Meet Lee Button, one of our newest ministry consultants here at The Unstuck Group. Based in the UK, Lee spent 6 years as Operations Director at New Community Network and Pioneer Trust. With a 17 years of experience spanning corporate and third-sector settings, he focuses on strategic thinking, service design, and digital transformation projects that help organizations create their preferred future. Lee also delivers training and coaching while serving on the church leadership team of New Community Eastleigh.
I recently caught up with Lee to capture some of his story and his perspective on what makes strategy so important for churches.
TIFFANY: What’s your story? How did you come to be a part of The Unstuck Group’s team?
LEE: It has been quite the journey! In late 2009 I was making a big transition: changing jobs, moving home, and had just got engaged. Due to the Sunday travel commitment before my move completed, I started attending an online church service at Newspring and I connected with their online pastor, Nick Charalambous (an Englishman in America). I was intrigued by the strategy and Nick pointed me to Tony Morgan’s blog.
I got hooked on how intentional churches could be with strategy, and how that could lead to creating a strong future. Strategy wasn’t separate from spiritual direction. This gelled with my background working in corporate environments in Business Systems and Digital Strategy. I began praying about what I could do with what I was learning.
During the week before I got married in 2010, an opportunity presented itself and I interviewed for a role at New Community Church, Southampton. I accepted, quit what had been my dream job, moved house again, and got married. An incredible seven days!
In the following years, I connected with some other US churches, and Nick formally introduced me to Tony where I learned about The Unstuck Group. While doing my strategic planning training, I also met with Mark Meyer from The Unstuck Group and the rest, as they say, is history.
TIFFANY: When did you discover you had a passion for helping churches get unstuck?
LEE: I was volunteering for Everyday Champions Church in 2008-2009, helping them move to a new building, and looking at all the facets of an operating church. It was in this process that I saw the business side of a church and how essential it was to get it right. When I moved on, I realized we had moved from a place of being stuck and had become unstuck. From a small building with limited resources, to a place we could grow, along with a strategy and a clearly communicated vision.
TIFFANY: In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges facing the Church in the UK today and how are pastors responding?
LEE: It’s difficult to answer this succinctly, but here are some broad themes:
1) The number of people who have never heard of Jesus is growing.
This has to be top priority. This is why churches are here.
2) We have become really good at social concern with debt centres, food banks, etc., but these aren’t always part of a broader strategy.
See point 1.
3) Legislation and changes to our operation are happening quicker than a lot of churches can respond.
I meet a lot of churches and charities who are behind with governance, HR, safeguarding, and other legal requirements. Getting this properly documented and developing a strategy could change this from being overwhelming to supportive of their ministries and objectives. See point 1.
4) Many churches are struggling with how to define success.
There’s a large focus on quantitative data but this neglects some more qualitative factors. We need to improve our metrics. See point 1.