The Unstuck Process
Most organizations start, grow, thrive, lose momentum, decline & eventually end. We believe God desires every church lives out its purpose at the pinnacle of sustained health.
Churches can get stuck in any phase of growth on their way to sustained health. They can also get stuck sliding down the other side of the life cycle, experiencing the pain of ineffectiveness and decline.
Our mission is to help churches get unstuck.
From our data, we’ve found 80% of churches self-identify on the right side of the life cycle, with the vast majority sitting in Maintenance Phase.
When something is unhealthy in your life, you stop to assess what’s going on.
A doctor may give you a standard series of tests but will ultimately view the results through a lens of experience and wisdom to help you outline your next steps—the path that will help you see the vision you have for your life come into reality.
That can be a good metaphor for this process. It will help you:
assess your ministry’s health today
clarify the vision God’s given you for the future
create the structure and action plans to see it through
We guide your team through this process in four phases.
Phase 1: Assess
Wise planning begins with an honest assessment of where you are now. An outside perspective and some objective metrics are invaluable allies in getting a clear picture.
How are we doing?
“I originally viewed the Secret Shopper experience as a nice addition to the “real” reason we contracted with the Unstuck Group. But the report of the Secret Shopper dovetailed nicely with the conclusions our team discovered over the course of the weekend. As a result, we gained useful outside confirmation that the plans we had just made would help us serve our community in the best way possible.”
“Our team has never done anything like this before, and we found the entire process very enlightening. Our consultant did a great job of talking about some things he saw, both good and areas where he thought we could improve. He was encouraging yet honest. The fresh eyes were much needed for us.”
The “win” for the Ministry Health Assessment is that your team gets a fresh perspective on where you have been, where you are now, and where your church may be stuck. That insight sets you up for effective strategic planning.
There are four primary components to this phase of the process:
During the Ministry Health Assessment, your team shares the story—what God has done in the life of your church since the beginning, and the defining moments of your journey related to vision, ministry, reach, attendance, staff and finances.
We use two objective assessment tools to help clarify the picture of where you are today: The Unstuck Group’s Vital Signs Assessment and Unstuck Church Assessment. These tools, which draw data benchmarks from assessments with hundreds of churches, help you pinpoint where your church is in its lifecycle today, as well as unpack 16 metrics that give an unbiased snapshot of the ministry’s overall health.
No metric alone tells the whole story, but when processed against the backdrop of your story, your church gains a clearer perspective.
Do you know what it’s really like for a guest who attends your church for the first time? Once you see what an unchurched person sees, you can’t “unsee” it.
One of our ministry consultants will help you gain a better understanding by experiencing your weekend service through the eyes of an unchurched member of your community. There’s no “gotcha” moment here. In addition to helping you see what needs to be improved, we take care to point out the areas where the guest experience is strong and effective.
Your consultant provides a report of observations with scoring to help you see how your church benchmarks in key areas. The consultant will share a few wins and opportunities while onsite with the team, but we keep feedback on ministry areas owned by specific individuals out of group discussion settings. The final report will be unpacked with the lead pastor at a more detailed level after the visit.
Your team comes together to analyze what’s healthy and what’s stuck in the ministry from their individual points of view. This group discussion reveals strengths and challenges in your ministry that metrics may not have shown. Together, you start building the list of opportunities your church must consider as the process moves forward.
Phase 2: Plan
Why work on your ministry strategy and build action plans? Because when you make vision actionable, you can empower people to play their parts.
Where are we going?
“Our Planning Retreat was an incredible experience for our team. We walked away with clear next steps and action initiatives in order to help our church build it’s foundation for multisite.”
“Identifying our target, creating a 5 year “directions” document, and doing the hard work to name the most significant immediate actions that will get us moving that direction was most helpful.”
The win for the Planning Retreat is that you define a 5-Year Vision with measurable goals and a clear path forward for action. We get you executing and achieving wins in the first 90 days.
There are nine core components to this phase of the process:
During the Planning Retreat, you revisit the foundation. Starting with Scripture and a focused time of prayer, your team will reflect on your purpose and the biblical bedrock for why you exist as a church.
Leveraging our curated report on the demographics of your specific community, you will clarify exactly who is in your mission field—the people living where God has placed your church. Through a series of facilitated discussions, you’ll identify who you believe God has called you to reach, what’s important to them, and how your church will respond.
Your team will find common language to answer the question “What is a disciple?” as well as a shared understanding of how your church will help people take their next steps towards Christ.
Through this exercise, you will determine the 3-4 core growth engines of your church—the ministries, events and/or strategies that help you grow your Kingdom impact and reach more people. You will identify a champion for each growth engine and map a plan for next steps to grow your reach.
Your team will shape a clear and specific vision for where you believe God is calling the church to be five years from now.
You will identify 3-5 key behaviors you need reflected on your team to drive the culture you are trying to create within the church. This exercise will help set the foundation for the Structure Phase of the process.
We’ll help you create a ministry health dashboard to monitor key vital signs (metrics), track the culture-shaping behaviors and monitor progress on priority objectives.
We’ll help you break down everything that needs action to accomplish the future vision. Then, we’ll help you prioritize the three action steps you need to make over the next three months.
In this part of the process, we assist you in developing a regular 90-Day Action Plan rhythm, so that you begin creating greater accountability for follow-through. This helps you teach your team how to execute on quarterly cycles.
Your plans will likely involve the need to lead your congregation through some significant changes. We provide coaching for your leaders and share best practices as you begin implementing your plan.
Phase 3: Structure
In Scripture, we see that God intends for us to serve alongside other people who complete the Body. A well-rounded leadership team, in roles aligned to the strategy, creates a healthier ministry.
Who does what?
“Tony’s help through the staffing and structuring solutions was invaluable. He opened our eyes to needs to address and gave us insight into how to strategically align for the future.”
“Amy was a great fit with our culture and staff to help prod us forward. Her balance in friendliness, focus, and force kept us on track through the murky waters of exploring the strategic initiative of staffing our church. We are looking forward to the new season of our church in our new structure.”
The win for the Staffing & Structure Review is that you structure your staff to accomplish the vision. With an effective structure, you position your ministry team to execute at its highest potential.
This phase of the process involves seven key elements:
Prior to our visit, your leaders will complete a strengths assessment that reveals the unique gifts and personalities you have on your team. Onsite, we facilitate a group session to share insights on your team’ strengths related to problem-solving, processing info, managing change and facing risk. You’ll also get a good visual depicting where strengths gaps exist.
This part of the process helps you understand more about how God’s wired you and your teammates, and how to better work together as a group. Churches routinely tell us this session was a staff favorite.
Lack of clarity around decision-making frustrates leaders, slows progress in critical areas, and causes an undercurrent of strain between teammates. This exercise will help your team understand the seven ways decisions can be made and clarify how your team will operate going forward.
Your staff complete an anonymous survey in advance on the strengths and challenges of the team. In the group session, you find agreement on 4-5 issues to prioritize for bringing greater health and alignment to your ministry.
In this last exercise of the group time, you will walk through eight staffing principles The Unstuck Group has found to be markers of the healthiest, most effective ministry teams. You will then work together to identify your team’s next steps.
Your executive team will work through a series of exercises designed to help you assess your staff leaders on character, chemistry, competence and culture-shaping behaviors, as well as identify capacity to lead at higher levels. You will map out plans to help all your leaders take their next steps.
Overnight, your consultant will process your destination structure and then present several potential organizational chart drafts, including suggested implementation phases and how to organize the work. On day two, your executive team will review the first drafts and work together to tweak the suggested structure, dig into specific roles, process who will be affected, look for gaps, and identify a potential schedule for rolling out changes in phases.
This is a customized, collaborative experience for your team to process staffing and structure changes in real-time with your consultant.
Within two weeks after the onsite, your consultant will provide a summary of the structure and core actions that were identified from the onsite visit. Since you started this work together, there won’t be any surprises. You’ll have a comprehensive plan to begin implementing.
Phase 4: Action
Assess, plan, structure—all meaningless if you don’t follow through. Sunday will keep coming. Ministry won’t slow down. Develop the tools, systems and rhythms to see the plan through.
Did we deliver?
“Each phase of the process was very enlightening and informative. Sean guided us through each step allowing us to come to some very exacting conclusions as to what we do well and what we need to focus us to get to the next level of ministry effective and excellence.”
“We are more confident than ever about the future of our church. I feel more confident in my staff and trust them more because we are all on the same page.”
The win for the Action Phase of the process is that you develop the rhythms to execute the plan and start taking the steps that will lead your church to sustained health.
There are three key elements of this phase:
In an onsite visit, your consultant will help you confirm outstanding next steps, review progress on your first round of 90-Day Action Plans from the Planning Retreat, and offer support and feedback as your team leaders facilitate development of the next 90-Day Action Plans.
Your consultant will help you plot the next two years of your strategic plan by quarter, building a 2-Year Roadmap to keep your teams focused on where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
The afternoon session of this onsite is for the senior leader. We’ll take time to debrief the morning’s group time, discuss next steps and action items from your Staffing & Structure Review, and address any other open issues. We want to be an ally for you as you lead change.
“…upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” Matthew 16:18