How NOT to Run a Church

Something’s driving your church.  There are a variety of things that run a church…the challenge for many church leaders is no one is really quite clear on what that is.

What drives your church is critical because it impacts everything you do. Ultimately, it directly impacts both your health and your growth as a congregation.

As I talk to leaders of churches of all sizes, I find different factors at work.

As much as we’d all love to say Jesus runs the church, the reality is that church is a partnership. God seems to delight in human interaction, and while God is in control, we have a role.

How we play that role can can create health or dysfunction.

Here are 4 bad ways to run a church and one good one.

1. A Person

Small churches are almost always run or controlled by a single person. That’s rarely—if ever—healthy and almost always an impediment to growth.

The usual candidate for this kind of church is a matriarch, patriarch or the pastor.

Matriarchs and patriarchs often emerge in a small church as the one person that effectively keeps the doors open and the lights on.

Interestingly enough, the matriarch or patriarch doesn’t even have to be on the board to exercise their control. It’s just that everyone knows nothing gets done without the approval, blessing or consent of X.

The commendable side of a matriarch or patriarch is that the church likely wouldn’t still be in existence without them. They are deeply committed to seeing it exist.

The challenges outweigh the benefits though for a number of reasons. First, the church is programmed to stay small…one person leadership naturally stunts growth.

Second, churches run by a single person are usually in preservation mode—the goal is to keep it going.

Sometimes the single person who runs a church is the pastor. That’s also a bad idea.

It’s the pastor’s responsibility to lead the church, but not to run it.

Again, scripture makes it clear the role of a church leader is to equip people to do the work of ministry, each operating in their area of gifting.

Clergy who insist on doing everything deny people their ability, and the church ends up with a much smaller impact than if the pastor truly led. Leaders who insist on running everything end up with relatively little to run.

Churches were never designed to be run by one person.

2. A Personality

Being run by a person and personality are two variations of a similar theme.

Personality driven churches are usually bigger and actually more effective in reaching people than person-run churches.

Usually in a personality-driven church, the personality of the senior leader functions like a magnet, attracting staff, volunteers and new people to the church.

The challenge is that both the growth engine and the loyalty in the church are to the senior leader. And that’s the achilles heel.

The problem with a personality-driven church is that when you remove the central personality, the church falters.

It can also distract people from following who they should be following—Jesus.

No personality should ever compete with the centrality of Christ in the church.

God can use people to lead people (Moses and Paul were pretty imposing figures), but the goal of a leader should always be to point people to Christ.

Personality-driven churches are only as strong as their leader. And that’s an often fatal flaw.

3. An Agenda

Nobody likes a hidden agenda. Except people who have agendas.

If you’re not careful, an agenda other than the main mission of the church end up running the church.

This happens when an influential leader (staff or otherwise) gets the church to focus on something minor until it becomes a defining characteristic of the church.

The possibilities are endless. They include:

  • Opposition to change (Nothing changes around here; everything stays the same)
  • A theological sub point (How we do baptism becomes more important than why we do baptism)
  • A political viewpoint (This is a Republican/Democrat only zone)
  • A single, non-biblical issue (Our church is all about X)

Churches that allow agendas to dominate usually only attract like-minded people who are more passionate about the cause in question than the Gospel itself.

4. Staying Alive

When only a small percentage of churches are actually growing and the church as a whole is lagging behind population growth, it’s no surprise that many churches are battling simply to stay alive.

Unfortunately, that can easily become the mission. When the mission is to merely keep a church alive, death is the most likely outcome.

You effectively end up saying “Come join our church so we can keep our church open.” That begs about 1000 questions.

As soon as you start to maintain what you’ve built, rather than build something new, you know the end is near.

5. The Mission

The one good way to run a church is simple: let the mission drive everything you do.

As Rick Warren so helpfully pointed out 20 years ago, purpose or mission-driven churches are always the most effective.

Why?

First, the mission is bigger than anyone and anything. The true mission of the church has lasted 2,000 years and will endure until Christ comes back. If that doesn’t motivate you, nothing will.

Second, the mission outlasts every leader. The church is far less affected by personality when the mission is bigger than any one personality.

Finally—and most importantly—the true mission of the church resonates because, well, it’s the true mission of the church. Enough said.


Learn more about how mission can drive your church – talk with an Auxano Navigator today!


> Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Habits That Grow Your Influence as a Leader

Ever wonder why some people are influential, and others, well, aren’t?

Take getting others to buy into your ideas, for example. Some people seem always to be able to win the day with their ideas. Others, not so much.

I get asked all the time by leaders how to get their team members to take their ideas (and their leadership) more seriously.

What’s fascinating to me is that the conversation almost always begins from the angle of how to pitch ideas. It’s as though most of us have convinced ourselves that we just need a better argument, point or insight and then our ideas will catch on.

Sometimes that’s the case, but more often than not it’s deeper than that.

It’s easy to think leaders buy (or reject) our ideas. But I’m not sure what’s what really at play most of the time.

At a deeper level, it’s often a question of whether leaders buy you.

As harsh as it sounds, here’s the truth: if a leader doesn’t buy you, they’ll rarely buy your idea.

Leadership, as John Maxwell says, is influence. So the question about whether your ideas or viewpoint catches on quickly becomes a discussion about influence.

Your influence as a leader is never static. It’s either advancing or declining.

If you’re struggling to get your ideas adopted, you’ve likely got an influence issue as much as you have a communication problem.

If you have a strong influence at work, leaders will usually race to embrace or adopt your input. Conversely, if you’re not respected in the workplace, your ideas will likely get ignored no matter how logical or persuasive your ideas seem to you.

So how do you gain influence in the workplace? Here are 6 non-negotiable traits of leaders who have influence.

1. Be Sensational At What You Do

Not surprisingly, there’s a direct connection between competence and influence.

Leaders instinctively develop a habit of listening to their highest performing team members, even if they might initially disagree with their approach on issues.

When I see to leaders who never seem to be able to get their ideas adopted, I often wonder if it’s because their teammates don’t respect them.

If you want more influence at work, be sensational at what you do.

Your ideas are always attached to you. If people respect and admire you, they’ll tend to respect and admire your initiatives.

2. Grow Your Character

Being great at what you do is one thing.

But we’ve all met competent people who we don’t like spending time with.

Character impacts your influence as much as competency does.

And long term, it even matters more. Ultimately your character, not your competency, determines your capacity.

Why?

Because character is still the ultimate lid on leadership. Every day, highly competent leaders lose their jobs, their careers and their families because their character imploded.

Your competency will take you only as far as your character can sustain you. So work hard on your character. It’s the last cap on your leadership.

3. Cultivate Humility

The only person who likes a know-it-all is the know-it-all himself.

Paradoxically, if you want to cultivate greater influence, make your leadership less about you and more about others and the cause.

Prideful leaders are incredibly reluctant to share the spotlight. After all, you’ve worked so hard and so long, why share this moment with anyone? So if you’re a proud leader, you want the stage as often as it’s available. You want to chair everything and are reluctant to let anyone truly lead or get credit.

But humble leaders willingly push others into the spotlight.

They share credit. They share the stage. And they don’t have to lead everything.

In fact, they intentionally develop others leaders and even replace themselves in many key roles because the mission is more important than they are.

A humble leader rejoices in the success of others. A proud leaderresents the success of others.

If you want to overcome envy and insecurity, do what proud people fear doing: push others into the spotlight. It will break the stranglehold of envy in your life.

4. Do What You Said You Were Going To Do When You Said You Were Going To Do It

Honestly, if you want more influence starting tomorrow, just do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it.

So few people do this.

Missed deadlines and excuses are the staples of the vast majority of people, including people in leadership positions.

Do you have any idea how many bosses/employers wake up every day to a string of phrases like:

  • I’m sorry
  • I didn’t get it done
  • Sorry, I had a bunch of things come up
  • Oh, I didn’t think it was that important
  • I’m so slammed right now
  • I just forgot

If you simply do what you said you’re going to do when you said you were going to do it, you’re ahead of 98% of the population of planet earth.

Furthermore, people will gain confidence in you.

And confidence, of course, is the basis of trust. If they know they can trust you, they’re far more likely to trust your ideas.

5. Initiate

A surprising number of people sit around waiting to be told what to do next.

The best leaders never do that. They see what needs to be done, and they do it.

If you’re not sure whether you have permission, ask.

An occasional “Hey is it all right if I reorganize this entire system?” is better than “I went home early because I couldn’t find anything to do.”

Leaders look for self-starters. Self-motivated people always have more influence than people who sit around waiting for their next assignment.

You likely have more permission than you think.

6. Finish

It’s great to start things. It’s another to finish them.

So many projects get started and then get abandoned. You and I can both point to hundreds of blogs and podcasts that started well and died a dozen posts or episodes in, because leaders had a lot of passion to begin but none to finish.

Ditto with projects at work.

So many great new initiatives fail to see daylight not because they were bad ideas, but because team members never finished what they started.

Shipping beats dreaming. Finishing trumps starting. Completing beats planning.

What Do You See?

These are 6 non-negotiable traits I see in leaders who are increasing their influence.

How about you?


> Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Momentum Swing: 7 Questions to Ask

Chances are you would like what every leader would like—momentum.

All of us hit both personal and organizational plateaus. As much as we think momentum should be a permanent state, it never is. No one lives in a state of momentum all the time.

So if you hit a plateau or fall in a rut, how do you get out of it—both personally and organizationally?

How do you find momentum when you don’t have it?

Sometimes the answers on how to get momentum can prove elusive until you’ve discovered the right questions.

Here are 7 questions I’ve collected over the years that I ask myself on a semi-regular basis to push through to the next level and find momentum.

While I can’t guarantee they will help you, I promise they have helped me get unstuck over and over again.

1. Are You Spending Most Of Your Time In Your Sweet Spot?

You may be good at many things, but you’re actually only great at a few things.

And you’re only truly passionate about a few things.

This is true for individuals and organizations.

Jim Collins asked the question this way: What can you be best in the world at?

I know that’s an audacious question, but the more you can align your gifting and passion with how you spend your time, the more effective you will be.

Sure, in start-up mode, you need to do a little of everything, but over time, the more you spend doing what you’re best at, the more you will love what you do and the greater value you’ll bring to your team and cause.

Often churches and leaders who plateau get stuck because they’re not operating in their area of peak giftedness or effectiveness.

2. In Your Weekly Routine, What Are You Having To Manufacture Energy To Do? Why Are You Doing It?

You don’t approach everything you do with the same enthusiasm.

Neither does your organization.

Sometimes you have to manufacture energy to do things, personally and organizationally. That’s okay every once in a while, but if you’re consistently having to manufacture energy, it can be a sign it’s either time to stop doing what you’re doing or hand it off to someone else.

Maybe a program that was once effective has stopped being effective. No matter how much you promote it, you know it’s accomplishing nothing.

As the famed marketing genius, David Ogilvy, once said, great marketing just makes a bad product fail faster.

As hard as it is to admit, maybe you’ve plateaued because you simply have a bad product. So either make it great or kill it.

On a personal level, maybe you’re spending a lot of your time doing something you’re not great at. Change that.

3. Who Are You Spending Time With That You Don’t Need To Be Spending Time With? 

This is a huge question. Don’t overlook it.

It’s tempting to think you have to spend your time with whoever asks to meet with you. And if you do that, you’ll always lead a small organization. That kind of time management doesn’t scale. As I shared here, that’s almost always a mistake.

Second, you’ll ignore your best leaders (because they’re low maintenance) and spend all your time trying to prop up your weakest leaders or with people who simply always have problems (you know who I’m talking about).

The people you spend the most time with don’t have to be the smartest people or the richest people by any stretch (that can be sinful), but you should spend most of your time with the key people you’ve trusted most deeply to carry the mission forward.

Chances are they won’t ask for more of your time because they manage and lead themselves well. But they should get it anyway.

Great leaders spend most of their time with the leaders who generate most of their results.

Do that, and you’ll almost always either find momentum or discover why you don’t have it.

4. Who Are You Not Listening To That You Should Listen To?

Leadership is isolating. You tend to hear from the same people again and again, and it generates a confirmation bias: the people around you say the same thing and it confirms the theory you have about why you’re stuck.

One of the best things you can do when you’ve hit a plateau is to get out of your office and even break from your usual circle to do some selective listening.

Create a focus group and ask them what they’re seeing or feeling.

Design a survey to solicit feedback. If I find myself in a preaching rut (it happens), I’ll often convene a focus group or survey the congregation on a topic I’m going to address. I learn so much about how people actually think through and talk about an issue that it reframes how I’m going to preach a subject. (Here’s an example of a current survey I’m running. And yes, you can take it.)

Bottom line? No matter how you do it, get out of your normal circle and listen.

5. How Can I Put More Fuel In The Areas That Are Seeing The Most Traction? 

Just like you need to spend most of your time with your best leaders, you and your organization should spend most of your time focusing your efforts on what’s producing the majority of your results.

If you can apply the Pareto Principle to all areas of your organization, you’ll go further.

For example, let’s say your kids’ ministry is seeing huge growth right now. Do you give resources to other areas that are weaker, or do you give more money and resources to kids ministry to further their growth?

I would vote for giving more money and resources to kids ministry. And then jump to question 6, below.

6. What Areas Of Your Ministry Are Seeing The Least Traction? 

Kill what’s not working. As my friend Reggie Joiner says, “It doesn’t take a leader to kill what’s dead. It does take a leader to kill what’s living.”

You need to prune and cut your organization as much as possible to fuel momentum. In the same way that a pruned apple tree grows more apples, a pruned ministry bears more fruit.

7. If You Were An Outside Consultant, What Would You Tell You And Your Team To Do?

I love this question.

It might seem a little strange, but it will give you distance.

If you were an outsider, what would you tell yourself to do? Most of the time you already know the answer to this… you’re just afraid to say it.

So say it.

And then once you figure that out, just go do it. Often answering that question can lead to a breakthrough.


Want to know more about regaining momentum? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Reasons to Stop Imitating

If you’re like me, you like to track with people who are ahead of you in what they’ve accomplished, both in terms of their lives and in terms of their leadership.

Chance are you do this in real life (I hope you have mentors). But the online world has changed the imitation game.

Thanks to social media, our phones, and other devices, we have access to anything anywhere all the time. As a result, almost everyone tracks with more than one ‘celebrity’ type leader.

Please hear me. This is a great way of learning and growing.  I do it too.

But have you ever found yourself imitating others—in style, in content, and in strategy? I mean sometimes you can hear preachers who sound exactly like their ‘hero’. They’ve adopted the same style, same approach, and even the same cadence in their voice as the leader they admire.

Why do people do this? They might think, If I imitate a great leader, I’ll become a great leader. 

Well, yes and no. Learning from great leaders can make you a better leader.

Constantly imitating other leaders can actually do damage.

Imitate often enough and guess what happens?

You’ll kill something God-given inside.

Chances are the person you’re imitating didn’t become a great leader by mimicking someone else. Far more likely, they developed the gifts God gave them to their fullest potential.

Which leads us to the first problem with constant imitation of leaders: Envying someone else’s gift will cause you to neglect your own.

It will do other things that will permanently hamper your leadership if you’re not careful.

Is Imitation Always Bad? No…

Imitation isn’t all bad.  There are instances when imitation is just wise and expedient.  Here are a few:

When someone else has done something better than you could and you are free to use their material, strategy or approach.

When someone has figured out a smarter, faster way to get things done.

No one on your team has the creativity to create a better mouse trap.

In those cases, imitation can be a good thing. And, naturally, it’s good to adopt best practices from great leaders.

But persistent imitation goes deeper than that. And that’s why it’s deadly.

Here are 5 ways imitation hurts your leadership.

1. Constant Imitation Kills Innovation

Leaders who constantly imitate rarely innovate.

Imitate long enough, and imitate hard enough, and there won’t be much innovation left in you or your organization.

Constant imitation means you’ll rarely take risks. It means you will wait for someone else to blaze trails.

Imitators are always one, two or five steps behind. They have to wait for the next product, approach or strategy to be revealed. Then they madly copy.

If you are always imitating, your trajectory will never be greater than the person you’re copying. Ever. It will always be a shadow of theirs.

Remember too, that the last thing the innovator you’re copying thought about when creating what you’re looking at was “Now what should I imitate next?”

2. You’ll Never Really Be Creative

If your creative meetings essential consist of “what did so and so do?” and then adapting it to your service, you’re not very creative.

I totally believe wisdom has many counsellors, and I learn from a ton of people and a ton of organizations.

But there’s a world of difference between spring boarding off others and relying on others to think for you.

True creativity is risky. It means you don’t know how it will turn out. It means you have to trust God and trust your judgment.

If your creativity consists of copying what other people have done, you’re not that creative.

 3. You’ll Never Grow Past Your Insecurity

So we’re all a little insecure as leaders.

I am. You might be too.

True innovation forces you to stare down your insecurity for about 1000 reasons, not the least of which is that innovation almost always seems like a dumb move at the time.

When I look back on my life, many of the decisions I’ve made that turned out to be good ones looked dumb at the time.

I walked away from law to pursue ministry. I left a prestigious church in Toronto to come north of the city and start with three tiny, rural churches.

We left an almost paid-for new building to start over again as a portable, non-denominational church to reach unchurched people.

Even in starting my leadership podcast 2 years ago, most people thought a 1 hour, long-form interview format would never work in the church space. Attention spans were shrinking. Shorter was better. And nobody was doing an interview mix of well-known guests and completely unknown guests. Most people thought it wasn’t a great strategy. (It’s a little hard to believe now because there are many interview-based podcasts in the church space…but that was 2014.)

I wasn’t sure it would work either except for a feeling deep in my gut that it would. 2 million downloads later, I’m so thankful I pushed through the uncertainty.

Innovation is messy, uncertain, scary and fraught with failure. Which is why it’s so much easier to imitate. And so less rewarding.

Some of the best ideas you’ll ever have seem dumb—to you or to others—when you first have them. And sometimes they stay dumb. Then you discard them and start over again.

But often they don’t…what’s crazy to begin with can become powerfully effective.

Key insight? It’s way safer to imitate than to innovate, until you innovate.

4. You Won’t Discover Your True Voice

So here’s an obvious but often-missed truth: if you are always trying to be someone else, you will never be yourself.

And that’s a shame, because God actually created you.

Your voice always sounds worse to you than anyone else’s voice (unless you’re an egotist).  I get that.

But God created you. He knew what he was doing when he put you together.

There are two parts to using your own voice: discovering it, and developing it.

Neither happens when you are obsessed with imitation.

Can you be influenced by other voices? Of course. Should you imitate them? Nope.

Not if you want to develop yours.

The greatest communicators are influenced by other voices, but never imitate them.

5. You’ll Stifle Your Relationship With God

Not only does innovation often look dumb at the time, it can make you afraid.

Personally, fear moves me in one of two directions: I either back off on the idea, or I trust God.

Imitation never pushes you to trust. You just blindly adopt and strategy believing it will work.

I think there is a push-pull in listening to others versus listening to God.

If you listen mainly to others, you’ll eventually stop listening to God.

So…two questions for you personally: what (or who) are you imitating?  And what’s it costing you?


Imitating is also dangerous for your organization. Talk with an Auxano Navigator to learn how to discover your uniqueness.


> Read more from Carey

Download PDF

Tags: ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Church Learnings from Falling TV Ratings

When was the last time you sat down to watch a TV show (other than, say, a football game) when it aired live?

And in the car, how often do you listen podcasts or your own playlists compared to the radio?

Even just a few years ago, you likely would have answered very differently.

The world around us continues to change because people are changing with it. The church is never immune from cultural change, and the decline of radio and television give us a window into some of the changes the church is struggling with now and will continue to struggle with in the future.

The mission of the church will never change, but the methods have to. Otherwise, you die. Plain and simple.

The television and radio industries have adapted better to the changing world than, say, newspapers have, but as this Pew Research Centre report makes clear, the industry is changing dramatically.

Here are 5 changes I see happening both now and in the future and some implications for the church.

1. Disappearing Radios Create A Value Crisis

One mainstay of the car dashboard in the last 60 years has been the radio. But that’s changing.

As this article so insightfully points out, the car radio is now disappearing off of dashboards. Instead, a media console is appearing that basically resembles your phone. You now have to scroll several screens deep to find any AM/FM or even satellite stations.

The question, of course, is will anyone listen to the radio if they have to work to find it? Or, asked another way, did we really only listen because it was the only option?

In many ways, the church was to the community what the radio was to the car dashboard. Churches dotted the countryside, towns and cities and people went. Now you’re just as likely to find antique stores in those historic churches as you will people worshipping God. Or, if you pass by the local church, the assumption is that it’s become a club for people of similar views and persuasions to which the public is not really invited, despite what the sign says.

So how will radio get heard when it’s not front and centre in the future car? Only one way: by providing sensational content no one else is producing.

In an age of customized playlists, podcasting and on-demand content, I’m not sure how that one’s going to go. (If you’re interested, I did an interview for a broadcasting student on the future of radio that you can listen to here. As a former radio DJ, I find the subject fascinating.)

So what about the church? Our buildings aren’t the key to the future. Nor are our signs. Nor is merely being there.

The greatest statement to the community any church makes is through the lives of its members. And as you know, sometimes that works for us and sometimes it works against it.

When the Gospel displayed in the lives of a church’s members becomes irresistible, the church will grow.

2. Set-Hours Programming Only Really Applies To Live Events Anymore

The change goes far beyond having a radio on the dashboard or a TV in the family room. It’s much more sweeping than that.

Some of you remember having to be home Thursdays at 8 or Mondays at 9 to catch the latest episode of your favourite show.

And if you do, chances are you’re over 40.

The idea of having to be home to watch a show at a set hour is fading quickly. VCRS, DVRS or as we call them in Canada – PVRS – and now on-demand programming have made traditional ‘don’t miss’ moments easy to miss.

The exception? Live events. Sports, award shows, or live shows like The Voice make instant, real-time results meaningful. Otherwise, you can watch Suits or The Walking Dead whenever you want.

The challenge for the church, of course, is that we’ve almost always done live, scheduled programming for which you show up at a set hour. Even with multiple service options, churches are still largely run off of a “be-there-at-10 a.m.” approach to gathering.

And yet every church leader has noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to fill rooms. While there are many reasons for this, we’ve already seen that even people who attend church attend less often (here are 10 reasons for why that’s happening).

So how do you counter that trend? Or should you even try?

Well… let’s think this through. What makes a live event worth attending is that something is at stake in the moment, or if you miss it, you miss it. This is why you watch it live on TV or try to find it on the radio.

Consequently, if your church service consists of interchangeable content with no sense of urgency, immediacy or transcendency, attendance will always feel more optional.

On the contrary, churches that facilitate an experience orencounter with God, or that drive an urgent sense of mission will always be events that people will not want to miss.

Fortunately for church leaders, the activity and movement of God in the lives of his people is something that, when accurately and faithfully facilitated, drives engagement.

The more your church feels like a live event with God moving, the more people will be drawn to attending at a fixed time and place. And in that context, even watching live online won’t feel like being in the room.

Conversely, the more static or interchangeable your services feel, the less people will feel the need to come at a set time and place.

There’s no doubt that a growing number of younger adults seem to be drawn to a more passionate, engaged, almost charismatic form of worship and church. Witness the rise of Hillsong, Elevation Church or the Passion movement.  While that’s not the only template for how to do church, the passion and engagement in those services and experiences helps explain why people are willing to line up for them.

The attenders are immersed and consumed. They are anticipating that something is going to happen.

As a result, they’re engaged. And as we’ve already seen, in the future church, engagement will be the key to attendance.

3. Fixed-Formatting Limits Your Options

One of the things traditional radio and television struggle with is what you might call ‘fixed formatting.”

Essentially, radio and TV have to function through paid advertising, so content is interrupted every 2-10 minutes for commercial breaks.

Podcasting creates options that commercial radio can’t match.

I love the fact that on my leadership podcast, I get to have 40-90 minute conversations with leaders that are uninterrupted. I promise you conversations unfold very differently when over an hour than they do if the host is always interrupting the guest with “we only have a few minutes left” or “we have to throw to a commercial and we’ll be right back”.

People interview differently over an hour than they do in five-minute segments. They’re more relaxed. They tell you things they otherwise might not mention and you have a far more authentic conversation than you would if you were constantly interrupted.

With over 100 long-form interviews under my belt on my leadership podcast, I’m sold on the benefits of open-ended formatting. And with podcasting, there’s no limit.

It makes me wonder whether church leaders have far more options available to us than we realize.

What kind of long-form content or alt-format content can your church produce now that more channels are open to it?

At Connexus Church where I serve, we’re starting to experiment with online bonus messages for our series that we don’t run on Sundays.

Our most downloaded bonus episode so far is an indepth interview I did with a spiritual warfare expert that we ran in conjunction with a series on the supernatural. People loved it, and it accomplished something that would have been far more difficult to do during a service on a Sunday.

There are far more options for churches to explore than we’ve explored.

The greatest limits you face as a leader or organization are those you impose on yourself. What limits have you constructed for you and your mission?

4. You No Longer Go To Content… Content Comes To You

Some churches have decided not to do online ministries for a variety of reasons, one of which includes not wanting to compete with live services.

And while I don’t think online church will ever replace church (it can’t…God designed us to gather), it can serve as a great supplement to it.

News networks now have apps and a tremendous social media presence. And can you think of a radio station that doesn’t have a Facebook page?

In the old paradigm, you got the news by going to a station. Now the station sends the news to you. Think about it… you probably first heard most of your news this year via social media.

The church can learn from this. To box content up for consumption only on a Sunday morning, or to simply place it on a website or podcast alone in 40-minute blocks completely under-utilizes content.

Taking snippets or a message to post on social media, insert into blog posts and repackage in various ways so it reaches more people is a much better use of the time, energy and resources that goes into a great message. Not to mention the redemptive potential of exposing more people life-changing messages.

It’s also an incredible outreach strategy. Andy Stanley puts his messages on a separate app and on NBC after Saturday Night Live, reaching an entirely different audience than he does through North Point channels or than most do through traditional Christian channels.

If you’re not repurposing your content, why not? Think about it.

Everybody who was not in your church on Sunday was online. Why aren’t you?

You can expect people to come to you. Or you can go simply go to people.

5. The Explosion Of Information Has Created A Crisis Of Meaning

Our culture has never had access to more information than we do now. Three networks on TV has exploded into hundreds of channels. Radio went from AM to FM to satellite and beyond. And then there’s this thing called the internet.

In all of human history, people have never had access to more information than they do today. But somewhere in the midst of it, meaning has been lost.

The crisis our culture is facing is not a crisis of information. It’s a crisis of meaning.

This is perhaps one of the greatest opportunities for the church in history. No one should be better at providing meaning, hope and perspective.

I don’t mean jumping on Facebook and offering your half-formed opinion on politics, supreme court decisions and anything else you want to rant about. That just adds to the noise and detracts from the Gospel.

I mean sharing intelligent, honest, transparent, soul-nourishing, grace and truth that springs from and points to the source of all wisdom—Jesus Christ.

The Gospel satisfies the deepest needs of the human heart and mind for meaning. And no one should be better at proffering meaning into a culture so desperately in need of it than the church.

What Do You See?

As things continue to change in industries like radio and television, what are you noticing?


Talk with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about how the changing radio and television industry impacts the way your church communicates the Gospel.


> Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Practices of Better Communication

So you want to be a better communicator. You’re just not sure how to do that.

Sometimes the art and science of becoming better seems so complex, you’re not sure where to start.

After all, most people who hear you talk can’t give you meaningful feedback. They can tell you whether they liked it or not, but rarely can they tell you why they liked it. Even if you did a great job, you will have a hard time repeating it if you don’t understand what made it great.

That’s why it’s so critical to get feedback and coaching from other communicators. They can often explain why your talk worked or why it didn’t, just like a hitting coach in major league baseball can help a .300 hitter become a .310 hitter by offering far more helpful tips than a simple “Hey, just strike out less.”

So in this post, I share some of my favorite communication tips (including a few I’ve never written about before) that can make a surprisingly big difference.

 

Here are 5 simple tips that can definitely make you a better communicator before you give your next talk. They’ve definitely helped me.

1. Don’t Memorize Your Talk, Understand It

This may be my favorite speaking tip of all time. It just solves so many problems and reduces tension before you speak and while you speak.

I get asked all the time how I can speak for 45 minutes or even longer without looking at notes. I learned the secret when I was in seminary and asked Tom Long, a Princeton professor, how he did it.

He told me: Don’t memorize your talk; understand it.

He was right. Memorizing a talk is extremely difficult. Especially a longer talk. I personally find that trying to recall a memorized talk stilts your delivery because you can’t focus on the moment.

So instead of memorizing your talk, understand your talk.

Think about it. You do this intuitively when you talk to someone. For example, you don’t memorize inviting someone to dinner. (Okay, maybe you memorized a dinner invite once, when you were asking that girl you had a crush on out on a first date…And remember how awkward that was? Point made…)

No, if you’re inviting a friend to dinner, you just intuitively know that you need to see if they’re free, set up the details and maybe figure out where and when and who’s bringing what. Your conversation follows that flow.

Your talk is no different. It’s an introduction, a body, a conclusion and some transition points along the way. If you can grasp those main points, it’s amazingly easy to see how you will naturally fill the space in between with what you prepared.

You need to be familiar with your talk and you need to understand it, but you’ll never need to memorize it.

I wrote more on how to deliver a talk without using notes here.

2. Begin Writing  Your Talk Weeks In Advance

It’s good to get ahead on your talk for so many reasons. But here’s one you may not have known.

Your brain actually has both long term and short term memory capacity.

If you write a talk shortly before you give it, the brain stores your talk in your short term memory. This is why, sometimes, if you’re a preacher who wrote Sunday’s message on a Thursday (or worse, on Saturday night!), it can feel so unfamiliar to you on Sunday.

Contrast that with a talk you’ve worked on weeks ago and maybe delivered recently. For some reason, you probably feel like you know that talk much better than the others you write just before delivery. The reason is simple: your brain stored that information in your long term memory because it’s been around longer.

Ideas stored in long term memory are just easier to recall.

I know it’s hard to get ahead, but try it. I’m working on a series I’m delivering two months from now. I’ve even got most of the bottom lines developed for the series and I’ll flesh out most of the messages in detail two to three weeks before I preach them. My guess is that by the time I deliver the first message, the series will already feel like an old friend.

Because I’m comfortable with it, the talk will immediately connect better with the audience. Your comfort with the subject may even appear to give you more authority on the subject, too, because your audience will assume you understand it well. They’ll realize you own it, because you do.

Speakers, this is also why conference talks you’ve repeated once or twice are so easy to recall: they’re stored in your long term memory.

By beginning every talk well in advance, you give every talk the opportunity to flourish into something better.

3. Include At Least One Self-Deprecating Story

If you want to build rapport with your audience, show them your weaknesses, not just your strengths.

I almost always try to find one mildly self-deprecating story in any talk I’m giving. (Fortunately, I seem to have an endless supply of self-deprecating moments from which to draw.)

This does two things. First, it put you on the same level as the audience, which is exactly where you want to be in a post-modern, post-Christian culture. Theologically, that’s a good thing, because you actually are on the same level as your audience. But in our post-modern, anti-authoritarian culture, the audience wants to know you’re one of them.

In a post-modern, post-Christian culture, your authority actually goes up, not down, when you display your vulnerability.

Second, the audience empathizes with you. They see themselves in you, and your honesty makes them quietly cheer for you.

Can you overshare? Yes. Can you under-share? Absolutely.

How do you know where the line is? If you’re not sure, I wrote this post on how to be an appropriately transparent leader without oversharing.

The bottom line, though, is this: people may admire your strengths, but they resonate with your weaknesses.

4. Pay Attention To The Logical Flow Of Your Talk

Every talk should take people on a logical journey. Even our stories are sequenced logically, with a beginning, middle and end. If you don’t believe it, try watching a movie with the scenes in random order. It will drive you crazy and the story, of course, will make no sense.

Our brains are hardwired to search for meaning, and logic brings order out of the chaos around us.

Your talk should have a beginning, middle and end, and each section should be logically and sequentially related.

For example, if you start your talk by describing a problem, then your talk should also offer the solution or at least a response to that problem. If it doesn’t, you’ll just annoy people.

Similarly, move the different sections of your talk through a logical grid. It should look something like this: If A, then B, then C and then, finally, D.

Here’s the logical flow of a recent message I gave.

  • Some of you don’t like Christians because you think most Christians are hypocrites.
  • In fact, aren’t some non-Christians actually better moral people than the Christians you know?
  • Well, you’re right. Most of us are hypocrites.  You have a moral standard. The question is: have you kept it?
  • But what if our personal morality isn’t the basis of Christian salvation? Christianity doesn’t make moral people better. It makes dead people live.
  • God is actually more critical of hypocrites than you are.
  • Fortunately he forgives, and challenges those ready to throw stones at others to drop them.
  • In light of God’s incredible mercy, it’s time to drop the stone.

Most messages typically have 3 to 7 key logical moves in them. This one had seven. Whatever it is, understanding the logical flow of your argument will help you understand your talk, which as we saw in Point 1 above, eliminates the need for memorization.

If you can’t figure out the logical flow of your talk as a communicator, your audience never will.

5. Speak With Double Your Normal Energy During Delivery

One final quick tip: whenever you’re communicating, speak with double your normal energy.

It’s going to feel weird at first, but it’s vital.

Speaking in normal conversational tones when you have a microphone in your hand actually makes you sound boring. So double your energy.

Start by doubling your normal volume. I’m not talking about yelling. I’m talking about speaking more loudly and passionately.

Many speakers get freaked out by the microphone. Don’t. The sound person will turn you down when you project your voice.

A quick hack? Pretend you have no mic on and you’re speaking to the person at the back of the room. That will automatically make you a more compelling speaker.

Energetic speakers are always more compelling.


Want to learn more about becoming a better communicator? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

7 Truths About Authentic Discipleship

One of the ways you know you’re making progress is that you stop having the same discussion over and over again.

If you’re discussing the same issues on your team or at home year after year, you’re probably stuck.

When it comes to much of the discussion around discipleship, I believe we’re getting it wrong in the church.

We’re stuck.

What if the popular understanding of discipleship is producing some of the ill health and even stagnation and decline we see all around us in the church?

And what if you could do something about it by rethinking what you mean by discipleship?

From my earliest days in ministry, I’ve had a conversation about discipleship that repeats itself again and again.

It goes like something like this:

Me: People need to reach out more and focus more of their time, energy and resources on evangelism.

Other person(s): That’s a great idea but what we really need to focus on is discipleship. There’s such an immaturity in Christians today that we need to focus on growing the ones we have first. And besides, evangelical churches are known for producing shallow, immature Christians.

Pretty compelling logic.

Unless, of course, it’s wrong.

I agree that often Christians in the West are immature. I agree our walk doesn’t always match our talk.

But I also think the average North American Christian is about 3000 bible verses overweight.

The way many leaders approach maturity is to assume that knowledge produces maturity. Since when?

It’s wonderful that people understand what they believe, but knowledge in and of itself is not a hallmark of Christian maturity. As Paul says, knowledge puffs up. Love, by contrast, builds up. And some of the most biblically literate people in Jesus day got by-passed as disciples.

The goal is not to know, but to do something with what you know.  I wrote more on why our definition of Christian maturity needs to change here.

Here are seven things I believe are true about biblical discipleship church leaders today should reclaim:

1.  Jesus commanded us to make disciples, not be disciples.

The way many Christian talk, you’d think Jesus told us to be disciples. He commanded us to make disciples. The great commission is, at it’s heart, an outward movement.

Could it be that in the act of making disciples, we actually become more of who Christ designed us to be? It was in the act of sharing faith that thousands of early Christians were transformed into new creations.

I know personally I grow most and learn most when I am helping others. It gives me a place to apply what I’m learning and to take the focus off myself and place it on Christ and others, where it belongs.

2. Discipleship is simply linked to evangelism.

The thrust of all first century discipleship was to share Christ with the world he loves and died for (yes, Jesus really does love the world).

You can’t be a disciple without being an evangelist.

And for sure, the opposite is true. You can’t be an an evangelist without being a disciple. But somehow many many people would rather be disciples without being evangelists.

3. A mark of an authentic disciple includes getting it wrong.

A common criticism of churches that draw in large numbers of outsiders and newer believers is that these new followers of Christ get it wrong as often as they get it right. They might not realize that reincarnation isn’t biblical or struggle to understand the faith they’re stepping into.

What if that’s a sign that their discipleship is authentic?

After all, Peter didn’t get it right most of the time when he was around Jesus. Many leaders in the early church needed correction. And even Paul would later confront Peter about his unwillingness to eat with Gentiles.  And yet Christ chose to build the early church on Peter and Paul. Imagine that.

4. A morally messy church is…inevitable

One stinging criticism of churches that are reaching people is that many of their attenders don’t bear much resemblance to Jesus.

These new, immature Christians can be

  • swayed by powerful personalities
  • still be sexually active outside of marriage
  • have questionable business practices
  • end up in broken families
  • be too swayed by the culture
  • not know how to conduct themselves in worship
  • doubt core doctrines like the resurrection

If these issues remind you of why you so dislike growing churches or megachurches, just realize that I pulled every one of those problems out of 1 Corinthians. The church in Corinth struggled with every problem listed above and (I think) every problem growing churches today struggle with.

And last time I checked the church in Corinth was an authentic church Christ loved.

The fact that you have these problems may actually be a sign you’re making progress with the unchurched. You don’t want to leave them there, but when people really start engaging with Christ, tidy categories are hard to come by.

In fact the most morally ‘pure’ people of the first century (the Pharisees) were the very ones Jesus most often condemned. Go figure.

 5. Maturity takes time and is not linear

It would be great if there was instant maturity in faith and in life. But it never works that way.

You can’t expect a 3 year old to have the maturity of a 13 year old, or expect a 23 year old to have the maturity of a 43 year old. When you place expectations on people that they are just not able to bear, you crush or confuse them.

And yet we do that in the church all the time. People grow and mature over time. And our progress isn’t always as linear as a 101, 201, 301 progression would make it. In fact, I know some 23 year olds who are more mature than some 43 year olds.

Expose new Christians to the love of God and community, to great teaching, great relationships, and solid accountability and over time, many will grow into very different people than they were when they first came to Christ. They may grow at different rates and in different measures, but I believe Jesus talked about that. Just don’t judge them after a few months or even a few years.

6. Christian maturity was never about you anyway.

Christian maturity has never been about you anyway. It is certainly not about how awesome you are compared to others, how smart you are, how righteous you are, or how holy you are.

It is about Jesus. And it is about others.

It was never about you anyway.

7.  Love compels us

If you love the world, how can you ignore it? Jesus said the authentic mark of his followers is love. He defined the primary relationship between God and humanity as one of love. The truth he ushered in is inseparable from love.

The primary motivation for evangelism and discipleship is the same; it is love. That should characterize both the discussion about evangelism and discipleship and also the way we go about both.

This isn’t an exhaustive treatment of discipleship and evangelism, but in the time it takes to sip a coffee I hope it helps some way advance the conversation about evangelism and discipleship in your church.

And if we advanced our understanding of discipleship in the church, maybe the church and our culture would be transformed.

> Read more from Carey.


 Would you like to learn more about authentic discipleship? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

John — 10/15/16 10:54 am

Gospel according to Luke that the harvest is ripe but laborers are few. I think we tend to be Peter. Some (hopefully most) of us "get it" in time. (Ref. Baptism of Cornelius).

Ted Shoemaker — 10/26/15 6:40 pm

I'm not clear as to whether Carey Nieuwhof is pitting evangelism vs maturity, big church vs deep church. There is no need to do so. Each one supports the other. Perhaps Nieuwhof is gifted (or motivated) in terms of one; and I may be gifted/motivated in terms of the other. We each need the other. Xaris, Ted Shoemaker

Curt Kekuna — 10/26/15 11:47 am

Very insightful and comforting to know others question what's popular or current! You helped me understand the stirring in my soul concerning the focus of discipleship. Thank you.

david bartosik — 10/18/15 11:49 pm

I love your #2 "Discipleship is simply linked to evangelism." Shouldn't that lead us to deepen in our thinking? John Piper said, "Thinking serves feeling. God gave us the ability to learn and reason, so that we might admire and treasure him above anything else. Right thinking is for deep feeling." Shouldn't we want to help people think deeply about God so it naturally flows out of their life? And if its not flowing out of their life the conclusion should be it hasn't changed them as much as they think or as we would hope? It seems to me that it will return us to more thinking not more empty actions right?

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Is Your Church Making the Same Mistake Over and Over Again?

It’s one thing to make mistakes in leadership.

It’s another to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Any idea what your frequent mistakes might be?

And if you have mistakes that you make, why do you keep making the same ones over and over again?

One of the reasons many leaders and organizations repeatedly make the same mistakes is because our actions spring from our viewpoint, viewpoints that in fact may be wrong.

Get the viewpoint wrong and the actions follow.

As you’ll see from the list below, the mistakes I see church leaders make repeatedly spring from a view point that can best be described this way:

What we do in the church doesn’t really matter.

The reality is nothing could be further from the truth. What we do in the church matters incredibly, because the church actually is, as Bill Hybels says, the hope of the world.

If the church has the most important mission on earth, behave like it.

But so many churches don’t.

Here are 5 mistakes I see over and over again.

1. Thinking cheap

Too often in church, leaders carry a dollar store mindset. Get as much as you can for as little as you can and you win.

But do you?

What leaders miss is that cheap has a cost. In fact, in the long run, it’s actually more expensive.

First, you end up with inferior products, whether that’s furniture, technology or even ministry (Here, leader…do world class children’s ministry on $140 a year).  Cheap things break earlier and more easily, and you end up replacing them frequently. So often, you don’t even save much money.

Cheap even translates to team.

Paying church staff poorly is not only unbiblical, it’s stupid. When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Do I think you should pay outrageous salaries to church leaders? Absolutely not. But you should pay people a living wage.

If you want a radically different view on why non-profits shouldn’t be cheap on salaries, Dan Pallotta makes a powerful case for decent pay in the non-profit sector.

Why do some church leaders want to underfund the most important ministry on earth?

2. Starting late

I’ve been to numerous church services and events that regularly start late, after the published start time.

Why?

Maybe it’s just me, but that just oozes “Hey, what we’re doing doesn’t matter much…and we don’t really value your time.”

Some people got their kids up early, made breakfast, showered quickly and fought traffic to show up on time. When you start late, you dishonour all their effort.

I know some church leaders think they want to wait until ‘everyone is here.’ Well guess what? No matter what time you begin, people will always wander in late.

We had an ‘everyone shows up ten minutes late’ problem a few years ago. Rather than start late, we actually told people to arrive on time and then put some of the best, most creative elements in the first 5 minutes of the service.

When people showed up late, we told them “Man, it’s too bad you missed it.” That was it. We never apologized.

Guess what happened? We went from 30% of people being present when the service started to about 70% of people being present when the service started.

It’s amazing what happens when you provide great value on time. People show up.

The other 30%? Too bad they missed it….

3. Deciding it’s good enough

Even if you invest some money in ministry, too many church leaders behave as though a moderate effort is good enough.

As Jim Collins has famously pointed out, bad is not the enemy of great (because that’s obvious). Good is the enemy of great.

A ‘good enough’ attitude can create a false sense of satisfaction, leaving a meaningful part of both your mission and potential unfulfilled.

That’s why I love that at Connexus Church, where I serve, one of our stated values is ‘Battle Mediocrity.’

I love that phrase because first of all, ‘mediocrity’ names ‘good enough’ for what it is—massively unsatisfying mediocrity. Second, ‘battle’ is a call to arms. This is a fight, and mediocre has to die. (I teach on battling mediocrity in this talk.)

God didn’t decide his work was good enough, so why should the church? He gave his best. His all. He threw the full force of his majesty not just into creation, but into redemption.

Strangely, many people will give 100% to the marketplace, a hobby or their family, and then give 60% when they serve God. Makes no sense. At all.

4. Choosing easy over effective

Being effective as a leader is difficult. Which is why it’s so easy for leaders to settle when so much more is possible.

Being effective means you dig in when others retreat. It means you ask the 11th question when everyone else stopped at ten. It means you wake up early and sometimes stay up late trying to figure out how to do better.

It means you call out the best in people and ask them to bring their best energy, focus and skill to advancing the mission of the church.

That’s effective.

And it’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

5. Thinking that conversations like these are  unspiritual

Some leaders understand why conversations like these matter to the church. But there are always some who don’t.

In some circles, talking strategy is seen as ‘unspiritual.’ Instead, the goal is to not get too concerned with strategy and just try to keep everybody happy. Or to pray about things and maybe they’ll just get better.

The best prayer is rooted in action. Praying about forgiveness when you’re unwilling to forgive is pointless.

Praying for your church if you’re unwilling to act on it doesn’t make any sense either.

If we believe God is the author of our hearts, minds, souls, strength and gifts, then we should be willing to lend all of the above to further the mission.

I outline 7 other key issues the church needs to tackle in my latest book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

In the meantime, I’d love to know some of the mistakes you see churches make again and again.

Read more from Cary.


Auxano can help you get things done. Find out more about our Execution consulting service.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

10 Ways to Reach More People Without Investing a Dime

So you want your church to accomplish its mission and reach people.

But so often in church leadership, it’s easy to believe growth can’t really happen unless you spend money on some new initiatives.

And that leaves a lot of church leaders stuck. Why? Because the vast majority of churches are underfunded, not over-funded.

Faced with a lack of resources, too many church leaders throw in the towel and believe growth isn’t possible.

But that’s a fallacy.

Vision always precedes resources. If you’re waiting for people and money to show up so you can get on with your mission, you’ll wait forever.

So how do you start growing now, even with zero dollars?

Here are 10 ways.

1. Exude more passion

It’s amazing to me how little passion many church leaders exude.

We have the most amazing mission on planet earth. And we have a generation of young adults in front of us who want to give their lives to a cause that’s bigger than themselves.

Yet it’s easy to believe that the only way to reach the next generation is by spending money on lights, gear and sound. As I outlined in this post, that’s just not true.

You don’t need a polished church to reach the next generation nearly as much as you need a passionate church. Because when it comes to reaching the next generation, passion beats polish.

2. Cut the weird

Christians can be socially weird.

Too often, we use unnecessarily weird language—like this:

“This is good coffee, brother.”

“Amen. Hallelujah.”

Why not just talk at church the way you talk at the office or at a football game or on a Saturday by the pool? (Actually, if you talk like that normally, you probably don’t get invited out too often.)

Here’s what’s actually at stake: if someone has to learn code to join your church, you likely won’t have many people joining your church.

Our challenge is to reduce the human barriers that keep people from Jesus, not to erect new ones.

And, no, being weird does not mean you’re being faithful. It just means you’re being weird.

3. Expand your vision

Vision is a leader’s best friend, and it’s free.

After two decades of leading and communicating in the local church, I am convinced it is impossible to overstate or overestimate the vision of the church.  As Bill Hybels has said, the local church really is the hope of the world.

If you don’t dream big dreams for your church, who will?

If you don’t communicate big vision for your church, who will?

4. Encourage people to fall in love with your mission, not your methods

The reason change is so difficult in many churches is because members fall in love with methods, not with mission.

A method is a way of doing things: programs the church runs, the style of music, the architecture of a building or facility, a staffing or governance model.

Those are all simply methods that can and should change with every generation or even more frequently.

The mission is what you’re doing (like reaching people with the love and hope of Jesus), and it never changes.

The more you focus on the mission, the easier it is to change the methods.

5. Smile more

I know ‘smile more’ sounds trivial. But just look around you. Hardly anyone smiles.

If the Gospel is good news, you would never know it from looking at many Christians.

I have to remind myself when I communicate to smile more. It’s not my natural facial expression.

A smile can make a huge difference in almost any relationship.

So smile more and remind your people to smile more. Honestly, this makes a huge difference in how people perceive you.

6. Stop fighting

I have no statistics on this, but my guess is in-fighting has killed more churches than moral failure has.

Christians, it’s hard to convince the world that God loves it when we constantly fight with each other.

If your church is fighting, there should be zero mystery as to why it isn’t growing.

7. Pay much better attention to first- time guests

I’ve never heard of a church whose members claimed they were unfriendly.

In fact, most church members are stumped as to why people don’t like their church because they’re so ‘friendly.’

But being a ‘friendly’ church can often mean you’re friendly to each other, not to guests.

Change that.

Make sure guests feel genuinely appreciated, welcomed and that their questions are answered. This does NOT mean making them stand up in the service or other socially awkward things like that (see point 2 above).

It does mean treating guests the way they want to be treated.

8. Treat your volunteers better

Many leaders fall into the trap of thinking that great leadership comes only when you can hire a great staff.

Nonsense.

You have a great team—they’re called your volunteers. And as I outlined in this post, you can pay your volunteers in non-financial currencies.

If you create a healthy volunteer culture, you’ll be amazed at how well your volunteers serve.

No matter how big you get as a church, you will never have enough money to hire all the staff you want. And you will always need a growing group of passionate, committed, aligned volunteers.

I write an entire chapter on creating a great volunteer culture in my book and video series, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

The bottom line? Passionate volunteers create a passionate church.

9. Invite someone

So there’s this thing out there called personally inviting a friend. Ever heard of it?

Okay, maybe that was a little sarcastic. But I am amazed by how often most of us neglect personally inviting our unchurched friends to church.

Many actually say yes when asked.

If everyone invited one person next weekend, think of what might happen.

Church leaders, encourage people to invite friends and start by inviting someone yourself.

10. Become friends with people who aren’t Christians

Last time I checked, friendship was free too. That’s a good thing.

The sad reality is the reason #9 is impossible for some people is because many Christians don’t actually know any non-Christians.

Change that.

Be a friend.

Hang out with that guy at work. Throw a party for the neighbours in your back yard. Talk to the other parents at your child’s school.

Get out of the Christian bubble and into the world Jesus died for.

If you’re at church 7 nights a week, you can’t be friends with non-Christians. So cut a few nights and go live the mission.

That’s why our church has almost no programming on weeknights other than small groups. We want our people to love the community.

The only way you can love a community is to actually be in the community.

You can’t love people you don’t know.

What have you done in your church that’s helped you reach more people?

> Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Really, Really Bad Ways to Respond to Problems

Naturally, there are things you love about the ministry or organization you lead. Probably lots of them.

But chances are there are also a few things you don’t love. Maybe even a few things you see that bother you deeply. Being discontent with things comes with the territory for most leaders. In fact, an ability to spot problems is in part what makes a leader a leader.

After all, it’s often a deep discontent that drives us to want to make things better and makes us leaders in the first place.

But that discontent can also hurt us and hurt others if we mishandle it.

In fact, most leaders fall into a variety of traps when trying to figure out how to respond when they see something they don’t like. When you respond inappropriately to something you don’t like, you can end up:

  • Hampering your ministry or organization
  • Hurting good people
  • Stunting your own growth and development

Here are 6 terrible (but common) ways to respond when something upsets you as a leader.

1.  Failing to take responsibility

It’s just so easy to blame other people or other factors when you see something you don’t like.

While laying the blame on external factors is a problem (I wrote about that here), sometimes we blame others inside our organization for the problem. Great leaders never do that.

If you’re the senior leader in your organization, everything you don’t like about it is your responsibility.

Great leaders never blame. They take responsibility instead.

Sure, it’s not your responsibility to handle all the problems personally. But it is your responsibility to ensure your culture stays healthy, people remain on mission and that the problems you’re facing get solved well and in a timely manner by the right people.

For years I’ve had to remind myself: I’m the leader. I’m responsible. It’s no one else’s fault but mine.

2. Not taking action 

The fact that something bothers you is natural.

But too many leaders let the problem linger. They walk in and allow themselves to be bothered by it day after day after day.

Don’t do that. Deal with it, or else decide it’s actually not a problem (sometimes you just need an attitude adjustment).

And if it actually is a problem, DO something about it!

Getting upset over the same issue again and again and not doing anything about is futility and a failure in leadership.

Change the situation. Work on a solution. Or be quiet about it.

3. Failing to get a proper diagnosis

Just because you see the problem doesn’t mean you understand the problem.

I’ve caught myself on this more than a few times.

I’ve caught myself on this more than a few times: Thinking I understand the problem and actually understanding the problem are often two different things.
The best way to avoid this trap is to ask people around you for input.

Sometimes all that’s missing between your observation and the right diagnosis is more information.

4. Bypassing proper channels

The bigger your organization, the more of a temptation this becomes for leaders.

Because leaders are often doers and fixers, our temptation is to by-pass several layers and just fix something. In other words, the people who created the problem are three or four ‘layers’ removed from the situation and you just decided to bypass all their managers and deal with it yourself.

When you do that, you undermine the leadership of everyone who stood between you and the problem. Not to mention the fact that you have likely just traumatized the person you just dealt with (see point 5).

5. Saying too much to the wrong person

Your words weigh a lot as a leader. When you walk into an environment and point out five things that are wrong with it, the people who worked hard to put it together can easily become devastated.

As we’ve grown, I’ve learned to keep a few people around me who I can say anything to. They act as a sounding board and often tell me I’m wrong, or I don’t have the right information, or explain to me why something is the way it is.

Once I have all the information, I often change my mind.

But sometimes, if I’m right, we’ll get someone else to take action because they’ll either say it better than I will or will be the person who has to fix the problem anyway.

The larger your organization, the more important it is that you say mostly positive things to the people who work with you and keep your criticism for your very tight inner circle.

Because I started the church and teach most weekends my words weigh a lot. I need to remember that.

6. Not articulating a clear alternative

It’s one thing to spot a problem. It’s quite another to create a solution.

If something is bothering you, that’s understandable.

But real leadership happens when you can work with your team to create an alternative. That’s far more work, but it’s so important.

Simply telling people what’s wrong is of very limited value. Helping them work toward what’s right – a preferred future – is far better.

As a leader, your highest value comes when you help your team find constructive alternatives.

What Do You See?

Those are 6 traps I see leaders fall into when they find something they don’t like in their organization.

Which ones snag you? What are other traps you’ve discovered?

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Josh — 05/02/17 4:35 am

Good stuff Carey

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.