Tag Archive - succession

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How Success can be your Worst Enemy

When faced with the choice between failure and success I’d take success every time. You would too. It’s way more fun to win than to lose. But what if I told you that your past and current success may be the very thing holding you back from future success?

Success Tempts us to Settle

Success tempts us to settle instead of spread. We cling to the success that we have achieved with both hands and fail to grasp new opportunities.

Success makes you Conservative

The greatest enemy of your future success is your current success. Current success turns into past success and the past has a nostalgia that the future never will.

Success can Hide Motive

It’s easy to hide our motivation and heart in the apparent external success of the churches we’re building. I’m not saying every church leader has poor motives, far from it! But it’s easy to ignore motive when you’re experiencing success.

Success Creates an Avoidance of Risk

Success can keep us from taking risk. It’s easy to trust God and take big risk when you don’t have much to trust to God. But when you’ve found success and there is perceivably more on the line it’s not as easy.

Success brings Resources

Too many resources can be an innovation killer. A lack of resources teaches resourcefulness and tenacity. God can guide by what He withholds just as easily as by what He gives.

Success keeps you from Innovation

If you haven’t failed in a while, you’re probably playing it too safe and too small.

Is there Success without Succession?

Is what started with you going to end with you? You’ve got to move from “it can’t happen without you,” to “it happens with you,” to “it grows without you.”


Posted in Leadership

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10 Articles that will Help Your Church Make Vision Real

Thank you for making August another great month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s been great to stay connected with you through social media and hearing that these articles have been helpful. So, thank you for connecting with me through the content on this blog! You made these the top posts from this last month. If you missed out on any of them, here they are all in one place for your convenience!

10 Insider Focused Ministry Names

I’ve been blogging now for about 7 years, and over that time this continues to be the most popular post. It’s a list of real ministry names that I’ve personally seen churches use. Some are tremendously funny. But all of them reveal a deeper issue that is at play in most churches in America.

How Many People should your Church have on Staff?

It’s not uncommon in churches that I work with to hear them say, “We need to add more staff.” After all if there are problems or areas where the church is stuck then throwing staff at that problem will surely fix it…right? Well, not always. In fact the opposite may be true. In fact the most effective churches that I see have a tendency to hire fewer staff not more staff.

Why Churches Decline and Die

However, church decline can be avoided and even turned around. If your church is stuck or in decline I’d encourage you to start a conversation with the Unstuck Group. They have proven track record of helping churches get unstuck. Here are a couple big reasons, in no particular order, why churches decline and die.

3 Big Reasons Why Missions Pastors are an Endangered Species

More and more churches are dropping the role of mission pastors like hot potatoes.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit 2017

If you missed the 2017 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, 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!

8 Reasons Why People Don’t Volunteer at your Church

I’ve never worked with a church that has said they don’t need more volunteers. But I’ve worked with a bunch of churches that have trouble getting people to volunteer and stay engaged volunteering.

The Difference between Credibility and Ability

There’s a big difference between ability and credibility. I’ve had conversations with many young leaders who think they should get a shot at an opportunity or they deserve be promoted because of their ability. But what many young leaders fail to understand is that real leadership is recognized not appointed.

The Difference between Preparation and Planning

Do great organizations prepare for the future or do they plan for it? The answer is, “yes.” To be clear preparation and planning are not the same thing, and great organizations become great by doing both.

When to Invest in a Young Leader and when to Ignore them

Experienced leaders are always going to have more opportunities available to say yes to than capacity to meet them. This is true in leadership and this is true in developing young talent. You have to make a choice. So, choose wisely. How do you know who to invest in and who to ignore?

7 Lessons from a Sr. Pastor Succession that Worked

In 2014, I had a front row seat to the handoff of senior leadership of a multi-mega church from one Lead Pastor to another. Serving on the Executive Team at that time I had the privilege of having a behind the scenes view to the whole thing, start to finish. This post details some of the learnings from that experience


Posted in Leadership

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Leadership Summit 2017: Bill Hybels

If you missed the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit this year, no worries I’ve got you covered. I’ll be posting my notes and thoughts from each presenter over the next couple of days.

If you’re unfamiliar with Leadership Summit, more than 300,000 leaders participated in this world-class experience designed to help people to grow in their leadership capacity and effectiveness. Global Leadership Summit is a two-day event telecast LIVE in HD from Willow’s campus near Chicago every August to more than 600 locations in 128 countries and 60 languages.

Willow Creek Community Church Founder and Senior Pastor Bill Hybels opened the Summit addressing The Challenge of Leading an Organization in an Era of Divisiveness and Disrespect. The following are leadership quotes and lessons from this incredible session.

  • Armed with enough humility anyone can learn from anyone
  • Who do you owe the most for calling leadership out in you in your early years? Who saw potential in you before anyone else did? Who gave you an opportunity before anyone else did? Who kept saying to you, “You can handle this, you can figure this out, I know you can.”
  • Leaders must plant leadership seeds in the lives of younger people that they see leadership in.
  • We are where we are in our leadership journey today because someone gave us an opportunity.
  • Sometime in the next 7 days: reflect on who those leaders were in your early years and express your gratitude to them

The challenge of leading an organization in an era of divisiveness and disrespect

  • Where is disrespect and divisiveness taking us?
  • 95% of the US population believe we have an incivility issue
  • We of faith do not get to choose who we respect

10 Rules of respect

  1. Leaders must set the example of how to differ with others without demonizing them
  2. Leaders must demonstrate how to have spirited conversations without drawing blood
  3. Leaders must not interrupt others who are talking and not dominate the conversation
  4. Leaders must set the example of limiting their volume and refusing to use “incendiary” or “belittling” words that guarantee to derail a discussion
  5. Leaders must set the example of being courteous in word and deed
  6. Leaders must never stereotype others
  7. Leaders must form opinions carefully and stay open minded if better information comes along
  8. Leaders must set the example of showing up when they say they are going to show up and doing what they say they are going to do.
  9. Leaders must set “Rules of Respect” for everyone in the organization and enforce them relentlessly
  10. So…looks like I missed one…sorry readers!
  • Tolerance is easy and requires little of us…we must move into uncomfortable territory and seek to understand each other
  • Those we lead are dying for us to challenge them and call the best out of them
  • Succession:
    • Who is going to make the decision? Is it the Sr. Leader or the Board or someone else?
    • When will it happen? Getting to clarity on this will drive the whole process.
    • How will it be led? Board going to run it, Sr. Pastor?
    • Planning: transition document is built
    • Internal: Research shows that internal successors have a much higher success rate
    • External: global search
    • Transition: credential the successor and set them up to win
  • Succession Learnings:
    • Having a well thought through road map is essential,
    • Keep the journey bathed in prayer and keep personalities and politics out of it
    • Our process has probably been too long (if a succession plan is long and complicated enough it will motivate any leader to want to move on)
    • When it goes too long it takes a toll on the vision of the organization
    • We underestimated the emotional toll it would take on the Sr. Leaders (asking the SLT to live in limbo is a huge risk)
    • We made 1 process mistake that caused unnecessary pain. The board didn’t do a regular check in with Bill during their vetting process.
  • God is an equal opportunity storywriter
  • Is it possible that God is writing an ending to your story and season so He can lead you to something new or different?
  • Endings matter too
  • Challenges:
    • Spend 15 minutes each morning in a chair you love to read and reflect on your life. Are you getting busier or better as a leader? Don’t squeeze all of the reflection time out of your life.
    • Make this year the year of the grander vision. Don’t just improve your product but make a difference in your community. At a certain point mere financial success should bore you.
    • Measure the health of your organizations culture and be committed to improving it. Your culture will only be as healthy as the top leader wants it to be.
    • Do you have a personal betterment plan for your leadership in the coming year?
    • Are you leading on the home front as well as you’re leading at work?

Posted in Leadership

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7 Lessons from a Sr. Pastor Succession Plan that Worked

In 2014, I had a front row seat to the handoff of senior leadership of a multi-mega church from one Lead Pastor to another. Serving on the Executive Team at that time I had the privilege of having a behind the scenes view to the whole thing, start to finish.

Scott Ridout, who now serves as the President of Converge Worldwide a movement of over 1,300 churches that have joined together to start and strengthen churches, served in leadership at Sun Valley Community Church for 16 years before handing it off to Chad Moore who now serves as the Lead Pastor.

Both are fantastic leaders and even better men. Now a couple of years removed from leading through that transition with them there are a few things that stand out to me that made the transition successful. If your church will be going through a leadership transition in the future you may want to keep these principles in mind.

Hired from the Inside

Chad had joined the staff at Sun Valley back in 2004 and had already been on the team for 10 years when this transition happened. When you like the culture that you have you hire from the inside, when you want to change the culture you hire from the outside.

Public and Private Trust

As a result of leading together up close and over time trust had been built with 4 unique and important audiences. The church body, the staff, the board, and of course trust had been built between Chad and Scott. That public buy-in and private trust provided a foundation for the transition to succeed.

Reflection of our Culture

Due to his tenure at Sun Valley, Chad embodied the culture we were trying to create. If we had hired someone from the outside it would have marked a change in culture and with it a period of turmoil.

A High Capacity Leader is Essential

While both men are fantastic leaders, they are different leaders. But they are both high capacity leaders. While gifted uniquely they both have a high capacity. When there’s a new leader you don’t want people hoping that they’ll grow into the role. We didn’t have to worry about that in this case.

The Right Timing

The best time to make a baton handoff is at full speed. The best time to make change in a church is when you have momentum. Sun Valley had just gone multisite 3 years prior to this succession and was (and still is today) experiencing new growth.

A Clear Next Step for the Exiting Pastor

Scott had a very clear calling in all of this to become the next President of Converge. Without a clear next step for the exiting Sr. Pastor this would have gone completely different.

Humility

I could have easily led with this one. Humility was the chief characteristic that provided the right environment for the transition to be as successful as it was. Both men chose to do what was best for the church at every juncture in the process rather than grasp for power, prestige, preference or position.

If you want to learn more about succession planning for Sr. Pastors or need help with one at your church, I’d recommend my friend William Vanderbloemen to you. To learn more you can check out an interview I did with him about his book Next: Pastoral Succession that Works


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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How to Leave your Church

No matter what style or size of church you serve in, no matter what title you have behind your name, there is one thing that every person in ministry has in common. At some point in the near or distant future, you will leave your current ministry position.

Unfortunately these leadership transitions often result in unnecessary damage to both the ministry staff person and the church because there was no plan in place when it came time for the leader to leave. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember any class in Bible College or the latest ministry conference I attended that helped prepare ministry leaders to leave well.

I think we would all quickly agree that leaving well saves a lot of heartache for all involved. What we might not consider is that the way we leave affects the place we are going just as much as the place we are leaving. If you supervise staff, the same principle applies. How ministry staff exit your team affects the ministry they are going to just as much as it effects your ministry.

I recently had coffee with a long time leader in college ministry named Mike who shared about his upcoming retirement and his organization’s plan for helping him leave his position well. At its heart, the strategy is about leverage leaving for a greater future impact. There are four steps.

1. Release

The first step is to prepare to release responsibility and relationships in your current position. The ministry leaders I know, give 110% and devote themselves to the people they serve. This makes releasing especially difficult when it comes time to transition. Before exiting the position, prepare yourself or your staff member to let go and not be surprised at the very normal loss that comes with the change in roles. There is also a normal desire to want to protect that ministry, which may cause a leader to hold on too tightly or stay involved too long. If you are leaving a position but not leaving the church, releasing will mean being strategically uninvolved in that particular ministry area until new leadership is established. Fully letting go of the responsibilities and authority of that position will also help you have both hands free to grab hold of what God wants next for you.

2. Rest

The second step is to rest. When moving from one position to the next, sometimes we don’t leave any cushion between past and future. Typically, we have some room to negotiate when it comes to start dates as we move into a new position. Strategically schedule time to rest and refresh during the transition. You need it. When you schedule time to rest, really rest. We’re only fooling ourselves if we take a week off, but use that time to read the latest book on church growth while sketching out a strategic plan for the next 90 days of ministry. Those are actually good things, but not rest. Do things that fill your tank and give you energy. If you are in a supervisory role and you can do it, give your staff member that is exiting financial support as they take time to rest.

3. Refocus

The third step is to refocus. It’s important to ask good questions during the transition. What are my areas of strength and God given talent? What do I love doing? What changes have occurred in me during the last stretch of ministry that have taught me about my unique call to ministry? If you are married, ask your spouse, “What do you think I am best suited for in ministry?” Schedule time to pray, journal and get counsel from those you trust. I believe God wants to give us the gift of insight when we leave a ministry position. This is true whether you are leaving because of your decision or the church’s decision. Take advantage of it. Also, if it has been a painful leave, there are many retreat centers across the nation to help ministry leaders gain clarity and healing as they begin the next chapter. Practically speaking, this could also be a time to invest in some personality or leadership style assessments, get needed training and put more tools in your ministry tool belt.

4. Reengage

Finally, move forward and reengage. This starts by reengaging with the people in your new area of ministry. If you had great friends in your previous setting it can be hard to do the work of establishing new relationships. The reason you had close relationships in the previous church is probably not because they were more loving and nicer people. It’s probably because you did the hard work to connect, get to know them and have shared experiences. Take the bull by the horns on this one and start building new relationships. This is key to leading well. You cannot lead well if you don’t love well. You also have to reengage when it comes to the culture and systems of your new environment. You can’t just bring everything you did in the previous church and apply it to this new setting. A good leader learns the culture and contextualizes leadership in that culture. Here is a quick tip. Principles transfer much more effectively than programs. Principles about people and leadership are typically universal.

If you are transitioning into a new position, leverage leaving for greater future impact. Release. Rest. Refocus. Reengage. Everyone involved will be healthier for it.


This is a guest post by Brian LaMew who serves as the Pastor of Campus Development at Sun Valley Community Church where he provides leadership to Sun Valley’s Campus Pastors. You can keep up with Brian on Twitter or Facebook.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing
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