November 1, 2023

Why Your Church Needs to Embrace Bold Moves – Episode 320 | The Unstuck Church Podcast

why your church needs to embrace bold moves

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How to Embrace Bold Moves in 2024 (Part 1)

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Casting a multi-year vision often feels too far away in our current context. That’s why we recommend churches shift their focus to the immediate bold moves God has for them.

Having a clear bold move in front of us is the opposite of being stuck as a church. It’s how vision becomes actionable and the church continues to move forward.

In this new series, I want to challenge pastors to think about what bold moves God is calling them to make in 2024 and what next steps they need to take to move in that direction.


Bold moves are a more action-oriented way to think about our future vision in a way that will rally our church, our leadership, our staff team, and our congregation to engage their prayers, their time, and their financial resources. 

In this episode, Amy and I discuss what a bold move is and why many churches fail to embrace them. We’ll also unpack:

  • The difference between mission, vision, and bold moves
  • How many bold moves every church should have
  • What to clarify before you make any bold moves

4 Bold Moves for Churches

At this free 1-hour webinar, the Unstuck team and guests Derwin Gray, Jonathan Smith, and Rick Atchley will help you clarify the next bold move God may be calling your church to make—and unpack the next steps to get there.

Having a clear bold move in front of us is the opposite of being stuck as a church. It’s how vision becomes something actionable for the church and helps the church continue to move forward. [episode 320] #unstuckchurch Share on X You first need to clarify your foundation before you can determine your direction. [episode 320] #unstuckchurch Share on X Clarity in your foundation helps us consider our future direction—where we decide what bold moves to make. It helps us establish why we engage the mission before we determine how we will engage the mission. [episode 320] #unstuckchurch Share on X Bold moves are a more action-oriented way to think about our future vision in a way that will rally our church, our leadership, our staff team, and our congregation to engage their prayers, their time, and their financial resources.  [episode… Share on X
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Do you ever feel like 24 hours in a day is just not enough? Between your ministry and your life at home, managing your time as a church leader can feel impossible. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, our friends at BELAY can help. BELAY is a staffing organization that has spent more than a decade helping busy church leaders like you manage their productivity and accomplish more. From accounting services to administrative support, BELAY has vetted U.S.-based specialists ready to fit your tailored needs.

Since time is the most valuable resource we have, BELAY wants to help you maximize it by offering our listeners an exclusive free download of their newest ebook, The Power of Productivity. This insightful resource is filled with practical tips, helpful assessments, and so much more. Start making the most of the time you have each day and lead with BELAY.

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Sean (00:02):

Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast, where each week we are exploring what it means to be an unstuck church. The trend of churches creating a five- or 10-year vision seems to be gone. In our world, things just change too quickly. Instead, what if you could define just one immediate, bold move that could direct your time, resources and prayer. On this week’s podcast, Tony and Amy begin a new series on how to define the next bold move for your church. If you’re new to The Unstuck Church Podcast, before you listen, stop and go to and subscribe to get the episode show notes. When you do, you’ll get resources to support each week’s episode, our Leader Conversation Guide and access to our podcast resource archive. Again, that’s to subscribe. Now, before this week’s conversation, here’s Tony.

Tony (00:57):

Do you ever feel like 24 hours in a day is just not enough? Between your ministry and your life at home, managing your time as a church leader can feel almost impossible. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, our friends at BELAY can help. BELAY is a staffing organization that has spent more than a decade helping busy church leaders like you manage their productivity and accomplish more. From accounting services to administrative support, BELAY has vetted U.S.-based specialists ready to fit your tailored needs. Since time is the most valuable resource we have, BELAY wants to help you maximize it by offering our listeners an exclusive free download of their newest e-book, The Power of Productivity. This insightful resource is filled with practical tips, helpful assessments and so much more. Simply text unstuck—that’s U-N-S-T-U-C-K—to 55123 to download The Power of Productivity for free and start making the most of the time you have each day and lead with BELAY.

Amy (02:07):

Well, welcome back to all of our listeners. And Tony, I have to tell you, I think I am still full from the executive pastor cohort. You fed us way too well.

Tony (02:16):

Yeah. I, I love, well, number one, it’s just a value of our team to be generous when, whenever we can. And I love kind of spoiling pastors when they come to our gatherings, and it’s because I know if I, if it was on their tab, there’s no way they could stay where they stayed ’cause we, we booked a nice hotel here in Atlanta. And we feed them good food because I’m kind of a foodie a little bit, but we just incorporate that into the overall cost because I know there’s no way if it was on the church’s dime they would do that. In fact, one of the guys I was talking with over these last few days, Amy, said, “This is kind of like going to an all-inclusive except for it’s about church.” So there you go.

Amy (03:05):

I think they’re probably still full on all the content we threw at them.

Tony (03:08):


Amy (03:08):

And all the discussions we had. It was, it was a good time. Well, anyways, we are jumping into a new series today called How to Embrace Bold Moves in 2024. 2024. How did it get . . .

Tony (03:20):

That’s hard to believe. Yes.

Amy (03:20):

to be 2024? Can you explain to us, Tony, where we’re headed in this series and why we’re talking about this topic now?

Tony (03:29):

Yeah. So a few things come to mind, and this is all just based on what I’m hearing from pastors. And as we’ve engaged with churches over these last number of months, it just feels like a, a three- to five-year vision feels way too far into the future at this point. And more specifically, vision statements are often just a restatement of our mission statements. And instead, you need to highlight the more immediate bold moves that you’re sensing God has for your church in the future. So, in this series, we’re gonna walk through why churches need a bold move, and I believe every church needs one bold move that they’re pursuing at any given time.

Amy (04:11):


Tony (04:11):

And then, we’re gonna clarify the bold moves God might be calling your church to make and provide some examples, too, of some specific bold moves that have succeeded, what others that maybe have failed. But we want to give you a sense of what we’re seeing in the churches that we’re serving. And then, finally, we’re gonna talk about how to structure your team and your strategies to accomplish those bold moves. And as the year-end approaches, I just, I just wanna challenge pastors during this series to be thinking about what’s the one bold move that we need to be taking in 2024. And then, related to that, what’s the next step that we need to be taking today to begin to move in that direction?

Amy (04:52):

Great. Well, as you said, this couldn’t be more timely as we approach a brand new year, and I think it’s great time to get some momentum and rally our staff teams to take a new hill. And in today’s conversation, we’re gonna explain what exactly we mean when we say bold move and why we believe churches need them. So, Tony, how would you define a bold move?

Tony (05:13):

Yeah. So, we, we actually started talking about bold moves in the last year or two, Amy, because there seemed to be just growing confusion about what vision is. And vision is different than mission. Mission describes who we are, why we exist. Vision talks about where we’re sensing God is taking our ministry in the future. And, hopefully, that term bold move helps to bring more clarity to what we’re specifically talking about. In fact, if we have the right bold move, it will both compel, rally people to engage with that bold move and, at the same time, also repel some people, too. And let me explain why that’s a good thing.

Amy (06:00):


Tony (06:00):

We, obviously, we want clear vision and specifically a clear, bold move to really rally our church, our leadership, our staff team, our congregation to engage with their prayers, their time, their financial resources. We want everybody to come together to try to accomplish whatever God has next for our ministry. And what we’ve seen is when you clarify that, and it’s very specific and it’s very bold, that really does rally the vast majority of the people in our congregations and brings focus and alignment and unity of purpose, which is a big thing for churches to be healthy.

Amy (06:45):


Tony (06:45):

But, at the same time, when you bring that much clarity around bold moves, the great thing, and I say, this is great. It, it helps some people decide, “You know, what? If that’s the direction this church is going, this probably isn’t the church for me.” And it’s actually a good thing for, for people to come to that realization because it helps them to, to find another ministry that may be a better fit for what they’re looking for in a church. And then, it just brings that much more unity to the people that really want to rally behind whatever that bold move looks like. But here’s, here’s a way to help you identify, is this really a clear, bold move for the future of our church? And it, it speaks to whether or not we’re actually pointing towards tangible results. In other words, we need to know there’s a measurable win on the other side of this bold move.

Amy (07:41):


Tony (07:42):

And you’ll know it’s measurable if you can answer one of these two questions. If you look into the future and can answer what’s the specific project or initiative that we’re trying to complete, at the end of this journey you will be able to say yes or no, did we accomplish it? Or, the second question is: what’s the specific goal that we want to achieve? And, again, at the end of this journey, you will be able to answer yes or no, we achieved that. And that’s when you know it’s tangible. It’s measurable. It’s specific enough that it will have that capacity to rally our church behind it. And with that, then, we really think these bold moves need to be more action-oriented. It’s, it’s really a more action-oriented way to think about future vision. Because if you can’t define the action required to fulfill the bold move, that future vision, then you probably, again, have just restated your mission.

Amy (08:43):


Tony (08:43):

With bold moves, also, you have to build an action plan. You need to define who is responsible for what by when. And if your, if your vision is so nebulous that you can’t define a specific action plan to be working on today, again, you’ve probably just redefined the mission of the church, why you exist, the, the purpose of the church, rather than specifying a future vision, a future bold, bold move that your church is pursuing.

Amy (09:17):

Mm-Hmm. Yeah. Probably like we talked about with the executive pastors, if that bold move includes words like the world or everyone, it’s probably not specific or measurable enough. Right?

Tony (09:29):

Yes. Exactly, exactly.

Amy (09:30):

Tony, as you’re talking about that, you know, how many bold moves should a church have?

Tony (09:35):

Well, we often want to land on maybe just one or two specific bold moves for any church that we’re working with. And just thinking about doing that, of course, brings focus to help us engage today in a bold move in order to move our mission forward. If it’s, if it’s not something that you plan to start engaging today, by the way, then you haven’t really clarified your next bold move. If you don’t have the urgency to start today, then you probably haven’t identified a bold move that’s actually going to help you move your mission forward. And because of that, Amy, it’s not just do we think how many bold moves, but it’s the other factor of we think every healthy church needs at least one bold move in front of them at any given time to keep them pressing forward in the mission that God’s called their churches to.

Amy (10:27):

Yeah, probably I would summarize that Tony is saying less is more.

Tony (10:31):

That’s right.

Amy (10:31):

We don’t want to have so many bold moves that we completely, you know, disperse the energy of the team.

Tony (10:37):

Yeah. And with that, let me just share a story. I mean, we’ve worked with some churches in the past that, I mean, just huge vision. And usually, you know, you see this in, in senior pastors that are, that are great leaders, great vision casters, and then coupled with the urgency of we have a significant mission to accomplish. And then with that, I’ve seen some churches run after five, six, seven, eight or more different bold moves at any given time. And, Amy, as you can imagine, that, that makes for a fun vision cast on the front end. But it becomes very challenging to move that many priorities forward at the same time. And many times, what we see happen then, as a result of that, is they don’t get traction on any of those bold moves.

Amy (11:28):

That’s right.

Tony (11:29):

And so, you’re right. Staying focused is the key. That’s, that’s the key takeaway.

Amy (11:34):

Yep. Great. All right. Well, you’ve done a great job of explaining kind of the what a bold move is. Now, let’s dive into probably the more important question. Why does every church need at least one bold move?

Tony (11:44):

Well, primarily because if it’s a bold move, it’s bigger than anything any one of us could accomplish in our own effort. And that’s the key. This will cause us to lean on God more as a church and lean on God more individually as, as ministers of the gospel. So, specifically, that means we’re praying more. We’re inviting others to join us in this bold move, and we’re asking others to invest their prayer, their time, their financial resources in order to see this bold move actually become reality.

Amy (12:21):


Tony (12:21):

So because of that, it really does help keep the church united in purpose. The other benefit, though, of having one bold move is that it does, it unites people. And with that then, what we’ve seen is when churches have that type of focus in front of them, it brings unity. It, it brings alignment. And without that, teams and people, they start to focus on their own priorities, their own passions. And this is when we don’t have that kind of focus on one big, bold move. This is when we start to see ministry silos start to exist within the churches that we’re serving.

Amy (12:59):


Tony (12:59):

And over time, of course, those ministry silos can lead to church division. So, Amy, here, here’s the great thing: making a bold move, having a clear, bold move in front of us, it’s kind of like the opposite of being stuck as a church. It, it’s how vision becomes something actionable for the church and helps the church continue to move forward.

Amy (13:21):

You know, as you’re saying that, Tony, I remember when we were doing, we were in the middle of, we, we’d had a capital campaign. We were building a new building, and we didn’t have enough money to build the children’s area, and yet we knew we couldn’t build a church without the children’s area. Yeah.

Tony (13:35):


Amy (13:35):

And this was a very short-lived bold move. But I can still, I can still remember where I was sitting in the worship center when we were being envisioned with, we all need to rally and make this kid space happen. And I wrote a check that day I never would’ve written, but I was so inspired that we were all doing it together. And that’s what bold moves do. It, you said it, we’re, we’re a part of something bigger than us. And then that tangible result that follows was absolutely, it was amazing.

Tony (14:04):

Yeah. In fact, Amy, along those lines, it’s not unusual for me to engage with a church. They define future direction with that, a specific bold move they’re wanting to take. For example, let’s launch a new campus so that we can expand our reach within our region. And in some instances, churches financially are in a place where they can almost self-fund the upfront cost to launching a new location. And even in those instances where money may not be the factor that’s holding them back from taking that step, I encourage churches to still have a vision campaign where they’re inviting people to invest their prayers, their time, their financial resources, even though they really don’t need the money. And the reason why is it brings, it brings into focus where we’re heading as a church. It creates that unity and alignment. And churches are just healthier when they have that. So I couldn’t agree more. It, when, when we define this bold move, yes, it will help, help us raise finances. There’s no doubt about it. But the bigger thing is it’s gonna help us maintain unity of purpose within our congregations.

Amy (15:20):

Yeah, absolutely. So, Tony, in your experience working with churches on, on these bold moves, why do you think that some churches fail to embrace taking a bold move?

Tony (15:32):

Well, a few things come to mind, Amy. One is just, I think our, because ministry never stops. We just tend to be busy doing what we’ve always done. And so, you know, the fact is a lot of this do, does, too, tie to structure conversations. And I know we’ll get to that later in this series. But as soon as, as soon as you come together, any organization, this is the case, including the church, as soon as you come together with other groups of people and you begin to organize around a mission, that structure starts to take hold. And then, any time you try to introduce a new strategy, a new direction, a new culture, unless you also make some structure changes, the structure is always gonna bring us back to what we’ve always done because that’s what the structure is designed to do. And so that’s why it’s, it’s kind of like we’re busy doing what we’ve always done. And what’s compounding that challenge is the fact that our structure is keeping us in that spot. The other thing is we’re just not intentional about who’s on the team around us. And so, we don’t have the right voices in the room to help us continue to think about not just where we are today and how we’re doing ministry today, but how we’re going to accomplish the mission going forward. And related to that, I found that some leaders kind of shut out the voices around us. And part of that just goes back to this myth, I think, that exists that senior pastors are solely responsible for the vision of the church. They’re solely responsible for identifying these bold moves. And granted, when I read the Old Testament, there’s no doubt about it. God speaks specifically to a man like Moses and brings a vision for what God wants to do through him. But when you look at all of the examples within the New Testament, look at, look at the examples of the early church, and you begin to see that God’s design for the New Testament Church is a reflection of the priesthood of believers. It’s a reflection of the body of Christ.

Amy (17:41):


Tony (17:42):

Where we’re all working together to move the mission of the church forward. And I believe that also begins with us together as the body, identifying our future vision, our future bold moves. And that we’ve seen, Amy, and we’ve talked about this a lot, when senior pastors pull in a group of key leaders that they trust, it helps ’em shape a vision, and the vision tends to be bolder. It tends to be stronger. And because they’ve included key leadership voices in that conversation, there’s just more buy-in. Have you seen that?

Amy (18:18):

Well, I was kind of stuck on your last point as you were talking about that ’cause you said something like, we aren’t intentional who’s on the team around us? And as you were saying that and reflecting, you know, when I work with church teams, oftentimes, they lack a driver on their team. We’ve talked about that here before.

Tony (18:34):


Amy (18:34):

But someone who’s faster paced and wanting to, you know, get things done, mission accomplished. And I think maybe if you don’t, if you don’t have someone like that on your team, if you aren’t intentional about bringing those strengths around the table, there may be no one who’s really going to trigger that conversation even to bring it up. I, and as you were talking, thinking about my former executive pastor, he was really the, the vision guy. He was the one always asking questions and pushing us further. And if, you know, if you don’t have someone like that on your team, again, you go back to your first point. We just keep busy doing what we’ve always done. And so I think that’s a really important point to make sure you’ve got some diversity of strengths around the table.

Tony (19:17):

Absolutely. Well, you asked, you know, why is it that most churches fail to embrace bold moves? A few other thoughts come to mind. I think sometimes we’re cautious because we’re waiting for perfect conditions, and because of that, we’re afraid to take the, these bigger steps. I think some, some of it comes down to insecurity of leaders, just to be honest.

Amy (19:38):


Tony (19:38):

We’re fearful if we take a significant step that we may fail. And then, you know, sometimes it’s just the fact that we, we are so focused on the ministry that we’re doing today that we don’t step back to get a broader perspective of what God might do. And, you know, Amy, that’s, that’s probably an indication we need to bring somebody in from the outside just to help us begin to ask new questions, to remain curious, to help us consider what could be and to kind of get us out of the day-to-day thinking and thinking bigger picture.

Amy (20:16):

You know, I do all of our customer satisfaction, you know, reading through comments from our clients. And one of the headlines again and again from the two days where you’re leading a team through planning, and we hear this at our cohorts, too, sometimes, the gift of someone outside is just having the ability to get together and think about the ministry to work on the ministry. That was my experience as a ministry leader as well. I had to get out of my normal routine with a group of people, put our heads together. And it’s just, it’s so rewarding to get the time to do that. So, good advice. All right. Well, let’s move on to my next question. Hopefully, we’ve made a sufficient case as to why your church might need to make at least one or two bold moves this year. And next week, by the way, we’re gonna dive right into how to clarify what those bold moves should be. But as we tee up for next week’s conversation, Tony, is there anything churches need to define before they define their bold moves?

Tony (21:10):

Well, Amy, as you just suggested, we’re gonna talk about how to clarify your bold moves next week. But before you do that, churches need to first clarify their foundation. So what I mean by that is you, you need to come to agreement on your core beliefs, which really establish why we engage the mission of the church. The mission itself, again, this defines the purpose why we exist as a ministry. You need to have clarity around that. And then, you need to have clarity to this commitment that we’re about making and helping new disciples of Jesus take their next steps. And, all of that, needs to be established and clarified, and you need to get alignment around that, that foundation, the core beliefs, the mission, the commitment to making new disciples before you start talking about future direction or vision or bold moves. We have to clarify the foundation to help us create an understanding of what that future direction may look like. And it makes it easier, actually, then to decide what bold moves we need to take. It really helps us establish why we engage the mission before we determine how we will engage the mission. And the why always needs to become, come before the how. Because if we jump to how too quickly, people are gonna be arguing about the methods and the strategies because we’ve not come to agreement first on why we’re doing this. So you need to clarify your foundation before you can determine your direction and that’s gonna help you define your next bold move.

Amy (22:50):

Well, Tony, do you have any final thoughts on this topic before we wrap up today’s conversation?

Tony (22:54):

Well, Amy, as you mentioned earlier, we’re going to get really specific in the series and give examples of bold moves we’ve seen succeed and maybe some that have failed, as well. But to make things even more practical, we’re hosting a free webinar on November 16th. It’s called Four Bold Moves for Churches and How to Make Them. We’ll be joined by special guests Derwin Gray, Jonathan Smith and Rick Atchley to hear how God has used bold moves of faith to shape their own congregations and their leadership journeys. You know, our goal in this event is that you’ll walk away empowered to clarify your next bold move and to identify systems and strategies to accomplish this in 2024. So head to the link in your show notes to learn more and register for this free event.

Sean (23:46):

Well, thanks for joining us on this week’s podcast. Like Tony mentioned, if you’d like to learn more or register for our upcoming free webinar on November 16th called Four Bold Moves for Churches and How to Make Them, you can do that using the link in your show notes. And if you don’t yet have the show notes, just go to to subscribe. Next week, we’re back with another brand new episode. Until then, have a great week.

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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