July 5, 2009 Tony Morgan

3 Questions I Can’t Answer

First, let me give a quick update on our journey. Yesterday, we left Dallas and headed north for St. Louis. We arrived just in time to see the fireworks last night under the Gateway Arch. Today, we drove into town to visit the City Museum, Union Station and Forest Park in St. Louis. Tomorrow is the St. Louis stop of the Killing Cockroaches Summer Tour.

While I’ve been traveling over the last several days, I’ve been peppered by questions that I can’t really answer. That’s because I’ve never experienced the leadership challenges that are at the basis of the questions. Generally, here are the three big questions that I can’t answer:

1. How do I plant a church?

I have no idea. I’ve never planted a church before. However, I’ve worked for two guys that have. If I were you, I’d follow everything they write about on their blogs. And, I’d also follow guys like Ron and Brian who planted their churches several years ago and have actually lived through several challenges since then.

These guys may not be as “sexy” as the young turks that planted their churches last week. But, you should listen to them because they’ve already made some mistakes and learned from them.

Bonus Reading: Every church planter should be required to read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.

2. How do I transition a church?

Again, I have no idea. Both churches I’ve worked for were church plants. They didn’t have to transition from a traditional church mindset. Both churches were also led by their founding pastors which makes change a lot easier. If I was transitioning a church, I’d read everything that guys like Scott and Dan write. They’ve actually transitioned traditional churches and lived to tell about it.

Bonus Reading: Every leader transitioning a church should be required to read Transitioning by Dan Southerland and Leading Change by John Kotter.

3. How do I lead for the long haul?

Again, I have no idea, because I’m still proving I can survive for the long haul. There are guys a generation older than me, though, that have demonstrated they can maintain a healthy marriage and a healthy church and have survived for several decades. If I were you, I’d try to catch everything that Rick Warren, Chuck Swindoll, Dr. Ed Young or Bill Hybels say or write on leadership.

These guys are from another generation, so you likely won’t catch them on YouTube or blogging or on Twitter. Just because they don’t hang out in your social networking circles, though, doesn’t mean they lack credibility. They’ve proven over several decades that leaders that last lead differently than others who start fast and then fizzle for various reasons.

Bonus Reading: In addition to regularly reading I Timothy 3, Titus 1 and I Peter 5, check out the new book How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins.

Notice a trend here? Actually there are a couple. First of all, it should be pretty clear that I don’t know much. Secondly, I don’t fully trust people who are talking about leadership challenges they haven’t experienced themselves.

Those are my insights and recommendations. What mentors would you add to the list? What books should we add to our libraries?


Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.
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Comments (9)

  1. Jeff Gibson

    In regards to question #2, Changing Your Church For Good: The Art of Sacred Cow-Tipping by Brad Powell is also a good book on the subject of church transition.

  2. Great information… thanks! I planted a church in the innercity of Detroit 5 years ago and now am about to plant another campus… appreciate the insight & online allies like you!

  3. I don’t fully trust people who are talking about leadership challenges they haven’t experienced themselves.

    It’s odd to me that we, as Bible-reading/believing Christians, are so quick to look to our own generation for advice and counsel when scripture seems to emphasize over and over again the importance of learning from the generations that went before us, too.

  4. Tony – one of your best post. Appreciate the candor and direction regarding those who have actually been there and experienced the journey that many are too early into to actually be an expert. It has struck me more often lately how quickly we clamor and run to the “rising star” way before they have actually endured. Thanks for the reminder to seek wisdom and direction from those who have actually experienced both the wins and losses that leadership and ministry are sure to bring.

  5. Jeff

    Great post. Amen to the required reading of The Emyth Revisited.

    On Leading Change… if people need a little icebreaker to get into the book they can read, “Our Iceberg is Melting”… same author, but with penguins.

  6. Thanks for the humbleness. It takes a lot in our “sexy” society to admit that we don’t have all the answers. You just made me a subscriber!

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