Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

Friday Finds - Setting Goals, Blogging and Hiring Secrets

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla via Unsplash

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla via Unsplash

John Quincy Adams is credited with saying, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." That likely describes you. Whether you are a school teacher, mom, business owner, pastor or student in school. We all have the opportunity to lead. Every day is wrought with opportunities to inspire others and pull the best out of the people around you.

Here are some leadership articles to encourage and challenge you:

The Secret I've Learned About Hiring by William Vanderbloemen via Forbes

In this first-of-four-part series on Forbes, William Vanderbloemen challenges leaders to re-think the way they look at their hiring process, and more importantly, their candidates. This insight is so valuable, regardless of your team's current staffing needs.  

Five Terrible Reasons to Enter Vocational Ministry via Thom Rainer

Considering a career in vocational ministry? This is an incredibly big decision, so it's important to spend some time assessing exactly why you feel drawn to this path. Thom Rainer provides five bad reasons to consider moving into ministry. 

How To Be More Productive And Set Better Goals with Christy Wright [Podcast] via Vanderbloemen Search Group

I don't think I know anyone who would say "I don't want to be more productive". Productivity can sustain your organization for the long haul. Every team can benefit from this type of insight from Christy Wright on the Vanderbloemen Search Group Leadership Podcast. 

9 Universal Leadership Lessons I've Learned From Writing, Blogging And Podcasting via Carey Nieuwhof

How often does your organization practice writing, blogging, and/or podcasting? Pouring into one (if not all) of these mediums is key to expanding your reach, regardless of your industry. Carey Neiuwhof gives 9 great lessons he's learned from this experience. 

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

Friday Finds - Startups, Servanthood and Active vs. Passive Leadership

Photo by Daria Shevtsova via Unsplash

Photo by Daria Shevtsova via Unsplash

Last night I spent time with a search committee who has the daunting and sacred task of finding their church's next senior pastor. It may be one of my best things about my "job" -- sitting with men and women who love God and love their church, but need a little bit of help in finding a high caliber spiritual leader for their community. Let me know if we can be helpful to your congregation.

Here are some leadership articles to challenge you this week...

Trying Harder Won't Fix Your Church by Paul Alexander via TonyMorganLive

If your organization finds itself in a season of stagnation, the answer may not be to try harder. In fact, there are many (more effective) ways for leaders to seek solutions, and more often than not they require starting over. In this post, Paul Alexander gives a few great insights on ways for leaders to revamp their ministry or organization. 

Five Marks of a Servant Leader by Jon Bloom via desiringGod.org

What would it look like if all leaders were servant leaders? It's my guess that a lot more would get done, and there would be a whole lot more joy in making it happen. Read on to learn the telltale signs of a servant leader, and how you can begin this practice in your own workplace.

The Most Common Reason Most Startup Ideas Die by Patrick Mullane via Fortune Insiders

Ready to launch your new idea to the rest of the world? Take note of this piece by Patrick Mullane on the Fortune Insiders column, which explains the reasons why some startups succeed and why some are left behind. 

Which Type of Leader Are You (Active or Passive) via Perry Noble

This great post by Perry Noble highlights the difference between passive and active leadership, a prevalent contrast in today's workplace. Of course, everyone's leadership style will look different, but this provides some helpful questions to ask for self-evaluation. 

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

Friday Finds - Laziness, Bad Advice and the Waiting Game

Photo by Green Chameleon via Unsplash

Photo by Green Chameleon via Unsplash

One of the favorite parts of my job is sitting with pastors and church leaders, and helping them solve staffing problems. I had the chance to do that this week in southern California (where it was 103 degrees!), as well as with a church in Washington state. When I can help lift the burden of a leader, and introduce them to someone who can take them to the next level--that is both exhilarating and life-giving.

And if I can also lift your burden a bit with one of these leadership articles, I'll call that a good week:

5 Warning Signs That Laziness Is Creeping Into Your Leadership by Eric Geiger via LifeWay Leadership

Laziness in leadership is dangerous because it can impact the morale of your entire staff. Eric Geiger provides 5 warning signs that laziness might be creeping into your organization's culture, and how to stop it in its tracks. 

The Ultimate Character Test Any Great Leader Passes via Carey Nieuwhof

Good character is an essential quality of successful leaders; people will want to follow someone with a solid foundation more than someone with a perfect track record. Check out these key determining factors in your most trusted senior leaders. 

Why 'Do What You Love' Is Terrible Advice by Frank Talarico Jr. via Fortune

Thousands of college graduates have been told to 'do what you love' when deciding on a career, and it's dangerous. Frank Talarico explains why this advice might be setting up recent grads for an unpromising future (and what they should be looking for instead). 

Young (Future) Leaders: How To Wait Well by David Fantin via Vanderbloemen Search Group

What's one of the keys to successful leadership? Waiting. As trivial as it sounds, having the capacity to wait is a great test of the ability to lead others well. Check out this great insight from my colleague David Fantin. 

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

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.