I was honored to have Andy Stanley as one of my personal mentors for several years. As you can imagine, I learned so much from him. As much as anything, he helped me understand the power of simple systems.
When I was 28 years old, Andy told me something I’ll never forget. He said:
“Shawn, every church is perfectly structured for the results they’re getting now.”
Thanks for that one, Andy! I’ve not told you that enough!
After pastoring for nearly two decades and consulting with hundreds of churches since then, I am convinced that this law of church growth stands true:
Church systems are perfectly designed to produce the results they’re getting now. If they want better results, they have to improve their systems.
Why does a church spike in attendance, only to shrink back to the same water level of attendance? The church is perfectly structured for the results they’re getting now.
Why do churches see guests come in every week, new baptisms every year, and yet maintain the same attendance? The church is perfectly structured for the results they’re getting now.
There’s a big difference between ministry management and ministry multiplication. As a leader, the gravitational pull is always toward the tyranny of the urgent. It’s like a tractor beam pulling us in. Too many leaders get so focused on “What now?” that we can’t focus on what’s next! We fall into the rut of putting out fires and managing the ministry machine, rather than focusing on what could come next for our ministry.
Ministry management is important — just not at the neglect of ministry multiplication! New approaches to ministry, starting new groups, new ministries, new campuses, new sites, and new churches are where the real Kingdom and church growth will come from! Multiplication is the real key to Kingdom and church growth! So how can we get our ministries focused more on multiplication and less on management? Here are a few ideas:
Focus on the IMPORTANT, not the URGENT
Are you familiar with the Urgent/Important Matrix? In the figure below, you can probably tell where we tend to spend the majority of our time: urgent things that are NOT the most important things, such as the internet, our email inbox, social media, and meetings where nothing…Continue Reading
We are all on the bus together headed to the same destination to play the game of our lives. As we travel along, however, we begin to sense something may not be right with a few members of the team. We need to pay attention to these feelings! Oftentimes, God is speaking through that still small voice, preparing us for courageous conversations and courageous calls that will need to happen before we can pull off our next big win.
The 4 Most Common Staff Issues
1. They’re in the wrong seat on the bus.
This has to do with a team member’s capacity. Many times it’s not that someone has fumbled the ball in such a way that it led to a big loss. They haven’t done something terribly wrong. We just sense that they might be in over their heads. They might be out of position. Though they fit for a while in a certain seat on the bus, sometimes as the organization grows, the gift mix needed for that position simply changes. The Worship Pastor gift mix needed at a church of 200 is completely different than the mix needed at a church…Continue Reading
“Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum, or miserable stagnation.”
-Shawn Parr, Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch, @FastCompany
Culture is the combination of what we believe and how we behave. It’s been said that we are creatures of habit. The same can be said for the organizations we lead. They are simply a product of our habits!
There’s always a gap between what we say we value and what we really value. Let’s close that gap a bit. Let’s honestly assess ourselves. Let’s commit to practice what we preach. Let’s ask ourselves the tough questions. Healthy things grow so let’s deal with any issues that could be affecting our culture. How?
What are you passionate about? What is the organization passionate about? Does everyone know it? Does everyone feel it?
Crank it up a bit! When Jesus came on the scene, the Bible says He “taught as one having authority, not as the teachers of the law” (Mark 1:22). In other words, he taught with conviction, passion, and moral authority! You should do the same.
Are you crystal clear on the culture you’re…Continue Reading
Vision statements are a dime a dozen as far as I’m concerned. Everyone these days has a vision statement. A few years ago, everyone had a “2020 Vision.” Soon it will be a “2050 Vision,” and so on. At the end of the day, however, a vision statement is just a statement. It has no life on its own. It cannot, nor will it ever, energize, unify, or align an organization. This task falls to the leader. A vision statement is only as strong as the leader is. Vision is only as clear as the leader is. Vision is only as compelling as a leader makes it.
A vision is stewarded and sustained by a leader.
A vision defines why we exist. No matter what we call it,preserving the vision requires we answer one question at the outset: “Why are we here?” The vision is our bull’seye. Let’s keep it simple. Leadership involves keeping our organization so focused on the vision that people are willing to sacrifice for it. If we get that right, everything else will fall in place.
Them , how do we communicate it? How do we get everyone passionate about it as…Continue Reading
When Jesus came along two thousand years ago, His character and His posture toward people can be summed up with two primary words:
“We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 NIV
Now I know some pastors who are just FULL OF IT, but that’s not what I’m talking about!
If our lives, ministries, and churches are to be marked by the character and posture of Jesus, our ministries should by full of two primary components: GRACE and TRUTH.
Both are equally necessary. Both must be held in tension. Both must be in balance.
Truth without grace or grace without truth makes our ministries out of balance.
TRUTH WITHOUT GRACE is wrong.
Truth without grace is mean spirited. truth without grace beats up on people.
Truth without grace lacks love.
Truth without grace repels people away from Jesus.
Truth without grace tends to try to scare the Hell out of people…literally!
Truth without grace ceases to be the Gospel because the Gospel is Good News!
GRACE WITHOUT TRUTH is also wrong.
Grace without truth lacks honesty.
Grace witout truth chooses not to confront sin.
Grace without truth is being nice…Continue Reading
Yesterday in our Pastor’s Virtual Coaching Network, we talked about the importance of protecting the vision in our churches.
Proverbs 29:18 (NIV) Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.
In other words, where there is a lack of vision, there is less focus and more chaos. However, here’s the scariest thought: If the followers don’t get the vision, or aren’t living t out, it’s usually because the leader has not gotten it across!
So the question as leaders is:
How can we help people in our churches and ministry organizations understand, embrace, and live out the vision?
* Make sure our vision is from God. Gods vision comes through God’s revelation. We don’t invent the vision, We just discover it.
* Be willing to die for the vision. If we really believe the vision is from God, we must be willing to die for it. If not, we’ll relent or quit when fulfilling His vision gets difficult.
* Over-communicate the vision. An annual vision talk is not going to get this done. every day, ever week, and every month we must look for creative ways to talk about the vision. Celebrate the…Continue Reading
So pastors aren’t perfect, it seems. We do make mistakes. Lots of them, actually. So what could possibly be ranked as the #1 mistake Pastors make? Through churchplanters.com, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with thousands of pastors around our nation and world, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the most common mistake pastors make is not: having an affair or stealing the offerings, or even neglecting their relationships with God. The most common mistake I see pastors make is getting isolated. All the factors are there that make this the gravitational pull for us. Sunday’s always coming. The message has to top last week’s message. There are tons of meetings needed to pull that off every week. There are staff issues, congregational issues, weddings, funerals, counseling and crisis. Oh, and then we’ve got to get home at some point and pull our weight. If we get two minutes of free time, we feel like we need to be there and make up for lost time with our families.
All the while, guess what happens? We look up one day and we don’t have any friends. We feel like we have no one in our life that…Continue Reading
My family and I have been away on a Ministry Sabbatical. Why did we need a Sabbatical? The word Sabbath, of course, means rest. That’s what we needed this month. I actually do believe that Senior Pastors need MORE of it, because of the tireless schedules and demands on us. Every year, as soon as school is out, my entire family pulls back a good bit for a few weeks. We use this time to rest, replenish, and reenergize for the Fall! What did I do on Sabbatical?
- I rested. Truly rested.
- I played with my kids.
- I hung out with my wife.
- I read. A lot. I read three books while I was away and started two more.
- I still did some work. It was just more of the Strategic and futuristic stuff. I worked ON IT, not IN IT. This kind of work inspires me, not drains me!
- I actually exercised some!
What made it replenishing?
- I didn’t teach for three weeks in a row. I finally miss it!
- I got away from home. When I’m at home, I can’t relax like I want.
- I went to places where I…
Vision is indeed powerful. However, for those of us who are Christ followers, we don’t believe in vision as much as we do “revelation”. The vision we have for our lives, comes from God! We don’t make up the vision for our life. We get it from Him! It’s a revelation from Him!
Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Proverbs 29:18 (NIV) “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.”
When we started Mountain Lake Church, He gave us His mission from His Word!
Our mission: “Giving people a place to belong in a healthy relationship with God and others and become more like Jesus Christ each day.”
This mission comes straight from God’s Word! He said the most important things in life were loving Him; loving each other; carrying His message to others; baptizing people into the family; and helping people follow Jesus daily! (See Matthew 22:37-40; and Matthew 28:19-20).
When we begin to discover and then live out God’s vision for our lives, it becomes the most powerful force in our lives!
1. God’s Vision sustains us. When we want to quit (I want…Continue Reading
Leadership and vision go hand in hand. Therefore, leadership must begin with a clear vision: whether it be for our personal life, our family, our church, or organization. If people around us don’t know where we’re going and where we’re trying to take them, they will have a hard time making the journey.
A clear vision communicates three things:
1. Why we’re here: our purpose.
What “business” are we in? Why do we exist? Why am I married? Why do we have children? What is the purpose of our parenting? Why is our church here? What is the ormiary goal of this company?
A clear vision should express a higher purpose for a greater good that gives meaning to each person’s efforts. A clear purpose provides direction.
2. Where we’re going: a picture of the future.
Where are we going? What will our future look like if we accomplish our purpose? A clear picture provides motivation.
3. What guides us along the way: what we value.
What do I stand for? What’s important around here? What governs our character and relationships? Values protect and provide guard rails.
Without clear vision, we’ll never end up where we want to be, much less where we need to be; and neither will anyone else!…Continue Reading
Churches are busy—and proud of it, aren’t we? We love to boast about all we’re doing: whether it be on the Web, in worship guides, or even billboards. We’re often proud of “all we offer” to our community. One church I know of has boasted “over 152 ministries for you and your family.”
Most of us don’t go to these lengths to be a “user-friendly” church. However, if we’re honest, we all feel the tension to seek to provide ministries and programs for all ages. Everyone wants to know about our Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, our College ministry, our Singles Ministry, our Senior Adult Ministry, our Bible Studies, and of course, our Men’s and Women’s Ministries. Parents want to know about our VBS, Awanas programs, camps, and youth activities we offer. Before you know it, if we’re not careful, to meet the needs, we have our calendars stuffed with dozens of programs offered every day of the week.
Here are my challenges with this approach to ministry in our churches. First of all, when it comes to discipleship, busyness doesn’t equal effectiveness. Even pastors have bought into the myth that busyness = value. We love to feel…Continue Reading