About Tony Morgan

Tony is Chief Strategic Officer at The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, he served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He’s written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and

The Best Spiritual Gifts Test

As you probably know from my previous writing, I’m a big proponent of engaging volunteers in the ministry of the church. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to start a practical conversation about mobilizing volunteers better in 2016. But before we get into some practical advice, I want to address one of the most important and yet often ignored aspects of equipping volunteers to do ministry: helping them identify and then use their gifts. 

God gives every Christ-follower one or more spiritual gifts. He does this to strengthen the body of Christ. When God’s in control of these gifts in our lives, the impact of our mission, together, is incredible. It’s one of the ways God designed the church to reproduce itself.

But how do we help people determine their gifts?


By | January 4th, 2017|Misc|0 Comments

This Church Empowers More Volunteers with Fewer Staff

We recently released an updated version of my eBook Vital Signs: Why Church Health Matters and 14 Ways to Measure It. In it, we look at 14 key metrics that help assess the true health of churches.

As we continue this discussion on church health, I caught up with J.R. Lee, Lead Pastor of Freedom Church in Acworth, Georgia to talk about the Staff-to-Attendees ratio vital sign, and hear how Freedom remains a rapidly growing church, while employing fewer staff members than would be expected for a church of its size. Check out the interview below.


By | November 30th, 2016|Consulting, Leadership|0 Comments

How One Church Is Seeing Personal Investment Lead to More Baptisms

Last week, we released an updated version of my eBook Vital Signs: Why Church Health Matters and 14 Ways to Measure It. In it, we look at 14 key metrics that help assess the true health of churches.

As we continue this discussion on church health, I caught up with Mike Mannes, Lead Pastor of Southside Church in British Columbia, to talk about the baptism rate vital sign, and how Southside is seeing so many people — 13% of their average attendance each year — take this step. Check out the interview below.


By | November 16th, 2016|Consulting, Leadership|0 Comments

Church Consulting: Why I Dislike the Label

I don’t like the term “church consulting.”

Yes, it’s on my website. There’s a simple reason for that: Church leaders aren’t searching the web for “ministry health assessments” or “strategic planning,” though I wish they would. That would mean those things were top of mind — but for most pastors, they aren’t.


By | September 27th, 2016|Misc|0 Comments

Breaking Growth Barriers

A “growth barrier” is an abstract wall, even though it can feel like a literal one. There’s nothing special about numbers that end in zero, but we often hear pastors express frustration that their church can’t seem to grow beyond 1,000 or 2,000 or whatever the number is.

When you’re feeling stuck, it’s easy to start grasping at all kinds of methods that larger churches have used to catapult you forward. The problem is, that’s not strategic leadership.


By | August 21st, 2016|Leadership|0 Comments

Hope and The Unstuck Way

We help churches get unstuck. If you’ve been following us for any length of time, you know we do that through church consulting and leadership coaching experiences that help you focus your vision, strategies and action.

We believe we have a unique approach to how we serve churches, and we’ve been trying to capture it. Here’s the list we came up with. (And because we really like our over-sized note pads and Sharpies, we made a chart.)


By | July 30th, 2016|Consulting|2 Comments

9 Pastor Interviews to Encourage You for Ministry in 2016

We talk all the time about the ways churches get stuck and our perspective on how they can get unstuck. In our line of work, we meet church leaders who have some huge challenges in front of them. We are continually encouraged by the creativity and energy so many pastors bring to the mission.

So, throughout 2015, we made it a point to share stories from pastors we worked with all across the country when we thought they might encourage you. As we begin to wrap up the year, we wanted to share a recap of the pastor interviews we published this year.

  1. Church Revitalization: This Indiana Wesleyan District Has A Method

    Dr. Aron Willis | Indiana North District of The Wesleyan Church

  2. Eliminating Silos: How Rockpointe Church De-siloed The Student Ministry And Grew

    Pastor Shayne O’Brien | Rockpointe Church in Leander, Texas

  3. Inspire Your Leaders To Lead Again

    Pastor Kurt Nichols | New Song Fellowship Church in Valparaiso, Indiana

  4. Rebuilding Health With Radical Change: Calvary Church Turned The Ship

    Pastor Jeff Price | Calvary Church in Woodstock, Ontario

  5. Becoming A Big Church In A Small Town: Thornapple Valley’s Story

    Pastor Jeff Arnett | Thornapple Valley Church in Hastings, Michigan

  6. Granite United Overcame Debt, Detractors and Doubters In The Least-Churched Part of the US

    Pastor Anthony Milas | Granite United Church in New Hampshire and Massachusetts

  7. Succession Planning: How Westside Community Church Passed The Baton Successfully

    Pastors Ken Wooten and Gabe Kolstad | Westside Community Church in Beaverton, Oregon

  8. Healthiest Churches: How The Church At War Hill Builds A Healthy Culture For Growth

    Pastor Don Allen | The Church at War Hill in Dawsonville, Georgia

  9. Could Your City Keep You From Buying a Building?

    Pastor Phil Chorlian | North Jersey Vineyard Church in Teterboro, New Jersey


By | December 5th, 2015|Leadership|0 Comments

Becoming a Big Church in a Small Town: Thornapple Valley’s Story

Thornapple Valley Church is a big church in the small town of Hastings, MI. The Unstuck Group team has been working with Pastor Jeff Arnett and the TVC team this year on strategic planning. We’ve been impressed by how well they know their customer.

So, how does a church grow large in a rural community? I asked Jeff to give us some insights into the TVC story.

TONY: Could you give us some background about TVC and Hastings, MI?

JEFF: Our church started in 1979 with a handful of people. We began meeting in an old Grange Hall (This is where farmers gathered to play cards). The only bathroom facilities were attached outhouses. Amazingly, the church began to grow and we were able to move to an older school building in a year—complete with indoor plumbing!

Through the decades, our passion has been to be an accepting and authentic church that speaks in a way that un-churched people can understand.

TONY: You are a large church in a relatively small community. What’s been your biggest hurdle getting to this point?

JEFF: We spent some years being a large church and trying to do ministry the same way we did when we were small. Learning to think like a large church has been somewhat slow and arduous for this blue collar pastor.

Also, because we are a in a rural area, incomes are not as high as more affluent suburban areas, and per capita giving is simply lower. We have adapted and have never been in financial trouble; however, it has meant a higher percentage of church income goes towards staffing.

TONY: What’s an opportunity your church has in a smaller community that churches in urban and suburban areas may not experience?

JEFF: Because of our commitment to serving, we are well-known and valued in our community. We have learned to partner with local community service organizations and have a great relationship with them. We receive many calls for help from those agencies. The size of our campus also provides unique opportunities to host large events in our county.

TONY: In recent years, you’ve opened a second location and have plans to expand into other rural communities. What prompted that multi-site initiative?

JEFF: We simply believe it’s the best way to expand the message of the gospel, as well as the accepting and authentic spirit that hopefully makes TVC what it is. We initially thought we should expand into more suburban communities—but we have learned that we are blue collar rural people, and that’s where we resonate the most.

TONY: What are you learning about implementing multi-site in a rural setting that may be different from other churches engaging in this strategy?

JEFF: It’s ok to be smaller. Each campus doesn’t have to be a thousand people. Every single decision for Christ matters!

TONY: You started the church over 30 years ago. Was there ever a moment when you considered throwing in the towel? How did you persevere?

JEFF: Like everyone, I’ve considered throwing in the towel plenty of times. Often I felt like if I had started pastoring in a suburb we would have so much more (oh vanity!). Each time I have seriously contemplated leaving, God has checked me. This is where I am called. This is who I am. More than that…I love these people with all my heart. This is my family.

By | May 25th, 2015|Strategy|0 Comments

Succession Planning: How Westside Community Church Passed the Baton Successfully

Our team recently facilitated the StratOp Process with Westside Community Church in Beaverton, Oregon. As we got to know their team, we were impressed by this church’s foresight in succession planning — something we see few churches doing well. I asked pastors Ken Wooten and Gabe Kolstad to share how they made a plan to ensure the health of their church through a dramatic shift in ministry strategy and in future seasons of transition.


By | April 1st, 2015|Leadership, Staffing|0 Comments

4 Ways To Help First-Timers Want to Come Back to Your Church

I think we know instinctively that most of the time, people don’t experience dramatic life change the very first time they visit a new church. More likely, they will be attracted and want to return or they will draw a line through your church’s name on their mental list. So, we ought to approach first-timers with a welcoming and thoughtful posture.

Photo Credit: torbakhopper HE DEAD via Compfight ccWe should be intentional in how we interact with them, and that includes the intangible and nonverbal ways we greet them. Visitors should feel like we were glad they joined us, that we were expecting and prepared for them, and that we believe they matter to God.

This focus goes beyond establishing a greeting team at the front doors. How creative can you be in this area? Here are some ideas that churches we work with have found help first-timers feel welcome:

  1. Facility Maintenance Matters!

    Think about the environments where you enjoy spending time–a favorite store or cafe, for example. I’m going to bet the bathrooms are clean, the decor is kept fresh and the lighting is good. Common facility problems we see in churches? Water stains on the ceiling tiles. Thirty-year-old carpet. Shabby seating. It’s not about making idols of any of these things. But allowing them to become a problem means your facilities will tell first-timers, “We didn’t expect visitors.”

  2. Greeting Volunteers Aren’t Limited to the Doors.

    You can have traffic volunteers to help vehicles enter and exit the campus or direct people to open parking spots. In rainy weather, volunteers who stand at the drop-off area with umbrellas in hand, ready to walk guests to the front door, are a really nice touch. Also, think about having a few people from your children’s and youth ministry teams at the front doors ready to greet new families with children and help them find their way.

  3. Coffee Certainly Doesn’t Hurt.

    Brew coffee and encourage people to linger and connect with new folks before and after the service. Our “Meet Me at Starbucks” culture associates coffee-drinking with conversation. Use that to your advantage. But make sure to cast vision to your congregation that helps them understand the importance of interacting with new people as well as their fellow church-members.

  4. Invest in Your Children’s Environments.

    No matter where they are in their journey with Christ, parents want great things for their children. The Church can show its commitment to the things that matter most to parents by offering great experiences for children. Capture their hearts and imaginations so that you have the opportunity to introduce them to Jesus.

Why is it so important to make a first-time guest feel welcome? It’s because we want them to know that they matter to us and they matter to God. It’s a first step that points them toward transformation through a new life in Christ.

What other ideas do you have about ways to make a first-time guest feel welcome? What has worked for your church?

Photo Credit: torbakhopper HE DEAD via Compfight cc

By | November 12th, 2014|Strategy|0 Comments