What Happened in 2019 – Episode 125 | The Unstuck Church Podcast

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Reflections on the Last 12 Months of Helping Churches Get Unstuck + a Preview of a Few NEW Things on the Way

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I’m still on a high from a gathering we had in Phoenix a few weeks ago. The Unstuck Group‘s team members—about 30 of us—got together for our annual meet-up.

We did some learning together, and then there was just a lot of space for us to reconnect relationally, which is always recharging since we see each other on a regular basis through video conferencing, but we’re not face-to-face in the same room often.

I got to share reflections and highlights from the last 12 months helping churches get unstuck with the whole team, which included celebrating 10 years of The Unstuck Group, serving our 400th church, kicking off a merger-succession to join Jim Tomberlin’s MultiSite Solutions to our team, launching the Multisite Unstuck Course, and adding 5 new team members who are already making us better: Lance, Andrea, Steve, Melissa and Ellery.

We also spent a really refreshing time together getting a preview of our NEW Unstuck Teams process, facilitated by Lance Witt. Wow. We’ve been piloting this process with several churches over the course of 2019, but we took some time to let Lance invest in our team at this gathering, and I am more excited than ever to bring this new process to your churches.

The Unstuck Teams Process is all about helping church staff teams focus on both relationships and results, becoming teams that love each other well and are, at the same time, impressively productive as they execute strategies towards a common vision for the future.

Anyway, in this episode, Amy and I took some time to reflect on what we’ve learned over the last 12 months helping churches get unstuck and share some things we’re celebrating as a team, as well as preview some things that are on the way.

Since this episode is a little different, we’re skipping the Leader Conversation Guide this week and are instead sharing links to some of our most popular free resources and tools over the last year.

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Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast where each week we’re exploring what it means to be an unstuck church. This week on the podcast, Tony shares some key highlights at The Unstuck Group over the past year as well as some of the data we’ve compiled from thousands of churches engagement with unstuck resources. We think you’ll find this report both encouraging and helpful. Make sure before you listen this week to subscribe to get the show notes in your inbox. Every single week, You’re going to get one email with our leader conversation guide, all of the resources we mentioned, and you’re going to get access to the archive of all of our past podcast resources. You can sign up by going to theunstuckgroup.com/podcast. Now let’s join Tony and Amy as they share some of the unstuck highlights from 2019.

Amy: 00:47 So Tony, a few weeks ago, all of the unstuck team members, we got together for our annual gathering and you just shared some highlights from this last year that we all celebrated. Can you just share that with our listeners today?

Tony: 01:00 Yeah. First of all, I’m still on a high from that gathering. There were about 30 of us in Phoenix for a few days and we did a lot of, we did some learning together and then there was just a lot of space for us to reconnect relationally, which we see each other on a regular basis through video conference, however, we’re not face to face in the same room on a regular basis. So it was just fun to fun to do that again. And I always come back from those experiences, Amy, grateful for our team. And so that’s where I want to begin. This past year we added several new people to the team. Lance is going to be helping us with our new Unstuck Teams process. We’ll be talking about that in a bit and actually Andrea is also joining us. Andrea spent several years in executive pastor roles and senior leadership roles at a couple of great churches.

Tony: 01:54 So it’s fun to have her on the team. Ron’s going to be shifting seats to help us with unstuck teams and Filling his spot is going to be Steve. Steve’s had a great church in the great Northwest. So people often ask us, “Now, do you have consultants that understand the Northwest?” We do. We have some folks that live up in that part of the country. Ellery joined our team. She helps us really engage our first conversations with the churches that have questions about what we do. And then Melissa, what can we say about Melissa? I mean, she’s just phenomenal because she, she helps us with all the details of, of serving the churches and, and really creating the deliverables that support all of the planning that we go through as a team. It really is a great team, Amy. I’m grateful for your leadership, Amy. Uh, you know her as the co host of our podcast, but she’s, her day job is the director of consulting for The Unstuck Group. So Amy, thanks for all the good work you’re doing.

Amy: 02:58 Thank you. I just, as I sat in the room with all my colleagues, I felt like the low man on the totem pole when it comes to just amazing gifts. I look around that room and so blessed to be sharpened by all of our team members.

Tony: 03:11 Yeah. Well now you know why I started The Unstuck Group is because as employee number one, I think I can stay on the team even though everybody else has surpassed me by now. So yeah, we, we talked about some of the highlights from 2019. In September we served our 400th church, which is just funny because a few years ago we were going through a visioning process for The Unstuck Group. And I thought, wouldn’t it be phenomenal if we could eventually serve 500 churches? And, at the time when we had just worked with a dozen or so churches that felt like, Oh, that, you know, that will take decades for that to happen.

Tony: 03:53 And it’s very likely sometime in 2020, we’ll, we’ll serve our 500 with a church, which it’s just confirmation again that, uh, apparently God’s vision is much bigger than I understand, far greater than I could ever imagine. So it’s just fun to have celebrated that. With that, then, we also are really focusing on how, how do we help more churches in the future? And one of the big accomplishments of 2019 was the development of this new Unstuck Teams process. Amy, we’ve, I mean you’ve been instrumental in that. Certainly Lance Witt who’s new to our team since July. He’s been putting in countless hours to really create the flow and the engagement with the churches. We’ve piloted this new process with a handful of churches, but can you elaborate, just give us a little bit of a tease about what Unstuck Teams is going to be all about for future churches.

Amy: 04:54 Oh man, I am so excited about this offering and I think it’s because, and Tony I think you’d confirm this, we work with churches sometimes and there’s something, you know, as we engage with them, they’re almost not ready for strategy because the teams aren’t healthy enough. And sometimes that’s, well it’s usually a mix of both health and high performance issues, but I’m so excited to have something to offer church teams now as a way to take a look at how are we doing on the performance side. And that’s fun, right? It’s strategy, it’s aligned with what we do, how do we get better at what we’re doing, but also on the health side, which I think I think we all think is often it can be a missing component in churches, meaning we’re so busy doing ministry and that’s what I loved actually about the retreat, Tony, was Lance just taking a day with all of us and walking us through some of the things that he’ll be leading churches through this next year on the health side. That time just to pause and go, how’s our soul? And we don’t want to lose that, right, while we’re doing ministry.

Tony: 05:52 No, no. I mean it was fun for our team just to get a taste of, uh, part of what that unstuck team’s process is going to look like. Our team, obviously a lot of our work, mainly probably a reflection of my leadership of our team is focused on the performance side of that equation. And so during our time in Phoenix, we just unplugged and spent quite a bit of time just looking at where are we individually? Are we in a healthy spot? And then we are we as a team too? Is our team in a healthy spot? So it was fun to get a taste drive of that.

Amy: 06:26 Yeah. The X factor I think on the team side is what Lance Witt has been creating in the form of content. I don’t know if our listeners have met Lance Witt, read his book, Replenish or High Impact Teams. I know he served several years as the executive pastor at Saddleback. And coming out of that, he, God just gave him this, this passion to make sure that as leaders and pastors, uh, our souls are healthy and sitting under him, Tony, I don’t know for a day it, he’s a pastors pastor. When I think about all the senior pastors, executive pastors I’ve worked with, he’s the guy you just want to sit down with for a few hours and it’s amazing what God shows you in that time. And so the Unstuck Teams, you know, it’s gonna look at six areas—team health, team performance. It’s going to look at organizational systems, organizational culture, but it’s also looking at individual—like personal health and personal performance. And so super excited about it. The pilots have gone great. We’ve learned a lot. I’m glad we piloted it. So we’ve got, you know, we’ve worked out the kinks, but we’re ready to launch that here really soon.

Tony: 07:30 So the other, exciting news is, you know, I mentioned all these churches, we’ve had the opportunity to serve through the years and I don’t know, people probably don’t realize we do this, but we want to make sure when we get onsite with the church, not only are we seeing impact, but what’s the feedback that they’re giving us. And so we’ve been, for several years using, it’s a fancy term called the Net Promoter Score. I think Bain consulting originally created it, but it’s, it’s, it’s a used by many organizations now to measure kind of that satisfaction of their customers that they’re serving. But can you explain it a little bit further? Amy, you’re, you’re more in tune with the specifics of the Net Promoter Score.

Amy: 08:15 Yeah. Our listeners might not be familiar with the term Net Promoter, but I can guarantee in their personal life, especially with the Christmas season here, they’re getting emails that say, would you recommend this product, this service to your friend or family member? And then you get this score right from zero to 10 and then you move on from the survey. Well, we asked that, um, of all of our churches that we work with, um, not right when we’re done serving them. Actually, this is what I love about it, is that, you know, we engage with the church for almost nine months before we’re done with our last onsite visit. And we actually asked this question six months after that. In other words, we’d probably have a better score if we asked right then cause usually teams pretty excited and pumped up. But our heart of course is at churches are getting unstuck and that they’re moving forward with their action plan.

Amy: 09:02 So we decided to ask it six months later and we are currently at a Net Promoter Score 12 month rolling of 93 so here’s what it is. On a net promoter, you can score anywhere from negative a hundred to a hundred and anything less than zero would be considered poor. Anything from zero to 50 would be considered good. 50 to 70 would be considered excellent. And 70 plus is considered world-class. And I won’t get into how they calculate it. All I can say I’ve worked in customer areas my entire career. It’s amazing. And I don’t say it in a prideful way, like it just makes me so happy because it tells me that churches, they brought us in for a reason and they must be seeing the results of what they were hoping about bringing the group in. So yeah.

Tony: 09:50 That’s really remarkable. Just for comparison, and I shared this with the team. I looked for the stats for consulting firms on average in 2019, the average score was 53 on the net promoter score. And as you mentioned most recently, our score is 93. So, first of all, Amy, again, this speaks to a lot of the leadership you’ve brought to the consulting team, but it also speaks to the team too. I mean, they’re just a great team. Now, I always liked it when we’re talking about our net promoter score. I always want to help churches think about this too. Um, it may not be a net promoter score, but it would probably be beneficial for you to start asking people connected to your churches, “Would you invite a friend to your church?” right?

Amy: 10:37 Would you recommend this church to friend or family member? Yeah, I still believe that the data that I collected when I was in full time ministry—89 to 90% of people came to church because a friend or family invited them. So if you’ve got quote a low net promoter score, it’s going to be challenging for you to grow because people are your, your people are your biggest mouthpiece out in the world to invite people to church. Can I just say, um, one thing I love about the team, Tony, that you’ve assembled is you’re very picky about who joins our team and you don’t hire facilitators. You could hire the most excellent competent facilitators and that’s a great skill. But I love that we choose people who have lived what we are training—meaning we, when we work with a large church, you’re going to get someone who has led a large church who has gone through the pitfalls and the successes of that.

Amy: 11:33 When you’re at a smaller church, you’re going to work with someone who’s led a smaller church and understands the uniqueness. If you’re doing work with someone in multi-site, I mean I get, I get applications all week long for people who want to join the team and they’re great people and they love the church and I hope they get plugged in. But until they’ve got a proven track record that I’ve been in that seat, that I’ve led through it, I’ve, I’ve had success. Um, and we, we have to know a lot of the people who join our team as well. We, you know, that culture piece in that fit piece, but I love that it’s not just great facilitators or names on a webpage. It’s people who love the church and have led for years.

Tony: 12:09 I think that was your polite way of saying, if you’re interested in joining The Unstuck Group team, don’t call us. We’ll call you. Is that, is that what that was all about, Amy?

Amy: 12:19 It would save me a few emails. I do watch every video just for the record.

Tony: 12:23 Okay. All right. And then, the other area I wanted to highlight is, you know, part, part of what we’re trying to do is equip you as leaders with helpful content. And we do that in a number of areas. But let me just highlight a few. First of all, the podcast itself, Amy, we can celebrate this. Over 4,000 people each week are downloading episodes from the podcast and in recent weeks has climbed over 5,000. So thanks for listening. Invite your friends to do that as well. We’d love to continue to bring encouragement and coaching and insight to other church leaders as well. We now have 7,500 people subscribed to our quarterly Unstuck Church Report. And that’s exciting for me because in that report we’re providing some healthy benchmarks for churches to look at that go beyond just attendance and giving.

Tony: 13:19 So what are some other benchmarks that we can be using to make sure that our church is actually healthy and thriving? And then additionally, we, it’s a free resource. In fact, you could go take the assessment today, we just call it the Unstuck Church Assessment. And now over 14,000 churches have taken that assessment. And it’s, it’s encouraging in one respect. There are churches that are interested in making sure that their ministry is healthy, that it’s thriving, that it’s moving towards sustained health. But of the 14,000 churches that have taken the assessment, they’ve self identified 85% of those churches are on the plateaued or declining side of the church lifecycle, with 60% of churches taking the assessment, identifying themselves in the maintenance season of the life cycle. So I shared with the team, I’m encouraged that so many leaders, so many churches want to make sure they’re happy, that they’re healthy and they’re making a great kingdom impact. But it also speaks to the opportunity, Amy, that we have to continue to help churches. So again, I hope even things like the podcast that we’re doing today are helpful for you to take your next steps at your church as well.

Amy: 14:40 And to our listeners who probably like to get to know you, Tony, I have to just share that when you were sharing all of this with our team, there was an extra twinkle in your eye when you were sharing that 7,500. I’ve taken the Vital Signs because I know it’s been a passion of yours for years—like look at the data, look at the data, don’t go by what you’re feeling. So yeah, that’s your, your math and your statistical joy coming through.

Tony: 15:05 Yeah, that’s, that’s absolutely right. But mainly I hope it’s my, my passion for reaching people for Jesus, Amy. You can’t use spreadsheets to do that. But finally I just wanted to highlight and 2019, as of today, there are going to be a couple of churches that we work with here in the end of the year. But 124 churches that we’ve served on the ground engaged with and consulting and coaching, and we went back and did the math and are estimating that in the last 12 months, over 6,000 people have been baptized in those churches that we’ve served. And Amy, that really is, that’s, that’s the motivation for what I do on a daily basis. That’s the reason why I started The Unstuck Group. And that’s why I’m so glad that you and others are on the team because it’s just, it’s just encouraging to see that as we help churches understand why they exist, where they’re going, the future and how they’re going to get there. And then just making sure that their structure supports that, that it’s having an impact. People are coming to Jesus and they’re, people are experiencing life change. And so I love being a part of that mission, uh, together with you, Amy.

Amy: 16:24 Ditto, Tony, and thanks for leading such a great team and thanks for taking all the risks that it took to get us where we are today.

Tony: 16:31 So, yeah. Yeah. Now, Amy, as we wrap up here, this has been a fun to step back, to celebrate really to celebrate you and the other team members and just highlight what God’s been doing through The Unstuck Group in the last 12 months. But let me, uh, let me use this as an opportunity to, to challenge leaders that are listening today. This just didn’t happen. We, it didn’t magically just come about. We actually practice what we preach at The Unstuck Group. Every yearm we go through planning retreat and we, yeah, it’s coming up here in January for our team and we, and we step back and look at where are we, where’s God taking us in the future? How are we going to get there? We review our structure on a regular basis. We develop priority initiatives that we’re focused on. I mentioned one of them for 2020 is launching our Unstuck Teams process. We do this on a regular basis. We understand the call that God’s given our ministry, but we pause periodically and as a team map out where are we going? And make sure the priorities, the focus has been identified and that we have an action plan in to make it happen. So I just want to challenge you. If you’re listening, I hope you’re inspired by what we’ve seen in the last 12 months, but I hope it really becomes motivation for you to make sure that you have a healthy foundation in place for you to see greater kingdom impact.

Sean: 18:07 Well, thanks for joining us on this week’s podcast. At The Unstuck Group, we work everyday with church leaders to help them build a healthy churches by guiding them through specifically designed experiences that focus them on vision, strategy, and action. If that’s a need for your church, we’d love to talk. You can start a conversation by visiting us theunstuckgroup.com. If you like what you’re hearing on this podcast, we’d love your help in getting the content out. You can do that by subscribing on your favorite podcasting platform, giving us a review and telling your friends about the podcast. Next week, we’re back with another brand new episode. Until then, have a great week.

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