May 22, 2018 Tony Morgan

12 Practices Every Church Leader Must Master—and How to Start

How to Become an Effective Church Leader

Sometimes being stuck can make you feel isolated, almost as if you are the only one trying to figure it all out. Guess what? You’re not the only one who feels this way.

In fact, as we do strategic planning with churches we have taken note of 12 core issues that keep coming up again and again. We believe you can be equipped to win in these areas with some intentional effort.

In this post, I will share 12 practices that every church leader who wants to lead a healthy church must master. Before I do, I wanted to let you know that the Leading an Unstuck Church Course, my brand new online course, is now open.

The lessons are a mix of written and video content, self evaluation, discussion and exercises. The phases of the course build on each other, walking you down a clear path to learn the principles and skills necessary to lead a church towards health and growth.

I’ll share more about the Leading an Unstuck Church Course, but for now, here are 12 practices every church leader must master and how to get started. Please note: Most of us will never be leading in a church that is firing on all cylinders in all 12 areas all of the time. That’s part of why I call these “practices.” You’re going to have to return to them again and again as time passes and culture changes.

Effective Church Leaders Learn To…


1. Foster Organizational Clarity

God wants everyone in a church pulling in the same direction. For this to happen, the direction must be established and it must be clear.

2. Expand the Church’s Front Door

One of the primary reasons why churches get stuck is because they begin to focus more on people who are already Christ-followers inside the church than on people outside the church who do not have a relationship with Jesus.

3. Close the Church’s Back Door

Adding more ministries and programs to encourage more steps of spiritual formation does not actually lead to spiritual growth—or guarantee people will stay engaged with your church community.

4. Enhance Weekend Services

People will begin inviting their friends when they are compelled by what they are experiencing.

5. Develop More Leaders

Rather than handling all the leadership responsibility on our own, we’re stronger and more resilient when we give it away to other capable leaders.

6. Build Teams and Increase Volunteer Engagement

There’s a direct correlation between the health and the growth of a church and the ability of church leaders to give ministry away.

7. Develop an Effective Senior Leadership Team

Churches, especially those that continue to gain momentum and experience growth, are moving leadership at the top of the organization from one or two individuals to a senior leadership team.

8. Staff for Health and Growth

We have a great mission to accomplish but there is also life to be shared.

9. Clarify the Roles of Board and Staff

Declining churches are often complex. One of the ways complexity reveals itself is in how decisions are made.

10. Improve Communication

Speaking with one voice allows us to both empower our team and encourage movement as people take their next steps toward Christ.

11. Establish Financial Health

If we are faithful in the stewardship and generosity principles that God has provided, He will also generously provide all we need to carry out the mission of his church.

12. Monitor Health AND Growth

Tracking health and growth helps to develop a shared perspective so that everyone knows the win and can continue pulling in the same direction.


As we saw problems in these 12 areas keep showing from church to church, we started thinking that we needed to provide something to help leaders dive deeper and learn to master these practices. So, as I mentioned above, I’ve been writing and shooting video and creating an online space for church leaders to learn and process next steps around these core issues together.

So, here’s the “how to start” part. I’ve created a full lesson on each of these 12 practices, with practical online lessons, video training, done-for-you worksheets and exercises, self-assessment and next steps for you to work through.

Enrollment for the Leading an Unstuck Church Course is open today, but for a very limited time. I think people learn best as part of a community so we have also included a private Facebook group where I and other members of The Unstuck Group team will coach, answer questions and facilitate discussion in the community. We’re limiting registration so we can personally engage with you well.

Click here to learn more about course. We believe this will help you grow your ability to lead a church towards health and growth.


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Tony Morgan

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