What do you do when you don’t have enough leaders?

What do you do when you don’t have enough leaders?

Most churches need more leaders.

And most churches say they have tried everything — from preaching to asking to begging, not to mention trying all the ideas from the last online summit you attended.

If nothing seems to be working, this is for you.

(Fair warning though…you’re not going to like all the suggestions.)

But here are four things you can do when you don’t have enough leaders.

 

#1 – Cut back on what you’re doing.

I warned you that you might not like all of the suggestions.  But hear me out…

Most churches are simply trying to do too many things.

And one of the greatest consequences is that volunteers are spread too thin, dispersed across a myriad of ministries that are no longer effective.

If you can’t find more people, perhaps you need to place people where they can do the most good.  That means stopping some things, maybe temporarily, and maybe permanently.

If you were to join Church Fuel (free trial here), one of the exercises we would take you through is identifying your Keystone Ministries.

These are the handful of ministries that are the most important — the ones that need the most announcement time, the biggest budget, and the most volunteers.  They are the most important in your church, and if they were to go away, your entire church would suffer or be fundamentally changed.

It's hard to identify these, but it’s harder to orient around them.  But it’s something you must do.

There are volunteers in your church serving faithfully in areas that used to matter but are no longer on strategy.  A wise leader tasked with being a good steward recognizes this and moves people to where they can make the biggest impact.

These are always hard conversations, and you must operate with care.  But the key to growth in your church might not be something you start but something you stop.

Moving great volunteers into the right place is one of the reasons why.

Here's an article about keystone ministries — with some practical advice on how to identify them.

 

#2 – Invite people personally.

You can’t recruit leaders from the stage.

You can recruit volunteers that way, but if we’re talking about leaders, you’re going to have to have personal conversations.

This distinction is so important in church and ministry because there’s a giant difference between a volunteer and a leader.

Think about the sermons, volunteer fairs, interest cards, sign-up tables, and other tactics you’ve used to recruit volunteers.  They may play a small part in your leadership development strategy, but this is not how you’re going to release more leaders into your church.

You need a pipeline, not a presentation.

You need a relationship, not a resource.

If you want more leaders, it’s going to take a personal touch.  From you, your staff, or other key influencers in your church.

If you’re looking around your church and thinking to yourself, “I’ve already asked all the people I know,” pay attention to the next two ideas.

 

#3 – Go where leaders gather.

I remember a time when I was pastoring a church and had started to give into “woe is me” thinking.  I arrogantly thought I didn’t have enough high-capacity people around me and that's what was holding us back.

A friend reminded me that leaders attract leaders, and that if we didn’t have a leadership culture, I needed to look in the mirror.  I needed to be a better leader, and I needed to be around better leaders.

If you’re looking around your church and don’t see leaders, first look in the mirror.  Next, look outside your church.

Are there civic groups you could join?  Are there local non-profits looking for board members?  Are there clubs, breakfasts, associations, or programs?

Maybe you could join your city’s Chamber of Commerce.  Many county governments even have leadership programs that are open to business and community leaders.  What a great place to meet local leaders!

When you broaden your perspective, great things will happen.

 

#4 – Evaluate how you spend your time.

I know there is a lot on your plate.

Seriously, the job description for a pastor is ridiculous.

Quite frankly, the job description for today’s pastor is filled with too many tasks and doesn’t give enough time for developing and discipling people.  When you’re so busy doing all the things, you don’t have time for people.

That’s a deadly combo, a recipe for burnout, and a sure-fire way to never have enough leaders in your church.

It comes down to tasks vs. people.

How much of your time do you spend doing tasks?

And how much of your time do you spend developing people?

If you’re like most, things certainly skew in the task direction.  But what would happen if you reversed the ratio?

Creating a culture of leadership will require you to break some of the typical patterns even if some important tasks go undone.

Some of the things on your plate just can’t stay if you’re serious about finding, developing, and discipling more leaders.

If that doesn’t sound realistic, maybe you could take a baby step. Are there some tasks that you could do with other people?  

  • Could you invite a potential leader to a leadership team meeting and get feedback? 
  • Could you invite a business owner to the finance team to share perspective?  
  • Could you take a younger leader with you on a hospital visit?  
  • Could you invite a few potential leaders on the mission trip?  
  • Could you gather a few people on a Tuesday night to help with sermon research or illustrations?

As you read this list, maybe you realized that none of these would provide a quick fix to your current predicament.

That’s because there isn’t a quick fix to leadership development.  Just like you can’t make instant disciples, you can’t develop instant leaders.  There’s no microwave or Instant Pot here.

But you can start taking action today, and those actions could become the catalyst for a new culture of leadership in your church.

Remember, leaders attract leaders.

Everyone Needs a New Job Description

Everyone Needs a New Job Description

A job description can feel like a compliance exercise; something that you have to have in order to recruit and onboard a new employee. After that, the job description often gets tossed to the side or thrown in a dusty drawer never to be touched again. 

Remember when you were hired? 

If you were to pull out your job description, you might say, “Oh, I don't do that anymore, and it's missing these 12 things that I actually do.”

Our job descriptions don't reflect reality. They don't reflect the changes that our church has gone through over the last couple of years.

Not only is this a bad HR policy (This is a great article on the legal risk of outdated job descriptions if you want to get into it), it can also create a major gap in your ability to lead your team and your organization well.

Before we dive into the “how”, it’s important to understand the “why”. 

There are three major benefits to implementing a process for updating job descriptions.

1. It gives you the ability to see how roles work together

Responsibilities, team dynamics, and processes are ever-evolving. These things may shift from person to person, or disappear altogether. Maintaining updated job descriptions helps clear-up potential complexity that can happen when there is little to no oversight.

2. More Effective Performace Reviews

It’s difficult to give an accurate assessment of work provided if the work provided is unclear or unknown. When you incorporate a rhythm of updating job descriptions, not only are you up-to-date on what your staff is responsible for, but you’re also aware of what to give them credit for.

3. The clarity for High-Performance Leaders

There is almost nothing more frustrating for a high-capacity leader than job creep. All too often, you’ll end up with unequal responsibilities amongst your team simply because you have people capable of handling more (or coming up with more). This makes your leaders more likely to resign or more susceptible to burnout. As the leader of the team, you need to define what is a priority, what isn’t, and help level out some of the responsibilities among your staff.

Let’s talk about the “how”.

At the beginning of the year, take a fresh look at everybody that has a job, whether it's a full-time, paid position or a part-time volunteer role.  Update it to reflect current reality.  Use it to cast clarity.

A lot likely changed in the last 12 months, and the beginning of the year will be an ideal time to take a look and where you’re at, where you want to go, and how you plan on getting there.

We have an easy-to-use Job Description Review Exercise inside of LeaderPulse to help you navigate the process. 

If you have a lengthy job description, consider creating a one-page job description to keep the process uncluttered. If you have a lengthy job description, it would be great to go through it, or here’s a one-page template to get quick clarity. 

Imagine if everybody that had a job at the church could say, “Of all the things that I could do, this is what matters most. This is what we're focusing on this year.”

Your Job Description Review goals could include:

  1. Meet with at least two team members each week to do the Job Description Review exercise with them.
  2. Set up staff evaluations and send the team members the Job Description Review to complete before their evaluation.
  3. Set deadlines for updating job descriptions based on what’s revealed during the Job Description Review.

When we believe something is important, we make time to make sure it happens. 

Conducting a Job Description Review with everyone on your team is crucial to your church’s effectiveness in ministry and the job satisfaction of everyone you lead. 

Make Next Year the Best Year in Your Church (7 Practical Steps)

Make Next Year the Best Year in Your Church (7 Practical Steps)

The last couple of years have been among the hardest ministry years for most pastors.  So many of us are ready to turn the page.

You certainly don’t me to give you a list of all the difficult things you’ve dealt with.  You’ve lived it.

But I’m also sensing a renewed spirit of optimism in the church.  We’re looking ahead with optimism, trying to leave behind anxious thoughts and move on from tough decisions.  We’re ready to get back to the ministry we’re called to do.

I want 2022 to be a year filled with optimism, energy, and a renewed sense of purpose.  Years from now, when you look back on this season, I want you recall how this next year was the turning point.

With all this in mind, here are some ways you can make 2022 a great year in your church.

 

#1 – CUT BACK ON PURPOSE

Over the last two years or so, many of us have had to cut things out of our budget and out of our programming.  You likely did this as a response to something, maybe even feeling like you didn’t have a choice.  

But now you have the opportunity to cut back, not out of a response, but out of purpose.

If you've ever written a book, you know that editing is often the hardest process. It's pretty easy to put the words on a page, but what turns a good book into a great book is editing. And editing is largely cutting things down and removing the non-essential.

As we look ahead toward 2022, there are things in all of our churches that are not really tied to our core mission, things we've been holding onto that are just not effective anymore.

they may be programs, ministries, legacies — things that are no longer moving the ball forward, but just existing. Maybe you inherited them. They are taking resources, and they are taking people.

When I was pastoring a church, one of the most impactful books I read was Simple Church by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger. It gave me permission to stop trying to be all things to all people, but to make sure every program and ministry was intentionally aligned to a greater purpose.

As you move into this next year, cutting back on purpose could actually be key. We have a saying at Church Fuel, “The key to growth may not be something you start, but something you stop.”

So many times we go to conferences, webinars, or trainings, even from people like me, and you try to add these new ideas to an already crowded menu. It doesn't work because the key to growth isn’t just adding more and doing more. It's usually stopping something and taking that energy and putting it into what's already working.

The most important ministries in your church – we call them Keystone Ministries – deserve an unfair advantage.  They need more money, more volunteers, and more focus.  When you stop doing things that are off-mission, you can focus on these keystone ministries.

Pruning brings new growth. Don’t wait for things to be almost dead to remove them from the venue. Be proactive. Cut back, but on purpose.

 

#2 – CREATE A REAL STRATEGIC PLAN

Most strategic plans in churches are worthless. They're usually 50 pages long, and expensive consultants come in and help you create these impressive but unactionable documents.

A real strategic plan simply answers the how questions, not the wow questions. You know we're going to change the world. But how are we going to do it? A strategic plan translates your purpose and your vision into tangible, actionable steps.

I'd love for you to gather some of your church-minded leaders to say, “Hey, it’s not about what are we going to do next year, but how are we going to do it?

Strategy, not vision and not purpose, is the key to alignment.  I know everyone has tried their best to convince you that a big vision is the key.  But rah-rah rallies about some big destination isn’t going to help you get people on the same page.  If you’re not united around HOW, the big vision will actually de-motivate people over the long haul.

Strategy is what gets people on the same page; it’s not just agreeing where we're going, but how we're going to get there. If I fly on the plane and you drive in the RV across the country, we're arriving there at very different times, having had very different experiences.

The strategic plan we recommend is called The Two Page Plan.  It’s a unifying exercise that raises some great questions and promts some powerful discussions.  But in the end, it’s actionable, sharable, and meaningful.

Learn more at twopageplan.com. 

 

#3 – CREATE CHURCHWIDE GOALS

I encourage you to create three to five churchwide goals – not what are we trying to do in general, but what are we going to do specifically.

Most churches have grandiose purpose statements like “we exist for the glory of God” or “we make disciples of all the world.” Those are very big ideas, and we should have those.

We need these big ideas to anchor us and ground us, but we also need to know specifically and tangibly, what are we trying to do in this next year.  Are we trying to connect people in small groups? Are we trying to grow our attendance? Are we trying to grow? What are we trying to do specifically?

These goals need to be churchwide, bigger than any one specific ministry.

What gets us in trouble with goals and churches is that all our ministries, programs, departments, volunteers have their own goals. And when you put them all together, there's nothing cohesive that holds them together.

We need to have churchwide goals, reflected in all of our ministries and programs. When we get clear about who we are, when we get clear about our strategy, that strategy should point to something specific.

One of the most helpful things I think you could do in this next year is say, “Hey, here is specifically what we're trying to do as a church.” Your deacons, elders, small group leaders, staff, team, key leaders, everybody needs to know clearly what those are and know how what they do feeds into them. And they're unifying and they're uniting because the whole church is involved in seeing those goals.

 

#4. TAKE A FRESH LOOK AT JOB DESCRIPTIONS

Too many times, job descriptions are not useful documents. We create them when there is a job opening and they are accurate for a couple of weeks.  But a few months in, nobody looks at that document.

If you were to pull out your job description, you might say, “Oh, I don't do that anymore, and it's missing these 12 things that I actually do.”

Our job descriptions don't reflect reality. They don't reflect the changes that our church has gone through over the last couple of years.

Instead of just being this HR document that sits in a folder in a filing cabinet somewhere, a job description  can be something that clarifies what we do to contribute to our church’s goals, strategy, and mission.

At the beginning of the year, take a fresh look at everybody that has a job, whether it's a full-time, paid position or a part-time volunteer role.  Update it to reflect current reality.  Use it to cast clarity.

After all casting clarity might just be one of a leader’s most important tasks.

We have 50 different sample job descriptions in the member site of Church Fuel, one for every role that could exist in a church.  Many of these templates have KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that help connect the dots between tasks and outcomes.

One of my favorite resources in Church Fuel is called the One Page Job Description. It will help you summarize your job in one page.  It’s an amazing, clarifying exercise.

Imagine if everybody that had a job at the church did that and said, “Of all the things that I could do, this is what matters most. This is what we're focusing on this year.”

 

#5 – BRING LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT FRONT AND CENTER

Leadership development in church is really discipleship. 

You have some people in your church who are leaders, who are potential leaders, and they need you to disciple them.

Luke 16:10 describes the challenge many churches are facing in this area. If you're faithful with a little, then maybe God would bless you with more. It says he who is faithful with a little can be entrusted with more. We know this in parenting. We know this in finances. The better stewards we are, the more trust we build, the more likely we are to be given more.

You have some leaders, or you may have only one, but what is your plan to disciple and develop them?

As we focus on developing the leaders we have, I believe God will send us more. We get this backwards in church. We keep asking God, “Send us more, send us more.” And I wonder if he's like, “Hey, you have a whole bunch. You're not doing anything. Why would I send you more?”

Let's develop and disciple the leaders that we already have. Let's commit to having one-on-ones with them. Let's commit to taking our meetings and retreats and the things that we already have and making them more meaningful. We don't have to necessarily add more to the calendar, but we can be more intentional with what we're already doing.

We have a resource, a whole system really, called LeaderPulse. It's meetings and retreats.  It’s leadership development curriculum. There are videos, there are guides, there are exercises that you can work on together to bring intentionality and focus to helping all the leaders in your church get better.

Three Templates to Create Your Leadership Development Plan

Three Templates to Create Your Leadership Development Plan

Leadership Development is a top priority, but it rarely happens. 

To actually develop the leaders God has assigned to your church, you need two things: cadence and content.

Our Leadership Development Plan helps you create a clear cadence while LeaderPulse gives you all of the necessary content to encourage, lead, and inspire your people. 

When you invest in your team, the investment multiplies as they are encouraged, motivated, and equipped to invest in the people and projects around them. 

You can access the Leadership Development Plan for free.

We have three versions for you: 

Printable PDF 

Google Template

Miro Template

Each version is customizable and designed to fit your needs. Whether you prefer to work with a physical product or an online collaborative product, there’s a version for you.

Here’s how to use them:

Printable PDF

Direct download the PDF to your computer, or select the printer icon in the top right corner.

You’ll notice that the PDF has two pages. The first page is the calendar. This is where you will develop your cadence. 

There are 4 rows (Meetings & Retreats, Exercises, Training, and Leadership Development Books) with 12 squares, one for each month of the year. You don’t necessarily need to fill in all of the squares, but they are available to you.

The second page is the content. Each of these squares act as a “sticky note” for you to place on your calendar. Some squares already have content on them. This is the content that is provided within LeaderPulse and is ready for you to implement.

If you don’t have LeaderPulse, or if you have an exercise or Leadership Book you would prefer outside of LeaderPulse, we have also provided blank sticky notes for you to write in your own content. These are also color-coded to keep everything organized and clear.

Tip: Laminate the pages so you can use them over and over again.

Google Template

To get started, click the blue “Use Template” button in the top right corner. This will create a new document in your Google Drive (you must have a google account to use this version.)

The first page is an example of a Leadership Development Plan using all of the pieces of content available in LeaderPulse.

The second page is your working document for you to drag and drop your content onto the page. On the right side of the page, you’ll find all of the sticky notes for you to drag and drop as well as blank ones for you to create your own.

Tip: Invite your team to the document to make it collaborative.

Miro Template

Miro is an online collaborative whiteboard platform. Imagine a whiteboard that you can view, edit, and collaborate with from anywhere.

Once you select the Miro template (button below), select the blue “sign up for free” button at the top of the screen.

You will be prompted to create your free Miro account. Once your account is created, you’ll be able to duplicate the board into your own account. To duplicate the board, click on the title at the top left, then select Duplicate.

Some Miro Tips:

Zoom In and out using the magnifying glass in the bottom right of your screen.

To move the elements on the plan, select the cursor in the left toolbar.

 

Here's an example of a completed Miro Board:

 

 

You can also add your team to this board to make it collaborative. Miro can be a fun and useful tool for your team.

 

LeaderPulse is the only solution that gives you all the content you need – for use right out of the box or easily customizable to meet your need –  to train all the leaders in your church.

But it’s more than a calendar…we have a whole library full of training materials…every meeting agenda, retreat plan, development exercise, training tool, and devotion all wrapped in an easy-to-customize plan.

Finally, you have an actual toolbox to DO leadership development, not just design a hypothetical system. 

Get LeaderPulse today (available until November 19th, 2021).

Three High Priorities for Pastors Right Now

Three High Priorities for Pastors Right Now

I'm often asked by pastors “of all the things I have to do, what is most important right now?”

It’s a difficult question to answer because it could vary depending on the church. What is most important for one person may not be as important for another. But what I do know, based on my experience of coaching pastors over the years, is that there are three things you should never neglect if you want your ministry to thrive and grow in the long term. 

And churches historically struggle with each of them.

 

#1 – Create a real strategic plan.

 

Most churches have purpose statements – big picture, vision-laced, sometimes bloated statements meant to inspire. 

Some have goals – something they are trying to accomplish in this next ministry season. 

Very few have any semblance of a strategic plan – a documented, step-by-step answer to the HOW questions in ministry.

Strategy isn’t about grand plans, big ideas, or fancy tools and tactics. It’s about defining a set of choices that will drive the mission of your church forward. 

But this is the glue that holds everything together, the actual plan that will get your people on the same page.  The thoughtful process describes how you'll do what God has called you to do.

The template we created for you is called the Two Page Plan.  Page one will help you clarify who you are and page two is where you document what you do.

If you don't have this granular level of clarity, this is where I would start.

 

#2 – Double down on pastoral communication to your congregation.

 

I know you want to reach your whole community. But to do that, you'll need more than a staff and some committed leaders.  You'll need to engage and empower your congregation, releasing them to do the work of the ministry.

Start with your volunteers.  Make sure they know your purpose, vision, and strategy.  Make sure they feel appreciated and loved. 

Over-communicate to your donors.  Send them an email every month letting them know how you're being a good steward and how you're staying on mission.  Steal this one and customize it for your church.

And yes, email is the channel you want to use.  I know it's boring and not as trendy as the latest social media app.  But tell your members it's your #1 way you'll communicate with them and make it meaningful.

It's easier than ever to lose touch with your congregation.  Time is well spent here.

 

#3 – Put leadership development on your calendar.

 

One of the biggest problems churches are facing today is the lack of leaders.  

Not money, facilities, or denomination.

It’s not even more people or more volunteers.

Leadership is the tip of the spear.

The problem is there’s no quick fix.

You can’t just preach a sermon, make an announcement, or download some new tool and suddenly have more qualified leaders to do the work of the ministry. 

You can’t recruit leaders with an announcement and developing them looks more like a long-term discipleship plan than a quick online course.

You need to start focusing on this right away, even though there are surely more urgent matters facing you.  Because if you don't make time for this now, you'll be playing catch-up until you do.

It Pays To Play: Team Building 101

It Pays To Play: Team Building 101

Why creating space for play will move your ministry forward

You set a big goal, started a new ministry, developed a new system. Whatever the mountain was that you recently climbed, it was a lot of work and you invested a lot to climb it. But you did it. Either the deadline has passed or the work is done and the view is astounding. Look at how far you have come!

So now what? Do you look around for another mountain to climb? If this were a real mountain, before you even thought about the descent you would celebrate the mountain top. 

Everyone is designed to work hard. But if our focus remains working hard and continuously climbing mountains, it’s too easy to miss out on the rest and restoration that fuels the hard work. Without a healthy rhythm of work and rest, we (and our team) end up burnt out with broken relationships and misaligned priorities. 

If your team has climbed a big mountain and/or is feeling exhausted, you need to pay yourself and your team back for their investment. When you invest into your team, the investment multiples as they are encouraged, motivated and equipped to invest in the people and projects around them.

That’s where a team-building retreat comes into play. Your Team Building activity doesn’t have to be deep or lengthy. It may be as simple as “what was something fun you did this weekend?”

Here are five benefits of team building:

1. Team Building Builds Trust

“The only relationships in this world that have ever been worthwhile and enduring have been those in which one person could trust another.” – Samuel Smile, British author and biographer

Trust is one of the most valuable assets your church could have. Trust is currency, and it will make or break your team. However, you cannot build trust without time. In every mention of trust, it’s followed by a verb; “build trust, “earn trust” “lose trust” “gain trust”. Trust is an asset that is developed, over time, with intention. 

2. Team Building Reduces Conflict

When your team builds trust with one another, they are less likely to fill a gap of information with suspicion and more likely to fill it with trust. Fewer assumptions are made, less judgment is given, and your team can come to conflict resolutions more quickly. 

While time together does not guarantee trust, it does help facilitate it.

3. Team Building Increases Collaboration

When you schedule team-building activities into your annual calendar, you are not only paying your team back for their investment, but you are investing in them so they can turn around and invest in others around them.

4. Team Building Improves Morale

When people make a commitment to spend time together, it can change the way they relate to each other and work together. A retreat centered on relationships communicates that your team is important enough to invest a significant amount of time and energy into. This factor alone contributes to a boost in morale and overall employee satisfaction.

5. Team Building Provides Insight 

Time together does not guarantee trust. When you gather your team together for team-building, it is a great opportunity as a leader to observe who works well together, who avoids others, who leads, and who follows. A team-building retreat will give you an extended length of time to observe the relationship dynamics of your team in a way that work-focused activities will not.

If thoughtfully structured, Team Building Retreats can clarify roles and expectations, ease tensions and identify the unique contributions of each staff member. 

If you continue to build into your team, your team will be more productive and available to build into the people around them. 

Investment multiplies.

And remember, team-building isn’t an activity you do to get it out of the way but something you do to actually develop relationships. 

That requires time, patience, and opportunities to step out of your comfort zone.

From bowling to a ropes course to the movie theatre, there are tons of activities that are fun, will spark people’s imaginations, and (hopefully) invoke a lot of laughter. Consider what your local area has to offer; while you may not have a ropes course, you might have a racetrack or an amusement park. 

Whatever you do, have FUN!