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You can have a great vision, but if the team isn’t healthy and high-performing, the church won’t experience health and growth.
More than ten years ago (gosh that’s hard to believe) I started The Unstuck Group. This was after being a part of several great teams both before and during my life in ministry. My sophomore basketball team wasn’t so good. I cheer for some teams that aren’t so good. (I’m looking at you…the Cleveland Browns.) But, when it comes to my workplaces, I’ve been on winning teams.
I think my experience being a part of great teams clouded my perspective about helping churches get unstuck. I thought all we had to do was help churches align around vision, strategy and action plans. If we did this, it would lead to healthy, growing churches.
In many cases, that was true. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in every situation. What I learned was this—
you can have a great vision, but if the team isn’t healthy and high-performing, the church won’t experience health and growth.
For the first 10 years of The Unstuck Group, we’ve been solely focused on church health, but that’s about to change. You can have a great vision, but if the team isn't healthy and high-performing, the church won't experience health and growth. Click To Tweet
A couple of years ago I started talking with my long-time friend Lance Witt about helping us design a process to help teams get unstuck. Since then, he’s written a phenomenal book on that topic. The book addresses both the health and performance of becoming a high impact team.
Then, last December, a group of us got together and started to map out a new process to help teams live out the principles Lance wrote about in his book. We designed Unstuck Teams to address these aspects for having a higher impact team:
Systems and structure
(Any leader worth his or her salt will pause right now a do a little self-assessment. Which of those six areas are a strength in your leadership? Which of those six are weaknesses? Here’s a hint. Your team will reflect your leadership in all six of these areas.)
In my experience, it’s rare to find a team that’s firing on all cylinders in each of these areas. I’ve worked with teams who are healthy, but lack in the area of performance. I’ve worked with teams who appear to be getting results, but team is not healthy and relationships are strained.
In some instances, it wasn’t about health or performance at all. Instead the culture was toxic or the structure wasn’t well-defined. Employees didn’t know who was responsible for what. Some didn’t even know their own roles and responsibilities. As you can imagine, none of these gaps set the team up to have a significant impact. And when the team is not right, the church will never be healthy. When the team is not right, the church will never be healthy. Click To Tweet
After designing the Unstuck Teams process, Lance joined our staff full-time. I wish Lance could join every team full-time. He not only writes and trains leaders on these topics, he lives them out. Lance is an incredible leader. (I would use that “he’s smoking what he’s selling” cliche, but Lance is from Colorado. I don’t want you to take it literally.)
Over the last six months, Lance and the team have been fully developing the tools to address the six aspects of high impact teams. Then they started test-driving everything. That included piloting the new Unstuck Teams process with four distinctly different churches. Our entire team gathered in Phoenix this past December to get a preview as well. I know I’m biased, but it’s an unbelievable process.
This probably will not shock you. My strengths as a leader are around performance, systems and structure. I really have to work hard at the health side. I have to be intentional about what it takes to create the right culture. I can lead in those areas, but it’s not my natural wiring. I have to really discipline myself about how I invest my leadership capital in those areas. I want to make sure those aspects of our team don’t suffer.
My suspicion is that you are no different than me. In some of these areas you have strength as a leader. In some of these areas there is weakness. Those areas of weakness can prevent your team…and your church…from having its greatest impact.
Over the next weeks and months, you’re going to hear more of my voice on this topic. You may get tired of hearing my voice on this topic. I’m willing to take that risk. I know the health and performance of the team will dictate a church’s Kingdom impact. The health and performance of a team will dictate a church's Kingdom impact. Click To Tweet
In other words, if your church is stuck, it might be because your team is stuck. You don’t have to remain there. Let us help you take a step forward in your leadership while we help your team get unstuck.
Through the Unstuck Teams Process, we can guide you to lead staff teams that love working together and get stuff done—spiritually, emotionally, and relationally healthy, as well as productive and high-performing.
You can learn more what the Unstuck Teams Process would look like in your church here. If you’re interested in starting a conversation, let’s talk.
We can’t wait for time to open up in our schedules to assess how our strategies are working.
Several years ago, I connected with a church wanting to do church differently. They wanted to redefine the impact of the church’s ministry. One of the value statements they lived out was this one: “We make bold moves.”
Bold moves? A church? Typically one wouldn’t assume this is a value a church would embrace.
I mean let’s face it—churches tend to be rather religious about practicing and protecting their traditions. It doesn’t take long for a new program or event or method of worship to become “the way we do church around here.”
That’s why their commitment to making bold moves captured my attention. For this church, some of those bold moves later became big failures. But, in other instances, those bold moves ended up producing a big Kingdom impact. Different worked to reach different people for Jesus.
Why is it that we fail to embrace bold moves?
Here are four reasons why I think we tend to get stuck—
We are too busy doing what we’ve always done.
If we’re not careful, the whirlwind of ministry and life will fill every minute of every day. It never fails. Life doesn’t stop. Because ministry is all about people, ministry doesn’t stop either.
Before long, we find ourselves doing what churches are supposed to do. We never take time to pause and ask, “Is what we’re doing having the impact God intended?” Or this, “Does God have something more?” We are so busy doing church that we can’t imagine having more time to pursue the more God has for us. We are so busy doing church that we can't imagine having more time to pursue the more God has for us. Click To Tweet
We can’t wait for time to open up in our schedules to assess how our strategies are working. We can’t wait to complete every task before we dream about the future. We have to discipline ourselves to create the space to make this happen.
Last week, I got together with my team for three days to plan for the future. We came up with dozens of new ideas and then a plan to move forward on the priority initiatives. Our normal work demands didn’t stop to create this space on our calendars. Instead, we planned for it months in advance. We didn’t wait for it not to be busy. That day never arrives.
We can't wait for time to open up in our schedules to assess how our strategies are working. We have to discipline ourselves to create the space to make this happen. Click To Tweet
We aren’t intentional about who is on the team around us.
Churches tend to hire people to do ministry. When you hire doers, things get done. It’s usually the same thing that gets done over and over again. That’s because doers like completing tasks and then waiting for their next assignment.
Leaders, on the other hand, think about the future and how the future should be different than today. They create. They dream. They embrace change. And they want to have a voice in the conversations about that future change.
If you want to make bold moves, you’ll need other leaders around you. You’ll need people who come with different perspectives. You’ll need their unique experiences and fresh ideas. We won’t make bold moves if we don’t collaborate with others who can stretch our thinking. If you want to make bold moves, you'll need other leaders around you. You'll need people who come with different perspectives. You'll need their unique experiences and fresh ideas. We won't make bold moves if we don't collaborate with others who… Click To Tweet
We are waiting for perfect conditions.
I had the opportunity to hang out recently with David Vaughan. He’s the senior pastor of Whitewater Crossing Christian Church near Cincinnati, Ohio. They are about ready to launch their first multisite campus. Our team at The Unstuck Group has been working with them for about a year to prepare for this first launch.
David will freely admit it. There are elements of their ministry and multisite strategies where improvements are possible. Even though that’s the case, they aren’t waiting for everything to be perfect before they launch. David expressed it as only a former Kentuckian could say it, “If you wait till all the lights are green to go downtown, you ain’t never going downtown.” That’s pure David Vaughan.
Or here’s another way to think about it. King Solomon said it this way,
“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4, NLT)
I had one instance in my life when I was 100% sure I was making the right decision. That’s when I asked Emily to marry me. Yes, there have been other big decisions in my life. New jobs. Moving my family. Having kids. Having more kids. At best, I’ve probably been 75% confident I was making the right decision.
God will prompt us to make bold moves. If they align with God’s Word and the wise counsel over others, we need to make those bold moves. God will prompt us to make bold moves. If they align with God's Word and the wise counsel over others, we need to make those bold moves. Click To Tweet
We are insecure leaders.
Pride is a dangerous thing. We often think of power-hungry, arrogant leaders as dealing with pride issues. Their ego may be more evident, but timid and insecure leaders wrestle with pride issues as well. We assume we have control when God is in control. We think we are responsible for building the church when it’s God who builds the church.
And because we think we control more than we do, we hesitate to make bold moves. We fear failure. We don’t want others to find out we don’t know what we’re doing. (As if we’re the only leaders who don’t know what we’re doing.)
If it’s not God’s plan, you should be insecure. If it doesn’t align with God’s Word, you should be insecure. If you haven’t received good counsel and coaching, you should be insecure. If you are afraid to make a bold move because it might fail…well…that’s just the pride talking.
So what’s holding you back? Are you too busy? Do you have the wrong people around you? Are you waiting for perfect conditions? Are you letting your insecurity get in the way? So what's holding you back? Are you too busy? Do you have the wrong people around you? Are you waiting for perfect conditions? Are you letting your insecurity get in the way? Click To Tweet
It’s time for the church to make some bold moves. We can’t expect different results if we’re unwilling to approach ministry differently. That means we need you to lead the way.
My team would love to have a conversation about what it would look like for us to help your church get unstuck.
If you’re interested in learning more about The Unstuck Process, check this out. (If you want to dig a little deeper, you can check out what a few churches said about their experience with us).
Or, if you’d like to talk to one of our team members about the specific challenges you’re facing, let’s talk.