Monday, May 15, 2017

The Unstuck Church - Tony Morgan

My friend Tony Morgan has a brand new book releasing on the 16th May -The Unstuck Church.

Here is what a few well-known Pastors had to say about it:
“Your church is perfectly designed to get the results you are currently getting. If you’re satisfied with the results, write a book. If not, read this one… with your entire leadership team." - Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor, North Point Ministries
"Every once in awhile you find a book that makes you ask "Where has this been all my (ministry) life?" This is one of those books." - Carey Nieuwhof, Founding and Teaching Pastor, Connexus Church
"Whether you are a part of a church plant or a 100-year-old established church, there is a wealth of wisdom in this book for you. If you care about your church, take your team through this book.”- Craig Groeschel, Pastor of Life.Church and author of Divine Direction—7 Decisions That Will Change Your Life
So that should be good enough voices to encourage you to read the book. So what can I add?

Tony is the real deal

I read many books and apart from a few book signing hellos I've never spent any time with the 99% of the authors. But through our connection with Tony at MKCC I have been able to spend day's in meetings and learn through discussions over meals. We have even shared an awkward hug. (Those of you who happen to know us both will understand)

His life is marked by humility and a simple love for Jesus which enriches his family life and empowers his ministry.

Tony loves the local church

I first heard of Tony when I attended a breakout session at a Purpose Driven Conference at Saddleback Church. He and his friend Tim Stevens talked about Simply Strategic Volunteers (still one of the most practical books with ideas on valuing volunteers I've read) while they were serving at Granger Comunity Church. He then served at NewSpring Church SC before setting up The Unstuck Group. I may not get this right but I believe he has now served over 200 churches of all sizes both large and small and many different denominations.

He has a real passion for seeing every local church be all that God wants them to be. To help them to reach more people that are far from Jesus and empower the church to effectively assist people in taking their next step in discipleship.

Tony is serving God in his sweet spot

Having experienced Tony partnering with Milton Keynes Christian Centre over the last few years I know he has been uniquely shaped by God to help churches get unstuck, find health and grow. He has the ability to help you get to where you want and need to be quickly, even though you have been stuck in the long grass for a long time unsure of your next step.

If you are involved in leading a church, do yourself a favour, buy his book here.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Leadership - Mentor the next generation

Dr Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. Here are a few quotes from her talk at Rethink Leadership 2017
  • Culture eats strategy for breakfast. – Peter Drucker
  • Leadership culture eats strategy for breakfast.
  • What kind of leadership culture was needed to grow churches with young people in the church?
  • With the next-generation, it's more about grass roots activism and not top down great leadership
  • It’s not about hip leadership culture. Pastors, we can put away our skinny jeans.
  • Keychain leadership culture - hand the keys over - responsibility, power & authority. As you hand them over, your church will flourish.
  • It is about Reciprocal Learning – Saying, if you see me doing something wrong, please tell me. 
  • Think of me as a fellow patient who having been admitted a little earlier could give you some advice - C S Lewis
  • We are all here today because someone handed the keys over to us.
  • Take Baby Steps - To give someone their first lesson in the car you don't go to the motorway, you go to a deserted car park.
  • The two biggest problems in the church are that we think too small and we live scared. Young people come with new ideas and courage to take risks.
  • Young people give our church more vitality, innovation, passion, and money. They may not have money but their parents do.
  • The enthusiasm of young people is not your church’s problem. It is your church’s solution.
  • What revolution is waiting in the church as you hand over keys to young people who are ready for them and become a mentor to them?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Predictable Success

Les McKeown business consultant and author of Predictable Success: Getting Your Organisation On The Growth Track…And Keeping It, took a session at Rethink Leadership. It was also good to hear an accent from nearer home as Les originates from Northern Ireland.

Les described the seven stages of every organisation and church and the parts the various types of leaders plays.

Stage 1 - Struggle
  • You get to start something and you have struggle.
  • If you don’t have people, you don’t have a church.
  • The early struggle is dominated by a singular leadership style - one with vision, the Visionary. 
  • They’re not afraid to take risks. They get the big picture. They’re charismatic, steely, passionate. They’re often great communicators, have the gift of the gab.
  • Visionaries get uptight when they have to grind out the details.
  • To get out of early struggle, the Visionary hires an Operator, a ruthless finisher, and together they bring us to the next stage.
Stage 2 - Fun
  • The first growth stage is called Fun.
  • It is in the Fun stage when we build the myths and legends of the church. In the future looking back we will say "Remember when....?"
  • It's where the church is at its most organically evangelical.
  • When we have Fun we grow.
  • We make it up as we go along, do whatever we need to do. We snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
  • So we grow and get more complex. Then the complexity of running our church then overwhelms our ability to move forward.
  • The Visionary and Operator are then joined by a Processor. They create processes so you don’t have to reinvent them every week.
Stage 3 - Whitewater's
  • The complexity restricts us from doing things on the fly.
  • We have to rehearse music, pay royalties get a building now we need a caretaker.
  • A Processor creates much-needed systems to make stuff replicable. 
  • But Processors are risk averse and say ‘No” a lot.
  • For the good of the church, you need the Visionary, Operator and Processor to work together really well.
  • This is the stage where you first encounter difficulties as for the first time the visionary, operator & processor get conflict for the first time
Stage 4 - Predictable Success
  • This is the stage where we can scale but it is also the time where the three leadership styles clash.
  • They think it's a personality conflict that is causing the difficulty but what's required is getting the three types of leaders working together.
Stage 5 - Treadmill
  •  The treadmill is instead of Predictable Success, we are just predictable.
  • The main difficulty is a visionary - operator conflict. 
  • We start over emphasising process & become predictable & bureaucratic.
  • That's when the visionary says "I didn't start this for this".
  • If the visionary doesn't get heard the visionary will depart.
  • This is the long, slow ride into irrelevancy. With the visionary gone, we are left with operators and processors. They get things done but there’s no vision.
  • The operators then leave to start all over again.
  • Processors are then left making sure the empty services are starting on time.
  • You can only invoke change up to Treadmill.
Stage 6 - The Big Rut
  • With visionary gone, all we can do is make things happen
  • Then the operators leave because they need the visionary
  • Then we are left with processors making sure that the increasing empty services are starting on time
  • There’s no coming back from The Big Rut. You’ve lost the power to self-diagnose. You actually like it like this.
Stage 7 - Death
  • Then you then hit Death Rattle. This can take generations because you have built a lot of assets.
  • If you are in the Big Rut or Death Rattle, there’s no point staying.
Closing Thoughts
  • You want to choose to be in Fun (organic and deep in intensity but not looking to grow) or you can be looking to grow.
  • You often don’t have a choice which stage you find yourself in. You can fall into Whitewater BECAUSE you have grown.
  • In Fun the visionary leader can get to do whatever he wants. If you want Predictable Success, authority flattens out because you make team-based decisions to scale.
  • A bean counter is a Processor who has no ability to relate to the Visionary or Operator. 
  • A visionary leader in Predictable Success has to institutionalise your vision.
  • An extreme visionary becomes an arsonist, an extreme operator becomes a maverick and an extreme processor is left p*****g in the wind
  • You must not empower power without overall alignment. to your vision.
  • If your overarching vision isn't institutionalised, then you have competing heroes/leaders working against each other.
  • Processors want to hold you accountable to current success. When your people say, ‘Back in the day…’, you’re in Whitewater.
  • Visionaries know the need systems and processes but they think they need them for everyone else, except them.
  • In a group discussion, the visionary, operator & processor must put the interest of the enterprise ahead of their own.
  • Getting quality team-based decisions means invoking the enterprise commitment.
  • Many early churches fail because they run out of resources before they run out of vision. You’ve got to keep a focus on viability.
  • I’m all for trial and error, but when you get traction, you have to go through it.
  • Learn to build a muscle of being ruthlessly constructive creating high-quality team-based decisions.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Rethink Leadership - Executive Pastor breakout

At Rethink Leadership I had a great time listening to a breakout session by Darius Wise, Executive Pastor of Denver United Church.

Darius provides leadership for their business operations, executive staff, and serves as one of their primary communicators. Previously he spent eleven years on staff at New Birth Church in Lithonia, Georgia.

  • Ministry is about people, relationships and valuing each other's story
  • The Executive Pastor role complements the senior pastor role
  • It is a rather unique position as it includes both operations and pastoring people
  • But they must have the ability to do "business" well
  • And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.- Dan 1:20-21 - It would seem that Daniel and his colleagues did their work 10 times better than others.
  • Through this they earned credibility & influence
  • You can't pay enough for credible and trustworthy leaders
  • The people who attend church each week are not looking for a perfect leader but they are looking for a leader who is credible & trustworthy
  • In church doing "business" well is a means to an end, to empower the church to care for & disciple people well
  • Remember to think people before process
  • Take time to walk through the lobby - but walk slowly! 
  • In the church, everyone's a janitor and everyone's a pastor
  • As an Executive Pastor, your role is to bring clarity &  build trust.
  • By definition, we can get positional authority but relational authority is what moves the needle and creates change
  • Seek to lead from relational access
  • An Executive Pastor has a unique position in the church, they are the middle man, with access and responsibility up and down the org chart.
  • You must learn to manage the tension.Manage the tension
  • Lead alongside not in front.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Rethink Leadership - Jeff Henderson

Next up at Rethink Leadership was Jeff Henderson, Lead Pastor at Gwinnett Church. Here are some of his thoughts on Strategy: Keeping The Main Thing The Main Thing.

  • The main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.
  • Insideritis – a malady afflicting the vision of an organisation resulting in focusing on insiders over outsiders.
  • Our role, as leaders, is to grow a team who can take care of the business while you go and get new customers. (he gave an example of what was expected of a Chick fil a manager)
  • Too often the way we have set up our churches is actually keeping people from reaching people
  • Vision leaks. And so does inspiration.
  • The natural drift of a church or organisation is towards complexion and confusion.
  • You have to start with "why" and you have to stay with why.
  • Our challenge as leaders is that we have a lot going on. So remember to stay within the circles you can influence. You, your core team, staff and board, volunteers and finally the larger Community. But it all starts with you.
  • Continually ask "What are we here for?". This is a vision inventory question.
  • To check you are focused on the main thing ask these three questions:
    What do you meet about?
    What do you talk about?
    What do you see?
    What do you celebrate?
  • The words we use are important but if we can put visual images to it, it helps keep the main thing the main thing. Use t-shirts, bumper stickers, pens....
  • Celebration is something leaders often overlook.
  • The best thing you can do as a leader today is write three Thank You notes, and tomorrow, and the next day, and every day.
  • For Gwinnett Church #forgwinnett is the main thing. They are for their County, for everyone in Gwinnett not everyone in the church.
  • In first 5 min of any staff meeting, everyone seaches for the #forgwinett then likes and comment on posts. We reward vision. 
  • Everybody likes getting their Instagram photo liked. It reinforces a behaviour.
  • 99% of Instagram photos from churches are about what’s happening in the church. We need to be about what’s happening in the community.
  • A neighbour minded church allows people to belong before they believe

Monday, May 01, 2017

Rethink Leadership - Reggie Joiner

Reggie Joiner is the founder and CEO of Orange, whose purpose is to influence those who influence the next generation. Here are some of his thoughts from his session at Rethink Leadership:

  • Ask yourself what do I want a kid to become?
  • Where do I want a kid or teenager to be so they can learn what I want them to learn?
  • Strategy is a plan of action with an end in mind. Think of motorcycle training through cones. Look at the cones, and you will hit it. Look at an object at the end of the cones, and you will pass every time.
  • What is the one thing that you would want your people to attend to create life change?
  • A strategy is a plan of action with an end in mind. Orange is not a curriculum. It's a strategy
  • Recruit the most qualified and educated staff to work with children & young people and pay them accordingly.
  • Kids and students matter so give them your best.
  • Two things that have to be right in your church – what you’re doing with your kids and what you’re doing with your presentation.
  • You need to put your best talent in front of your greatest potential
  • Kids are the engine of growth for reaching your community. The more budget you put into children and student ministry the bigger the whole pie will be.
  • You can say student ministry is important but I want to see your budget. – Craig Groeschel
  • You have to have a volunteer process that sets people up to win.
  • We have amazing leaders who show up to invest in kids and teenagers. But senior pastors set the tone for that.
  • Get the leaders for family and children’s ministry before we get leaders for anywhere else.
  • Champion family ministry in a way that inspires high capacity leaders to volunteer.
  • If you have been attending here for two years and you are not serving maybe you should go to another church as we can't help you grow
  • What you need to do with parents is not a workshop you do once a year where 20% will turn up. You need an ongoing strategy to reach 100%.
  • 20% of parents will come to an event. You have to figure out how to connect with and empower the rest.
  • Turn up all the dials of communications to engage parents but one of your best tools to reach parents in your church and community is a small group leader.
  • If you have the right curriculum, it will work with the parents in your church and the parents in your community.
  • Suicides peak at 10th grade in our country (USA).
  • Middle school is when kids start seeing things and experiencing things for the first time.
  • Middle school is the Affirm Phase. I’ve never met a middle schooler who was affirmed enough.
  • One-third of the cerebral cortex goes away in middle school. They are not being irresponsible. They are losing their mind. 
  • Value the ministry to middle school, it sends a message to your community when middle schoolers matter.
  • If we understand what's going on with a child in each phase of their life we will stop making assumptions and start responding differently. Resource:

Rethink Leadership - Carey Nieuwhof

Last week I had the privilege to attend Rethink Leadership a conference organised by Carey Nieuwhof. Carey is the Lead Pastor of Connexus Church– which is a multi-campus church near Toronto. You can read his thoughts on Christian leadership at his blog. The following are a few quotes from his opening session on strategy.

  • Solitude is a gift from God. Isolation is from the enemy.
  • Most of our problems in church are not vision problems but strategy problems
  • The vision of the church was handed to us by Jesus. We can’t come up with our own vision.
  • Strategy, more than your mission and vision, determines your destination
  • You don’t have a ministry problem. You have a strategy problem.
  • Vision often falls flat if there is no Strategy. 
  • Clear strategy provokes deep fear. A strategy is often divisive. For example, blended worship rarely makes anyone happy
  • Ambiguity never provokes fear. Clarity does.
  • Strategy is the execution of your mission and vision.
  • Strategy becomes divisive because it is clear.
  • Clear strategy initially divides before it unites. What initially pushes people away eventually creates unity.
  • The clearer you are on your strategy, the simpler it is, the more it is written down, the easier it is.
  • The more a church grows the more complicated it gets.
  • If you’re going to stay current, you’re going to have to reinvent your strategy.
  • It’s easy to change something someone else has built. It’s much more difficult to change something you have built.
  • Strategic is the key to attracting young leaders.
  • Yesterday’s ideas never attract tomorrow’s leaders.