How to Change Minds – Book Notes from The Catalyst

How to Change Minds – Book Notes from The Catalyst

This month in the Pastor’s Book Club, we are breaking down The Catalyst.  In addition to a breakdown and discussion guide you can use with your team, there’s a video with ministry insights.  Learn more about The Pastor’s Book Club here.

Imagine how hard it is for a hostage negotiator to get someone to change their mind.  The stakes are high there.  

Even though it’s not usually that dramatic, people don’t want to change. Isaac Newton famously noted that an object in motion tends to stay in motion, while an object at rest tends to stay at rest.  Inertia is real.  

Some people think that if you just push people, give more information, more facts, more reasons and arguments, or more force, people will change. But people are resistant to change 

They push back.

Whether you’re working on a sermon, trying to convince people to join a small group, or writing the church newsletter, there are some principles in this book are really going to help you.

In chemistry, chemists use catalysts, special substances that speed up chemical reactions. They do this not by increasing heat or pressure, but by providing an alternate route. In other words, faster change with less energy.

Being the catalyst is equally powerful in the social world. It’s not about trying to be a better persuader or be more convincing. It’s about changing minds by removing barriers.

Push people and they will snap. Tell them what to do and they probably won’t listen.

Catalysts start with this basic question: “Why hasn’t the person changed already? What’s blocking them?”

Reactance

Berger starts with story of Chuck Wolfe, who was asked to get teens to stop smoking in Florida.  The recommendations and the warnings weren’t working.  In fact, many times when we tell people to STOP doing something, they start doing it more.  That’s what happened when TIDE asked people to stop eating TIDE pods.  Even Rob Gronkowski getting involved couldn’t make people listen.

Chuck Wolfe took a different approach.  Instead of trying to persuade people he let people persuade themselves.  They stopped telling kids what to do and just started laying out the facts, particularly the ones about how the cigarette manufacturers were manipulating and influencing politics, TV, movies, and teenagers themselves.  

“Here’s what the industry is doing…you decide what you want to do about it,” was their message.  They trusted people to make their own decisions.

And it worked.  

People have an anti persuasion radar, and they’re constantly scanning for influence attempts. If they find one, they set up countermeasures, such as avoidance and ignoring the message.

Pushing, telling, even encouraging people to do something often backfires. They need to see their behavior as freely driven, as their idea.

No one likes feeling someone is trying to influence them. After all, when’s the last time you changed your mind because someone told you to?

Endowment

Even though new things are better, people will still cling to the old.  For example, many people use their old phones even though they know new ones will work much better.  The hassle to change, even if there’s a promise of improvement, just isn’t worth the effort.

Change is hard because people tend to overvalue what they have, what they already own, or what they are already doing.

Duke University students were willing to pay around $200 for Final Four tickets, but students who already had tickets wanted $2,000 to sell them.  What we have is worth more to us.

Research suggest the potential gains of doing something have to be 2.6 times larger than the potential losses to get people to take action

When things aren’t terrible, or if they are just okay but not great, it’s hard to get people to budge.  In most of our churches, services are filled with people who are doing okay.  That’s a challenge for any preacher.

To combat this, we have to convince people of the cost of doing nothing. 

Cortez had to burn the ships.

The IT department has to say, “we’re not supporting the old system after this date.”

Inaction has to be removed from the table.

Distance

If you already believe X, the truth about Y probably won’t convince you.

That’s why one person’s truth is another’s fake news. 

And exposure to the truth doesn’t always help because of confirmation bias.  In fact, studies show that exposure to the truth can often lead to increased misperception.

It’s why two sets of fans who watch the same football game will have a different perspective on play, no matter the outcome.  

Making a moderate appeal and going after the middle may be a better approach.  That’s what worked in Oklahoma when they were deciding whether to re-legalize alcohol after Prohibition.  As you’re preaching, what action step would appeal to most of the people?

Another approach you could take is finding the subset of people most likely to embrace or support your position.  You may not need to convince everyone, just the subgroup that needs it most.   If you’re trying to lead a big change in your church, getting a small group of the right people involved may be the wise, first step.

You could also ask for less.  Instead of pushing people to do something they don’t want to do, you could ask them to agree to a small, related ask that moves them in the right direction.  That puts the final task within the zone of acceptance.  

“When trying to change minds, the tendance is to go big.  We want to shift people’s perspective right away.  We’re looking for that silver bullet pitch that will immediately get someone to quit drinking soda or switch political parties overnight.  But look closer at big changes, and they’re rarely that abrupt.  Instead, they’re often more of a process.  A slow and steady shift with many stages along the way.” – The Catalyst, Page 112

Uncertainty

We devalue things that are uncertain.

People hate uncertainty. It’s worse than known negatives.

The more ambiguity there is around a product, service, or idea, the less valuable that thing becomes.

Uncertainty is good for maintaining the status quo, but terrible for changing minds.  It acts like a pause button in the decision-making process. 

How to combat uncertainty:

  • Trialability: How easy to experiment with something?  Can you imagine buying a car without test-driving it?  What about joining a small group?
  • Freemium: This was the approach Dropbox took when launching.  Can people start using right away and take more steps when they are ready?
  • Reduce up-front cost: Zappos was among the first to offer free shipping.  How might this apply to something like mission-trip participation?

The real barrier isn’t money, but uncertainty.

Corroborating Evidence

People don’t have strong feelings about pine trees, prime numbers, or serif fonts. Those are weakly held attitudes.  You’ve got an opinion, but it’s probably not that important and it’s relatively easy to change. 

Politics or your favorite sports team…that’s a different story.

Are we talking about pebbles or boulders?

If an opinion is important to you, it takes more evidence to change. We discount info that we disagree with, so more proof is required for more certainty.

You are more likely to accept an opinion from “Another you” someone who is like you, in terms of likes/dislikes, concerns/values.  This is why you laugh more when you’re with people who are like you are also laughing. 

Actions, even ones like donations, are shaped by social influence.  People are more likely to donate if they know someone who has already done so.  

Pastor's Book Club

To read the full breakdown of The Catalyst, check out the Pastor’s Book Club.  Each month, you’ll get a book breakdown of an important business book and a ministry insight video you can share with all of your leaders.

 

Your Church Should Consider a Blue Ocean Strategy

Your Church Should Consider a Blue Ocean Strategy

This month in the Pastor’s Book Club, we are breaking down Blue Ocean Strategy.  In addition to a breakdown and discussion guide you can use with your team, there’s a video with ministry insights.  Learn more about The Pastor’s Book Club here.

Strategy can be a clarifying factor for your church.  It’s the bridge between vision and execution, and it’s where you answer the important “how” questions of church leadership.

The ideas in this book, a classic among the business strategy books, provide a different way to look at competition.  And while you’re not competing with other churches, you’ll still see the opportunities here.

Ultimately, finding blue oceans are about finding new ways to reach people.  That’s something every church leader should attempt.  Not innovation for the sake of change, but innovation for the sake of the mission.

Most industries are driven by cutthroat competition. This results in a bloody red ocean where rivals fight over shrinking profits. Blue Ocean Strategy offers a systematic approach for making the competition irrelevant by creating uncontested market space.

Current markets represent all the industries in the market today. 

The boundaries are accepted. 

The rules are known.

But in reality, these oceans are flooded with competition. This cut-throat battle leaves the waters bloody. This is the Red Ocean.

In the red ocean, you closely follow what everyone else is doing.

Blue Oceans are unknown, untapped, unexplored markets. 

They might be hidden in plain sight.  Or they might be close to what you’re already doing.  But they are new, and there’s less competition and noise.

Taking a Blue Ocean approach means your goal isn’t to outperform the competition or be the best of the best. Instead, your goal is to redraw the boundaries and operate in a new space.

 

Two Examples of Blue Ocean Strategy

  • Cirque du Soleil:  It wasn’t about animals and cotton candy, it was something else entirely. While kids are still part of the target audience, the higher ticket price guaranteed the primary customers would be adults. Cirque du Soleil did not attempt to be another circus with clowns and performing animals—its Blue Ocean Strategy completely reinvented the market.
  • iTunes: When iTunes entered the market, they solved the big problem of illegal downloads by making it easy for people to download single songs.  As a result, they created an entirely new category of consumption. Today, streaming services are swimming in a new, Blue Ocean.

 

The disruption many churches are facing due to COVID are giving us a reason to look for new ways to do ministry.  In some ways, COVID is leading us into Blue Ocean opportunities.  Are we brave enough to go there with purpose?

 

Here are some questions you can ask as you consider new ways to reach people.

Question 1: Which of the factors that the industry takes for granted should be eliminated?

By eliminating something that everybody else is fighting over, you can re-allocate your focus and your efforts to improving the more important and more valuable things. 

In your church, eliminating some ministries could free you up to double down on others.  See the Keystone Ministry part of the Building Your Ministry Plan course for more details.

Question 2: Which factors should be reduced well below industries standard?

Every part of your organization isn’t going to be perfect.  In order to win in some area, you’ll likely need to compromise on others. So if you can’t eliminate (question 1), are there places were you could de-scale or de-scope?

Just because the larger church you follow online does something doesn’t mean you need to emulate.  You can’t copy their vision, values, team, or budget…so is it really necessary to try?

 

Question 3:  Which factors should raise above industries standards?

By eliminating some things and significantly reducing others, you have spare resources leftover that you can allocate to being exceptional in a few things.

On our Two Page Plan, there’s a section for you to highlight your distinctives, the things that make you unique from all the other churches in your area.  These are probably areas where you should excel.

 

Question 4: Which factors should be created that have never been offered?

What is something that no one else in your area is doing? What’s something brand new that your community cares about? 

Are there new ideas you should try?  Are there things working in completely different organizations that could work for the church?  

To read the full breakdown of Blue Ocean Strategy, check out the Pastor’s Book Club.  Each month, you’ll get a book breakdown of an important business book and a ministry insight video you can share with all of your leaders.

5 Tips for Pastors Walking a Congregation Through Grief

5 Tips for Pastors Walking a Congregation Through Grief

The Covid-19 pandemic wasn’t the first instance of collective grief that congregations around the world have experienced together.

There are congregations in the U.S. that have mourned alongside each other when a domestic terrorist attack happened in their community.

And congregations in China that have grieved the constant persecution their underground church has faced.

Although most pastors have probably helped many individuals walk through grief, the pandemic may be one of the first times they’ve been called on to shepherd an entire congregation through a tough time.

For every congregation walking through grief together—from deaths in their church to challenges in their city—there’s a pastor doing their best to lead them through it.

Along with processing their own grief, pastors wrestle with several questions about how to lead with compassion and discretion.

How can I tactfully recognize a sad season in the life of our church?

What’s the best way to support people without overwhelming them or making things worse?

Should I put on a strong front or be honest about my own distress? How honest?

We have a few best practices and suggestions for how to lead a congregation in a time of grief.

#1 – Acknowledge the pain

When people are grieving, it’s natural to want to gloss over the pain. Acknowledging pain can be uncomfortable and awkward.

But it’s essential for every church and its leaders.

Take the time to establish your theology of pain and suffering before a time of hardship happens. When you’re solid in what you believe about grief, you’re prepared to comfort a mourning congregation in a way that aligns with it. You’ll be able to lead from a place of wisdom and you won’t have to come up with a different, rushed response each time (which can be harmful).

The Covid-19 pandemic reminded us that death isn’t the only type of grief that a congregation might have to go through together.

We saw upticks in job loss, separation from their church community, depression, and more. There were protests, scandals, and political scenarios that also caused grief for many.

Churches can acknowledge the many different types of grief and help people walk through them with hope, encouragement, and support.

As a leadership team, work through ways to acknowledge grief. How will you recognize losses in the life of your congregation? How will you handle times of grief that affect one part of your congregation but not others? What type of action will you take if tragedy strikes? What type of statement are you willing to make?

#2 – Provide support

With so many different kinds of grief, you’ll need to offer various types of support.

People have different needs when they’re grieving. While some may need spiritual encouragement or someone to talk with, others may also need tangible support.

Churches can step in to coordinate meal trains, prayer request forms, or support groups, such as these examples of groups that Perimeter Church and Twin Lakes Church offer.

Churches also have more knowledge than the average person about who in their congregation has gone through certain circumstances. Leaders can ask people who have experienced a similar kind of grief to reach out to someone who is currently experiencing it.

#3 – Be honest about your own grief

As a pastor, you may want to look put together and strong at all times. You may want to grieve every sad season of your life in private because you’re afraid that the congregation will view you as weak or unstable.

But you should also want the congregation to see that you’re human. In times of collective grief, it matters that the people in the audience on a Sunday morning know that the pastor leading them has grieved and will grieve with them.

That’s not to say that you have to make your entire personal life public and grieve everything in front of your congregation. But as the Holy Spirit leads, be open to sharing your own pain with your people. Let them comfort you. Let them see that you’ve been through hard times, too.

Being a leader who is honest about their personal grief will make all the difference when the congregation has to grieve together.

#4 – Conduct a survey

Surveying your congregation may seem like a brash way to handle grief, but it’s one of the most caring things you can do.

Don’t wait until a tragedy strikes to find out what your congregation would need in the time of one. When it comes to supporting a grieving congregation, it’s best not to assume what people need.

What do grieving people want you to know? What do people actually need in times of suffering? What was helpful for them in past times of grief and what wasn’t? How did they feel about your church’s response to a previous tough season for the congregation?

When you ask, you’ll find better ways to support your congregation when they’re grieving and your church will be better prepared to step in to help.

#5 – Plan individual and collective follow-up

Churches have various follow-up processes to make sure first-time guests and givers don't fall through the cracks. We want to make sure that people know they’re welcomed and we’re punctual about thanking people for supporting the church financially (or at least we should be).

But what about following up with people who are grieving? Do we circle back around to make sure that those who are grieving have the support they need? Do we take care to make sure that they don’t fall through the cracks?

It’s vital for churches to plan follow-up communication for people who are grieving. Following up ensures that the grieving people in your congregation don’t feel forgotten or alone.

When an individual or family is grieving, make sure that they don’t just get one phone call expressing sympathy. Be ready to offer resources for dealing with the death of a loved one, support for job loss and job searching, etc.

When the congregation is grieving together, one email acknowledging the situation isn’t the most helpful. Follow up with ways the church is offering practical support. For example, if a mass shooting occurs in your community, acknowledge it with prayer and lament and follow up with trauma service recommendations and a list of what people can do to serve the families affected by the tragedy.

5 Ways to Help Your Church Staff Flourish

5 Ways to Help Your Church Staff Flourish

Flourish might be an unfamiliar word. 

But when it comes to psychology, it’s a common term to bring definition to the well-being of a person.

In 2017, Harvard published a perspective piece on what is referred to in social psychology as “human flourishing.” 

Flourishing moves beyond a state of happiness and your feelings about your life, and looks deeper into the roots of a healthy and fruitful life.

Webster defines “flourish” as 

A: to achieve success: prosper

b: to be in a state of activity or production

c: to reach a height of development or influence 

How do you know a person is flourishing? What factors play into it?

The perspective piece found that there were 5 Prominent Pathways of Human Flourishing:

#1 – Faith

Likely, your team is flourishing in their faith. Our faith is a firm foundation in difficult times, and no one can argue that the past couple of years have had their fair share of difficulty.

If your team is struggling with Faith, they are likely working through deep theological questions and considering their belief system. We are well into a post-Christian culture, and opposing views and deconstruction are rapidly gaining popularity.

Ask your team: 

  • Do you believe the Bible has authority over what you say and do?
  • How often are you using or interacting with scripture?
  • How often do you have a meaningful time in prayer with God?

#2 – Relationships

If your team is struggling with relationships, they may feel lonely, discontent with the connections they have or frustrated with a change of activities available to them. 

There are many aspects to a struggle with relationships. It could be wrestling with their marriage, singleness, people may have lost friends/family members to political divides, or general family issues have grown or showed themselves were previously hidden.

“From April to September 2020, among people who screened with moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety or depression, 70 percent reported that one of the top three things contributing to their mental health concerns was loneliness or isolation.

While connections at work are helpful, it’s often the connections outside of work that are the most impactful. Consider creating some space for your team to connect with their family and friends. If you have married staff members, you could hold or send them to marriage “retreats”. Consider how you are supporting your staff members who are single.

Ask your team:

  • Are you content in your friendships and relationships?
  • Are your current relationships at a healthy place?

#3 – Vocation

The average tenure for a pastor is on average, 3.6 to 6 years. And that was in 2018. Recent years have certainly created a strain on pastors and church staff in particular. It’s no wonder that your staff may be feeling the weight, more than ever, of their role and question its sustainability.

If your team is struggling with their vocation, perhaps it isn’t “what they thought it would be” or it’s taken an unhealthy toll on their lives and their families. 

If this is an area that your staff is struggling with, likely they are:

  1. Feeling their work isn’t having the effect they thought it would
  2. Wondering if working in ministry is the right place for them

Ask your team:

  • Do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
  • Are you able to separate your work from your home? If not, how can I help make that line more clear?
  • What part of your job is the most exciting?
  • What part of your job is the most difficult? 

#4 – Finances

When we’re stressed and stuck with our finances, it affects every area of our lives. While it would be nice to just throw a pile of money at someone who is wrestling with finances, that’s usually not an option (nor is it what will truly help them in most scenarios). 

As finances are intensely personal, it can be a sensitive conversation. Consider offering a financial planner as an employee benefit (you may find someone willing to volunteer certain services). You can also point them to free resources like a podcast or a website to help them manage their money and plan for their future.

Ask your team:

  • How often do you worry about meeting your monthly living expenses?
  • Do you feel confident in your financial habits and planning?

#5 – Health

If your team is struggling with health, it could be physical or mental. While physical health can often be easier to spot, mental health is more easily concealed. The year 2020 saw a 93% increase in anxiety screenings and a 60% increase in depression screenings

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. It’s vital that our team is flourishing both physically and mentally. 

When talking to your team about health, aim for non-judgemental questions and more than anything, listen. 

Ask your team:

  • How would you rate your overall physical health?
  • How would you rate your overall mental health?
  • How are you sleeping?
  • How can I help?
Take the Next Step

Leading people is one of the most difficult tasks of pastoral leadership.

In our free guide, The Senior Pastor’s Guide to Leading Staff, you'll learn how to clarify the roles and goals of those that you lead, get tips for leading more effective, productive meetings, and work on becoming a better leader yourself so you can lead others at a higher level.

4 Key Areas to Cover in Church Staff Evaluations

4 Key Areas to Cover in Church Staff Evaluations

A lack of feedback can make even the most motivated staff member start to feel discouraged or disgruntled.

That’s just one reason why effective staff evaluations are crucial for church teams. You can work toward the most important mission in the world—as churches do—and still feel disconnected when you receive little to no feedback, encouragement, clarity, or direction.

One main aspect of your role as a leader is to help your team flourish. One way to do that is to develop your team through training. Completing staff evaluations for each team member helps you know where to focus your efforts and how to set everyone up for success based on their ministry goals and individual strengths.

But goals, objectives, and strengths aren’t the only areas that staff evaluations need to cover.

When most people think of doing evaluations for their church staff, we think of setting goals and reviewing accomplishments. The Quarterly Staff Review Form in our Resource Library covers these areas and more, so we understand the importance of reviewing past and future goals in staff evaluations.

The most effective staff evaluations go below the surface. They include discussions about alignment and uncover deeper insights that help your church’s leadership understand who your team members are and where they fit in. They help you pastor your team and monitor their progress in a customized way that makes the most sense for their role.

So, for your next round of church staff evaluations, consider covering these four key areas with your team.

#1 – Alignment with the mission

When you’re not the ones preaching on Sundays or leading connection groups, it can be challenging for many church staff members to see how their role pushes the church’s mission forward.

In staff evaluations, take the time to break down how each person’s role on the team helps the church with the greater purpose and mission. Discuss both their role and their personal alignment with the mission.

  • Does this team member understand why their role is important?
  • How would this team member rank themselves on embodying each of the church’s core values?
  • In what ways would this team member like to further participate?
  • How would this team member articulate their ministry department’s role in the church's purpose and mission in their own words?

#2 – Satisfaction with the role

Sometimes church leaders don’t find out that staff members are in the wrong role or aren’t working to their strengths until it’s too late. They find out when a significant ball is dropped on a project or they resign from their position.

If a staff member doesn’t identify with their role, they can start to feel jaded and you’ll notice morale getting lower. It might be time for them to transition off of the church staff or, if possible, into a role on staff that better suits their gifts and skillset.

It’s much easier to catch dissatisfaction before anything catastrophic happens if a discussion about alignment with their role is included in their evaluation. Even if they’re doing an “okay” job, they might dread coming to work every day because they’re in a role that doesn’t fit them. You may never know (or find out too late) if you don’t ask.

#3 – Personal and spiritual health

Imagine this scenario. You may have even seen it before.

A church staff member experiences a mental breakdown, intense spiritual struggles, or moral failings. At that point, leaders ask, “How could we have not seen this coming? What signs did we miss?” or they say, “But he or she was excelling at their job!”

When we only evaluate a staff member’s work performance and not their personal and spiritual health—especially in a church environment—we’ll miss signs of burnout, spiritual weakness, and health concerns.

Some of your team’s star employees will accidentally work themselves to the bone and end up in the hospital or neglect their families in the name of serving the church. Some will sacrifice their personal health and spiritual health, going through the motions of Christianity and only plugging into the church to do their job.

When you do staff evaluations, cover personal and spiritual health too. Make sure that your team knows that their relationship with God comes first and that they’re only expected to serve out of genuine love for and connection with the Church.

#4 – Custom performance metrics

We often ask every staff member the same questions to evaluate how they’re doing in their role. Or even worse, we don’t ask any questions and just hope everyone is doing alright in Jesus’ name.

Not only should work performance matter in church settings, but our evaluation of performance should include key performance indicators that are specific to each ministry area.

These performance indicators hold team members accountable and help them reach their goals. If goals and objectives are unique to each ministry in the church, performance metrics should be too.

Take the Next Step

Leading people is one of the most difficult tasks of pastoral leadership. The Senior Pastor’s Guide to Leading Staff will help you lead yourself so that you can better lead the people on your team.

Download the free guide today.

Why Church Leaders Should Think “Who” Instead of “What”

Why Church Leaders Should Think “Who” Instead of “What”

Church leaders spend most of their time answering “what” questions.  

  • What is the next teaching series?
  • What are we going to do for Easter?
  • What can we do to get more people signed up for an event?
  • What is the best curriculum to use for kids?

Occasionally, we find time to dive into the “why” questions that help us re-focus on our purpose and mission.

But some of the most important questions we can answer are “who” questions.

This advice is primarily written to business leaders looking to take a company from good to great, but listen to how Jim Collins frames the challenge:

“The executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there. No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it. They said, in essence, “Look, I don’t really know where we should take this bus. But I know this much: If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.

The good-to-great leaders understood three simple truths. First, if you begin with “who,” rather than “what,” you can more easily adapt to a changing world. If people join the bus primarily because of where it is going, what happens if you get ten miles down the road and you need to change direction? You’ve got a problem. But if people are on the bus because of who else is on the bus, then it’s much easier to change direction: “Hey, I got on this bus because of who else is on it; if we need to change direction to be more successful, fine with me.” Second, if you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away. The right people don’t need to be tightly managed or fired up; they will be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce the best results and to be part of creating something great. Third, if you have the wrong people, it doesn’t matter whether you discover the right direction; you still won’t have a great company.” 

As a pastor or church leader, this should resonate with you and challenge you. Instead of coming down from the mountain like Moses and attempting to vision-cast your way toward momentum, focus on building a team (even a small team will do) of leaders who are committed to figuring out the answers to important questions.

If you have the right people around you, you can lead your church to change, start the right programs and ministries, and adapt when culture changes. If you have the right people on the bus, they will help you steer it in the right direction toward accomplishing your mission.

Collins goes on to say that one of the most important questions the leader of an organization can ask and answer is this: What percentage of the right seats are filled with the right people?

Let’s talk more about why developing people is worth your time.

#1 – People are more important than programs and projects.

It’s easy to allow the stuff of ministry, things like planning services and running programs, to keep you from relationships with the very people you’re designing those services and programs for.

But just like people development is one of your biggest barriers to growth, developing people provides one of your biggest opportunities.

After all, it’s people who will run those programs.

It’s people who will lead those projects.

It’s people who will plan every service.

You might even argue that people, not programs, buildings, or services, are at the heart of ministry. Dave Rhodes asks a poignant question:

“If 80% of your church's time, energy, and effort goes into making Sunday morning happen, is it a church or a production company?”

Every service is an opportunity to lift up the name of Jesus. Every small group is a chance to help someone take the next step. Every event affords us the opportunity to minister to people.

But let’s not forget that people run programs designed to reach people.

When you have people to lead programs, you can have better programs. When you have the right people leading ministries, your ministries will be more effective.

#2 – You’re equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.

Ephesians 4:11-12 is a familiar verse for pastors and church leaders, describing how Christ gave the church leaders in order “to equip his people for works of service.”

Pastors and church leaders are not supposed to do all of the work of the ministry; they are supposed to develop, disciple, and equip others to do so.

These words from Paul were actually modeled by Jesus, who invested the best years of his ministry into developing a small group of disciples who would ultimately spread the gospel beyond the region.

This seems counter-cultural today, where the fastest-growing churches are recognized by the size of the crowds.

It was counter-cultural in Jesus’ time as well.

“When other rabbis then and teachers now build a platform, Jesus built a pipeline, and his impact was inconceivably greater,” writes Will Mancini in Future Church.

In a world of social media followings and YouTube sermons, there’s something refreshing about pastors and church leaders who invest in people. It’s almost as if that is the preferred strategy.

Most pastors agree that developing leaders is a big opportunity and that a lack of leaders is hindering the ministry. Whenever we ask pastors to list their top challenges, this is always in the top three. Usually, it’s right at the top of the list. It really is a constant struggle to find, train, and empower leaders.

One of the reasons this remains a challenge is because while we want to see more leaders get involved, we don’t have a system for leadership development, and these tasks never appear on our calendar.

Your calendar is full of planning meetings, counseling sessions, and study time. But the leadership development kind of tasks are hard to quantify and difficult to plan. We hope it happens organically, but it never does.

It’s time to move leadership development from something we desire to something we do.

We have to put it on the calendar. And we have to specifically define what “it” is.

Leader Pulse combines ready-to-use leadership development content in a calendar-based approach. It will give you the structure and the content you need to actually develop your staff and key leaders.

Learn more about Leader Pulse here.

#3 – Ministries without leaders will not have the desired impact.

Not only is people-first ministry a Biblical approach, but it will also actually help your church grow at a sustainable pace.

And this sustainable pace is something church leaders aren’t talking about enough.

The impact you want to make on your community isn’t dependent on a single service, a special event, or a specific ministry. You’re looking for compound interest, serving consistently over time.

The flip side is starting ministries only to see them slowly fade away into irrelevance because there are no leaders to sustain them. You’ll start, stop, start, stop until everyone is simply worn out.

If you don’t develop leaders, your church will struggle to make a long-term impact in your community.

That’s why we advise pastors to never start a new ministry in their church until it has a committed and trained leader and is aligned with the overall church strategy. 

You’d be better off waiting. Or going without.  

But when you have committed and aligned leaders, your church will be set up well to grow healthy.

That’s why it’s always wise to start with people, not programs.

Take the Next Step

Leading people is one of the most difficult tasks of pastoral leadership. The Senior Pastor’s Guide to Leading Staff will help you lead yourself so that you can better lead the people on your team.

Download the free guide today.