March 26, 2015

9 Major Stallers To Church Projects and Initiatives


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Churches often get a bad reputation for not being able to see things through. In fact, in nearly every church I’ve worked with, someone has shared the story of a past initiative that fell short of the finish line. What was once the reason for the team’s excitement turned into an unrealized dream and a giant disappointment.

A stalled project can easily be one of the most frustrating experiences for a church staff. It’s quite possible that you’re in the middle of a stalled project right now. If not, you may be leading a project that has the potential to stall somewhere down the road. In either case, you need to be aware of the issues most likely to get in your way. To keep your project moving forward, be ready to address these 9 major stallers to church projects and initiatives:

  1. The Lead Pastor isn’t actively engaged

There’s a difference between being engaged and being in the room. With projects that impact the entire church, the lead pastor’s endorsement and genuine engagement is critical to success. If a project is going to involve the entire team, then everyone must see it as a priority. Only the lead pastor can communicate that level of importance.

Is my lead pastor tolerating the project or endorsing the project?

  1. Lack of clarity about the objective

It’s common for different individuals to buy in to a new project for a variety of reasons. Take time early on to define exactly where you’re going and how you’ll know when you’ve arrived. Otherwise, you’ll quickly find yourself in unhealthy conflict when individual team members are trying to go different places.

Is everyone clear on what how the “win” is defined?

  1. Underlying objectives

Even with a team-defined objective, individuals can hide personal objectives within a greater project. They may see it as their opportunity to get the additional funding they’ve been wanting. Some will use it to broker for more power. Whatever the case, a project leader must ensure that everyone’s motives remain pure.

Is everyone in this for the same reason?

  1. No one is driving execution

I believe that one of the most challenging aspects of ministry is the seven day turnaround. It’s difficult to execute long-term projects when worship services are the ongoing immediate priority. Every project needs someone who can hold people accountable to their action steps. It really helps when this person doesn’t have a large Sunday responsibility.

Who is keeping us all accountable?

  1. The team stopped seeking outside insight

Large projects are often startedĀ after gaining outside insight from a resource like The Unstuck Group. The same resource that helped you see the need for an initiative can also help you see it through. Don’t hesitate to continue learning from others as you lead a project from an idea to a reality.

Do we need an outside perspective to help us see what we can’t?

  1. Fear of negative reactions

As the project becomes more tangible, people start worrying about what others will think of the changes it brings with it. This can cause leaders to second-guess themselves. Instead of stalling the project out of fear, start communicating early with stakeholders who might need more time to understand your initiative.

Who do we need to communicate with strategically?

  1. Too much too fast

Any project of significant impact is going to take time. Often, leaders see a solution and start sprinting toward it. The rest of the team doesn’t have time to catch up. You certainly don’t want your project to idle. But be sure you’re leading at a pace that takes others with you.

Who are we leaving behind right now?

  1. The wrong person is in charge

Most major projects require detailed planning and high accountability. Not every individual is equipped to lead in this way. Be sure the person spearheading your project exhibits the gifts of leadership and administration. Sometimes the right project leader is a strong volunteer in your church.

Is the person in charge equipped with the necessary gifts?

  1. Lack of funding

Often, the project leader and the church finance director are on different pages regarding the cost of the project. When the true cost is calculated or communicated, the finance director freezes its funding. Avoid this tension by determining the true cost early on in the project and having clear conversations with the people who make resourcing happen.

Have we fully calculated what this is going to cost?

Are you experiencing any of these nine major stallers right now? If not, which ones is your church most likely to encounter? Be intentional about avoiding these challenges and keep making headway as you work to impact your community.

Photo Credit: mpeterke via Compfight cc

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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