Consulting

5 Questions with a Church That Used to Be Stuck

We love sharing stories from churches that have gotten unstuck. One of our goals with everything we publish is to encourage pastors. You may feel stuck today, but there is hope! Revitalization can happen.

So, in that spirit, today we’re sharing five questions with Burt Miller, the lead pastor of Solid Ground Church in Lewes, Delaware. We worked with Burt for about a year, and he and his church really began to see results about 6-8 months into the process. We’ll let Burt tell you about it.

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By | December 12th, 2016|Consulting|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.

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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.

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

Prayer in Portland: This Church’s 72 Hour Vigil Set the Pace for Leading Change

Eighteen months ago, Brandin Melton and family moved from Missouri to Portland, OR to start pastoring 110-year-old Portland First Church of the Nazarene. The church had been 1,000 members strong in the 1980’s and dealing with decades of decline when he arrived.

We encounter a lot of churches in decline in the work we do.

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By | October 25th, 2016|Consulting, Leadership|0 Comments

This Church Was Spinning Its Wheels. Today, It’s Healthier Than Ever.

We are encouraged and excited by church stories like this one Mike Moore, pastor of City Church Albany in New York, recently shared with us. Mike and his family moved from Texas to New York eight years ago; a few years later God called them to plant a church.

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By | October 4th, 2016|Consulting|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.)

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

How Christ the King Lutheran Church Prepared Its Team for Strategic Planning

Are you ready to take your church leadership team through a strategic planning process?

Having made the decision to invest time and energy into aligning your team, you have an incredible opportunity to set the tone for the experience — and even to determine how effective it will be.

We recently led Christ the King Lutheran Church in Fallbrook, California in our strategic planning process, and we were impressed by the way lead pastor Mark Johnson prepared his team.

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By | June 29th, 2016|Consulting, Strategy|0 Comments

Church Revitalization: This Indiana Wesleyan District Has a Method

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Church revitalization is a major focus right now for many of the largest denominations in our country. Thom Rainer has recently said more than 300,000 American churches are in need of significant revitalization. In our conversations with denominational leaders, we’ve found many have personnel and resources dedicated to this effort, and yet, still often feel stuck in regards to method. 

How exactly do we revitalize these churches?

I recently caught up with Dr. Aron Willis, superintendent of the Indiana North District of The Wesleyan Church to discuss his perspective on this task. This year, Dr. Willis collaborated with The Unstuck Group to create a strategic planning and health assessment experience for 10 churches in his district. They made a plan to invest in the group experience, with each church receiving individual consulting services and then coming together for periodic gatherings to share and learn together.

The Indiana North district is strategically tackling church revitalization. We thought you might enjoy hearing about their approach.

TIFFANY: How long have you been serving as superintendent of the Indiana North District?

ARON: I have served in this position for nearly 10 years. Previously, I served for 32 years as a lead pastor in multiple staff appointments.

TIFFANY: What led you to invest in The Unstuck Group’s process for the churches in your district?

ARON: Much of my time, as a church overseer, is spent providing “intravenous” care for dying churches or intervening in declining churches with limited results. When I became aware of The Unstuck Group’s process for helping missionally minded churches become more effective, it just made good investment sense from a standpoint of time and economics. 

TIFFANY: What stories can you share of positive outcomes so far?

ARON: Many stories, but the best ones have a common denominator. It doesn’t take much to motivate a pastor and staff who are passionate about the mission of the church. The great wins we are experiencing involve a tremendous synergy that is developing in getting lay leaders on a renewed, intentional, missional journey with the ministry staff. This has been huge for our pastors and churches.

Church revitalization begins with the pastor. Declining churches can be turned around but only if the pastor is passionate about the mission of the church and is willing to pay the cost of revitalization.

TIFFANY: How has the group experience been valuable for your churches vs. just having them participate individually?

ARON: Invaluable! When missionally like-minded pastors are invited into a process that is non-competitive but collaborative, the discoveries and innovation from “iron sharpening iron” experiences are remarkable. We are finding that learning in community proves the axiom that we can’t get unstuck to go to greater levels of effectiveness unless we are willing to travel with others.

TIFFANY: What advice would you have for others in your role who are tasked with or burdened for church revitalization?

ARON: Church revitalization begins with the pastor. Declining churches can be turned around but only if the pastor is passionate about the mission of the church and is willing to pay the cost of revitalization.

TIFFANY: What have you learned through the process that you’d want other district leaders to know?

ARON: We can’t give up the hope of renewal for failing pastors and dying churches. The best returns however will come from pastors and churches who “get” what the church is about, who want more, and are willing to pursue it with others like themselves.

By | November 7th, 2015|Consulting|0 Comments

Inspire Your Leaders to Lead Again

“I’ve turned into a church planter with no training and no intention,” says Pastor Kurt Nichols, as he describes how he came to pastor New Song Fellowship Church in Valparaiso, IN. In 2002, he was hired by the UMC to develop a young congregation in a yet-to-be-built facility. It was essentially a plant being sent by an established church. He had experience revitalizing old congregations, but he’d never been a part of a plant — and this plant wasn’t typical.

Kurt started by building community with the young families and leveraging a very successful small group strategy. But the promised building never happened, and he and his team eventually found themselves looking for a space to gather. They landed in a basement space of a Buffalo Wild Wings about two blocks from the main church building. They launched a service there as an off-site campus of the sending church with 43 people. It quickly doubled, reaching unchurched people in their community. Eventually, all decided that this service was effective at reaching young, unchurched families and should be launched as a standalone church family.

“Our high point was 230, but we averaged 160-180. We learned how to do small groups and build community before launch, but after we started gathering as a whole, small groups suffered. In the beginning we dealt with low giving, always running a deficit. After several years we started breaking even, but we were no longer growing in attendance. We needed to recapture a ‘missionary mindset.’ I hadn’t been prepared for this in seminary. I realized we could use some support from someone who had been in our shoes.”

At one of his previous churches, Kurt had seen a lot of consultants come through. He became distrustful as he realized they were often hired by the senior pastor as an outside voice to confirm his particular wishes. As the leadership team came to agreement over involving an outside group, they decided they wanted complete honesty. No sugar-coating. The experience re-ignited the vision that they wanted to do more than exist; they wanted to advance the Kingdom.

“The Unstuck Group was recommended to me by a person I respect, and we gave it a shot. Through the experience, we ended up identifying five areas we needed to work on. It has made my leaders want to lead again. We’re making progress.”

  • A renovation that had been on the back-burner got moving.
  • They restructured the leadership team to align with the vision.
  • They’ve worked out a new branding scheme.
  • They’ve planned a kick-off event in August to present the changes to the congregation.

“We want to be a church that produces ‘good fruit.’ I appreciate the process The Unstuck Group goes through. As far as consulting firms go, there are none more honest, empathetic and energetic. I would recommend the strategic planning process because in the short time you spend together, you get where you need to be.”

By | July 22nd, 2015|Consulting|0 Comments

Meet Ron Baum, A New Consultant on the Unstuck Team

The Unstuck Team has been growing! Today, we introduce you to Ron Baum, a new ministry consultant on our team. Ron currently serves on staff at Cornerstone Community Church in Wildomar, CA. He has 28 years of experience in ministry, and we’re excited about the insights and passion he brings to the table. Read on to get to know Ron.

TIFFANY: Tell me about your background and experience that led you to become a part of The Unstuck Group team?

Headshot_Ron BaumRON: Being in ministry for 28 years, I have seen and taken part in a number of leadership teams. Throughout the years, I have resonated with the visionaries and walked alongside the implementers. My passion is to see goals, objectives, projects and new ideas formulated and executed.

Celebrating the successes and learning from the failures are always fulfilling. After connecting with the Unstuck Group personally and with our current team, I found a personal interest in being part of a group that utilizes systems, structures and experience to assist others in pushing through to the next level. Aligning with a group that partners with churches of all sizes and backgrounds fulfills a greater kingdom purpose.

TIFFANY: How/when did you discover you had a passion for helping churches get unstuck?

RON: As a leadership team at Cornerstone, we had just gone through the StratOp process with Tony and began rigorously implementing the initiatives necessary to get us unstuck. I saw firsthand how this process can unite teams, build focus and get a church moving forward. That was something I wanted to be a part of on a broader scale.

TIFFANY: How have you personally seen the StratOp process make a difference in your church? In your team?

RON: I had the benefit of being right in the vortex of the process. The time invested in the process made us think, converse, plan, gain clarity and obtain some significant breakthroughs. We had a year of intense implementation of specific initiatives, re-structure and continual refreshing of what we learned and implemented. We now have a system to keep us on track. We speak the same language and the team is moving the same direction.

TIFFANY: What advice would you give to seasoned pastors who find themselves feeling stuck after years of success in ministry?

RON: Be honest! Being stuck is not a bad thing. No matter the size of the organization, getting stuck at some point is inevitable. It may be a specific ministry, overall direction, staffing structure, the vision. Whatever it may be, a good strategic planning process may help you move forward. If you, the leader know it, help your staff see it. If you don’t think you are stuck, possibly your staff has insight that needs to come to light. Either way, a small investment now can pay huge dividends later for a purpose that is bigger than ourselves.

By | March 19th, 2015|Consulting|0 Comments