Archives For Shawn Lovejoy

Early on in my career and ministry, everyone around me advocated the need for systems and told me I needed good ones to succeed. However, no one ever really took the time to explain what a system is and how to build one from scratch! Today I will do just that.

First, let’s talk about what a system is. Here’s my definition:

A system is a bridge (process) that moves things and people from where they are to where they need to be, and keeps them there.

A budget is a bridge that tells our money where to go and how it goes there.

A meeting is a bridge that tells everyone where we are, where we are going, and how we plan to get there.

A ministry is a bridge that tells everyone how they can get from where they are now  to where they want to be, and stay there! So what systems do we need to build?

What You Need to Know to Build a System

5 questions must be answered:

  1. Where are things sitting now?
  2. Where are the people now?
  3. Where do they need to go?
  4. How do we want to take them there?
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Leadership is a battle, is it not? Not so much of a physical battle, as it is an emotional . . . and spiritual one! Every day we wake up to dozens of voices going off in our head about what we can do or can’t do and should or should not do. If we listen to the wrong voices, we’re tempted to retreat or even surrender to lies of the enemy. We only lose the battle if we retreat or surrender to the enemy in the battles for our mind. What do these battles look like? In my own leadership and now in my coaching hundreds of leaders, I have observed four emotional and spiritual battles we face as the most common:


When we become insecure, we’re tempted to measure ourselves in comparison with others. We begin to try too hard. We compensate to make ourselves look better than we are. We stop trusting people. We stop listening to people. When we’re insecure in our own skin, we’re tempted to put others down to make us feel better about ourselves. We’re tempted to criticize or even condemn other leaders and ministries simply because…

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Group of Kids

Okay. The big day is in the books. Whether you accomplished all of your goals or not, God was glorified and honored. However, now there is work to do. How do you respond to the big day?

Celebrate, but be careful what you celebrate from the big day.

Don’t just blow past this. God did some amazing things in the lives of many. Celebrate! Celebration is often a discipline. Rejoice in what God did no matter what. Celebrate decisions. Celebrate stories. Celebrate the crowds. However, I offer one word of caution: What you celebrate communicates what you value. If you only celebrate packed auditoriums and parking lots, then what do you have to celebrate next Sunday? Can you only celebrate God when the room is full? Keep in mind that most people are more moved by stories than by numbers. Focus on the individual stories of life change that have happened and continue to happen because of the big day. People just want to know that God is using them to make a difference in the lives of others.

Debrief every component of the big day.

You are not done with the big day until you have fully debriefed it….

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You have heard the statistics: 85 percent (or so) of churches are plateaued or declining. So many churches that were once flourishing aren’t now. The question is “Why?” How does this happen? How does a church lose its momentum? How can we keep it from happening to us? If it has happened, how do we regain momentum? I hope my list below helps. Here are the reasons:

The Vision Becomes Unclear

Vision drift happens. Slowly and quietly a church forgets why it’s doing what it’s doing. This vision can also be hijacked by a person or group of people with agendas and ambitions to turn the ministry into the ministry they just left behind. Why is it that people leave one place, come to our place, and then try to turn our place into the one they just left? Don’t allow that to happen. Great leaders are “mean about the vision.”

Gravitational Pull Takes Over

Andy Stanley told me years ago that the gravitational pull of the church is always inward. A church will tend to begin to design its services, ministries, and programming for those that currently attend rather than for those that aren’t…

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Church Conference

I work with and talk with leaders at a ton of churches. The ones that struggle the most are the ones most isolated and living on an island, not paying attention to what’s going on around them. They have very few relationships with pastors and churches within or outside of their community.

Leaders from churches that are growing, on the other hand, always begin conversations by telling me the people they know, the people they’re learning from, and what they are learning.

Is your church a learning church? Learning churches are growing churches! That’s just the bottom line.

Characteristics of Learning Churches:

Learning Churches Don’t Try to Re-create the Wheel.

When a learning church experiences a tension or is trying to solve a problem, they don’t immediately set out to solve it or resolve it on their own.

Instead, they pause long enough to ask: “How have some other churches addressed this tension?” They assume that they are not the only church experiencing this tension and learn from churches that have addressed the same tensions successfully. In doing so, they skip over years of wandering in the wilderness.

Learning Churches Don’t Compare or Criticize.

Learning churches aren’t critical of every church…

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Team Meeting

I have sat in a few bad meetings, and if I’m being completely honest, I may have led one or two of them! Over the years I have learned a lot about meetings and have assisted many in leading better meetings. Here are six simple ways we can lead more effective meetings:

Clarify the primary purpose of the meeting

Why are we here? There only five purposes of meetings:

1. Community

2. Communication

3. Collaboration

4. Coaching

5. Cheering One Another On

What is the primary purpose? State it up front so everyone knows. Patrick Lencioni, in his book Death By Meeting, says that the worst kinds of meetings are the ones where we try to get everything done in one meeting! In general, it’s best to have more frequent but shorter meetings that tackle one primary purpose at a time. Otherwise we cause everyone to die a slow “death” in our meetings.

Plan the meeting

We would never take the big stage without preparation, but we often do this when it comes to meetings. The more we prepare, the better the performance. Plan what you want to say and how you…

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Sometimes we just need to hear someone else say it out loud: “You’re not crazy.” “You’re on the right track.” “You can do that.” “You can do this.” I call it giving leaders permission. One of the greatest values of having a mentor or coach in our lives is having a safe place where we can process through the decisions we are wrestling with, and hear someone else tell us we’re not crazy for thinking what we’re thinking! We need permission! Sometimes the key that unlocks our future is having someone give us permission to do what we feel deep down we need to do.

So today, I thought I would send out permission far and wide. If you’re reading this post, I’m praying God will use me to give you permission!

You have permission to be still.

You have permission to take a chill pill. You have permission to rest. Take a day off. Take a week off. You have permission to plan your summer vacation now. You have permission to think long term and think about finishing well. This is not a 40-yard dash. It’s an ultramarathon! I give you permission to be still!


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Andy StanleyI 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.


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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…

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Big Bus

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…

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“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…

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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…

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