We are always excited when someone contacts us about engaging in multisite consulting. Typically, this is an indicator that a church is experiencing growth, and needing additional space and resources to provide for the demand. More people get to hear about the Kingdom of God, and we love nothing more than that.
Truth be told, a lot of churches that go multisite end up becoming multistuck churches. Campuses begin to adopt different practices and systems, making it difficult to maintain unity. Because of this, we typically recommend video teaching instead of live teaching at campuses. We rarely come across someone that has executed a live-teaching multisite model successfully.
But, I recently got the privilege of talking with Tammy Melchien, Teaching Team Pastor at Community Christian Church in Illinois. Based on their successful live-teaching multisite model, I got to ask a few questions about their process and strategy behind this transition, and how it has impacted their church as a whole:
Sean: Why did you decide to utilize more in person teaching than video teaching as part of your multisite strategy?
Tammy: We moved to in person teaching around nine years ago. There were a number of reasons for this, but two in particular: 1) We are a church that wants to reproduce at every level and we realized we weren’t reproducing Teaching Pastors and 2) Since we follow “The Big Idea” we could still keep our churches aligned with a centrally-produced Big Idea manuscript even if we had many different Teaching Pastors delivering it.
S: How do you determine who is qualified to teach at your campuses and how do you assess their readiness?
T: We have a formal Teaching Assessment process for potential Teaching Pastors. Our Community Pastors (formerly called Campus Pastors) would go through this assessment as part of the hiring process. The Community Pastors are the ones who can nominate others to go through the assessment to become approved Teaching Pastors.
We currently have 30-35 approved teachers, but they are “approved” at different levels. Some are approved with no restrictions. Some have frequency restrictions (i.e. they can teach monthly or quarterly). Some have location restrictions (i.e. they can teach at their home location but nowhere else). If people want to move beyond these restrictions, they have to go through the assessment again. Most of our approved teachers are staff members, but some are lay leaders (or former staff who still attend our church).
S: Would I hear multiple different messages if I attended multiple Community campuses on a weekend or would I hear one identical message?
T: You will hear the same Big Idea message but interpreted by that teacher to fit his/her personality. The Big Idea will be consistent. The main Scripture passage, big structure points, and application will be the same; but the individual teaching pastor will “make it their own” with their own stories and examples to fit their context. We want them to edit the talk to be “the way they would say it.”
S: How do you systematize creating message content with so many people on the teaching team?
T: Our Teaching Team is made up of two groups 1) The Writers and 2) The Teaching Pastors. Some people play on both teams. I’ve already described the Teaching Pastors above. The Writers are made up of people who are good at crafting the message. Most of these people are also Teaching Pastors, but some (who write less frequently) are not. This allows us to utilize people who have a teaching gift that expresses itself in writing, yet are not actually upfront speakers.
Our Writing Team has a number of different roles. “Lead Writers” include myself and the founding pastors. We also have four “Core Writers.” These first two groups write most frequently (10-12 times per year).
We also have “Apprentice Writers” who show good potential for this role and write 4-6 times per year.
And we have “Guest Writers” who will write 1-2 times per year. We usually average 22-24 different people who contribute to writing messages per year. We have a crazy system for scheduling writers and brainstorming messages that I oversee. It’s too complicated to explain in writing.
S: How many teachers do you have and how often do they teach on the weekend?
T: Our Community Pastors speak most frequent. We’d like for them to speak nine out of 13 weeks. Basically, each quarter we want our CPs to have at least four weeks off from teaching. I usually speak twice a month—sometimes more. Dave and Jon have been speaking 1-2 times per month depending on their schedules. Most other teachers either speak monthly or quarterly.
S: When you advise other multisite churches about their teaching strategy what are some of the must do’s and must not do’s that you coach them on regarding in person teaching rather than video teaching?
T: Either way, we’d say “we are better together than any one of us could be on our own.” We believe strongly in collaboration so whether you are doing in person teaching or having one person represent your teaching ministry on video, make sure you are collaborating on the message.
Hiring the right campus pastor is key for multisite success. In fact, far too many churches find themselves “multistuck” because they don’t hire the right leader for the campus pastor role.
Join Us for a Free Webinar
The Campus Pastor Role: What Makes It Work
On July 24th at 2:30 p.m., Tony Morgan will host a free webinar with Jeff Henderson (Gwinnett Church), Jason Anderson (Eagle Brook Church) and Chris Surratt (Lifeway) for a practical discussion on the role of the campus pastor and how to avoid the mistakes The Unstuck Group most often sees hurting churches as they launch campuses. Check out the details below:
Connecting With New Guests Often Seems Just Out of Reach. Here are 4 Simple Ways to Make This More Attainable for Your Church
New guests can be elusive. They slip in and out of your church’s doors so fast, it’s like they’re covered in Crisco.
I’ll bet your assumption is that you have far more visitors than you know of, and you bang your head against your desk wishing there was a better system for connecting with them.
In my time consulting churches, I’ve noticed there are four effective, but often overlooked, ways to make a personal connection.
1. Make sure they know you’re expecting them.
This is probably the easiest step we can take in connecting with them, but it’s dramatically underutilized in many churches.
Create a unique parking area for them: Use signs to direct new guests to a certain part of your parking lot or ask them to turn on their flashers so your team can better direct them.
Design a unique first time guest entry: Create a single door that your team can direct new guests through so that they can be welcomed by a team who is prepared to answer questions and even give them a tour.
Give them something to carry as soon as you can: This is less about them and more about you. Whatever they are carrying, whether it’s a bag, coffee mug, etc. should be an indicator for everyone else your team that this person is a new guest and should be warmly welcomed and helped.
Welcome them from stage at the beginning of your service: Many churches miss this. A simple welcome and a brief explanation of what they can expect in service can go a long way to alleviating their anxiety about being in a new place. I believe this will even make them more open to hearing about Jesus.
A simple welcome and a brief explanation of what they can expect in service can go a long way to alleviating their anxiety about being in a new place. I believe this will even make them more open to hearing about Jesus. Click To Tweet 2. Capture their information, but be prepared to offer something in return.
Information is now transactional in our culture. With our fear of data breaches, big brother, and invasion of privacy we no longer give our information or thoughts away freely.
Start by asking yourself what would compel them to share their information: A bumper sticker with your church logo or your worship bands newest worship album probably isn’t going to interest them.
Offer a contribution to a local charity for every new guest card completed: Most people want to do good and be a part of an organization that does good. This allows them to feel like they’ve made a contribution and communicates something about your values as a church.
Give them a gift they will actually use: Will they really use the keychain with the scripture on it? It’s unlikely. What about $10 to Starbucks or a local custom doughnut shop?
Don’t go cheap—it shows how little you value their information: What is the ability to follow up with a new guest worth to you? People know when a product is quality or not. If you skimp on the gift, they’re likely to believe your desire to connect wasn’t all that important to you.
3. Invite them back.
Aren’t you more likely to return somewhere if you know that your presence is wanted?
Make a compelling ask for them to return at the end of your service: Many churches miss the opportunity to close their service with an invitation to come back. Make your invitation compelling. Why would they want to come back? Help them understand why they should.
Ask them if they were invited, and if so, who invited them: The trend we see in churches is that about 80 percent of those attending the church are there because they were invited by a friend. Use your new guest card or comment card to ask them if they were invited by a friend and, if so, who it was. If you can determine who it was, you can be intentional with helping that friend
invite them back.
If you want to reach more people, start by just getting them to return: Gary McIntosh and Charles Arn write in their book, What Every Pastor Should Know, that 60 percent of people who return to your church for a third time will remain a part of your church. The most critical first steps for new guests are just to keep coming back.
Don’t lean only on teaching... most first-time guests will return because of relationships Click To Tweet 4. Have clear, easy on ramps for early engagement.
If the next steps of involvement are simple and easy, people are going to be more engaged.
Make sure you have easy first steps for new guests: Do you have a clearly defined discipleship pathway? Can you easily communicate to new guests what their first steps are? If their early engagement requires them to be somewhere at multiple times over multiple days it will be hard to get them to commit.
Plan your first steps around their schedule: Don’t expect them to show up for a class at a time that’s inconvenient for them. If their first step is at a time that’s on a work day or interferes with family commitments, you’re less likely to effectively connect with them.
Don’t lean only on teaching… most will return because of relationships: Many churches create first step environment solely based on teaching basics of faith or sharing information about the church. People are more likely to connect at your church long term if you create environments where they can develop relationships.
Make sure they know the next steps after the first step: After they take their first step, don’t miss the opportunity to clearly communicate the opportunities for another step.
How well are you connecting with new guests?
Are you confident you’re engaging with most of them, or is your sense that many come and go and never take a step? What is it worth to you to increase the chance that your new guest will turn into long term disciple?
Books, conferences and podcasts provide great teaching and models—but are you being coached as a leader?
We’ve been offering coaching networks for 10 years now. The reason we keep offering them is because pastors continue to share stories with us of how their churches have experienced greater health and growth after implementing the things they learned in coaching.
Here is what a few participants have said in the past:
Having the other churches involved was especially helpful…. sometimes hearing/helping with the challenges of others gives great insight into solving our own problems.
— Dale Roddy, Crossroads United Methodist Church (Oakdale, PA)
I felt like we received everything we were looking for, and the understanding that we can still reach out with questions now that the coaching network has ended allows us time to process all the content, and ask follow up questions.
— Aaron Cordova, Landing Place Church (Commerce City, CO)
We just opened applications for our Fall 2018 Leadership Coaching Networks. We design these cohorts to help you learn in community, drawing support and encouragement from other leaders facing similar challenges.
Each collaborative coaching experience includes 3 group gatherings, 2 exclusive webinars, 2 one-on-one coaching calls and ongoing access to a private Facebook Group.
We allow only 7 churches in each group. Check out the new networks below and snag your spot:
Whether you are interested in launching your first campus, or you are an existing multisite church, join in to learn more about avoiding common pitfalls in multisite, refining your model, and effectively managing the tension between central vs. campus.
Our newest coaching network equips you to develop higher-performing teams to lead your church at the next level, strengthening and growing those serving under you, while also developing your own self-leadership.
We keep space very limited in these groups to keep the experience personal and productive. Learn more and apply by August 3 to take advantage of the early bird discount.
A Lack of Numerical Results Does Not Equal No Results
Recently I had a conversation with a pastor that I have been coaching for over a year. Over the course of the last several months, he and his team created plans, landed a focused vision and made a lot of significant changes. During our last conversation he shared some the discouragement that he and his team were experiencing. He said, “We’re a little frustrated because, despite the changes we have made, we still haven’t seen numerical growth.” Matter of fact, the average attendance of his church wasexactly what it was one year ago.
Understanding growth principles can be helpful, especially when you’re gaging the success of planning and execution by the increase of attendance. When I was a kid, I remember helping my grandfather plant his garden. Each day I would go to his place expecting to find fresh vegetables. It didn’t take long to understand that growth has a process, and my desire to see it now did not speed it up. The same is true in the church.
If you’re a pastor or leader and feel a similar frustration like my friend, don’t panic and don’t give up. Church growth, just like a garden, has a process. Here are three things you need to get your arms around. Take these thoughts to your team and encourage them.
1. People will Leave when the Vision Becomes Outward Focused:
Most Christians love the idea of reaching unchurched people, but when the idea blossoms into planning and execution, attitudes can quickly change. When leaders begin scrubbing programs, designing ministries and changing worship styles to reach unchurched people, church members often respond with pushback. It is helpful to go ahead and embrace the reality that people will leave when your focus shifts to reaching outsiders.
Throughout the New Testament, the Gospel unifies people, but it also divides people. Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword…” (Matthew 10:34). Jesus was surrounded by religious leaders and followers who were not happy about the people He was reaching. When Jesus shared His mission, people pushed back. His idea of reaching people who were far away from God did not fit into their belief system or ideology. John captures one of those moments when he writes, “From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66). Unfortunately, this is still the case in many churches today. Churches allow their traditions, past practices and complacency to supersede the mission of reaching people for Jesus. So, you need to know that it’s okay when people leave. Accept that.
2. Don’t Overlook Invisible Growth:
As I mentioned earlier, the average attendance of my friend’s church was exactly the same the previous year. For him, it was challenging to meet with his team and talk through the numbers that showed no growth. However, he didn’t think about the families who left his church over the last twelve months (for reasons mentioned above). So in essence, his church did grow. This growth is invisible on a spreadsheet, but it’s there nonetheless.
When churches are working to get unstuck, growth is always preceded with cutting and pruning. Loss will always come before gain. Jesus said, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:2). Unhealthy programs (and many times people) have to be cut away. So don’t let the attendance number be the only lens you look through to talk about growth. Even healthy things must be pruned. This is a normal part of growth, and if you treat it as abnormal, you’ll sabotage your plans and efforts.
3. Tangible Growth Simply Takes Time:
Let’s face it. It takes time for any organization to grow. This is true in the church and even more probable when a church has experienced years of stuckness. I love how the Message translates the apostle Paul’s words, “We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul – not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy...(Colossians 1:11). In other words, this is going to take time, effort and endurance.
When leaders want instant growth, they begin making quick decisions that usually lead to wrong decisions. When change is made too quickly, it can create a lack of buy-in from the church. Although there are things we must change immediately, there is value in creating a strategic timeline in terms of what changes when. It takes time to shift the church’s focus from the WHAT to the WHY. When the why becomes the driver, conversations shift and motives change.
So if you’re the pastor who has worked hard and prayed harder to see growth and impact in your church, and it just isn’t happening yet…be mindful of the word “yet.” Stay focused on the vision, execute the plans, and don’t stop believing. Keep going!
Do you know a student who has a passion for the Church for excellent communication or sales?
The Unstuck Group has an internship program for college students who are passionate about the mission of Jesus and helping the Church get unstuck. We are now accepting applications for our Fall 2018 Marketing & Communications Intern and Sales Intern positions.
Our Marketing & Communications Internship includes supporting our team in creating content to help church leaders get unstuck. Responsibilities include things like writing for blog posts, newsletters and social media; research and brainstorming to support eBooks, webinars and other content topics; collaborating with the communications team on marketing strategies; and more.
Here’s a few testimonial from previous interns about their experience:
“Through my time as the Marketing and Communications Intern, I gained valuable hands-on experience in digital marketing, writing, and social media management. The skills and competencies I acquired led me to obtaining a full-time job in the same field! I learned so much during my time at The Unstuck Group and would highly recommend this experience to anyone with a passion for communications and the Church.”
“My internship with The Unstuck Group has easily been the most meaningful experience of my college career. I have gained practical marketing skills, built important relationships, and discovered significant insights for church health. I highly recommend this opportunity to any college student who is interested in marketing and passionate about the Church. Seriously, don’t miss out on this experience!”
Our Sales Intern will support our business development team with their sales efforts. Responsibilities include building relationships with new church networks and denominations; assisting in moving a church from an initial contact into a client; assisting in the sales process, managing sales data and reporting and more.
Interested in learning more? Please share the details of this opportunity.
As we have worked with churches during our planning process, we have noticed the same 12 core issues come up again and again. But, we believe you can be equipped to win in these areas with some intentional development.
This course is filled with practical online lessons, video training, exercises, self-assessment tools, next steps for you and your team and private coaching from our consulting team. We would love to journey alongside you as you navigate these 12 lessons and implement them into your church.
Throughout the enrollment period, we’ve received a few similar questions, so we’d thought we’d share before you pull the trigger. Here are a few things you might be thinking about:
I read The Unstuck Church. Is this just the same content in a different format?
Nope! This is brand new content. In fact, it’s a great companion for the book. The course dives much deeper into how to take the next steps I described in each phase of the typical church life cycle.
Can I share the course content with my team?
Sure, you’ll get a PDF version of the core content you are welcome to share with other leaders at your church.
Participation in the online community requires an individual login, so if you want to invite other members of your team to interact, you may want to consider purchasing additional seats. We’re offering a group rate of $499 for the first seat, and $99 for each additional seat. Email email@example.com to get your group registered.
How long will I have access to the content?
It’s lifetime access! Once you’re in, your access to the content will not expire. We are closing enrollment on June 20, but the community will just be ramping up. We’ll continue to host Facebook Live events, and offer coaching to participants in the course and through the private Facebook Group throughout the year.
Is this your next step in leadership development? We’d love to partner with you in this process. Check out more details here:
If you have any specific questions, feel free to shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We really hope to see you there.
I love seeing churches get Unstuck. Not very long ago, I received this email from a pastor after facilitating the Unstuck Strategic Process at their church.
I can’t thank you enough for being willing to work with us on a personal level. You brought a big process, the Strategic Planning Retreat, to [our] church in the middle of Pennsylvania. The result, our people are now motivated to make a difference for Christ with their lives in this area and even beyond. And, our planning team is convinced God is getting ready to do great things through us for His glory!
Thanks again for getting us off on the right foot and being willing to walk along side of us for the next 12 months to help with accountability, follow through and focus on the goal we believe God has given to us.
Receiving emails like this is my favorite part about working with The Unstuck Group. However, not every email is so positive. Sometimes they are just the opposite. When teams fail to follow through, it creates a lot of frustration for the pastor. Good planning is only part of getting unstuck; plans have to be executed, and there’s only one thing that can make that happen: leadership.
For a church to begin moving forward, the pastor has to transition from pastor to Leader Pastor. This doesn’t mean the pastor needs to be involved with every ministry and meeting; actually, it’s just the opposite. However, the pastor must keep a finger on the pulse of the church to ensure movement is happening. In larger churches, this can be delegated through staff; in smaller churches, the pastor typically has to be that point person to keep things progressing.
Here are five areas that require leadership and attention from the lead pastor to help move plans to action:
1. We is better than me
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22
Whenever we work with churches, we always underline the value of team-led initiatives. When people join efforts around a cause, it produces creativity, participation and ownership. As a result, commitment heightens, and things get done. Proverbs 15:22 reminds us of the value of planning as a team. The pastor must encourage teamwork. In doing so, leaders are developed and teams learn a new planning discipline.
When people join efforts around a cause, it produces creativity, participation and ownership. Click To Tweet 2. Plans die when deadlines are ignored
“Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.” Luke 14:29-30
Plans are pointless without paying attention to deadlines. Even more importantly, deadlines are only effective if they are used to bring accountability. In the world of church, volunteers (who have jobs outside of their volunteering) drive a lot of the work, so it’s easy for things to be left undone. Asking questions like, “How are things going? How can I help? Do you have everything you need to meet your goal?” reminds teams that the finish line is in sight. When people know that the pastor is aware of the deadlines, it changes things. In Luke 14, Jesus tells a story about a man who started building a tower; in the parable, He explains the value of following through on commitments from beginning to end. Deadlines, if used properly, can help teams follow-through.
3. Vision is vital
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ’They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” Jeremiah 29:11
Getting unstuck begins with gaining perspective and determining a clear vision. When churches begin moving forward, there is always a tendency to create or add new things. It is important to make sure that every new endeavor aligns with the overall vision. The vision gives you permission to say no. Anything that doesn’t drive the vision must be cut loose. The pastor has to stand firm anytime something or someone wants to deviate from the direction God has provided. My friend Shawn Lovejoy wrote a book Be Mean about the Vision that deals with this subject. When God provides a vision, you can trust it.
“Do not withhold good from those whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27
The pastor is the CEO, which means two things: the Chief Executive Officer AND the Chief Encouragement Officer. Pastors must invest in their teams by reassuring their efforts and celebrating the wins.
The words of the pastor carry weight; therefore, encouraging the team is an investment that will always bring a return. Click To Tweet 5. Prayer is your best strategy
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” Ephesians 5:20
Lastly, above everything else, pray. Plans and strategies are pointless if we aren’t prayerful. The voice of the Holy Spirit is the most important voice of all. Any church that attempts to impact lives for Christ can expect resistance from people and retaliation from Satan. It’s during those times that pastors must pray and lean into Ephesians 5:20.
Here’s the best news of all. The church belongs to Jesus. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, “…on this rock I will build MY CHURCH.” Jesus wants your church to succeed. He wants your church to help people know Him. And if Jesus is for you…then who can stand against you?
Jesus wants your church to succeed. He wants your church to help people know Him. And if Jesus is for you…then who can stand against you? Click To Tweet
If your day job is putting a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey on with your name on the back of it, you’ve got a pretty tough gig—especially if that name reads “James.”
Even if you’re not a basketball fan, you probably have caught the story line of this year’s NBA Finals: it wasn’t just the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the Golden State Warriors; it was Lebron James vs. whichever five players were playing for the other team.
Now, that’s an unfair assessment. The Cavs wouldn’t have been in the Finals if the other four guys on the team were terrible. Lebron James wasn’t on a “bad” team—but he was certainly the best player on an inferior team.
The series ended last week when the Warriors beat the Cavs in four straight wins, bringing the season to a swift and rather unexpected finish. However, until the very end, Lebron’s goal stayed the same:
Some of us find ourselves in similar roles. We’re in churches, or we’re on teams that are just tough. We’ve got a vision. We’ve got the drive. We know what’s possible. And we’re working hard to achieve it for all the right reasons. But when we look around, we see the challenges stacking up in front of us. We don’t have the resources, we don’t have the culture, we don’t have the talent… we don’t have what other “winning” churches seem to have.
Although we might never say it out loud, on the inside we’re wrestling with this reality:
We might see ourselves as the best player on an “inferior” team. The others aren’t bad people. They might be doing their best. But, they aren’t exactly an NBA Finals winning group of people either. And in the end, you’re carrying a burden similar to Lebron’s. Outside of God and His power, you know that the success of the team weighs heaviest on… you.
So, here’s some things that we can learn from Lebron, how he conducted himself, and how he got his team to the Finals.
Perform at Your Absolute Best
Lebron knew his city was depending on him. He knew his teammates were depending on him. He knew that his best was the only shot his team had at success. So, rather than looking at the long odds against him as an excuse for giving less than his best effort (“because what does it matter? We’re probably going to lose anyways”), he accepted the challenge of performing at his absolute best. It’s the only chance they had at winning. And Lebron wanted his team to win.
If you are carrying more than just your own fair share of the responsibility for the team’s success, the temptation for you is to justify not putting in your best effort. After all, your average is very possibly still better than the next guy’s best.
But that doesn’t matter—at least, it doesn’t matter if what you want most is your team to succeed. Then, the only thing that really matters is whether or not you’re performing at your best.
Accept the unfair odds, and do your best anyways. By doing so, you will honor both God and your team because you will give your team the best chance they have to succeed.
Accept the unfair odds, and do your best anyways. By doing so, you will honor both God and your team because you will give your team the best chance they have to win. Click To Tweet Don’t (Ever) Throw your Teammates Under the Bus
If you haven’t seen the clip from how Game 1 of the Finals ended, let me recap it for you: one of Lebron’s teammates rebounded a missed free throw underneath Golden State’s basket, with 4.6 seconds left, with no one around him, with the score tied, and…
Dribbled it out.
The buzzer sounded. The game went into overtime. And then the Cavaliers lost the game—and eventually the entire series.
Lebron took the podium at the post-game conference. He was asked repeatedly about that play, what he thought of his teammate, what his teammate was thinking, what he thought about it, etc. And after answering the same questions 32 different ways, he got up and walked out—without passing blame to anyone else.
The truth was obvious. His teammate screwed up. Royally. We’re talking a season’s worth of work lost somewhat because of an absent-minded mistake at the least excusable time. How many of us in Lebron’s shoes—and in the name of truth and fairness—would have lit our teammate up? Maybe to his or her face? Maybe to anyone else who would listen?
But he didn’t. We can’t either if we’re the strongest player on the team. The past is the past. What happened last weekend can’t be changed. You can only learn from it and move forward. The next weekend provides another opportunity—for you to succeed and for your team to succeed. Throwing your teammates under the bus might make you feel better today, but it will only add to the burden your team has to carry tomorrow.
Accept “Unfair” Expectations
The camera would occasionally pan over to Lebron while he rested on the bench (which was almost never), or when the Warriors hit another 3-pointer (which was almost always), or when he hit a wide open teammate who promptly missed a wide open shot (which was more often than not). The expression on Lebron’s face was one of bewilderment at times. His nonverbals seemed to scream, “What else can I possibly be expected to do?”
The question we have to ask ourselves is this: will I push myself and my team to higher expectations, or will I push everyone else to lower their expectations for us? Click To Tweet
Well, as it turns out, plenty. And plenty is what Lebron chose to do until the very end. He communicated with his teammates, he hit 3-pointers and he continued to find the open man. He did all of these things that kept his team in it, that kept the other team aware of his presence, and that kept the outcome from being absolutely hopeless.
And we can do the same. It’s not about whether or not the expectations are fair; they are what they are. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: will I push myself and my team to higher expectations, or will I push everyone else to lower their expectations for us?
Know Your Role
There is one major difference between our role on our team and Lebron’s on his:
In reality, we’re not the best player on our team, nor are we our team’s only and best hope.
Success isn’t ultimately summoned from deep inside ourselves. We’re not the hero in our church’s story, the Savior for our city, or the only hope our team has of winning. That role was filled when the stone was rolled away. So, let’s not slap the name “Messiah, Jr.” on the back of our jerseys. Know your (secondary) role.
Nevertheless: accept the challenges of the place and team in which God has planted you—even if you do happen to be the best player on your team.
Sean Bublitz, consultant at The Unstuck Group, recommends this podcast episode on culture. Donald Miller talks with Patrick Lencioni about the characteristics of a great team member, and the practical ways you can help your team develop those traits.
Bublitz also recommends Thom Rainer’s podcast highlighting guest-follow up. We commonly see follow-up issues in churches, and always encourage improvements to make guests feel more welcome. Check out these six keys to helping your first-timers stick around.
Another consultant, Chad Hunt, recommends this podcast episode on discipleship and defining spiritual maturity. Daniel Im talks with Carey about addressing discipleship in churches and practical ways to diagnose unknown issues with this topic.
Also check out the The Unstuck Church Podcast! Tony Morgan and Amy Anderson also host a weekly podcast around church leadership and growth topics that you can subscribe to here. Check out some of our recent popular episodes:
No one gets into ministry for the money. But does that mean church leaders should be paid less? In this episode, Tony and Amy share a biblical foundation for paying staff well, how to practically make it possible, and some simple ways to evaluate how much you should be paying the staff at your church.
We see these same core issues getting churches stuck again and again. But we don’t think it has to be that way. Church leaders who make themselves aware of the pitfalls can avoid them. Last week, Amy and I actually recorded this episode live on Facebook! We discussed five of the most common issues getting churches stuck.
Do you have any podcast recommendations? Share them with us in the comments below or on social media using #unstuckchurch.
Timing is a beast. As a leader, it’s one of the most important things you can master, but it’s also one of the most elusive. Jim Morrison once said, “I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown, which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments.”
I can relate to that. But when you’re leading a church and there’s a lot at stake, recovering from some mistakes is long and painful.
So, here’s a look at five indicators that it may be time to step out and start that change you’ve been thinking about:
1. You feel a genuine nudge from God.
I know, I know—you can say this about anything. And many leaders have abused this one. “God told me….” That’s why it’s so important to discern whether God is pushing for this change or it’s just you. In my own experience, the two clarifying questions are: (1) What do my mentors think? and (2) Have I slept on it? As a church leader, the last thing you want to do is rush into the wrong change effort at the wrong time.
2. The problem is obvious.
If people don’t sense a need for the change I’m introducing, it is definitely NOT the right time. It may be the right thing. But if it’s not the right time, it’s not going to be embraced, and it will turn out to be the wrong thing. The issue with misreading your timing on a big change effort is that you can’t easily resurrect the solution. People’s memories are far too good for that. Make sure the problem has been defined and communicated—and it hurts enough to warrant the change.
If it’s not the right time, it’s not going to be embraced, and it will turn out to be the wrong thing. Click To Tweet 3. Your core team is unified.
Some teams are fractured from false starts. Nothing makes a change effort succeed like a sold out team. That’s why it’s important to gauge the commitment level of the people you’re leading with before you pull the trigger. In my own life, I find that I’ve been thinking about a particular initiative every day for hours, sometimes for weeks or months on end. I then expect someone who just heard about it to be as enthusiastic as I am about it. But, that’s not realistic. We need to give our teams the advantage of perk time, and an opportunity to get their questions answered. I’ve found that their questions make the plan better, and their support brings strength back into our efforts.
4. You have a plan.
As they say, “Prior proper planning prevents poor performance.” How does your plan look? Has it passed the test of scrutiny by your most trusted leaders? Are you holding it as a guide and not as a god? Remember, plans change but visions stay the same. Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. Your plan should be a smart but flexible guide that navigates toward your goal. It should answer people’s questions ahead of time. And it should invite the maximum possible participation.
Remember, plans change but visions stay the same. Click To Tweet 5. Your tank is full.
There’s nothing like beginning a road trip with an empty tank. Bad idea. Even parents know that kids can see the gas gauge from the back seat. If you’re not prepared, people will know. There’s no glory in “faking it ’til you make it.” That kind of leadership is manipulative and potentially dangerous. Jesus’ Church deserves better. As hard as it is to wait, when you don’t have the resources to pursue an opportunity, it’s not the right time. The two gauges to watch are Energy and Cash. Building up some margin in those two areas will build confidence on your team, especially with those who are more risk-averse.
I’m hoping these five indicators will save you some pain and give you some strength as you step out to lead in your God-given assignment.
I’d love to know what you’re working on, how it’s going, and what you’re learning. Please take a moment to connect by leaving a comment.