Don’t let culture and performance issues get your church stuck.
Call it what you like—”the whirlwind,” the “Sunday’s always coming” mindset,” or the “tyranny of the urgent”—church staff teams have a unique challenge when it comes to building a culture that can run plays to effectively move the ball down the field.
We recently polled the pastors who subscribe to our podcast and articles to find out what challenges they’re facing related to staff team health, performance, culture and structure.
What did we find?
The majority said issues with team performance and culture were more directly tied to feelings of stuckness. That made sense to us.
Pastors often tell us, “We don’t follow through well.” We know that’s a deflating feeling—especially when you have vision and strategic initiatives you believe God has called you to lead!
Since we’ve had the opportunity to guide many churches towards greater execution, we pulled a few friends together to offer some coaching for pastors who feel their team is struggling to get things done.
Here are the leaders that joined us—
- Lance Witt, our director of Unstuck Teams
- Crull Chambless, executive pastor at Harvest Church in Billings, MT
- Bobby Kirchner, executive pastor at Big Valley Grace Community Church in Modesto, CA
- John Fuller, lead pastor at Prairie Lakes Church in multiple cities across Iowa
Fill out the form below to watch this practical conversation on how your church staff can build a culture of action and get more done—
We didn’t get to answer all of the questions during the live Q+A portion of the webinar. We picked out some of the most relevant and commonly asked questions and Lance, our director of Unstuck Teams, answered them below—
1. How do you balance the idea of being relational versus also having to get the job done?
It begins with a commitment to go hard after both. But I believe in the best environments, managers first spend time building relational equity. When people authentically know that we love and care for them, it’s easier for them to receive coaching about performance. One on one’s provide a great opportunity to demonstrate both relational care and performance coaching. Typically, I will talk about their walk with God, how things are in their marriage, and how their pace has been lately (all relational conversation). Then I will talk about their priorities, what kind of progress they are making, what I have observed, and what I can do to remove barriers so they can focus on what is most important.
2. What is a healthy way to avoid “silos” among church staff?
In order to avoid silos, a large portion of the responsibility lies with the executive pastor (or someone who carries that function). There is a cultural mindset that has to be developed that truly values cross-departmental cooperation and collaboration. Beyond that, managers have to lead their teams in ways that breakdown the walls of silos. I think some practical ways you can do this is to—
1. Pray for other teams
2. Serve another team
3. Doing something fun and relational with another team
4. Honor and celebrate another team
5. Don’t tolerate us vs. them language
6. Don’t tolerate entitlement or turf protectionFinally, I would say alignment around a unified mission and vision will help break down silos. Tony Morgan has an eBook called 7 Warning Signs Your Church Has Ministry Silos, available in our Complete Resource Bundle.
3. What are some examples of an effective Performance Improvement Plan?
I don’t have a sample plan that I can send you, but here are some components that I think need to be in a performance improvement plan—1. Identify as specifically as possible the areas that need improvement.
2. Identify what it will look like if they can improve (e.g. desired results).
3. Clearly articulate the action steps you are asking them to take.
4. Include some agreed upon dates for follow up.
5. Include the length of this process before you will reassess the situation.
6. Put all of this in writing and make sure the person has a copy and has agreed to everything in the plan.
7. Follow up soon—within 1-2 weeks. And do regular check-ins through the performance improvement process.
8. Pray daily for the person.
— Lance Witt
4. What are 2-3 best practices to get good team alignment, especially when leading up (younger pastor and older staff + congregation)?
There are a few pieces of encouragement I want to give. First, take a long term view and don’t try to make too many changes too fast. Second, sincerely work at honoring the past and all those who have come before you. Relationally build into key leaders. Then, in order to get greater alignment, work to create a clear mission and vision. Be sure to include people in the development of the mission and vision because buy in on the front end leads to greater ownership.Focus on the biblical “why” and let the “why” drive your strategies and methods. And finally (this is from my own experience), don’t expect all of the long time members to embrace the new direction. Love them and pastor them, but have the courage to keep moving forward with God’s vision for your church—even if some of them choose not to make the journey.Here are a couple of resources that might help—
— Lance Witt