Five Things Pastors Can Do to Re-Energize Tired Teams

Five Things Pastors Can Do to Re-Energize Tired Teams

Your team is tired.

Staff, leaders, and volunteers have lived with Covid complexity for a while with effects that will linger for years to come. Much of how they have done ministry has changed dramatically.

People have new roles and responsibilities. Leaders have navigated choppy waters. Your team has balanced ridiculous expectations.

It’s no wonder they are tired.

And if you’re not careful, feeling tired takes the next step to exhaustion. That’s a step beyond “a busy season” like Easter, Christmas, or a big event.  

Feelings of exhaustion can lead to burnout which can have rippling detrimental effects personally and organizationally.

Here are some things pastors can do right now to breathe fresh life into your team.

#1 – Schedule some social time.

One of the biggest signs of job satisfaction in any career is having a friend at work. This is true for church staff, too. Invite people to your home for a cookout. Borrow or rent a lake house for a family day. Go to Top Golf. Find an environment where your team can connect outside of work and have fun. 

#2 – Have pastoral conversations.

In church, it’s surprisingly easy to forget that we need to pastor our team, not just lead them. Your team needs a pastor right now. Are you shepherding their soul and pastoring them like a church member? Don’t let it always be about work and goals.

#3 – Add personal development to your meeting cadence.

Serving in a church takes a lot out of a person. Repurpose some of your meetings and regular rhythms to add back into their life and faith. When people get better, there’s a collective benefit. When you invest in people, they feel valued.

#4 – Reset expectations.

If you’re the leader of a staff or ministry team, you’re the Chief Clarify Officer. In this season, casting clarity is every bit as important as casting vision. It’s okay to scale back if needed. If you’re clear, meeting a lesser goal is still a win. Does your team know what’s expected of them? Are those expectations written down and agreed upon?

#5 – Double down on communication.

In times of stress, average communication feels like bad communication. If successes aren’t shared, challenges aren’t discussed, and ideas aren’t heard, people will feel like they are working alone. No matter what system or tools you use, perfect them. Learn how to use them properly. Commit to communication, knowing it’s nearly impossible to overdo. 

Take the Next Step

If you really want to dive into this topic, we have a resource called The Tired Team: A Toolkit to Improve Staff Morale.

It comes with a video for leaders, a video for team members, and six practical exercises to help you re-energize your team. Learn more here.

What Barna’s New Data Says About the Perception of Church

What Barna’s New Data Says About the Perception of Church

Barna recently hosted a “State of the Church” event aimed at helping church leaders in specific cities understand what people think of the church in general.

One of the key questions they asked was the question of perception. In this instance, the data from these cities tracked closely with national averages.

Across the nation, a large percentage of unchurched people have negative views of the church, thinking that local churches are judgmental, hypocritical, irrelevant, disconnected from real issues in the community, and known more for what they are against.

The goal here isn’t to have culture agree with everything we do as churches. The very nature of ministry means there will be those who disagree with our beliefs and question our methods.  But where incorrect perception can be a stumbling block, leaders seeking to be good stewards should work to overcome them.

I want to share a snapshot of Barna’s findings but also attach some recommended action steps to each fact.

My hope is that by shining a light on the data and highlighting one potential action step, you can move from information to application to transformation.

Whenever we talk about stats and trends, our goal is to help you take a step from “that’s interesting” to “that’s actionable.”

The stats are informative, and they should give you insights into your local ministry context.  But more than that, they should inspire action.

Stat: 41% say the church is known for the things they are against

You may have heard this before, and this perception is hard to fight. The fact is your church is lumped in with other churches to create a macro-perception that may not be fair.

Still, when the unchurched believe the church to be against them, they will struggle to see themselves as a participant.

Action Step: Use your social media channels to spotlight local organizations and businesses.

One simple thing you can do is to use your platform to spotlight others.  This may include other people, but you could also spotlight other organizations, non-profits, and businesses.  Use your real estate to show that you’re for others, not just for yourself.

There are few that do this better than Gwinnett Church with their #ForGwinnett campaign. It began as a capital campaign but has expanded to a movement, spreading to churches and communities around the world.  It’s messaging that sounds like this:

“For far too long, the church has been known for what it is against. We want to be known for what we are for. We are FOR Gwinnett.”

This approach extends to merchandise, sermon series content, and as mentioned above, extensive use of social media campaigns to spotlight local organizations.

Stat: 30% think the church is irrelevant to their lives

 When unchurched people think about church, they often don’t make a connection to their daily lives. People are struggling with issues and they don’t think the church addresses them. Church is for faith stuff, not work, school, money, mental health, and a host of other real-world issues. People in your community are asking questions they are not sure if your church is really answering them.

Action Step: Create non-Sunday content that is helpful to people’s daily struggles.

Hopefully, your sermon planning and delivery speak to the needs of the people.  But you can do so much more. Churches should be experts at creating and sharing “non-Sunday content” that reaches people where they are.

If your church is trying to reach parents of elementary children, you don’t have to limit your content creation to Sunday morning kid’s environments or sermons.  Why not create and distribute resources helpful to parents all throughout the week?

If your church is trying to help people battle consumerism or have a more healthy approach to money, why not create tools and content you can share throughout the week that have the chance to reach people at home or at work?

What if you published short videos answering questions like who is Jesus, why the Bible matters, or how to let go of anger?

What if you created resources to help parents connect with their kids or have fun together throughout the summer?

What if you talked about vocation, life’s purpose, burnout, or anxiety in short, sharable formats?

Don’t have to limit your influence to Sunday morning. When you enter conversations throughout the week with a content strategy designed to build trust, you’ll increase your perceived relevance.

A tool like FrontDoor could make this easier.  Choose unbranded, helpful content from the Content Library, set it up on a landing page with a few clicks so you can give it away, and use automated follow-up tools to invite people to take a next step.

It’s like a content-marketing system for churches, a way to use helpful resources to build trust and nurture those who aren’t yet ready to plan a visit. Here’s a video of how it works.

Learn more about FrontDoor here.

Stat: 23% say the church is detached from the real issues in the community

At first, this feels similar to the relevance stat, but there’s some additional nuance worth unpacking.

As people are more and more connected to their communities, the more they will disconnect from organizations that don’t feel like they fit. Think about local restaurants, boutiques, and events that fit nicely with the ethos of a community.  They are a part of what’s going on.  When you’re part of a community, you also are connected to the needs.  Those who aren’t dialed in could be perceived to be irrelevant and unaware.

Action Step: Get involved in local community organizations so you can better understand the real issues in the community.

What if you had a significant presence in the Rotary Club or the Chamber of Commerce or a local school council?  What if every staff member or key leader got involved with a local organization?  Demographic reports and impact studies are a great way to be introduced to needs, but there’s no substitute for up-close involvement in the community.  Getting involved personally, not just organizationally is a way to truly understand the needs of a community.

If you’re looking for something you can do in the next 10 minutes to better understand the issues facing your community, dive into the Know Your Community Report from Gloo.  This free resource will help you better understand the demographics and patterns of those living within a radius of your church. You’ll get insights into age, income, family, behavioral health, and more.

Get your FREE Know Your Community Report here.

5 Ways Pastors Can Stunt Church Growth

5 Ways Pastors Can Stunt Church Growth

There are many barriers that can prevent a church from growing.

From a shortage of leaders to a congregation that doesn’t invite others, church growth can stall for a number of reasons.

And sometimes, there are even people in the church who don’t want it to grow.

But there’s one more barrier that can keep a church from experiencing healthy growth and it comes from an unexpected place: the pastor.

Many pastors want to reach more people in the community and see their church’s weekly attendance numbers grow, but are unknowingly standing in their own way. 

Here are 6 ways pastors can be the ones hurting their church’s growth.

But be encouraged—if you’re doing any of these “don’ts,” there’s grace for you and practical ways to turn it around today.

#1 – They don’t raise up other leaders.

When all of the responsibility from congregational care to staff development falls on one person, it’s a recipe for burnout and it can block pathways for growth.

But when you take the time to develop leaders in your church, it pays off in more ways than one. With more leaders sharing ministry work, the church is able to recruit more volunteers and leverage each leader’s unique leadership style to reach new people.

#2 – They resist good changes.

It’s important to remain diligent and guard against changes that could hurt the church and aren’t biblical or on-mission. And as the lead pastor, it’s your responsibility to help filter the changes that are presented in your church.

That includes deciding which changes are good and which ones are bad. But too often, things that are new and different for churches end up in the “bad” category.

When trying something new is written off immediately, it can unnecessarily keep the church from growing. For example, even if digital ministry isn’t something you’ve considered in the past, fighting against it doesn’t protect the church—it only holds the church back while the people you’re trying to reach float off in that direction.

Not every idea is a good idea for your church. But take time to consider new methods, try new strategies, and embrace good changes. There might be a change right under your nose that would help the church grow but it’s being met with resistance.

Hold a meeting with key leaders and some of the sharpest minds on your volunteer teams and ask what they think needs to change to help the church reach new people.

Free Download

The Senior Pastor's Guide to Breaking Barriers
 

#3 – They don’t emphasize discipleship and inviting.

Many pastors watch the same pattern unfold in their church year after year. They look out into the congregation and see the same faces each week. Those faces come to service, but they don’t do anything else. They don’t grow, they don’t serve, and they don’t invite anyone to come with them.

Eventually, without any intentional discipleship helping them grow spiritually and recognize the importance of being connected to the church, they drift away. And soon, there are fewer and fewer people in the seats on Sundays.

Pastors can prevent this by creating a discipleship model that nurtures the people they have and equips those people to invite the people they’re trying to reach.

People don’t often naturally think to invite others to church or they don’t know how to extend that invitation. Pastors and church leaders can provide resources—such as invite cards, social media posts, and templates for conversation starters—that mobilize their people to invite.

This is crucial. A startling (and encouraging) number of people would tell you that they came to church after being invited by someone. While there are many ways to get people through the door, there’s nothing quite like a personal invitation.

#4 – They create a culture that turns off unchurched people.

It’s easy to get used to the way things are. From the way the church has inside jokes and a sea of familiar faces, pastors and congregations get comfortable with each other. And that’s a good thing. The church is a family, after all.

But if you want the church to grow, it’s time to strike a balance. New guests might even appreciate seeing how the pastor seems to know everyone in the congregation on a personal level, but too much insider language only makes them feel excluded.

Instead of only speaking to the people you know from the pulpit, start to include references to new people. Explain things that might be unfamiliar to people who are unchurched or unbelievers. Extend a welcome, even if you’re not sure that there are any new people present. It sets the expectation that there should be new faces and makes sure that they’re recognized when there are guests.

Evaluate whether your church’s current culture might not be welcoming to unchurched people by considering the following questions.

  • If someone new comes to our church, do we have people and processes in place to welcome them and follow up with them?
  • Are we using any language that would confuse or exclude someone who hasn’t been to our church before? (Hint: Children’s ministry names are common culprits.)
  • Is there any part of our church service that speaks directly to new people and gives them clear next steps? If not, where and how can we build that in?

#5 – They try to satisfy everyone.

It can show up differently for every pastor, but many church leaders share a common struggle that keeps their church from growing: people-pleasing.

Satisfying the personal preferences of everyone in the church is not only impossible, but it can also steal attention and resources from relevant areas that help the church move forward.

For example, there might be a ministry or event that is under-performing and off-mission in every way, but one church member wants to keep it because it’s been on the calendar for 20 years.

But in order for growth to happen, sometimes we have to shift resources in a different direction. And more important than satisfying everyone is reaching more people for Christ and keeping the church on mission.

As the pastor, your job title is also “Chief Clarity Officer.” This includes making sure volunteers and staff are in the right roles, providing clear direction, having a key role in shaping the church’s strategy and goals.

It might seem unrelated at first, but clarity in strategy is essential for church growth. A firm focus on the strategy and mission might disappoint some people, but it helps everyone in the end.

If you’ve recognized that some parts of your leadership might be keeping your church from growing, don’t dismay. You’re not alone in struggling to delegate, wanting to please everyone, and needing a solid plan to put in place.

You are called by God and equipped with the grace you need to live out that calling and pursue the mission of your church. And there are also resources available that provide the guidance you need to clarify key areas in your ministry and see your church grow in a healthy way.

As we’ve seen, pastors can hurt church growth, but they can also contribute to it greatly. Excellent leadership can break down barriers to growth and bring people in. With a few changes (and openness to change), you can drive your church in the direction of growth.

What’s Next?

Building Your Ministry Plan is an insanely practical course to guide you and your team through the process of creating a two-page “business plan” for your ministry.

The course will guide you through what to put in each box of the Two-Page Plan®, show you examples from other churches, and help you use your plan in real-world ministry settings.