7 Excuses I’ve Heard for Not Leading Well

exhausted man

In working with other churches and ministries, and in my experience in the business world, it seems we are desperate for good leadership. Organizations and teams thrive on good leadership.

As much as we need good leaders, it seems whenever I meet a leader struggling in their role, rather than admit it could be them, often I only hear excuses. It must be easier to pass blame than to own the problem as our own.

And, in full disclosure, I’ve probably been as guilty as anyone at times in my leadership career.

The excuses, however, are fairly common.

Here are 7 excuses I’ve heard – or used – for not leading well:

I don’t know how.

With each new season in leadership there will be a learning curve. If you’re leading, then your introducing change – you’re taking people somewhere they haven’t been before. This means there will be lots of unknowns in your world for a while. But, don’t use this as an excuse. Learn. Take a course. Get a mentor. Read some books. Ask better questions. Grow as a leader.

I can’t get people to follow my lead.

Well, we may have to check our leadership definition, but don’t give up. If God has called you to this – discover how to motivate people. Most people will follow someone if you’re taking them somewhere they need to go, but aren’t sure how to get there. Make sure you have a vision worth following, learn to communicate well and do all you can to help people attain it. In terms of communicating well – I often tell pastors – you’re best “sermon” may be the one you give to motivate people towards the change or vision. Early in my leadership career I participated in an organization called Toastmasters to help train as a communicator. 

I can’t keep up!

This can be a legitimate excuse at times – leadership can be overwhelming with the amount of change in our world, but we shouldn’t let it remain this way. Leaders have to learn to pace themselves. You have to surround yourself with others who can help carry the load. You can’t try to do everything or control every outcome. Learn delegation. And, don’t try to change everything at once. My rule of thumb is to be working on no more than 3 major changes at a time. This requires patience, because I may see 100 things which need to change. The only thing which works well though when I try to do too much at one time is I get to add to my excuses for not leading well. 

No one taught me how to lead.

And, that’s probably true. I have found many leaders are terrible at reproducing leaders. We don’t apprentice well. So, what are you going to do about it? Leaders find solutions to problems. They don’t let problems become the excuse. Learn from experience. It’s the best teacher anyway. Learn from trying. Learn from watching others. Just learn. It’s never too late to learn something new.

Times have changed.

This is true also. Times have changed. Cultures have changed. The workforce has changed. And, they will keep changing – fast! Good leaders adapt accordingly. They discover new approaches. They don’t make excuses.

It’s my team – I don’t have the right team.

Well, instead of using it as an excuse, you have a few options. Make them a better leader. Get a new team. Or, keep making excuses.

I’m burnout!

This excuse can be real also. It happens to all of us at times. But, don’t settle for this one. Get help. Heal. Rest. Renew. Regroup. Get healthier so you can lead again. Sometimes stopping for a while is your best answer – even amidst the busiest times. 

Honestly, I’m not trying to be sarcastic, arrogant, or unsympathetic. I realize each of these deserve their own post. I really do believe, however, good leadership is mostly finding a worthy vision, recruiting the right people and discovering ways to help people get there. And, we get better the more we practice.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring a spiritual aspect into this – I am a pastor. My best leadership book is the Bible. My best leader example is Jesus. And, I have learned when I am being obedient to Him I lead better naturally. It doesn’t mean everything falls into place beautifully – it does mean I have all I need to lead – even when everything around me is a mess. 

Seriously, look over the list again. Are there any of them that can’t be overcome with a little determination?

Let’s stop the excuses and make better leaders!

12 Words of Encouragement for Pastors (Or Other Leaders)

caucasian business executive praising subordinate by giving a pat on the shoulder.

I love pastors. Each week, through this blog and my personal ministry, God allows me to partner with dozens of pastors, helping them think through life and ministry issues. I’ve learned many pastors struggle to find people who will invest in them and help them grow as individuals, leaders and pastors.

I frequently have pastors – or other leaders – ask me for my “best advice” for those in leadership positions. I have to be candid – it’s a difficult request. I’ve learned so much through the pastors who have invested in me and by experience. It’s hard to summarize all I’ve learned over the years – especially by trial and error. It could probably fill a book or two – but certainly more than one blog post!

I put some thought into the question and decided to come up with a list of encouragement, one I would give to all pastors or leaders, to answer the question. I will address pastors, but wisdom is transferable to other fields, so change a few words and I’d give this advice to any leaders. I decided my best advice deals with the soul of a leader – hence the title.

Here are 12 words of encouragement to protect the soul of pastors:

Choose your friends wisely – but make sure you choose friends.

Don’t attempt to lead alone. Too many pastors avoid close friendships because they’ve been hurt. They trusted someone with information who used it against them. Finding friends you can trust and be real with means you’ll sometimes get injured, but the reward is worth it. And, it’s cliche, but to find a friend – be a friend.

The church can never love your family as much as you do.

Your family needs you more than the church does. They can get another pastor. Your family doesn’t want another you. You’ll have to learn to say “no”, learn how to balance and prioritize your time, and be willing to delegate to others in the church. (I’ve blogged several times on saying no, but you may want to read THIS POST from my friend Michael Hyatt on saying “no” with grace.”)

If you protect your Sabbath day, your Sabbath day can better protect you.

You’ll wear out quickly without a day a week to rejuvenate. God designed us this way. Take advantage of His provision. Take time to rest. You may not rest like everyone else – for me rest doesn’t mean doing nothing – but you need time away from the demands of ministry regularly. Lead your church to understand you can’t be everywhere every time. You owe it to yourself, your family, your church and your God.

You have influence – use it well.

The pastorate comes with tremendous power and responsibility. It’s easy to abuse or take for granted. Don’t do it! Humility welcomes the hand of God on your ministry. Use your influence for Kingdom good more than for personal gain.

No amount of accountability or structure can stop failure if a heart is impure.

Above all else, guard your heart. (Proverbs 4:23) Avoid any hint of temptation. Look for the warning signs your heart is drifting. Allow others the freedom to speak into the dark places of your life, but, more than anything, keep your heart saturated with God’s Word and in prayer.

Let God lead.

You can do some things well. God can do the impossible. Whom do you think should ultimately be leading the church? You’ll be surprised how much more effective your leadership will be when it’s according to His will and not yours. This will take discipline, humility, and practice.

If you can dream it, God can dream it bigger.

Don’t dismiss the seemingly ridiculous things God calls you to do. They won’t always make sense to others or meet their immediate approval, but God’s ways will prove best every time. When you ever stop being encouraged towards the seemingly impossible you may need to question whether you’re still walking by faith.

Keep Jesus the center of focus in the church.

You’ll never have a money problem, a people problem, or a growth problem if people are one with Jesus. Jesus always leads people following Him towards truth. So, lead people towards Jesus.

Your personal health affects the health of the church.

Take care of yourself relationally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This, too, requires discipline, balance and prioritizing, but if, to the best of your ability, you strive to be healthy in every area of your life, as a good shepherd, your people will be more likely to follow your example.

The people in your church deserve authenticity.

As a leader, you set the bar of expectations, so your authentic actions encourage people to be transparent with you and others. When you’re authentic you help eliminate unrealistic expectations people may place upon you. Don’t be someone you’re not. Be someone worthy to follow, but make sure you’re living it – not just teaching it.

You’ll never make everyone happy.

Part of leadership is making decisions. With every decision comes different opinions of the decision you made. If your goal is to make people happy you’ll end up being very unhappy – and very unproductive. Everyone will suffer as you strive to be popular, but flounder in effectiveness.

People only know what they know.

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made (and make) in leadership is assuming everyone will be on the same page as me – or they understand what I’m trying to communicate. This is unfair to people who don’t have the vantage point I have or who don’t even view the world as I view it. The more I grow as a leader the more I realize one of my greatest needs is more and better communication.

What word of encouragement do you have for pastors (or other leaders)?

20 Leadership Tips in Tweet Length

Colour pencils isolated on white background close up

A friend emailed me and asked for my “top 20 leadership tips”. They were doing a presentation on leadership and were asked to share 20 aspects of great leadership. The added catch – they wanted something short they could expand upon, so they suggested I share them in “Twitter length.”

It was like he didn’t know I’m the guy who only has “7” points in most posts?

I’m always up for a challenge though, so I wrote down the question and pondered it for a couple weeks. I added a few at a time. Then I sat down to compile the list.

Here are 20 leadership tips in Twitter length:

Build people – people are your greatest asset as a leader.

Believe in others – it’s the right thing to do and you can’t lead effectively otherwise.

Your life direction matters – you’ll likely end up where you point yourself and the team you lead.

Hold your methodology loosely – care more about accomplishing a worthy vision than how you do it.

Empower people – delegation is giving people real responsibility and real authority.

Keep learning – when you stop learning – you stop.

Renew your passion often – keep reminding yourself why you do what you do.

Learn to rest – so you can always do your best.

Value the word “No” – you can only do what you can do. Trying to do more lowers efficiency.

Prioritize each day – make every moment count – Because it does.

Let failure build you – not define you – it’s the best way to gain experience.

Be honest with yourself and others – what you hide will often trip you fastest.

Know your weaknesses – everyone else already does.

Listen more than you speak – you’ll learn more and others will feel valued.

Serving others always brings joy – giving back is the greatest vehicle to fulfillment in life.

Humility is attractive – people want to be around people who are. Applaud others louder than you “toot your own horn”.

Be intentional – nothing really great happens without intentionality.

Reject apathy – you’ll be tempted to settle for mediocrity. Don’t do it.

Communication is vital – people only know what they know. Same for you. Learn to ask good questions. 

Protect your character – even more than you try to protect your reputation. Do this and you’ll gain the other.

Feel free to Tweet one or two of them – they’re Twitter length.

Do you have one to share?

7 Things I Love About Serving in the Established Church

Bellfry of old Russian church against blue sky

I recently posted about the things I miss from church planting serving in an established church. Church planting can be daunting, but the rewards from seeing people far from God get excited about Him makes all the efforts worthwhile.

A friend of mine, Tom Cheyney, texted me with a challenge – and a needed one. Tom is one of the leading experts in the field of church revitalization. His Renovate Conference is the largest conference with a primary focus on revitalizing established churches.

Tom’s challenge – Ron, I enjoyed your article about what you missed about church planting Look forward to your follow up article about the local church!
Be blessed,
Tom

Touché! Good call, Tom. You’re right. I agree with you completely. I even wrote a post encouraging some who are considering planting to consider church revitalization.

There are some things I miss about church planting – some of those I even believe we could stand to see in the established church. But, there are also many opportunities and advantages to being in the established church, which is one reason I believe God has called me in this season of life into church revitalization.

So, here goes, Tom.

7 things I love about the established church:

Experienced servant leadership. One thing we were always scrambling to find in the church plant were people who had any experience leading within the church. It’s been refreshing to be back in an established church with leaders from multiple generations. Some of our lay leaders have more experience serving in the church than I have spent in my entire adult life. It should be noted we don’t always make the best use of this experience – which is one aspect of church revitalization – but, established churches often have good, capable leaders willing to help.

History to build upon. I love to find those high points in the life of a church – where everyone was excited – and renew the passion behind them. You can’t do this in a church plant. Everything is new. There’s a value in learning and building upon history. Some history will not need to be repeated, but most established churches have periods within their past where the church was vibrant, people were motivated, and God was clearly at work among them. If you can renew the excitement you can build upon these times.

Structure. I must be honest – I’m usually anti-structure. This is one of the attractions of the church plant. But, even then we had times where we knew we needed more structure. When I arrived back in an established church I quickly learned we knew structure well – perhaps a little too well. But, there are benefits, especially in the early days of revitalization. There were areas of the church I didn’t have to focus on because they were fully functioning without me. They may need improvement – at some point – but for the time they are working. In a church plant it sometimes seemed everything needed my attention as pastor.

Intergenerational. This happens some in a church plant – we had it some – but, it can happen more naturally in an established church. This is one area where the church must be intentional. It won’t simply happen, but we already had lots of seniors when we arrived. Since then we have found younger generations don’t shy away from a church because older generations are there. In fact, they like it. They want programs and ministries geared to their specific needs, but they love the intergenerational church. I tell our seniors – remember, grandparents are cool!

Resources. Whether it’s a building, or budget dollars, or people – established churches usually have more resources available than you will find in most church plants. When I arrived back at an established church my jaw was left hanging open the first six months just looking at the facilities we had available to us. There were budget concerns to those who had been there, but coming from a growing, budget-stretched church plant, I was so thankful to find the established church has established givers.

Community influence. Granted, the church may not be utilizing their influence to its potential, but if a church has been in the community for an extended period of time there are connections and built-up influence which can be leveraged to help the church grow. It’s been amazing to me the credibility with community leaders I found as a pastor of an established church, simply because our church has been here 100 plus years.

Restoration joy. There is something special about seeing new life in an older church. I’ve had the experience of seeing new growth in a church plant – twice. It’s awesome. But, seeing the established church thrive again – regaining momentum, restoring hope and potential to a church – there’s no way to describe the joy of knowing God allowed you a unique privilege of being a part of something special.

Thanks, Tom, for the challenge. Whether it’s church planting or encouraging church revitalization and growth of an existing church – if God calls you to it, and you are faithful to the call – you’ll feel His pleasure upon your obedience and service.

7 Common Excuses for Not Doing What We Know God has Called Us To Do

Excuses File Contains Reasons And Scapegoats

There’s always an excuse if we’re looking for one.

I’ve made so many excuses in my life. For years I may have sensed God was calling me into vocational ministry, but I had to provide for my family. I would be leading with the limps of previous failures – how and why would God use me? I didn’t have the most pastoral qualities either. For example, I’m far more of an organizational developer than I am a caregiver for the sick. There were a dozen others. If anyone had an encouragement for me to be in ministry – and I received lots – I had an excuse why it wasn’t a good idea.

Even when we are certain God has called us to something, we will stall because an excuse is always near. 

And, most excuses seem reasonable at first glance. Common sense even. Think about the excuses Moses made for following God. I have to be honest – when I hear them, they make sense to me. I mean, if you’re not a good communicator – why send you as the chief spokesman for God?

But, God’s ways are not my ways – or Moses – or yours.

The reality is following a God-inspired, God-sized dream, always requires stepping into the unknown and always demands we overcome our excuses.

Are you stalling? Maybe you’re even running out of another good excuse. If an opportunity is still staring you in the face, let me encourage you from some of the best excuses I’ve used or heard – which have more times than not been proven wrong. 

Here are 7 of the most common excuses I’ve used or heard:

I can’t!

Your excuse is you don’t have what it takes. And, the sad part of this excuse – this also means you aren’t trusting God to provide what you lack. Saying I can’t to a God thing is an indicator of faith. If God calls you to it – you can do it because whatever you lack He will supply . (Gideon would love to weigh in on this excuse. Judges 6)

I don’t know how!

The task seems overwhelming and you may be too proud to ask for help. So, I don’t know how will just have to do for now. If you trace its roots – this excuse is often fueled by either laziness, apathy or fear. (Do you think Noah knew how to build a boat the size of an ark? See Genesis 6)

I don’t have time!

God calls for obedience now, but you’re preoccupied. And, chances are – with this as an excuse – you never will have time. This one has worked for me before too – for a season. What it really means is I have my time and God’s time. And, more specifically, I have my agenda and God’s agenda – and there is no time left in my agenda. (See how Jesus liked this excuse in Luke 9:57-62)

I’m all alone!

Leading out by faith feels this way sometimes, doesn’t it? Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to being obedient to God’s call. I once thought I was the only one with a burden to plant a church. It seemed to be a lonely burden until we stepped forward in faith. Little did Cheryl and I know God had an army of core members prepared just waiting to be asked. (Remember, Elijah thought He was alone – and he found out otherwise. 1 Kings 19)

I’m afraid!

And, the reality of this excuse is you can choose to let fear control you. I have. Many times. Fear is simply an emotion and it’s a powerful, often motivating excuse. Much could go wrong with your dream. You could mess it up! You could have misunderstood what you sense God calling you to do. Plus, our mind is capable and skilled at quickly creating worst-case-scenarios. But, know this. Trusting God, even when you’re afraid to do so, always produces God-appointed and God-sized victories. In fact, you can’t possibly get to the victory until you face the fear. (Could we learn anything here from Esther? Esther 3)

I can’t afford it!

You’re afraid the dream will be more expensive than the provision of God. You wouldn’t verbalize this one, but it’s real, isn’t it? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the money fear raised by potential church planters. I often say the money is in the harvest. (Tell this excuse to the widow in 1 Kings 17 or the disciples who picked up 12 baskets of leftover bread in Matthew 14)

I won’t!

This may be the boldest excuse. With this excuse you simply refuse. You may disguise it lots of ways, but the fact is you’re doing things your way – instead of God’s way. You can combine all the other excuses here, because you won’t even give it a try. In fact, if the truth is known, you’d rather run some more. I did this one for years. (How did this excuse work for Jonah?)

There will always be an excuse not to follow the dreams God lays on your heart. Obstacles in life are plentiful. You can keep making excuses, or you can address them one excuse at a time. The one who achieves most is often the one most willing to overcome excuses.

What excuse are you using to stall on God’s plan?

5 Steps When the Changes Needed Seem Overwhelming

overwhelmed business woman sitting at her desk surrounded by many male hands holding different objects

The first couple years into church revitalization there were more opportunities than time. I was so excited about the potential we had to restore a historic, established church, but my calendar wouldn’t hold anymore and my mind was exploding.

One day I remember driving on the road which leads back to our hometown. I considered my schedule, the enormity of the challenge ahead, the dozens of emails awaiting a response and the people I was still having to say “no” to when they asked for my time – many who didn’t understand why the pastor couldn’t see them right away – and I turned to Cheryl and said, “Right now I wish I could just keep driving and this had been a nice little dream”. It wasn’t reality speaking or how I really felt. Plus, I knew to be obedient I was going to stay. It was emotions talking. I knew I was simply feeling overwhelmed.

What do you do when you find yourself in that situation? When the changes are overwhelming – and you don’t know if you can do all expected of you – what do you do?

I hope you can learn from my experience. Here is what I did.

5 steps when the changes needed seem overwhelming:

Step back.

Take a day. Take a week. Pause everything. I realize it makes no sense to take a break when your schedule is packed, but stepping back gives you an opportunity to take a fresh look at the challenges ahead. Again, it may seem like you don’t have time to pause right now, but it may be you don’t have time not to do so. The time away will give you a better perspective, a clearer head and the rest will give you energy you need.

Get fit.

I used to tell our staff in a church plant that “you have to strive to be healthy to work here right now”. It was this way in this particular season in ministry. As much as it depended on me, I needed to be healthy spiritually, relationally, emotionally and physically. I needed to eat healthy, exercise, and maintain a healthy relationship with my wife. I also needed extended time in God’s Word and prayer. This was even more than usual a time for intentionality in living a healthy lifestyle.

Renew the vision.

When change is overwhelming you have to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. The why is the key. It’s what fueled you in the first place and what has the best potential to fuel you again. I knew I was called here for a purpose. God doesn’t make mistakes. If you are overwhelmed at something God called you to do, ask God to renew again the passion you had in the beginning before you were overwhelmed.

Chart a course one step at a time.

Baby steps. It’s how big change is accomplished. One foot in front of the other. The bigger the change the more methodical you must be. One day. One week. One month at a time. I had to ask people to be patient. I had to prioritize each day. I had to not feel bad about saying no. I had to get up every morning, create a list of things I could accomplish for the day, and realize tomorrow would be a new day. Learning to live a healthy pace may be a leader’s greatest challenge and most needed strength.

Invite people on the journey.

Delegation becomes even more important during overwhelming times in leadership. If you’re world is like mine this pretty much equates to every season of ministry. In church revitalization I was reminded over and over again the value of a team. I had to learn who I could trust, but I also have to take risks on people. I couldn’t then – and can’t now – be successful without others.

I made slow progress the first couple years. I was amazing how God blessed us in spite of our speed to obey. But, the process seemed to work. God has overwhelmed us – even in our times of being overwhelmed!

If you are overwhelmed at the changes occurring in your life right now, I suggest these 5 steps.

Ever been overwhelmed at the changes needed – what suggestions would you offer?

7 Things I Miss About Church Planting in an Established Church

Cultivation in pot. growth concept.

I only have four church experiences in vocational ministry. One was a traditional church where God allowed us to bring a renewed energy and growth. I was a part of two successful church plants. And, for the last several years, I’ve been involved in revitalization of a historic, established church.

God has been so good to us in each of these churches – we have seen growth in the church and the people. We have loved every experience and the people in each church.

Recently, I was reflecting with one of our staff members who has never served in a church plant. As we shared stories, he was fascinated by how different things were at times in church planting versus the established church. 

Our conversation reminded me – as much as I love the established church – there are some things I miss about church planting – just being honest.

Here are 7 things I miss about church planting:

There are few “pew sitters”. 

Everyone has a job in a church plant – especially early in a plant, everyone feels needed. They know if they don’t do their part – Sunday will not happen. There’s an “all hands on deck” attitude each Sunday. Ownership is a shared mentality.

People far from God feel welcome. 

People come to a church plant with less reservations or wondering if they will be accepted. Even though most – at least many – established churches would welcome them just as easily. I know ours will – thankfully. But, perception can be a huge front door barrier. I’ve stated numerous times in our established church – sometimes the steeple can be the biggest hindrance. Don’t misunderstand, I love and appreciate our building and the opportunities it affords us as a church. I even love our steeple, and I’m thankful for the sacrifices of those who built it long before I arrived. There is great tradition and symbolism involved. But, there is something about the rawness of a church with no building, meeting in a high school, theater or rented storefront, which invites people who don’t feel they “fit in” a traditional church setting. 

You see people raw. 

I heard a cuss word almost every other Sunday in church planting. And, it was a part of normal conversation. They didn’t know “church’ was a place for “nice” language. If they got drunk the night before – they told you. If they were struggling to believe in God – you knew it. There was no pretense. I would rather we all had “clean” language. Drunkeness is a sin. God can be believed without reservation. But, it was refreshing to know where people really stood. There was no passive aggression or pretense – something I see often in the established church – afraid, perhaps, they wouldn’t be accepted otherwise.  

People bring visitors every week. 

People were so excited about the church they brought their friends. What a novel idea! Sure, it happens in the established church too, but it seemed to happen more frequently in a church plant. People in the established church often feel they’ve exhausted their contacts, all their friends are already in the church, or the newness and excitement of inviting has long since past. (Obviously, this is one of the major mindsets to challenge in church revitalization.) 

Small steps are celebrated. 

In an established church there are so many “mature” Christians – certainly people who know all the expectations of the church and appear to follow them – a newcomer far from God can often feel they don’t measure up at all. In a church plant, which often reaches people far from God, every baby step seems to be a major step. 

Change is expected. 

It’s not rejected. It’s not resisted. There are no politics or the “right people” you have to talk to before you implement. Everyone knows it’s part of the process. It’s in the DNA.

Rules are not cumbersome. 

Granted, there were times we probably needed a few more rules in our church plant. As our church and staff grew, we needed more structure. But, the longer we are together as an organization – any organization (including the church) – the more structured we become. And, sadly, the more protective we become of the structure also. Tradition forms and its much harder to adapt to what’s needed and new.

Those are a few things I miss about church planting. It’s an exciting time in ministry and, as hard as it is, it’s very rewarding. My prayers go out to my church planting friends. 

There’s probably a companion post needed next of the things I’m enjoying about the established church. There are certainly benefits to an established church. I actually encourage many pastors to consider church revitalization even over church planting. I’ll work on this post. Share some of your own if you want to help fuel a future post.

How to Know If You’re Moving Toward Multiplication – A New Tool for Lead Pastors

Little green seedling grow from tree stump

Recently, my friends at Exponential introduced a new resource for church leaders I believe will be invaluable for the church as we continue to focus on healthy Kingdom multiplication. The Becoming 5 Assessment Tool is the first of its kind to give churches a good read on how they’re doing with becoming a church that grows by multiplying itself (multiplication growth)—and not just adding attendees (addition growth).

The concept is simple. Register for a free account at becomingfive.org, answer the multiple-choice questions at your convenience (probably about 30 minutes to compete) and then review your results. Based on your responses, the assessment provides you with your church’s multiplication profile (Levels 1-5) and multiplication pattern.

The multiplication profile is based on five cultures of multiplication that Exponential has identified:

Level1 (subtraction, survival or scarcity mode)
Level 2 (plateaued, survival and tension between scarcity and growth)
Level 3 (growing by addition but not multiplication)
Level 4 (reproducing)
Level 5 (multiplying, releasing and sending)

(To read detailed examples of the five profiles, download the FREE eBook Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church by Todd Wilson and Dave Ferguson at exponential.org/becomingfive.)

The multiplication pattern you receive along with your profile offers you a snapshot of where your church has been, where you currently are, and where you’d like to go. Exponential says most churches will test into seven core patterns: aspiring, advancing, breakout, reproducing, addition, survivor and recovery. For example, a 1-1-5 score reflects an “aspiring” pattern representing a church that has Level 1 behaviors in the past (1) and present (1), but aspires to be a Level 5 church in the coming years (5). A 3-4-5 “reproducing” pattern represents steady progress toward Level 5.

If you’re wondering, the Becoming 5 Assessment Tool has gone through rigorous evaluation, analysis and testing, including early review from a team of national leaders, followed by a survey evaluation with 75 other leaders, investment in a professional developer of assessment tools, and beta testing.

A few things to note:
•​The initial version of the assessment tool is contextualized for U.S. churches, but some international contexts may also benefit. The tool can be easily adapted in the future to include additional international contexts.

•​Becoming 5 focuses only on a church’s sending capacity and is not intended to evaluate a ​church’s capacity to make disciples. Exponential says a second assessment tool for measuring a ​church’s discipleship capacity is forthcoming.

I like what my friend and Exponential Director Todd Wilson says: “Discipleship has to be at the core of multiplication, but just because you put it at the core doesn’t mean your church is multiplying. Jesus spent three years building 12 disciples were able to spring into action and build His church.”

It is assumed that approximately 80 percent of churches in the United States are at Levels 1 and 2 (subtracting or plateaued), with 20 percent at Levels 3-4 (and virtually 0% at Level 5). Of the 20 percent who are adding, it is estimated that less than 4 percent are reproducing at Level 4.

Moving beyond the 4 percent requires each of us as leaders to look candidly at how we’re doing with multiplication, identify the tensions that are keeping us from Levels 4 and 5, and then develop a plan to wrestle with these tensions and move forward.

I highly encourage you to take the assessment and encourage your team to engage as well. Jesus’ Great Commission to His disciples will only be carried out through the multiplication of His church.

Note: If you’re a ministry leader, consider linking the assessment on your website. For more information, click here.

4 Ways a Team Grows Together 

image

This is a requested guest post from Ministry Library. I don’t do these for profit. I only do then when I believe in the oppportunity.

4 Ways a Team Grows Together 

Some people hate those personality tests but they have made a huge difference for our team. There are tons out there but we require each person on our team to take 2 different personality tests and each one tells us some very unique attributes about that person.

One is the Myers-Briggs. This test gives me an insight into how that person thinks and sees the world around them. I think the best part of this test is the detailed report I get about their workplace habits and how to communicate with that person. If you’re curious, I am an INTJ.

The other test is Strengths Finder 2.0, sometimes called “Leading From Your Strengths.”
This test will reveal your top 5 (out of 34) strengths and how to maximize your talents and build them into strengths. The reason I love this test is that it allows me to create the most healthy environment possible to make each person happy, productive and successful.
My 2 most prominent strengths are Activator and Individualization.

Ask The Tough Questions
Great leaders ask the tough questions! 

Here are 5 questions you need to starting asking your team. 

Who are you developing to take your place? If leadership development isn’t communicated and followed up on, it won’t happen.

What are you doing to grow yourself? By regularly asking this questions you’ll create a culture of learning in your staff. A good followup question is “What resource or support I can give?”

Is there anything I am doing that wastes your time? Yep. that’s a toughy! I usually add ”Please answer honestly or you’re fired!” to lighten the mood.

What is your biggest hassle in your current role? I love this question so much. It will shed some serious light on your systems and organization.

What can we improve on as a team or a church? Breakthroughs happen horizontally. You’ll be surprised by the creativity and problem solving that happens when you let people speak into other areas besides the one they’re in.

When asking these questions, it’s important to ask followup questions to make sure you have a full understanding of their situation.

Require A Coaching Call
All of the world’s best athletes have coaches. Why?

Because a coach can see things the athlete can’t. It’s impossible to coach yourself to the next level. We just don’t know, what we don’t know. As your team and your church grow, there are going to be these “gotcha” moments that you just won’t see coming.

I require my team to have regular coaching calls with people in similar roles at a church that is twice our size.

I do this myself as well. Our church is in the process of launching a campus.So, I cold called 7 other church around the country that I thought would be able to coach me through this process. By talking to people that have “been there, done that,” you’ll learn from their mistakes and completely avoid those “gotcha” moments.

Learn Together
Imagine if you could have some of the best pastors or leaders come in and give you and your staff a personal coaching session.

That would be awesome and way too expensive!

Reading a book is like getting coached by the author.

I think one of the best ways to learn together is to go through a book as a staff. But if you just buy them the book and tell them to read, you’ve failed as a leader.
To get the most out of a book there needs to be a group experience where you can learn outloud and help each other apply what you’ve learned.

I believe in this model of leadership development so much I created a resource for pastors and their teams. Its called MinistryLibrary.com

We help pastors grow and lead healthy teams by creating 10 minute leadership videos and team workshops based on popular ministry and business leadership books. The workshops are where you’ll get the most value. They have take-aways, resources, discussion questions and group activities that will get your team thinking, collaborating and learning together!

Check it out. MinistryLibrary.com

Balancing the Big Deals Within an Organization – A Senior Leader Challenge

balance

I’ll never forget the first time I found out a staff member was disappointed because he didn’t think I supported his ministry. I had said no to a budget item for his ministry, because we needed to do something in another ministry. I felt horrible. I knew personally I valued his ministry – and him – but my actions had led him to believe otherwise.

I learned a couple of things from this experience. First, I needed to communicate the “why” behind my decisions better. Second, there are some things we do as senior leaders others on the team can’t understand – and we shouldn’t expect them to.

As a leader, I have to consistently remind myself one person’s big deal may not be another person’s big deal.

Those in finance naturally believe their ministry is critical to the success of the church, which may lead them to think attention should be given to finances above everything else. It’s their big deal.

Those in small group ministry naturally believe their ministry is most critical to the success of the church, which may lead them to think attention should be given to small group ministry above everything else. It’s their big deal.

Those in worship planning naturally believe their ministry is most critical to the success of the church, which may lead them to think attention should be given to worship planning above everything else. It’s their big deal.

Those in children’s ministry naturally believe their ministry is most critical to the success of the church, which may lead them to think attention should be given to children’s ministry above everything else. It’s their big deal.

You get the point. 

Of course, the ultimate “big deal” is the vision of the organization. As a church, our big deal – our vision – is to “lead people to Jesus and nurture them in their faith“. While everyone on our team agrees with this vision, they are also rightfully passionate about – and actively involved in – their specific role in accomplishing the vision. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I want them owning their individual ministry and doing everything they can to see it prosper. But, at times this specially focused passion for their role can cloud their ability to see the needs of other ministries.

Of course, all ministries have equal importance in accomplishing the vision – therefore, part of a leader’s job is balancing all the “big deals” towards one combined BIG DEAL – the shared vision. We can’t spend all our energy, time, and resources in one particular ministry, as important as it is to the success of the church.

Frankly, finding balance between these competing big deals has always been difficult for me, and at times one ministry does require greater attention than others. The key learning for me is I must continually recognize the individual contribution each ministry brings to our overall success, while always keeping the big picture in my mind of what we are trying to accomplish. I can’t allow one ministry to cloud my perspective of other ministries.

It’s a unique role of senior leaders others on the team may not always understand – or even appreciate. And, we shouldn’t expect them to.

Leaders, do you share this dilemma? How do you balance the big deals within your organization?