Archives For Shawn Lovejoy

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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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 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…

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VisionYesterday 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…

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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, 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…

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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…

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