When church leaders mention feeling ‘stuck,’ most are referring to a specific growth ceiling…
- Attendance or membership has plateaued.
- Giving hasn’t kept pace with the growth in numbers.
- Ministries seem stale or aren’t reaching people like they had hoped.
The first question leaders ask during these times is, “What are we going to do to overcome these barriers and start growing again?” It’s easy to immediately jump into developing strategies and programs to overcome the obstacles you’re facing. In most cases, these leaders might find a way to remove the barriers in the moment, only to hit another wall down the road.
Church leaders who focus solely on finding a way to overcome the growth obstacle directly in front of them miss an important principle when it comes to getting truly unstuck:
Shifting the focus from short-term growth to creating a healthy culture leads to long-term success. Shifting your focus from short-term growth to creating a healthy culture leads to long-term success. via @tonymorganlive Click To Tweet
What It Means to Focus on Growth vs. Health
In most cases, an unhealthy focus on growth means thinking more about what you’re doing than who you’re being. Take a church staff meeting for example…
Have you ever been part of a staff meeting where a majority of the conversation is spent going around and giving updates about what other people are doing? This might be commonplace in many churches, but it rarely leads to breakthrough. Oftentimes, there’s never any opportunity to push back, speak directly, and drill into the heart of things that are really going on with the culture of the church. There’s no collaborative thinking.
Overcoming the barriers you face starts by focusing on developing a healthy culture to produce the environment and action you need to get unstuck.
7 Ways to Get Unstuck by Shifting Your Focus from Growth to Health
So how do you shift your focus? Here are seven ideas:
- Evaluate Your Culture Just as Much as Your Ministry Efforts — It’s easy to identify the top-level metrics of church growth, but in order to truly change our culture, we must dig deeper. A few weeks ago, Tony shared several ‘tests’ you can use to assess the health of your church. Taking the time to walk through each test with your ministry team is imperative if you truly want to get unstuck.
- Be Direct — Candor is incredibly important if you want to overcome the obstacles facing your ministry. You, along with your staff, must embrace the idea of being direct in your communication with each other.
- Create a ‘Safe’ Environment — As a leader, it’s easy to force your ideas or direction on the rest of your team. However, the people around you are often the ones who have the best ideas. In order to find the best solution to our problems, we must create an environment where our staff feels safe to share ideas, challenge processes, and embrace failure.
- Ask the Right Questions — Great leadership isn’t about knowing all the answers; it’s about knowing the right questions. When you know what questions to ask, breakthrough answers are a lot easier to find.
- Embrace Authenticity and Transparency — Feeling stuck often causes church leaders to lead from a place of isolation. It can be embarrassing not to know what to do next. However, it’s only when we acknowledge our weaknesses that we can identify how to grow. Embracing authenticity and finding a group of peers with whom we can be transparent about our issues is imperative.
- Empower Your Staff — If you want to experience exponential growth, you must become an empowerer of people instead of just a doer of the ministry. This means equipping the saints for ministry. It also means investing in the personal development of your staff and volunteer leaders.
- Find Your Personal Healthy Rhythm — Sometimes the best place to start when it comes to getting your church unstuck is getting yourself unstuck. It’s important to take time to think, read, and write. Be intentional about learning from others, including both your peers and those you lead.
As we head into the new year, my hope is that you would focus just as much energy on health as you would growth. When you do, you’ll begin to see how healthy teams naturally produce growth.
What are some ways you’ve been able to overcome the obstacles your ministry was facing by shifting your focus from growth to health?