Church Vision: 5 Benchmarks and Evaluation Guide

Church Vision: 5 Benchmarks and Evaluation Guide

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 “Where there is no vision the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18 How many times have you seen that verse thrown around in church without any context? Did you know that this oft-quoted sentence is really only half of the verse? Did you know that the King James Version (translated in the 17th century when there was little to no concept of the word “vision” as we understand it in contemporary language) is one of the very few translations which uses the word vision in this verse? Take a look at the more modern English Standard Version of the entire Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” “Prophetic vision” is certainly different than what we normally mean when we say “vision.” As a consultant, no one wants this verse to be about strategic planning more than me. But it’s not. The point of this verse is to say that without Divine direction, Godly wisdom, and insight from the Lord people tend to run wild. Only when they have been given boundaries through instruction do they experience truer joy. A more accurate paraphrase would be this: where this is no Biblical, convicting preaching, sin will abound. This article isn’t about...
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...
10 Ways to Increase Community Outreach

10 Ways to Increase Community Outreach

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 Community outreach is the “proof side” of the gospel. In the introductory pages of Rick Russaw’s book The Externally Focused Church, he boldly states that evangelical churches that are truly awake shift to living out “the proof side of the proclaimed gospel.” Yet far too often, even big churches with big rooms, big lights, big music, and big crowds lose touch with genuine community outreach. Churches perpetuate the fallacy that as long as their services are close to full, they are reaching our community. On the other end of the size spectrum, there are many smaller churches that have gone into self-preservation mode. They exist as a “holy huddle,” losing touch with the neighborhood that surrounds them. I grew up in a church like this. A once vibrant, transformative church lost touch with reality and the ever-changing landscape of the neighborhood where it was planted. As the needs of the community changed, the church didn’t. Eventually the church dove into a protective state, clinging to its exciting history as justification for its unshifting present strategy. The church drained itself of its evangelistic lifeblood and replaced it with formaldehyde–giving the church an appearance of being alive but, in truth, being long dead. This is harsh. I know. But we need to hear it. Because when...
What to Do When Vision Leaks

What to Do When Vision Leaks

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  “Some leaders believe that if they fill people’s vision buckets all the way to the top one time, those buckets will stay full forever. But the truth is, people’s buckets have holes of varying sizes in their bottoms. As a result, vision leaks out.” – Bill Hybels, Leadership Axioms   I don’t know if you’ve ever heard Bill Hybels speak before, but the man loves buckets. I must have heard three or four different messages from him that included some sort of a bucket analogy. But, I have to admit, this is one example where it truly works. Those of us who serve on church staffs are fully immersed in church culture every moment of every day. So when our church decides on a vision, staff have smaller “holes” in their “buckets” and so vision leaks much more slowly. It still leaks. Have you ever spoken with a burnt-out pastor or staffer who has lost touch with his passion? Vision has totally leaked out of his bucket. But for those who are outside of the day-to-day ministry grind, vision leaks even faster. Hybels continues from the quote above: “You or I could deliver a mind-blowing, God-honoring, pulse-quickening vision talk on Sunday that leaves everyone revved up to go change the world, but by...
Why Teams Fail

Why Teams Fail

Teams have a lifespan that is often way too short. The glory days. The wonder years. Camelot. Utopia. The three-year span where everyone worked together, communicated, found their niche, talked through problems, focused on the future, and hit performance goals out of the park. If you’ve never had a season in your ministry like that, I’m sorry. Because it’s a beautiful thing. It really is. When a team is hitting on all cylinders, it’s glorious and exhilarating. But often times, things fall apart. For no obvious reason at all, a team that was working just fine a year ago has totally run off of the rails. People are quitting, they’re backbiting, they’re contentious, they’re gossiping, and they haven’t hit their performance goals in far too long. What happened? True teamwork is hard to achieve but easy to lose. Several years ago, my wife and I were driving home from vacation. The summer sky was clear; the highway wasn’t too busy. It was a beautiful day and everyone on the road seemed to be driving along in rare summer-driving bliss. No speeders or traffic weavers; no semis going too slow or left lane hogs. But in my rearview mirror, I suddenly noticed an SUV that took a slight turn. Perhaps the initial jerk happened because of a dropped coffee or to change the song on the radio. But then the driver made that irreversible mistake: overcorrection. The SUV swerved out of control, hitting the barrier in the median and made three full flips. Several cars stopped and emergency crews made their way to the scene. A once serene drive took a sudden,...