Church Splits. Ministry Silos. Lack of Giving.
Doing ministry without a strategy can create serious pain. In this episode, Amy and I share why not having a plan is the same as having a plan to do nothing. We also highlight some of the most common—and most frustrating—things leaders experience when they refuse to develop a clear strategy:
In this episode, we discuss:
Why the loudest voice isn’t always the right one
How (and when) ministry silos form
The importance of defining the win
Why millennials aren’t giving to your church
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Amy Anderson: Welcome to the unstuck church podcast. I’m Amy Anderson and I’m here with Tony Morgan and each week we share conversation our teams been having about getting churches unstuck and today we’re talking about the frustration that we’ve seen on church teams when there aren’t clear strategies in place. And Tony just remind me how this topic came up.
Tony Morgan: This is actually a Tony Morgan classic. Amy Probably don’t know this, but gosh, about 10 years ago, I mean, might be 12 years ago now. Just thinking about what happens in a church when they, when they don’t plan, they don’t have a strategy for what’s next, when they don’t have a vision for where they’re going next. And um, and it actually comes from a place I think it’s pride for some pastors that really prided themselves on the fact that we don’t, we don’t need to plan, we don’t need to have visions and strategies and things like that because we’re just relying on God to director steps and it doesn’t take a, it doesn’t take a plan. It just takes more faith to pray more. That God will give more clarity. And I don’t want it to sound like I’m not a believer in the faith and a believer in prayer because I certainly am, um, but, uh, I also think God calls us to plan before we build and it’s a, it’s a biblical principle, a, it’s a s, it’s a stewardship principle and the reality is the churches that I work with that are experiencing health and growth and what I would classify as success in ministry are doing it because there were good.
Tony Morgan: They’re good stewards of the resources, the people, the money, the spaces that God’s given them to carry out the mission God’s called them to. And those churches a part of that good stewardship is having plans and actually having a strategy for their ministry. Yeah. All right, well let’s dive in. So let’s talk about seven frustrating symptoms of doing ministry without a strategy. We’re going to see how good you are at hosting today because if he’s a really frustrating your, bring that out in me. OK, amy. All right, I’ll try it. Yeah. Well, the first one, the first frustration that I see in churches that don’t have an intentional strategy for moving from where they are, to where God’s called them in the future, is that it gives the loudest person in the room the license to decide what happens at your church. In other words, when there’s a void of leadership or a void of a strategy for what you’re going to do next, somebody’s going to fill that void.
Tony Morgan: And what I have found is it’s the loudest person in the room. Now, the problem of course, is that the loudest person in the room, uh, may not be the person that has the most clarity about where the church should be going next. They may not actually be eve and on board with who you are as a church, what your mission should be as a church, what God’s calling you to as a church. And in the worst circumstances, the loudest person in the room, the rally it is, they may not even be a Christ follower. They’re just loud. And so when a church doesn’t have a strategy for where they’re going next, it allows that loud person to fill the void and to bring the strategy that they think should be, uh, what’s most important. And because they’re the loudest, they tend to get their way.
Amy Anderson: Imagine if we ran that way at the unstuck group.
Tony Morgan: Uh, well, I wasn’t going to go there, amy. But, uh, yes, but you know, you know me well enough to know that I’m typically not the loudest person in the room.
Amy Anderson: Well, in any group environment, right? A extroverts get more extroverted, introverts get more introverted. And while a lot of us extroverts have some wisdom, you know, the introverts are usually those ones who hold on for a few minutes and then lay out the goals.
Tony Morgan: Well, the second frustration, I’m quickly moving on from that discussion. Did you notice the second frustration is true leaders, true leaders will leave your church once they realize there’s no plan and there’s no strategy because leaders get this, they get that. In order to move from where we are to where we sense we need to be going, there needs to be a plan, there needs to be a strategy, we need to know what the priorities are and then we need to allocate people’s time and financial resources and everything else. And in our case that God’s giving us to carry out our mission. We need to allocate those limited resources against the highest priorities and the best use of our time and so true leaders. And when they recognize, uh, like no one has a plan for what’s next, there they are going to gravitate to organizations. And in this case ministries are churches that are going to be better stewards of those limited resources. So if you notice that you’re losing the high capacity leaders, one of the reasons why maybe the fact that you haven’t been intentional about developing a ministry strategy.
Amy Anderson: Hey, can I just add one little point here? Just because I was immersed in the weekend for so long. There are a lot of churches out there that have not defined their strategy for their music. And you know, we used to call him worship wars, but churches miss out on such great leaders because they were unwilling to really choose a strategy for their music and those big leaders, those worship leaders who really just had some high talent, they didn’t want to get in the middle of the minutiae or the gray or the undecided. So I’m sure that plays out in other areas
Tony Morgan: as well as what you’re getting at. And I think this is true, one of the reasons why churches are afraid to engage a strategy is they know it’s. Some people aren’t going to like it. And so in an effort to make everybody happy, they choose not to have a strategy. But by not having a strategy, you’ve actually, you actually have chosen a strategy is. And as a result of that, you do you do. You push talented, gifted people, in this case gifted leaders away. All right, so the third observation I have when churches don’t have a clear strategy is it requires more meetings. And, and so in churches without strategy, there are lots of meetings. Think about not only ministry teams but committees and boards and things like that because no, no strategy has been defined. Every decision about resources has to go to a, a committee or a board then to decide what do we do next and where were there. I like to say where there are, where there is no strategy, meetings flourish and there there’s definitely an inverse relationship between a church that has a well defined vision and then a strategy for how to accomplish that vision and the number of meetings that they have.
Amy Anderson: Well, that’s a great thing for our listeners to kind of contemplate their. How many meetings are you in and is that, if it’s a lot, is it connected to this lack of clarity around strategy? Because when you have clarity, leaders are really silly.
Tony Morgan: Right? Right. And uh, just, it’s, there’s a, there’s a sense I know what I’m supposed to do. I can intuit what I’m supposed to do because the framework that we’re living in and we’re pulling together in a, that’s already been established. We already know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. And so the, I’m now released to make decisions within that framework and we don’t have to meet as often to make decisions like that. All right, so this is, this is one of those lists podcast, which I really appreciate, amy, but I know others that are listening. It’s going like our. When are we going to get to the end of this list? By the way, there are seven on the list. We’re on number four now, so you have a sense of how much longer this podcast is. Number four is that when you don’t have a strategy, you’re setting the stage for a church split.
Tony Morgan: And uh, what? Because what ends up happening without a plan for where we’re moving forward, again, people start to create that plan on their own. And the lack of a plan allows many people to create plans and time. Those people will be pursuing their plans, their strategy, and we’ll begin polling in a different direction. And this is how over time we see ministry silos begin to form in churches. And so it may be one church and they may meet on Sundays in one building. But in reality, it’s dozens of different ministries because every ministry has their strategy for what they’re trying to accomplish in their, in their ministry area, and those began to pull against each other and competing against each other because the church has never defined what their overall strategy is for reaching people and helping people, um, become a Jesus followers and getting on mission with Jesus.
Tony Morgan: And so where there’s, where there’s a lack of plan, there’s a place for church splits to happen. And, uh, my friend Mark Beesin at granger community church, uh, used to share a story about the church when the church that didn’t have a strategy and as a result of that, where the church ended up splitting was over peanut brittle. Yeah. Because, uh, there were two competing recipes for peanut brittle and when they had their fault peanut brittle sale, the church ended up splitting, uh, because, uh, one, one, half the church wanted to use one recipe and the other half wanted to use the other, uh, needless to say, they had much bigger issues than just ministry strategy. Uh, but, uh, that’s, I just thought that was the humorous, humorous story. Amy. I’m number five. When you don’t have a ministry strategy, you never have an, an opportunity to celebrate the win because the wind has never been defined.
Tony Morgan: We don’t know where we’re going to go and we don’t know how we’re going to get there. So if something happens to occur, um, that may have been a success. We don’t know it because we never defined it. We never defined what the when will look like. So you have fewer opportunities to celebrate what God is doing in your church. Uh, the sixth, uh, challenge or frustration we see in churches that don’t operate with a clear ministry strategy is you don’t have the opportunity to invite your church to unite in prayer. And so I, again, I really do do believe in the power of prayer. Um, but I, I think when we come to a, an, when we pray together in agreement, the power for guide to move in our midst is that much stronger. And so not only does it unite people in prayer because we’re agreeing together, this is what we’re believing for God to do next, and this is where we’re asking for him to bring people, bring gifts to bring resources to accomplish the vision that we believe God’s called us to. When we we, when we unite in prayer, we also unite as people of God and it brings the body of Christ together as well. So
Amy Anderson: well, when when you see healthy strategies out there, they’re always a stretch, right? That’s right. You can get a lot done. People are usually pretty smart, but the strategies that we see that really bring that unity are the ones that go, we can only do this if God really shows.
Tony Morgan: And so when I’m working with Jamie and they’re defining vision and they’re clarifying their strategy for how that vision will be accomplished. Once we craft that, I’ll always step back and ask now, do you think you can accomplish this in your own effort? And if the. If the sense of, yeah, we can pull this off on a good day, I’m doing this our, that we’re, we always, we always push a little bit farther and then ask where is God really calling us to do, to go? Because we need to be leaning on him to accomplish a big vision and a clear ministry strategy to get that vision accomplished. If we can, if we think we can do it under our own effort without praying for his involvement and for him to actually pull this off, then the visions too small. Then the final thing, and uh, I’ve left this for the last one, but the reality is if we don’t have a clear vision and then the strategy for how that vision is going to be accomplished isn’t clear.
Tony Morgan: People won’t give. People won’t give their resources. And uh, we’re probably seeing this most often with millennials or just read another article about millennials and they are a generous generation, but what we’re learning from millennials is they will not invest in anything if their money and their time is not going to have a direct impact in other people’s lives. And so if the church is not going to have clear vision for who their ministry is going to impact and then how their ministry is going to impact people’s lives, people will not give to that vision. They will not give to that church because there’s no strategy and the core group of people, the core generation that won’t give will be the millennials. They have to see why their money and their time is going to have an impact on, on the people that are being reached through the church’s ministry.
Tony Morgan: So those are the seven. Let me review them real quick. If you don’t have a ministry strategy though, you’re giving the loudest person the opportunity to decide what happens. You’re in your church. Secondly, you’re pushing true leaders away. Number three, you’re going to spend more time in meetings for your setting, the stage for Split for division and your church. Number five, you’re not going to have the opportunity to celebrate success and bring praise to God for what he’s doing in your church. Number six, your church won’t unite and prayer, and number seven, people won’t give when there’s no strategy and then no vision, people will not give to your church.
Amy Anderson: Churches, you need a strategy.
Tony Morgan: I do need a strategy. You shouldn’t pray and you should have faith, but you should also be good stewards of the mission God’s called us to and plan before you build. And so yes, I, I firmly believe that. Amy.
Amy Anderson: Well, thank you. You did get a little bit. Get a little feisty today to it, kind of or behind the pulpit, so thanks Tony for all your wisdom on that. And I want to thank our listeners for joining us for this week’s conversation about getting churches unstuck and we hope you’ll tune in again. So be sure to subscribe on Itunes, Google play, or wherever you get your podcast so that you don’t miss an episode. And we’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. So please join the conversation on social media using Hashtag unstuck church.