Tag Archive - system


Trying Harder Won’t Fix Your Church

Conventional wisdom tells us that when things get difficult we just need to work harder, work smarter or somehow upgrade the quality of our work. But what do you do when trying harder doesn’t work? It may that it’s time for you to stop doing the same old thing with more effort with more efficiency or more quality. It might be time for you to stop trying harder and try different. It’s time to try something entirely new.

#1 New Vision

Vision answers the question, “Where are we going?” It’s simply the “next hill” that you’re taking. It’s the ability to understand the times, know the right direction to move, and involve and inspire people to go there with you. The problem with vision is that it needs to be refreshed every 3-5 years. Because once you’ve taken the hill you have to identify the next hill, or the church loses momentum and get’s stuck.

#2 New Structures

Your church is perfectly structured to get the results you’re getting right now. However it’s not uncommon that a church outgrows a structure that served you well in a particular season and size. That same structure can become a lid to future growth. As a church grows the need to restructure can occur multiple times in the life of a church. The way the church board is structured, the way the staff team is structured, the polity of a church, and the structure of the church budget can all become lids to growth if they don’t change over time as the church changes. Don’t like the results you’re getting? It might be time to build a new structure.

#3 New Systems

Systems help us answer the question, “How are we going to reproduce this?” It could be reproducing disciples, leaders, church plants, new multisite campuses, or a consistent weekend worship experience at your church. Systems are made up of complex independent parts working together to perform a function (for example think skeletal system or solar system). For our purposes building a system is the art of connecting the Core Values, Structures, Strategies, Goals, and Vision to work in alignment that builds a culture that leans towards fulfilling the Mission. It may be the reason your church has become stuck is that you’ve outgrown some of your systems.

#4 New Voices

When things get difficult we usually start with ourselves for the solution, “What can I do to fix it?” If we can’t solve it on our own we usually turn our attention to our coworkers, friends and finally our networks. What if the solutions to your biggest problems are outside of your normal relational web? What if it was time to get new voices at the table, get outside your industry and tribe to look for new solutions? If you’re ready for a new voice to help your church get new new solutions I’d recommend you take a step and connect with the Unstuck Group.

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing


Why Poor Internal Communication is a Symptom of something Worse

Any growing church or organization is going to experience pain along the way. Contrary to popular belief pain is not always a bad thing. It can be an indicator that something needs to change. Internal streamlined communication is one of the most common pain points that churches and organizations experience as they grow. The intriguing thing is that communication is rarely the real problem. It’s usually a symptom that the church or organization has outgrown its systems, structures and its time to change, or there is an unhealthy team culture.

#1 Cascading Communication
When information doesn’t cascade quickly and easily throughout the organization allowing the team members to quickly align and make decisions at the appropriate pace to respond to issues as they come up, there’s a communication problem.

#2 Lines of Communication
Too many lines of communication complicate things and complexity that isn’t married to efficiency slows things down.

#3 Information as Power
When information is used as power to hoard instead of to share decision-making slows down and the organization is robbed of the best thinking and solutions.

#4 Silos
When communication becomes territorial and team members don’t share information between departments you know you’ve got a problem that’s bigger than communication. 

#5 Who Makes What Decision?
When team members are confused as to whom they should go to for what decision communication is a symptom of a structural or system problem.

#6 Less Chance of a Veto
When information isn’t communicated up and team members would rather ask for forgiveness instead of permission, communication is an indicator that there is a cultural issue that needs to be addressed.

#7 End-around
When team members go around other team members, especially their supervisor this is another classic sign that unhealthy communication patterns are often a sing of an unhealthy team culture.

Posted in Leadership, Staffing


7 Traits of Churches that Experience Repeat Success

It’s one thing to experience success; it’s another thing altogether to repeat success over, and over, and over again. Many churches experience moments of success, but few experience repeat success. Fewer still, understand why they were successful in the first place and intentionally create behaviors in the organization of the church to make success become the norm. Below are 7 traits of churches that experience repeat success:

1. Finding the Right People

Successful teams don’t just have talented players on the roster, but the right players that fit the scheme and system the team is trying to run. Find the right players and let them run.

2. Longevity

Sometimes you just need to outlast your critics. Trust is the commodity of leadership, and trust is built up close and over time.

3. Work a System

“Ready-fire-aim” leaders rarely experience long-term success because they don’t allow a system time enough to gain traction, momentum, and produce compounding results.

4. Leaders Lead Leaders

It’s not just about leading followers, but attracting, developing and leading other leaders. If the vision is small enough for you to accomplish on your own, it’s too small.

5. Clear Vision

Lack of clarity is the number one reason churches get stuck. If your people don’t know where you’re going you can be sure they won’t be able to organize and align the systems of the church to get you there.

6. Work Ethic

One of the missing elements among many church staff today is simple work ethic. The ability to tenaciously see projects through to completion and do the hard things, without giving up.

7. Teachability

All great teams possess the ability (and humility) to learn from others outside their circle of influence and industry. In fact they seek it out.

Posted in Leadership


Bringing Clarity to the Language of Organizational Leadership

One of the most frequently reoccurring conversations I get into in helping churches focuses around building organizational health and alignment in churches. Often times in those conversations confusion surfaces over language such as Mission, Vision, Goals, Strategy, Structure, Core Values, and Systems. So here’s an attempt to help provide some clarity and a framework to some of the most influential conversations you may have as church or organization.

1. Mission:

Answers the Question: Why do we exist?

This is the timeless answer to why your business, organization or church is on the planet in the first place. For those of us in church-world we don’t get to pick our mission, Jesus did that for us.

2. Vision:

Answers the Question: Where are we going?

This is the next hill that needs to be taken. Organizational vision typically changes every 3-10 years. Vision changes because once you get there and have taken then hill, there’s always the next hill to take.

3. Goals:

Answers the Question: How do we get there?

Goals are actionable and attainable steps or objectives to be met that move the organization in the direction of the vision. You know you’re winning and moving in the direction of accomplishing the vision when you are meeting your goals!

4. Strategy:

Answers the Question: Who does what next?

Strategies are the decisions that need to be made to coordinate the application of the resources (people, time, money, information and other assets) of the organization to meet the goals.

5. Structure:

Answers the Question: How do we organize ourselves?

This is the way you intentionally put together all the various parts of the organization to work together in order to support the strategies.

6. Core Value:

Answers the Question: How do we behave?

These are the core beliefs that drive how the people in the organization interact with one another and the organization as a whole behaves towards others outside of the organization.

7. System:

Answers the Question: How do we reproduce it?

Essentially systems are made up of complex independent parts working together to perform a function (for example think skeletal system or solar system). For our purposes building a system is the art of connecting the Core Values, Structures, Strategies, Goals, and Vision to work in alignment that builds a culture that leans towards accomplishing the Mission.

What are some other definitions of these terms that you’ve heard that may be helpful to the conversation? Leave a comment!

Posted in Leadership


The Baby Elephant Principle

Some years ago when I was in Africa on a short-term mission trip my wife Lisa and I had the opportunity to take an additional day to spend in Masai Mara, a famous game reserve that spans the boarder of Kenya and Tanzania. We got to see all kinds of animals in their natural habitat. We saw lions with their cubs, rhino, giraffes, hippos, and more. It was literally like something right out of National Geographic. But surprisingly some of the most incredible animals to watch were the elephants. These were a far cry from those circus elephants from my childhood. These elephants were larger than life powerful animals that trampled a path as they walked through the brush and knocked over trees, and broke branches. They were spectacular to be around. The largest living land animal, the average adult male is 10-13 feet tall at the shoulder and weighs between 10-13 thousand pounds. To get your head around just how massive these animals are, get this, their molars (their teeth) weigh about 11 pounds each and are 12 inches long! Their tusks weigh between 50-100 pounds and are between 5-8ft long! These are massive and impressive animals.

And when I think about those elephants that I saw in my childhood at the circus it’s almost comical that one of these grown massive, powerful 10,000-pound elephants could be tamed and chained to a little stake in the ground. What happens is when the elephant is young the trainer will drive a metal stake in the ground and chain the baby elephant to it. Unable to pull the stake out of the ground and lacking the strength to break the chain the baby elephant eventually gives up. It grows accustomed to the stake and conditioned to believe it can’t break free. In adulthood when the elephant is literally thousands of pounds, and has the strength to push a railway car, the trainer can still chain that elephant to a small stake in the ground to contain this giant powerful animal. All because it’s been conditioned to believe it can’t break free.

3 Questions to Ask about how Your Past is Affecting your Present:

1. What behaviors and practices does your church need to break free from that worked when you were smaller but are restricting you from moving forward and are keeping you stuck?

2. What ministries were effective at one point and breathed life into the church years ago but are now limping along and take energy to prop up?

3. What Staff Members were the right person at the right time some years ago, but have since hit a lid and need to be shifted into another role or off the team?

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation
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