Tag Archive - outisder

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5 Core Behaviors of Churches that get Unstuck

Churches all across America are stuck. Large churches, small churches, old churches, new churches, Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Nazarene churches, Presbyterian church and even non-denominational churches are stuck. Stuckness is no respecter of the “brand” or “flavor” of the church. It happens to all kinds of churches. Lead long enough in a church and it will happen to you.  In fact Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources has stated in his research that:

“Eight out of ten of the approximately 400,000 churches in the United States are declining or have plateaued.”

Churches get stuck for all kinds of reasons but there are a handful of core behaviors that I see over and over again in churches get unstuck.

1. They’re Outsider Focused

They’re consumed with the idea that the need for the Gospel in their community is greater than their capacity to meet it. And so they’re willing to go to extraordinary measures to bring people far from Jesus close to Him. So much so that their posture is towards those outside of the faith rather than those inside of the faith. They consistently make choices based on who they’re going to reach rather than who they’re going to keep.

2. They have a Strong Organizational Culture

They are clear about their vision, they know where they’re going. But it’s not just that they have some aspirational idea about where they think God wants them to be one day they actually have a clear plan to get where they’re going and they methodically work the plan. They’ve done the hard work of defining their leadership culture, and values, and aligning every ministry of the church to move in one singular direction.

3. They Develop People

They don’t pay everyone in the church to do ministry, instead they typically have a pretty lean staff (a ratio of 1:100+) and pay those staff to invest in and develop volunteers. They identify young leaders and give them real responsibility to make real decisions and own the ministry. Actually be the church instead of just come to church.

4. They view Spiritual Maturity Differently than most

They don’t view spiritual maturity as something that happens in a classroom. It’s not about content but rather your behavior. In other words it’s not so much what you know, it’s what you do with what you know. Ironically enough, that’s the same way Jesus defined it. They’ve also mapped out a clear pathway for people to run on. The moment they say yes to following Jesus there is a series of clear next steps for them to take to move forward with Jesus.

5. They’re Courageously Humble

The posture of their leadership is a humble confidence. They’re life long learners and incessant tinkerers. Willing to learn from anyone from any industry and any size organization. They’re not afraid to ask for help, even outsiders. They lead in their area of brilliance and submit in areas of weakness. They’re willing to confront the brutal facts and listen to the truth, even when it’s not pretty.

Does your church need help getting unstuck in 2015?  The Unstuck Group can help, follow this link to learn how.

Photo Credit: Lachlan Hardy via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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Top Posts of 2013 #1: “10 Insider Focused Ministry Names”

This post generated the most traffic on Helping Churches Make Vision Real this year. Mainly because church-people did a Google search for ministry names and stumbled across this post. I sure bet they were surprised.

The language we choose to use is important because it both reflects and builds culture at the same time.  And one of the most obvious ways to tell if a church is insider focused or outsider focused is the language that they choose to use. It either says that the church is “inclusive” or “exclusive.”

In helping churches get unstuck and make vision real I’ve run across a number of insider focused ministry names. In fact here’s a link to a post with a free tool that you can use as you begin to evaluate your own ministry names and language you’re using in your church. Remember it’s always more important to be clear than clever. Here’s a quick list of 10 insider focused ministry names to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

Nation2Nine: A Young Adult Ministry in a church targeting people age 20-29. While it may be clear to people inside the church what this is, it doesn’t say anything to people outside of the church.

Romeo: “Real Old Men Eating Out,” a once a week gathering of old men who eat out together and talk about God’s Word together. Acronyms are the quintessential example of insider language. If your name or brand needs an explanation it’s not clear enough.

Men on Fire: A Men’s Ministry at a church. The only problem is people outside of the church don’t think the same way or have the same filter as people inside the church. While “church people” notoriously talk about being “on fire” for Jesus, that brand may elude to something different in the minds of people outside of the church.

Chicks with Sticks: A Quilting Ministry in a church. Yes this is real. This one came from one of the participants from a recent Leadership Coaching Network that I led. It was too good not to include in this list. Let’s just say people outside of the church aren’t thinking the same things as people inside of the church when they see this ministry name.

Girlfriends Unlimited: A Women’s Ministry in a church. Again while this may be clear to people inside the church any single 20-something young man is going to sign up for this one in a heartbeat. What young man who doesn’t know Jesus doesn’t want to sign up for unlimited girlfriends?

XYZ: “Extra Years of Zest,” a ministry to Senior Adults. This is another example of an acronym that doesn’t mean anything to anyone who isn’t an insider.

Body Builders: A Bible Study at a church. It may seem cute but when an outsider sees that name they’re probably going to be asking you where the gym is.

MOPS: “Mothers of Preschoolers,” a ministry to mothers of preschoolers…or is it a cleaning ministry? Again…acronyms are dangerous.

Equally Yoked: A Marriage Ministry at a church…or an egg ministry. Outsiders have no idea what the scriptures say so be careful about using Biblical names like this.

JAM: “Jesus and Me,” the name of a Student Ministry at a church…cute…just not clear.


Posted in Leadership