March 27, 2017 Tony Morgan

9 Leadership Lessons I Learned While Helping 200 Churches Get Unstuck

The genesis of what eventually became The Unstuck Group started in June 2009. Back then, it was just me. I remember at one point pulling my wife, Emily, into my home office. I had a whiteboard hanging on the wall with a list of the five churches I was working with at that time. I was processing my schedule with her and we came to the conclusion that maybe I could squeeze in one more church.

Fast forward almost eight years later. There are now 20 of us on the team. That team will be on the ground working face-to-face with 25 different churches this month. However, we’re still celebrating something that happened last month. One of our team members engaged with Trinity Wesleyan Church in Tipton, Indiana. They are officially the 200th church our team has had the opportunity of serving. Here’s what’s crazy. It took us a full six years to serve the first 100 churches, and less than two years to serve the second 100 churches.

With that growth and momentum, I’ve learned a lot along the way. Some of these may seem obvious, but I’m hopeful they encourage and maybe challenge you to consider your next steps:

  1. It’s a lot easier to take risks when you don’t have debt and there’s money in the bank.

    That was critical when I launched The Unstuck Group and didn’t have a regular paycheck. But the principle still applies today. We can respond quickly to the great opportunities that align with our mission and vision.

  2. Building something from scratch is hard work.

    I used to be under the illusion that being my own boss would somehow make life easier. But when you are the “owner,” you have to do whatever it takes to keep the business running and experience success. I still prioritize a sabbath every week, but I’m typically running hard those other six days of the week.

  3. I have to choose between control and growth.

    If I want to continue to be involved in every decision and stay on top of every action, we can only help one church at a time. I had to learn quickly that I’m not the only person who can do what I can do. In fact, when I’m not calling all the shots, high-capacity people take what I do and make it better.

  4. One of my primary roles is keeping the team focused on who we are and where we’re going.

    The more talented, high-capacity leaders I add to the team, the more good ideas are added to the mix. If I don’t keep the team focused, those various good ideas could begin pulling our team in multiple different directions.

  5. I need people around me who bring different gifts and perspectives than I have.

    My natural bent is to hire people just like me. It takes discipline to add people who complement my wiring but see the world differently than I do. When that happens, it frees me to play to my strengths.

  6. A unified team can accomplish far more than a talented individual.

    Of course the only way this works is if I add high-capacity people who have demonstrated success helping churches experience health and growth. And that team needs to be pulling together in the same direction.

  7. The more people I involve, the stronger our systems have to be.

    There’s a framework for everything we do. The next steps are clear. Someone owns each step. There’s a system to monitor progress. Those systems create consistency so that I don’t have to personally be present every step along the way.

  8. The less time I spend in meetings, the more time I can spend fulfilling our mission.

    The right meetings with the right people for the right length of time are very important. Generally, though, I think most organizations spend too much time in meetings. Usually that’s because they’ve neglected creating solid systems and they haven’t empowered strong leaders.

  9. The less we do, the more churches we help.

    We help churches assess their health, develop an action plan and structure around their growth engines. That’s all we do. As soon as we narrowed our focus to that strategy, we gained lots of momentum.


That’s what’s worked for me. I can’t make any promises those same principles will work for you. Hopefully there’s something in that list, though, that helps you consider your next steps.

In the meantime, our team is ready to help the next 200 churches get unstuck. We’ve learned “stuckness” looks different for different churches. Some churches have plateaued or are in decline and they’re not sure why. Other churches have experienced health and increase, but they need help positioning their ministry for continued growth. Whatever your story, we’d love to come alongside you and help your church have a greater Kingdom impact.

Want to learn more? Then let’s start a conversation. We’ve worked with churches under 200 in attendance and over 20,000 in attendance. Because we right-size our services and pricing for different size churches, I’m confident we have a solution that will work for you too.

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and
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