Tag Archive - spiritual maturity

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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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5 Articles That Will Help You Make Vision Real

Thank you for making January a great month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s fun to be a part of the interaction on social media and hear about how helpful the content has been. So, thank you for connecting with me through the content on this blog! You made these the top 5 Posts from this last month. If you missed out on any of them, here they are all in one place for your convenience!

#1 The Four Stages of a Church Staff Team

If you’ve ever been a part of a growing church you know that growth changes everything. Especially the relational, organizational and working dynamics of the staff team. Larry Osborne, Lead Pastor at North Coast Church writes the following in his book Sticky Teams:

“Never forget growth changes everything. A storefront church, a midsized church, a large church, and a mega-church aren’t simply bigger versions of the same thing. They are completely different animals. They have little in common, especially relationally, organizationally, and structurally.”

Fortunately I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with Larry and hear him expound on this idea and talk about what he describes as, “The Four Stages of a Team.”

#2 Who is Responsible for the Spiritual Maturity of the Church?

Every heard someone complain that your church isn’t “deep” enough? This will help!

#3 How to Develop Young Leaders

Volumes have been written about investing in and developing young leaders. While there are a lot of great resources out there I think often times we over-complicate what it means to develop young leaders. In fact here are four simple steps that Sr. Level Leaders can take to invest in the next generation of leaders.

#4 Join a Leadership Coaching Network

My current Leadership Coaching Network is coming to a close and I’m getting ready to launch a new network this spring for up to 12 church leaders! We’ll be meeting six days over six months beginning in April. This is a coaching experience built around practical systems and tools that will help you take your next steps as a leader. Together we’ll take a look at best practices of growing, healthy churches, and press into tough conversations that will help you get unstuck in your leadership and take steps to see the vision that God has given your church become real.

#5 2013 in the Rear-view Mirror

When you’re in the middle of the daily grind it can be difficult to see what kind of progress you’re making. That’s why it’s helpful from time to time to take a step back, review the ground you’ve taken, and celebrate the wins! After all what gets celebrated, gets repeated! So below are some of the life and ministry highlights that I experienced in 2013!


Posted in Leadership

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Who is Resposible for the Spiritual Maturity of the Church?

I can remember when my kids were finally old enough to go downstairs, get their own cereal, and turn on the television to watch Saturday morning cartoons. I remember because Lisa and I finally got to sleep in! Every parent understands what an incredibly glorious moment this is. And if you haven’t experienced this yet, well, you have much to look forward to.

This is kinda the whole point of parenting right? That our kids would grow up and move towards autonomy. That, among other things, they would learn how to feed themselves.

The same is true as new Christians begin to grow up and mature. The hope is that they would, among other things, learn to feed themselves.

And yet frequently I hear complaints by church attenders across North America that their church is not, “deep enough.” Essentially they’re saying that they’re hungry. And you want to know the first thought that passes through my mind when I hear comments like these? “If you’re hungry, eat. You know where the food is.”

You see at the end of the day each person is responsible for their own spiritual development, not their pastor. God is going to hold each unique individual accountable for his or her own thoughts, words, and actions. Not their pastor.

So the next time you hear someone complaining about how their church isn’t “deep enough” encourage them to take some personal ownership for their own relationship with Jesus and go get their own bowl of Cheerios.


Posted in Spiritual Formation

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6 Indicators You’re Leading an Insider Focused Church

How do you know if you’re leading an insider-focused church? Here are 6 indicators that you and your team can use to evaluate your church:

#1 Language

The language you choose to use is important because it both reflects and builds culture at the same time. There are all kinds of ways this goes wrong in churches. Coming up with cool names and brands for ministries that mean nothing to people outside the church, sub-branding things to death, and mentioning people from stage by name without explaining who they are just a couple of them. Two big principles to keep in mind when it comes to the language you choose to use in your church are: clear always trumps cute or cool and you’re always better off just calling things what they are.

#2 High giving-per-head

It may sound counter-intuitive but in growing outsider focused churches I consistently see giving-per-head numbers around $20-$30 per person. In churches that are stuck and insider focused it’s not uncommon to see giving-per-head numbers between $30-$50 per person.

#3 No Way-finding

At one church I visited I had no idea where to take my children. Everyone else seemed to know where to go but us. When we asked for help we were told to go to the “B-Building.” While the person who helped us was polite and came off as genuinely interested in helping us I had no idea what or where the “B-Building” was. Even worse there was no signage directing us to the “B-Building” or anything else for that matter. You’d be amazed how well placed, clear, directional signage and calling things what they are (i.e. Children’s Center, Student Center, Office, Worship Center) can help guests find their way on your campus.

#4 No clear Spiritual Maturity Pathway

Most churches are hoping that people outside of the faith will somehow miraculously jump in on what the church is already doing for existing members of the church. The problem is that just doesn’t happen. Have you clearly defined what you want people to look like who are walking with Jesus and created clear steps for them to get there?

#5 Few Baptisms/Conversions

Insider focused churches have a tendency to criticize growing churches, as if to say “They are doing something wrong and aren’t preaching the Word.” Essentially saying that if they were doing things “right” and “preaching the Word” they wouldn’t be growing.

#6 Poor Guest Services

My first week attending a church that I had recently gone on staff at we showed up trying to discover where to take my children for the Children’s Ministry (are you sensing a theme here?). A Children’s Staff Member shouted and pointed from down the hallway. There was no one to help us get where we needed to go, including that staff member who kept walking the other direction after they had yelled at us. The ironic thing is they had a great children’s ministry. Developing a culture of guest services in your church begins with developing a culture of guest services among your staff.

If none of those ideas resonate with you, here’s something that should push you towards taking a serious look at evaluating the church you’re leading. Don’t forget that you can still be growing and be insider focused; it’s called being the best Christian show in town.


Posted in Leadership

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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