Tag Archive - simple


Why Churches Don’t Grow: #4 Complexity is Constricting

This week we’ll be wrapping up a series of blog posts about the 5 key contributors that lead to 80% of churches in America being stuck or in decline. These key contributors have been observed repeatedly in our work with churches at the Unstuck Group. And while churches get stuck and decline for all kinds of reasons, these 5 key contributors are more often than not to blame.

If you lead well enough, partnering with the Holy Spirit, over an extended period of time and your church grows then eventually you’re going to be leading a less nimble and more complex organization than you ever intended. It’s exciting when you’re adding staff, adding ministries, building buildings, and more and more people are showing up. But it’s not as exciting when things get really complex and the fun stops and growth begins to slow down. You know complexity is constricting growth when you experience the following:

1. Decision-Making Slows Down

Complexity can slow decision-making, and when decision-making slows progress slows and momentum fades. Structures that supported you and helped you when you were smaller in size can actually be a lid to growth later. For instance I commonly see smaller churches have a Staff Team that implements day-to-day ministry, an Elder Board that is supposed to be thinking about the future and living at a 30,000 foot view, and a Board of Directors that is responsible for the physical assets of the church property, finances, and often times HR as well. While that structure can serve you well when the church is smaller it becomes a nightmare to try and get everyone on the same page and make decisions in a timely manner as the church grows.

2. Unable to Set and Meet Goals

Another symptom that complexity is constricting growth is the inability to set and meet goals in a timely manner. If you’re unable to agree upon what the next steps are you’ve got a complexity issue. If there’s a gap between goals that are agreed to and then what’s actually acted upon and accomplished, you’ve got a complexity issue.

3. Cross Communication

When team members receive a different set of instructions from different leaders on the team there is a complexity issue. Mixed messages and conflicting sets of instructions can be frustrating to a team and are a symptom that complexity is constricting growth at your church.

4. Confusion

When people don’t know what to do next complexity is constricting growth. Clarity not only combats confusion but is the antidote to complexity. Putting the right systems in place help provide clarity as to what we need to do next to get where we want to go.

5. Running in Quicksand

Ever feel like you were running in quicksand? Ever feel like you’re expending a lot of energy but you’re just not getting anywhere? Not only are you stuck but it’s actually getting worse, you’re sinking. It’s possible to have so many systems and policies in place that the complexity of it all kills you. Policies are not the goal. The vision is the goal. All of your structures, policies and systems should be designed to get you there. If they don’t, then get rid of them.

Photo Credit: abbey*christine via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership


Chick-fil-A Leadercast 2013

If you missed the 2013 Chick-fil-A Leadercast, then you missed some great content, great speakers, and incredible ideas that have the potential to shift your thinking when it comes to leadership. But no worries! Now you’ve got all the notes to every session right here at your fingertips for free! Hope you enjoy!

1. Leadership Made Simple

Andy Stanley, Author and Lead Pastor at North Point Community Church walked through the fact that growth creates complexity which requires simplicity and taught 3 key questions that need to be answered to simplify leadership.

2. The Power of Focus

David Allen was named Forbes’ Top 5 Executive Coach and author of “Getting Things Done.” Crisis evokes focus on a very specific outcome which charts your course of action.

3. Necessary Endings

Dr. Henry Cloud, best selling author and leadership consultant tackles the psychology behind the work we do and what keeps us from simplifying things in the workplace.

4. The Difference between Simple and Simplistic

John Maxwell, best selling author and leadership expert walks through the differences between being simple and simplistic.

5. Getting High Performing Leaders to Work Together

Duke University and Olympic Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski talked about getting high performers to work together on a team to get great results.

6. An Interview with Leadership Giant Jack Welch

Any time you get to learn first hand from a leader like Jack Welch it’s gold…and this interview was no exception. Here are some of my notes from  Fortune Magazine’s Manager of the Century, Jack Welch.

Posted in Leadership


Taking Steps to Make Vision Real

Typically churches aren’t stuck when it comes to the mission. Fortunately we don’t have to search very far in the Scriptures to discover God’s intent for the church to reach the nations. However where churches are notorious for being stuck is what comes next. Understanding and developing the steps that are necessary to take in order to make that vision reality. This is where strong leadership is needed. The task of leadership is to break a complicated process of moving from where you are to where God wants you to be into clear, simple, easy, natural steps that make vision real.


If what you’re asking people to do is confusing, chances are they’ll move in a different direction than you intend for them to, or worse they won’t move at all. Your idea and message may seem obvious and clear to you, but it doesn’t matter how clear it is in your mind. You’ve got to figure out a way to make it clear to the people you want to take the step.


If you want people to take a step that will move them and the organization in a preferred direction then it can’t be complicated. If you’ve ever put together IKEA furniture then you understand what I mean. It’s amazing how they can fit a 6×6 entertainment center in a box the size of a Rubix Cube, and for some reason there always seems to be parts left over! The best and quickest process is always a one step process.


Let me be clear. By no means am I saying that helping people take steps towards making vision real is easy in the sense that it is painless, peaceful, or comfortable. Moving people towards a preferred future vision of reality (change) by its very nature is difficult and painful. Rather I’m asserting that easy solutions to complex problems lead to movement.


If you are intentional in forming the culture of the organization then you will be creating an environment that tells people where they should naturally move towards and how they should behave. People should begin to see it as the natural obvious step they should move towards.

Posted in Leadership


5 reasons why your bridge event is leading people nowhere

How do we get from here, to there? From where we are, to where we want to be? And how do we get people to go with us? The best process is always a one step process. As a result of that compact truth, companies and churches have been intent on pursuing the elegance of simplicity. Unfortunately what many well-meaning leaders have designed to be clear steps and bridges to move people and the organizations they lead towards a preferred destination have become roadblocks to movement and growth. Here are 5 reasons why your bridge event is leading people nowhere:

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Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation