Managing Change in a Change-Averse Church

Managing Change in a Change-Averse Church

People want the results of change without the pain of change. Most churches want to reach more people and make more disciples. The frustrating reality is that at least 65% of churches in America are not growing. They aren’t reaching more people. They rarely baptize an unbeliever. Families are leaving their church in droves—or left years ago. What most pastors know, and what most congregations suspect, is that massive change is needed in order to see different results. But most churches are simply unable to make the necessary changes. Note the word “unable.” This is different than unwilling. My consulting experience informs me that the majority of struggling churches have no serious qualms with theoretical change. It’s actual change that they struggle with. It’s taking the step from admitting the need for change to committing to change where congregations stumble. As leaders, we have to stop assuming that churches don’t want to change and start assuming that they do. Because then our focus shifts from criticizing to building the bridge for implementing strategic change. So how can you manage change in a change averse congregation? 1) Win support of some key players. Pastors often believe that to implement major change that they have to get the buy-in of the whole church. This is false. You couldn’t get your whole church to agree on what flavor ice cream is best; why would you think you could get them all to agree on a change process that will be undeniably painful for a season? Instead, target a handful of people in the church who have influence with others. Very often, the...
Sears and the Church Are Losing Influence

Sears and the Church Are Losing Influence

“Put on your Sunday’s best, kids, we’re going to Sears!” Even in 1995 when The Brady Movie came out, this scene was more than a bit silly. Today, it’s tragic. There really was a day in America when Sears was the pinnacle of retail, and taking a trip there was family fun. These days, walking through a Sears is usually depressing. They’re doing their best, but the company has just lost touch. When you need tools, you probably think about Lowe’s, Home Depot, or a local hardware store. When you need electronics, you probably think of Best Buy. When you need clothes, you think of Gap or Old Navy—or even a place like Target. Truthfully, you probably think about Amazon for all of these things. Right? Sears used to have a place in the American mind and culture, but it just doesn’t anymore. The same is true about the church. Many Christians do not see the church as necessary for spiritual growth.People understand spirituality to be personal, and they think that they can grow on their own. The church bleeds fastest among its youth. The problem is not that the church isn’t “cool” enough. But young people recognize the dissonance between what the church says and what the church does If the church is not really going to be about making and growing disciples, there are a thousand different ways young people would rather spend their time. They will not keep coming just because of habit or tradition, and Sunday morning church does not hold the cultural weight it once did. I don’t think we can really blame young people,...
Church Leaders Are the Problem

Church Leaders Are the Problem

BREAK THROUGH BARRIERS. MAXIMIZE YOUR IMPACT. I'm Scott Ball, a strategy and leadership consultant for churches like yours.   I work with The Malphurs Group to help your church grow the right way.   Download my free guide and learn 10 Simple Secrets that keep guests from leaving through the back door (and attract more first-timers). Yes! Send It Now More than 80% of churches are plateaued or in decline, and church leaders are the problem. That’s harsh, but it’s the truth. As a consultant with The Malphurs Group, I hear a lot of the same questions: How can my church grow? How can we reach millennials? How can we do better at discipleship? How can we increase the number of volunteers? How can we better impact our community? These are great questions. In Strategic Envisioning with TMG, we spend six to eight months to address these topics and more. But the greatest barrier to your church’s success is not your strategy, it is your church leaders. Some of the churches we work with are able to implement strategy development and see genuine growth and revitalization. Some churches cannot. The difference–always–is the effectiveness of the church leaders. Here are five symptoms of church leaders that are a problem: 1. Church leaders at the highest-level are making decisions at the lowest-level. When church leaders are making decisions about carpet, paint, bulletin design, and facility upkeep, they have become derelict in their role as the spiritual and vision leaders of the church. If the church lacks systems and teams to handle tactical decisions, the board will assume the duty. It has to be done....
Megachurch Resignations: 10 Lessons for All of US

Megachurch Resignations: 10 Lessons for All of US

BREAK THROUGH BARRIERS. MAXIMIZE YOUR IMPACT. I'm Scott Ball, a strategy and leadership consultant for churches like yours.   I work with The Malphurs Group to help your church grow the right way.   Download my free guide and learn 10 Simple Secrets that keep guests from leaving through the back door (and attract more first-timers). Yes! Send It Now Add Pete Wilson to the growing list of megachurch pastors who are no longer in their positions. Pete Wilson is unique. Ostensibly, he has resigned of his own volition, outside of the recommendation (or demand) of his board. Other recent removals had a different flavor: – Perry Noble for alcohol dependency. – Darrin Patrick for leadership abuses and boundary issues. – Tulian Tchividjian for an affair. – Israel Houghton for divorcing his wife, followed promptly by a questionable relationship. – Mark Driscoll for leadership abuses. My guess is you might have a local pastor to add to that list–who was leading a growing church (if not a megachurch), but isn’t anymore. What you won’t find here is a condemnation of any of these pastors. There is enough of that on the Internet, and it is not helpful. Even if the criticisms are legitimate, as they sometimes are, the bully pulpit of an article isn’t the best place to air them. What we do need to understand is how this series of high-profile resignations is actually a bellwether moment for all of us. Resist the temptation to see this as a megachurch resignations problem, and understand its implications for you. At your church. In your position. So what are the implications—for pastors and...
How to Get Team Clarity in the Weekly Grind

How to Get Team Clarity in the Weekly Grind

BREAK THROUGH BARRIERS. MAXIMIZE YOUR IMPACT. I'm Scott Ball, a strategy and leadership consultant for churches like yours.   I work with The Malphurs Group to help your church grow the right way.   Download my free guide and learn 10 Simple Secrets that keep guests from leaving through the back door (and attract more first-timers). Yes! Send It Now Leaders know where they’re going and how to get there. Confusion is the enemy of momentum. It crushes your ability to reach goals, and limits your capacity for accomplishing the intended vision. Unfortunately, many churches and church staffs are marked by confusion. Their efforts are divided, and team members waste time on tasks and projects that don’t move the church closer to realizing its maximum impact. I’ll never forget, one summer as a kid my family went to a Florida beach for vacation. After sitting in the sand for a while, my dad pointed to a distant pier. He said, “Let’s walk there. There’s probably a great spot to get some ice cream, to cool down, and take in a great view.” “Plus,” he said, “it’s not that far.” We were all-in. So we started the journey. We walked. And walked. And walked. “Not that far” turned out to be “pretty stinkin’ far.” When we got there, there was no place to get ice cream. Just a souvenir shop and a place to buy bait. The view was mostly of guys fishing. It was hot. I don’t remember the circumstances, but somehow my sister–who was in high school–got side-tracked somehow and ended up being toted back to our spot on the beach...
The Anatomy of Toxic Leaders

The Anatomy of Toxic Leaders

Churches don’t just need bold leaders; they need healthy ones.   The truth is undeniable: leadership matters. With great leadership, God can transform a holy huddle into a city on a hill. With great leadership, bold visions for evangelism and disciple-making can be realized. With great leadership, churches can be beacons of generosity around the world.   Without great leadership, churches lack momentum, have a blurred vision, and are marred by strife.   The dismissal of Darrin Patrick reminded many of us in leadership circles of Mark Driscoll and the similar accusations of heavy-handed leadership and ego run amok. No one should argue, I don’t think, that both Driscoll and Patrick are genuine believers who are gifted in leadership and blessed by God to accomplish His work. Nor will you find this article to be a personal bash against them. Look somewhere else for that.   No. I would wager most leaders have more in common with these two men than we would like to admit publicly. Therefore, we would do well to examine ourselves, empathize with our co-laborers in Christ, and do the tough soul work of identifying toxic leadership within ourselves and our churches.   The difficulty in diagnosing toxic leadership is that that we frequently cannot identify toxic leaders based on external factors. In many cases, things appear to be going well. If we want to seek to understand the anatomy of toxic leaders, we have to turn on the leadership MRI machine and look internally.   Here is the anatomy of toxic leaders:   1) Holds accountable but lacks accountability. Toxic leaders love accountability, as long...