Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

Friday Finds - Promotions, Customer Service and Organizational Growth

I spent a couple days this week driving through torrential downpours of rain in Florida. Glad to get back to sunny Houston! The driving gave me time to contemplate my final days in this decade called the 40's. I thought when I got here, I might dread turning 50 years old. But I'm actually looking forward to what lies ahead. I'm sure my posts next week will be full of wisdom that I didn't have when I was only 49-years old. We shall see.

But in the meantime, here are some leadership articles we've found to challenge or grow you:

Why You Haven't Been Promoted Yet by Bob Sutton via Vanderbloemen Search Group

Maybe you've been waiting weeks, months, or even years for a promotion. It's easy to get discouraged in the waiting period, but it's worth evaluating the reasons why you're there. My friend and colleague Bob Sutton provides a handful of self-evaluating questions to ask if you're waiting on a promotion.

All Great Customer Service Cultures Share These 8 Elements. How Does Your Company Measure Up? by Micah Solomon via Forbes

Companies with exceptional customer service all share certain characteristics that make them stand out as leaders of the culture pack. Use these 8 traits from Micah Solomon to evaluate where your company stands on the customer service scale. 

7 Things That Get Harder As Your Church Grows via Carey Nieuwhof

It's dangerous (and easy) to believe the lie that all problems fade when an organization hits a growth spurt. In fact, many leaders fail to predict the myriad of problems that arise because of rapid growth. If your church finds itself in a season of growth, pay close attention to these 7 easy mistakes from Carey Nieuwhof. 

Why So Many Churches Are Too Busy via Rainer on Leadership Podcast

Have you noticed that your church is just too busy lately? In this podcast episode, Thom Rainer explores the potential reasons behind a hectic church season and why it could be problematic in the future. Church leaders, you won't want to miss this!

What are you reading or listening to this week? Let me know in the comments below.

The Unstuck Church: Unpacking the Typical Church Life Cycle with Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan and I go way back. We were in a small group together back in 1998 when he was a City Manager and I was on staff at a small but growing church. It didn't take me long to realize I needed this guy on our team, and we spent the next 8 years serving side by side, co-writing a series of books, and raising our families together.

These days, he’s the founder and lead strategist at The Unstuck Group, and has been working for over 8 years to help churches get unstuck. He recently published a book called The Unstuck Church: Equipping Churches to Experience Sustained Health. I asked him a few questions about his new release and the heart behind it all.

Tim: What inspired you to write The Unstuck Church?

The why is pretty simple: Jesus changed my life. I believe that it is God’s plan for the local church to help other people like me experience a relationship with Christ. So, I wrote the book because I want churches to be healthy, and I want healthy churches to grow. As churches get healthy, more people get to experience a relationship with Jesus. I believe God desires that our churches reach and live in that peak of sustained health, where life change is occurring, healthy growth is happening, and the church is fulfilling its purpose and vision. It’s about becoming the church God designed it to be.

Tim: In your new book, you discuss the church life cycle and what each stage means. What are the 7 phases that churches typically experience?

The bell curve below is the typical church life cycle. All churches don’t experience every phase of the life cycle, but it’s true that most church start, grow, thrive, decline and eventually end. In my book, I’ve worked to capture my observations about the characteristics of a church in each of these phases, along with top-priority next steps to help you move towards sustained health.

The Unstuck Church_bell curve_life cycle.jpeg

Tim: Where do churches most often get stuck?

There are two most common places churches get stuck. One is on the left side of the curve where churches experience growth. The church has gone through the launch phase, experienced momentum and has gotten stuck in strategic growth where the church has started to outgrow its systems and structure. The church moves beyond a personality and begins to require clear strategies to move forward.

The second place is located in the second half of the church life cycle. The church tends to become more inward focused. They’ve moved into maintenance season. Many times, churches don’t know that they are in this season. The church might even be financially the healthiest that it has ever been, so that can easily cover up the other indicators that a church is headed for decline.

Tim: So, what do you think sustained health looks like?

This is my prayer for churches - this is where I want churches to live.

I cover all the characteristic I see in the book, but here are a just few of them:

  • Churches have maintained a collaborative approach to how they look at ministry.

It’s not just on the shoulders of one person. It is important to note that the journey to sustained health is about a team of leaders coming together to establish the systems and structures needed to create the healthiest environment for growth.

  • They are still willing to take calculated risks and prioritize the right bold moves.

    We have a constantly shifting culture and community around us. We don’t need churches that worship their methods. Leverage a method as long as it’s working, but holding onto it when it’s not is a blind affection for tradition.

  • Churches prioritize having a good mix of giftings on staff.

There needs to be a balance between the visionary and the process-minded.

Tim: How can a church leader assess which life cycle stage the church is in?

Tony: We actually created a free online assessment tool that churches leaders are able to take individually, or, better yet, as a leadership team. We are really excited about this. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for churches to identify what season they are in as a church, and we’re already hearing from church leaders telling us the results are starting great conversations in their board and staff meetings and giving them something concrete to use for creating urgency for change.

The assessment takes 10-15 minutes, and you’ll a downloadable PDF report with some prioritized next steps based on the phase of the life cycle you’re in. It’s a great tool to use alongside the book. You can access it, and learn more about the book, at theunstuckchurch.com.

I've been hearing Tony talk about the content of this book for a few years, and I'm very grateful it's now available for purchase. Be sure to pick up a few copies for you and your team.

Friday Finds - Dream Jobs, Staffing and Church Leadership

This week our team has had the privilege to rally around one of our work associates who is facing a tough season. I've always been honored to work with my friends, or to become friends over time. It's important to have people to stand by you when you are going through a crisis. As one of my team members reminded me this week, "No one should fight alone." Is there someone you can stand by and hold up this week? 

And while you are, check out these articles to help you lead better this week.

"Don't Take It Personally" Is Terrible Work Advice by Duncan Coombe via Harvard Business Review

Although this was originally posted a year ago, I think this is still incredibly relevant to churches and businesses alike. While most people will say "It's not personal, it's business", Duncan Coombs argues that leadership requires a personal component in order to be successful. 

4 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Making Your Next Hire by William Vanderbloemen via Forbes

Hiring a new staff member is a careful process that requires an incredible amount of diligence. In this article, my friend William Vanderbloemen provides 4 insightful questions to ask yourself before making the decision to take on a new staff member. 

How To Land The Dream Job That Isn't Even Advertised by Level Up via Forbes

Sometimes the best jobs aren't open for application. This interesting piece by Level Up describes the process by which a candidate can build him or herself into a dream job. Spoiler alert: it's all about networking.  

10 Ways Pastors Can be Great Bosses by Thom Rainer via LifeWay Leadership

Pastors have the unique responsibility of casting vision for the church body and shepherding a staff team at the same time. Following his previous article on 10 Ways Pastors Can be Bad Bosses, Thom Rainer highlights the positive side of leadership in the church. 

What are you reading or listening to this week? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday Finds - Succession Planning, Communication Styles, & Hate Mail

Photo by Michael Henry via Unsplash

Photo by Michael Henry via Unsplash

I had a full week including an opportunity to spend several days with the team at The City Church in Seattle. I always enjoy seeing what God is doing through so many different leaders and churches across the country. I am encouraged every week by the strength of the leaders in the churches and organizations we work with. Here are some articles I've found to help you lead better this week. 

Succession Planning Needs To Be Your No. 1 Priority by Stuart R. Levine via Forbes Insights

We have a phrase at Vanderbloemen Search Group that "every pastor is an interim pastor". This couldn't be more true, for churches and businesses alike. Regardless of your industry, having a succession plan in place is crucial for the long-term health of your organization. Read Stuart Levine's awesome insights in his post for Forbes. 

When I Allow Someone to Fail and When I Come to the Rescue via Ron Edmondson

Failure is a key component of success. As a leader, deciding whether to let your staff members fail or rescue them is a fine line, determined on a case-to-case basis. Ron Edmondson details the complexities of this position and how leaders can be encouraged to act in the future. 

How To Maximize Effectiveness With Different Church Staff Communication Styles by Meredith Mohr via Vanderbloemen Search Group

Healthy organizations know the value of staff communication. Even healthier organizations recognize that there are various communication styles on a staff team. In this article, my colleague Meredith Mohr gives a few tips on how leaders can maximize productivity and cohesion in the workplace through communication. 

Five Steps to Respond to a Hurtful and Hateful Email via Thom Rainer

Leading a business, church, or organization can be difficult, especially when there are plenty of voices constantly weighing in on your decisions. A hateful email is nothing to quit your profession over, but is also not something to overlook. Check out Thom Rainer's advice for dealing with "hate mail" in the most effective and loving way possible.  

What are you reading or listening to this week? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday Finds - The Summer Slump, United Airlines, and Burnout

Photo by Sunset Girl via Unsplash

Photo by Sunset Girl via Unsplash

It's been a full week week on both the family and work fronts. Megan and Hunter have been home from college, so we spent some good family time together. Also, I spent the weekend with the leadership team at Bayside Church in Roseville, California. I'm very excited to be working with them on behalf of Vanderbloemen to help fill one of their most crucial leadership positions. I trust the week has been productive for you as well...here are some articles I've found to help you lead better this week. 

Why United Is Coming Back, And Why Uber Is Not by William Vanderbloemen via Forbes

As a personal fan of United Airlines myself, it was nice to read my friend William Vanderbloemen's take on the latest issues regarding United and Uber. This article has gone viral since it was published a few days ago. I know you'll appreciate reading his valuable insights on how a company can save itself from a modern day PR nightmare. 

3 Important Steps You Can Take to STOP the Summer Slump by Joe Sangl via TonyMorganLive.com

Summer is quickly approaching, and church leaders need to be preemptively fighting against the inevitable drop in attendance and participation. Rather than becoming discouraged, use these three steps to help motivate your church staff team in a season of congregational drought. 

How I Recovered From Burnout: 12 Keys To Finding Your New Normal via Carey Nieuwhof

Burnout in ministry is real, but can sometimes be prevented when it can be identified early on. However, if you are a leader already in the midst of a season of burnout, take hope in these 12 recovery steps from Carey Nieuwhof. 

Podcast: A Journey In Discovering Spiritual Gifts with Sam Storms via Vanderbloemen Search Group

In my opinion, the healthiest churches are the ones that understand the spiritual gifts of its staff. This is the key to unlocking the full potential of your church staff leadership team. Check out this week's Vanderbloemen Search Group Podcast with Sam Storms for insights on building and leading your team. 

What are you reading or listening to this week? Let me know in the comments below.