically for so long that people have fallen in love with methods instead of the message. What worked years ago in reaching people now works to keep people. And changing things up to reach new people creates fear in the hearts of many leaders about who they might lose instead of excitement about who they may reach.

3. Unclear about Next Steps

Some churches want to change. They want to move forward, they want to reach new people with the Gospel. They just don’t know what to do next. If this is you I’d like to encourage you to check out the Ministry Health Assessment that we offer at the Unstuck Group. We can help you understand your current reality and identify next steps.

4. Leadership Lacks Courage

The tough thing about leadership is that eventually you have to lead. It takes real courage to receive criticism (some of it fanatical) and keep moving in the direction the Lord has asked you to go.

5. The Weekend Happens…well…Every Weekend

It’s the tyranny of the urgent. It’s hard to rebuild a plane while it’s in flight. You can’t just shut the church down while you work on it. You’ve got to learn to be an incessant tinkerer. Consistently improving things as you go. While it’s difficult to take energy away from the weekend, you’ve got to figure out how to spend time working on your work (organizational health) and still get the weekends done.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about why churches refuse to change! Leave a comment!


Posted in Leadership