You want to lead a thriving church. But we know you’ve all experienced it:
Everyone needs something from the pastor.
In some churches, the pastor is expected to do everything. In others, the organization has grown complex, and your role has followed suit. You know you have to take the lead in giving ministry away to others, but it’s not always clear which things.
Getting clarity about what you MUST own makes it simple to decide what to delegate.
4 Roles a Senior Pastor Can’t Delegate is a practical resource by Tony Morgan at the Unstuck Group designed to help you clearly define your essential duties and responsibilities. But it’s really more than an eBook: It’s a digital workbook to help you take your next steps in leadership.
You can have a great vision, but if the team isn’t healthy and high-performing, the church won’t experience health and growth.
More than ten years ago (gosh that’s hard to believe) I started The Unstuck Group.
This was after being a part of several great teams both before and
during my life in ministry. My sophomore basketball team wasn’t so good.
I cheer for some teams that aren’t so good. (I’m looking at you…the
Cleveland Browns.) But, when it comes to my workplaces, I’ve been on
think my experience being a part of great teams clouded my perspective
about helping churches get unstuck. I thought all we had to do was help
churches align around vision, strategy and action plans. If we did this,
it would lead to healthy, growing churches.
In many cases, that was true. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in every situation. What I learned was this—
you can have a great vision, but if the team isn’t healthy and high-performing, the church won’t experience health and growth.
For the first 10 years of The Unstuck Group, we’ve been solely focused on church health, but that’s about to change.
couple of years ago I started talking with my long-time friend Lance
Witt about helping us design a process to help teams get unstuck. Since
then, he’s written a phenomenal book on that topic. The book addresses both the health and performance of becoming a high impact team.
Then, last December, a group of us got together and started to map out a new process to help teams live out the principles Lance wrote about in his book. We designed Unstuck Teams to address these aspects for having a higher impact team:
Any leader worth his or her salt will pause right now a do a little self-assessment. Which of those six areas are a strength in your leadership? Which of those six are weaknesses? Here’s a hint. Your team will reflect your leadership in all six of these areas.)
In my experience, it’s rare to find a team that’s firing on all cylinders in each of these areas.
I’ve worked with teams who are healthy, but lack in the area of
performance. I’ve worked with teams who appear to be getting results,
but team is not healthy and relationships are strained.
some instances, it wasn’t about health or performance at all. Instead
the culture was toxic or the structure wasn’t well-defined. Employees
didn’t know who was responsible for what. Some didn’t even know their
own roles and responsibilities. As you can imagine, none of these gaps
set the team up to have a significant impact. And when the team is not right, the church will never be healthy.
After designing the Unstuck Teams
process, Lance joined our staff full-time. I wish Lance could join
every team full-time. He not only writes and trains leaders on these
topics, he lives them out. Lance is an incredible leader. (I would use
that “he’s smoking what he’s selling” cliche, but Lance is from
Colorado. I don’t want you to take it literally.)
the last six months, Lance and the team have been fully developing the
tools to address the six aspects of high impact teams. Then they started
test-driving everything. That included piloting the new Unstuck Teams
process with four distinctly different churches. Our entire team
gathered in Phoenix this past December to get a preview as well. I know I’m biased, but it’s an unbelievable process.
probably will not shock you. My strengths as a leader are around
performance, systems and structure. I really have to work hard at the
health side. I have to be intentional about what it takes to create the
right culture. I can lead in those areas, but it’s not my natural
wiring. I have to really discipline myself about how I invest my
leadership capital in those areas. I want to make sure those aspects of
our team don’t suffer.
suspicion is that you are no different than me. In some of these areas
you have strength as a leader. In some of these areas there is weakness.
Those areas of weakness can prevent your team…and your church…from
having its greatest impact.
the next weeks and months, you’re going to hear more of my voice on
this topic. You may get tired of hearing my voice on this topic. I’m
willing to take that risk. I know the health and performance of the team will dictate a church’s Kingdom impact.
other words, if your church is stuck, it might be because your team is
stuck. You don’t have to remain there. Let us help you take a step
forward in your leadership while we help your team get unstuck.
Through the Unstuck Teams Process, we can guide you to lead staff teams that love working together and get stuff done—spiritually, emotionally, and relationally healthy, as well as productive and high-performing.
Tony Morgan is the Founder and Lead Strategist at the Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He’s written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
I mentioned when I began this countdown that team culture came up. I’ve fielded a lot of questions from church leaders on this topic and this post resonated with those conversations.
The best ideas don’t always come from where you think they come from.
In the Church we tend to hire professional pastors who are supposed have all of the answers. After all pastors go to seminary to learn theology and all kinds of good stuff about the Bible and how to teach it. The very nature of the structure lends itself to people thinking pastors have the answers. But guess what? We don’t. We may have some of the answers and even a few good ideas from time to time, but we don’t have all of the answers and we certainly don’t have the best ideas in the room.
The best ideas typically come from people who are closest to the problem.
So, for all of you who want to lead in a big church here’s one of the unfortunate implications of that statement. The larger the church is that you serve at and the more removed you are from day to day interaction with volunteers and people who attend your church, the more likely it is you have no idea what the best ideas are, in fact you probably don’t even know what the biggest problems are.
But your culture needs to allow ideas to flow up, input to be given and problems to be solved. Many churches never come to close to identifying or solving their biggest problems because their culture won’t allow it.
Here’s a few ideas about how you can start changing that.
1. Ask Good Questions
Asking instead of telling can quickly shift the culture of a team. Telling people what to do actually keeps them from learning to problem solve and think for themselves. Even if you have a strong opinion and you think your idea is the right idea, exercise restraint and start asking questions like, “What do you think we should do?,” “What do you think is best for our church?,” and “Is what we’re doing actually working?”
2. Push Decisions Down
If low level decisions consistently get escalated to high levels, then you’ve got a culture that is preventing you from solving problems. People are afraid to do the wrong thing, so they are escalating everything for input. Start to refuse to make decisions on things that you know others should be deciding on (otherwise you’ll train everyone to come to you for every decision). Do you have to make this decision?
3. Do Something About It
If you ask for input and then don’t actually do anything about it, you are training people not to answer you. If all you ever do is listen to problems, identify problems or talk about problems, the biggest problem you may have is a lack of courage to act.
4. Allow People to Make Mistakes
Each of my four kids can walk. I know that may not impress many of you, but there was a time when they were younger they could only crawl. When they got old enough and strong enough they would pull themselves up using a piece of furniture and attempt to take a step or two. They always failed. Every single one of them failed. There were some bumps and bruises and painful crash landings. But they’d get back up and try again. My wife and I would sit a few feed away from them and literally cheer them on. We’d tell them how proud of them we were for taking one lousy little step. You get where this is going. If you want to build a problem-solving culture in your church, you’ve got to cheer on little steps, little failures, and all of the moments they get back up and try again. Demeaning them won’t help them walk.
If you haven’t noticed, church staffing has become a competitive market in recent years. So much so that a quick Google search of “Church Staff Search Firms” will provide you with a list of companies whose entire purpose is to help staff local churches, and whom didn’t exist 20 years ago. By the way, some of these search firms are very good at their jobs.
It’s easier than ever for church staff members to change churches…and they are. Unfortunately, staff longevity is becoming a rare thing in churches. I frequently have conversations with churches that are looking to hire a new team member or a team member who is looking to make a move to a new church.
while moving to a new church may be what God wants you to do, it’s important to
remember that the grass isn’t always greener at that new church.
Your Expectations may not be Reasonable
times I hear sad stories from church staff members about how the church or
their Pastor hasn’t met their expectations. Expectations that go unmet can
create all kinds of hurt and disillusionment. However, your expectations may
not be reasonable. It’s not your pastor’s job to disciple you, working at a
church isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, and I know you got into ministry to
be a part of life-change and people meeting Jesus but this is your job, you don’t
get to get paid to do a hobby (and you shouldn’t get paid to have coffee with people
all day long). So, temper your expectations (by the way, the secret to
happiness in life is low expectations).
The Problem isn’t “out there”
when I hear church staff members talk about leaving their church the
conversation focuses on a problem or series of problems at the church they’re currently
serving in. The first bit of input I consistently find myself providing is
this: “If God has given you the insight through His Spirt to see something in the
church you serve at that needs to change, instead of criticizing it why don’t
you try and help it be what you see God wants it to be?” Maybe the problem isn’t
with the church, maybe the problem is you’re not being solution oriented and
you’re focusing on what’s wrong instead of trying to help it get better.
Planting a New Church may not Fix
things get tough, many young leaders are opting to leave and plant a new
church. And while I’m all for planting new churches to reach new people, too
often these new churches are planted for all the wrong reasons by all the wrong
Sometimes you have to Create the
kind of place you want to be
firmly believe, that if at all possible (it isn’t always), the best option for
you and the best option for your church is for you to stay and figure it out.
You will grow through the process and the church will experience the benefit
and fruit of you staying and figuring it out. Sometimes it’s worth staying and
creating the kind of place you want to be.
I’ve met a lot of young ministry staff members who have expressed interest in having more responsibility, more authority, and more influence in the churches they’re leading in. They think they’re ready for a promotion. If they don’t get the promotion that they think they deserve, it can become a catalyst to them leaving their church and trying to take their next step in leadership somewhere else.
But here’s the deal…some are ready…and some aren’t
While this list isn’t exhaustive, if you can tackle these 6 behaviors you’ll be well on your way to your next promotion!
Show Up Early
In an age where everyone gets a participation trophy and people think they deserve a raise or a promotion for simply doing the basic minimum at their job, showing up early is a simple but powerful tool in your arsenal. If you show up early and ready to roll you will stand out and be noticed. Work ethic matters more than you think it does. Every employer is looking for team members that are personally motivated and ready to tackle the day ahead. These kinds of people stand out. Do you?
Do What You Said You Would Do
This one may seem blatantly obvious, but I’m pointing it out because it just isn’t anymore. If you want to get a promotion one day, then learn the art of follow through today. Develop the reputation of coming through and delivering on what you said you would deliver on, when you said it would be delivered. People who talk more than they get results don’t get promoted.
Approach Your Day with a Good Attitude
You can’t play a good game with a bad attitude. Your attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference in the way you approach your work and the way you affect the team you’re on. People who have bad attitudes rarely get promoted. Make the choice to have a better attitude today and you’ll take a step towards getting that promotion tomorrow.
Bring Solutions Instead of Problems
Your supervisor isn’t looking for you to bring them more problems. They have enough. If you bring them enough problems frequently enough they’ll quickly start asking themselves and you, “Why did I hire you if I have to do your job as well as my own?” Instead, when you run into a problem you need help with, identify the problem but then provide 3 viable solutions that your supervisor can offer input on. This will communicate that you are solution oriented, value their input, and you’ll begin to learn how your supervisor thinks and wants problems solved.
Master the Standard
You’re not going to be promoted if you can’t deliver the “industry average.” If the average growing church in America runs around 20% kids and 10% students but the kids or student ministry you are leading is lagging behind that, it’s going to be tough to warrant a promotion. Especially if the demographic of the community you’re in has plenty of kids, students and families in it. You can find “industry standard” metrics provided FREE by the Unstuck Group by following this link. Start by getting to average then grow from there. Remember, average performers rarely get promoted.
Learn to Develop Other People
One of the first things that I personally look for in ministry staff members who I’m looking to promote (after they master the standard), is their ability to develop other people. Do people want to follow them? Have they actually led people somewhere or do they just try to keep them happy? Do they just delegate tasks or do they actually empower them with authority? Are the people around them actually “getting better?” Have they demonstrated the ability to lead and coach difficult people? If you learn to actually develop other people you’re going to be well on your way to getting that promotion you’re after.