Roadblocks to Maximum Potential in Your Church or Organization

road blocks

Just last week I was privileged to participate in a webinar by Dr. Sam Chand about the 11 Roadblocks to Maximizing Potential in your Organization.  Dr Chand gave his permission for his listeners to share this information with their friends and networks.  Below, you will find his list (in bold) along with my comments regarding his list.  You can reference his entire video by clicking here.

11 Roadblocks to Maximizing Potential in your Organization:

  • Momentum could be a bad thing – contrary to John Maxwell’s viewpoint that momentum is your best friend, Dr. Chand suggests that it can be a bad thing due to all the chaos that it brings to your church or organization.  However, if your develop new systems to handle the chaos, it is a welcomed friend.
  • Measuring the wrong things – the metrics, or measurements that we use in our churches are putting the emphasis on the wrong things.  For example, attendance and finances do not give us a picture of the health of our church.  They just tell us how much money and how many people we have.  They do not give us an idea of how we are doing with our mission of “making disciples of every nation.”  After all, what you reward gets done.  If we reward attendance, we’ll have more people, but we won’t necessarily produce disciples.
  • People in the organization don’t feel responsible to fulfill the vision – when people feel that it is the responsibility of the pastor or church leaders to do the work, it makes it nearly impossible to achieve the vision for the church.  Instead, pastors and church leaders need to learn how to communicate the vision to the entire congregation in such a way as they begin to “own it” and seek to help it reach fulfillment.
  • Unresolved conflict – conflict creates an environment in which the Holy Spirit is not free to work in the lives of the people.  Conflict must be identified, addressed, and resolved in order for the church to move forward.
  • Too much mercy – we can be so gracious and merciful that we fail to address the changes that need to happen for the church to maximize its potential.  Mercy must always be a part of any change initiative, but it cannot be the deciding factor that makes us back off of the necessary change.
  • Failure to leverage peer pressure – peer pressure doesn’t end with puberty.  It is something that we face all our lives.  Utilize it as a tool to help move the church forward to its new and better future.
  • Lack of personal improvement plans – let’s face it, most pastors and church leaders have NO plan for personal improvement.  The fact that you just read that sentence tells me that you are not most pastors or church leaders.  What is your plan for personal improvement?
  • Lack of resources – this is a reality with the small to mid-size church.  However, we need to use our God-given creativity to learn how to do more ministry with less resources.  Perhaps, we need to reallocate resources to the areas that will help the church maximize its potential.
  • Deadlines are too flexible – every time a decision is made, ask what needs done and who is responsible to see that it gets done and by what time or date.
  • Lack of support from leaders – if the leaders in your church are not behind the new initiative, it won’t happen.  Spend time getting your leaders on board.  The amount of time spent with leaders prior to launching a new initiative is directly related to the success of that new initiative.  Enough time equals success, but too little time equals failure.
  • Packing for where you’re going – always be thinking about where you are headed and what you will need with you get there.  Begin “packing” those things in your organization now.  Then, we you arrive at your new destination, you’ll be ready to enjoy it.

While this is a quick summary of the lessons taught by Dr. Chand, I want to encourage you to listen to the entire video presentation and ask yourself which of the roadblocks are you facing as you lead your church or organization?


Why New Ideas Fail

It's not what you think!

New Idea image

Consider this. A pastor goes to a conference to learn about the new ministry that launched a church forward in growth. He immediately implements that new ministry in his church, only to discover that it does nothing to spur on the growth of his church. The pastor is discouraged and the people become less willing to accept a new idea in the future.

Or, a manager learns of a new strategy for his organization. He roles out the new strategy in his department and it meets with so much opposition that he eventually moves things back to the way things were before.  The manager wonders why it didn’t work and the employees see yet another failed attempt to change the organization.

Both of these scenarios play out every day in our churches and businesses.

In both cases, they have learned the one reason many new ideas fail:  we fail to take into account the culture within which we are attempting that change effort.  In his book Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration, Dr. Samuel R. Chand identifies 5 types of cultures that can be found in your church, or your organization.  They are (the titles are Dr. Chand’s and the descriptions are mine):

  • Inspiring – a culture in which new ideas and ministries are enabled to flourish
  • Accepting – a culture in which new ideas and ministries are easily accepted and have opportunity for success
  • Stagnant – a culture in which new ideas and ministries are not easily accepted and have little chance for success
  • Discouraging – a culture in which new ideas are resisted and attempting new ministries is discouraged
  • Toxic – a culture in which new ideas have no chance of success due to the dysfunction in the organization

When attempting new ideas in your church or organization, you must take into account the culture of the organization.  Asking the following questions will help you determine the potential success or failure of your new idea.

  • Is the culture of my church/organization ready to accept this new change initiative?
  • How can I best implement the new idea within the current culture? 
  • Is there a better change initiative that I can implement within my current culture?
  • Do I need to change my current culture before implement my new idea?

When looking at your current culture and your new change initiative or idea, take the time necessary to investigate the potential success of that idea within your current culture.  Not sure how to do that?  Then, I want to encourage you to participate in my new FREE Webinar on culture change.  I want to share with you some of the things that I’ve been learning about changing the culture within our churches.  I’ll be announcing the details in a few weeks.  For now, be certain that you have subscribed to my website by filling out the form at the top right of this page.  You will be notified as soon as registration opens for this FREE Webinar.  You’ll also receive a free e-book as my way of saying thanks.

Change or Die

Why most churches choose the latter!

dying church

Change is happening at an ever increasing rate in America.  On June 26, 2015, a Bloomberg Business Report issued an article entitled “This is How Fast America Changes It’s Mind.”  The report shows many facts and charts regarding the speed of social change in America.  One chart, in particular, shows the number of years from an issue’s trigger point until federal action is taken on the issue.  The chart reveals that while the issue of interracial marriage spanned 180 years (1787-1967) , it took only 19 years from its trigger point until federal action was taken in the courts.  In contrast, the issue of same-sex marriage spanned less than 15 years and took only just over 2 years from its trigger point until federal action was taken in the courts.  (For more information on this topic see the article here.)

My point is simply this:  America is changing at an ever-increasing pace, and the church in America is stagnant.  The speed of change in those churches that actually do attempt to connect with their communities is, many times, much slower than the speed of change in our culture.  The result is that the church is losing ground and becoming more and more irrelevant to those we are trying to reach.  Because of this, while many in America are still seeking God, they have given up on the church as the means to discover a relationship with God.

While “Change or Die” may seem like an overreaction to the problem with most churches in America today, it is fast becoming the harsh reality that many churches are facing.  The judicatory leadership of my previous church location has been closing churches at an alarming rate.  In the 11 years I was the pastor of that church, our district judicatory closed over 13 churches.  This is a story that repeats itself over and over every day.  Approximately 3,500 churches close there doors every year in America.  According to a recent article in the Christian Post, there are approximately 4,000 new churches starting every year in America (click here for that article).  While that may look encouraging on the surface, we are, at best, just replacing recently deceased churches with new churches.  The result is that we are not keeping up with the growing changes in America, we are having less and less influence for God in our communities, and, in the case where a church “dies” and closes its doors forever, we have no presence in the community any longer.

Why, then, would churches choose to die rather than change?  In reality, very few churches actually “choose” to die rather than change.  Their death is simply a byproduct of not taking action to bring about change.  While the reasons for the failure of churches to bring about effective change are numerous, here are three basic reasons:

  • They don’t see the need for change.  The reason that people attend their church is because they like it the way that it is now.  If it is good enough for them, then the people in the community should like it, too.  If they don’t, then they just aren’t that interested in a relationship with Jesus.  Therefore, “change” is not the churches problem.  Rather, the problem is the spiritual condition of the people in the community.  Unfortunately, people don’t see that the culture of their church is keeping people from finding a relationship with Christ.
  • The church, as it is now, is the one constant in life.  In a world that is constantly changing, it is nice to have one area in our lives that doesn’t change.  Unfortunately, the desire to keep the church as the “anchor” of life also keeps new people from coming into the church.  After all, an old “anchor” in a changing culture is really nothing more than antiquated piece of metal collecting rust.  It’s intriguing to look at, but you wouldn’t consider actually using it.  Perhaps, the solution is that we need to begin to see Jesus as the anchor for our lives instead of expecting the church to fill that role.
  • The current culture of the church doesn’t allow for change.  Change does not happen by accident.  It takes intentional, consistent effort to bring about change in any organization.  Effective, long-term change doesn’t occur by adding a new program or ministry.  It occurs by strategically changing the culture of the church.

Most pastors and church leaders are not equipped to lead the change process in the local church.  It requires changing the very culture of the church at the level of its experiences, beliefs, and actions.  Very soon, I will be announcing a FREE Culture Change Webinar focused on giving you a basic understanding of what is involved in changing the culture of your church.  It is a first step for pastors and church leaders to take in learning how to change the culture of their churches.

Make sure you’ve signed up for my free e-book at the top right of this page.  Once you’ve done that, you will be on the email list for my blog.  I will be announcing how to register for my new webinar by contacting those on my email list first.  So, before you leave my site, make sure to sign up for your free e-book.  I look forward to sharing with you what I’ve learned about culture change in the church.

Until then, ask yourself this question:  What is it about my church that needs to change if we are going to fulfill the vision that God has given us?


The Day I Changed the Way I Looked at the Church

The One Thing More Powerful Than Vision

Some time ago, I heard about an author Samuel R. Chand, and his book Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration.  In his book, he discusses the concept that CULTURE is more powerful than VISION in leading a church.  He writes that a toxic culture in a church can keep it from fulfilling the vision that God has given to the church.  If that is true, and I believe that it is, then we, as church leaders, must deal with the problematic cultures in our churches BEFORE we can lead them forward in fulfilling the vision that God has given us for our churches.

While reading Dr. Chand’s book, I began looking at the church where I was currently the pastor.  We had been given a great vision for the church.  As we began pursuing that vision, we began to see the toxic culture of the church make itself evident.  What had been lurking just below the surface largely unnoticed, now was a full on attack against the vision that God had given to us.

Over time we navigated the change to the culture of our church.  People began to immediately notice the change.  Within 3 months our church had grown by 25% – during the summer months when church grow experts tell us that we cannot grow.

The bottom line – I was convinced that CULTURE really does trump VISION!  

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What’s New in 2016

Coming soon

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for a while.  (My wife’s father had been battling leukemia and just passed away on Feb. 6.  As such, my focus has been elsewhere.)  But, that is about to change!!!

Here’s what you can expect in 2016:

  • A NEW FOCUS:  you may have noticed that I changed the tagline of my blog to “Leadership development and organizational health for the small to mid-size church.”  My desire this year is to focus on resourcing the small to mid-size church with information and resources that would previously only be available to larger churches who can afford expensive consultants and training programs.  I want to provide quality information and resources to you at little or no cost.
  • A FREE Webinar:  I am currently developing a webinar on the topic of “changing the culture of your church.”  Many of our change attempts fail because we have cultures within our churches that are unhealthy and actually fight against the changes that would benefit our churches.  How do we change this?  Stay tuned for an announcement about this FREE webinar coming soon!
  • A COACHING Network Opportunity:  Yes, you read that right!  I am currently designing a 6-month coaching network that I will open up to the Hand-2-Hand community within the next couple of months.  I know what you are thinking…”I can’t afford that.”  I have personally participated in coaching networks that have cost me between $99 to $249 per month.  For the pastor/leader of the small to mid-size church, that is a substantial chunk of the church budget.  I will be providing a network opportunity for an introductory rate of ONLY $49 for the entire 6-month network.  That’s only $8.17 per month.  That’s the same quality coaching I’ve received for a small fraction of the cost that I’ve personally paid.  I’m so excited about sharing this information with you.  And, it’s coming in the next couple of months.
  • Regular POSTS RESUME Next Week:  I have been missing sharing information with you through my posts.  I am excited to let you know that I will begin posting once again, beginning next week.  You’ll love the topics and the information.  As always, if you would like to suggest a specific topic, you can reply to this post, or ask me a question by clicking HERE.

Finally, I need your help!  As I am preparing for this coming year and the launch of the new Coaching Network and FREE Webinar, I need your help in getting the word out.  Would you take a moment right now to email 5 friends that could benefit from Hand-2-Hand this coming year?  Ask them to sign up for their free e-book and they’ll be added to my email list.  Then, when I am ready to launch these two new events, they’ll be the first to know (after you, of course!).

Thanks for the help and I look forward to what God has in store for your church in 2016!

4 Steps to Take When Your Plans Go Wrong

This past week, a major snowstorm hit the east coast dumping massive amounts of snow on the New England states.  In my town in Pennsylvania it was predicted that we would get between 8-14″ of snow overnight.  In preparation for that storm, businesses advertised they would be closed the next day, some schools would be closed, parents allowed their children to stay overnight with friends, and school teachers stayed up late knowing that they would not have to go to work the next morning.

Then, the unpredictable happened.  As the evening went on, a small high pressure system developed over our area and remained in place the entire evening.  It was snowing to the west and to the east of our location, but this small area of high pressure formed a wall that kept the snow from  hitting our area.  The result was that we had no snowfall throughout the night.  However, everyone had made plans based upon the forecast.

The next morning we discovered a very different world than was predicted just the night before.  The plans no longer worked, the strategy no longer fit the circumstances, and everyone was scrambling to figure out how to respond.  Sounds a lot like the church, doesn’t it?  We plan our plans and dream our dreams only to find out that something unpredictable has changed our world.  We are left asking the question:  “What do we do when our plans don’t work out right?”  Let me suggest 4 simple steps to take.

  • Reevaluate your plan:  Take a fresh look at what your strategy or plan looked like and what has changed in your current circumstances.  Even when things work out right, it is a great practice to continually reevaluate why you are doing what you are doing.
  • Develop a new plan:  Based upon the changing circumstances, develop a new strategy or plan.  Reevaluate your strategic goals and develop new goals based upon the new circumstances.  Our world is fluid and is constantly changing.  Many times this takes us off guard and we find ourselves behind in the game.  That’s when we need to reevaluate and develop new strategies for this changing world.  See my post on 3 Level Vision Planning for more help in this area.
  • Respond immediately:  When you find yourself off track, begin immediately taking steps back toward the right path.  The longer you wait to respond, the further you will get from your intended target.  I am famous for getting “in the zone” when driving and talking at the same time.  One time I was leading two vans full of people toward our destination at a retreat center.  Finally, one of the team asked me why we were heading the direction we were traveling when I should have taken a left turn back at a certain intersection.  The problem was that he waited 25 minutes to let me know I had missed my turn.  I learned that day the quicker you respond to changing circumstances, the shorter the time it takes to get back on the right path.
  • Learn from your mistakes:  When we miss a goal or our circumstances change, there are always things that we can learn from our mistakes.  Back to my snow storm example for a moment.  As the evening progressed, the high pressure system developed and remained stationary.  Had the business owners, parents, and schools kept an eye on the developments, they would have noticed that throughout the evening the forecast began to change and the snowfall amounts were lowered.  The indicators were changing and the weather forecasters were adjusting their predictions.  Thus, the events of the next morning would have been different if someone had kept an eye on the circumstances as they were changing.  It could have been as simple as staying up and watching the weather forecast instead of being distracted by their favorite TV show.  Most times, the predictors of change in your circumstances are there to be seen, but no one is watching for them.

Our world is changing faster than we can imagine.  Even our best predictions and goal setting efforts will fall short many times.  However, implementing these four steps will help you make sure your plan is as effective as possible and will help you make a better difference for God’s kingdom.

How will you implement these four steps into your goal and strategy planning?

7 Lessons the Church Can Learn From Ferguson, MO

Conflict Resolution

The city of Ferguson, MO has been in the news quite a lot this past week.  Since my son and daughter-in-law live only minutes from Ferguson, I have been following the news quite closely. As I reflected on the events of what has happened, I could not help but see a parallel to the local church. When conflict arises (and it will whenever people gather together), how we deal with that conflict is crucial to the health of the local church and community. Here are a few brief lessons that the church could learn from the events in Ferguson, MO.

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