By Chad Hunt, a presenter at our Grow! 2018 Rural and Small Town Church Conference
This post was originally posted to the The Unstuck Group Blog
When teams fail to follow through, it creates a lot of frustration for the pastor. Good planning is only part of getting unstuck; plans have to be executed, and there’s only one thing that can make that happen: leadership.
For a church to begin moving forward, the pastor has to transition from pastor to Leader Pastor. This doesn’t mean the pastor needs to be involved with every ministry and meeting; actually, it’s just the opposite. However, the pastor must keep a finger on the pulse of the church to ensure movement is happening. In larger churches, this can be delegated through staff; in smaller churches, the pastor typically has to be that point person to keep things progressing.
Here are five areas that require leadership and attention from the lead pastor to help move plans to action:
1. We is better than me
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22
Whenever we work with churches, we always underline the value of team-led initiatives. When people join efforts around a cause, it produces creativity, participation and ownership. As a result, commitment heightens, and things get done. Proverbs 15:22 reminds us of the value of planning as a team. The pastor must encourage teamwork. In doing so, leaders are developed and teams learn a new planning discipline.
2. Plans die when deadlines are ignored
“Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.” Luke 14:29-30
Plans are pointless without paying attention to deadlines. Even more importantly, deadlines are only effective if they are used to bring accountability. In the world of church, volunteers (who have jobs outside of their volunteering) drive a lot of the work, so it’s easy for things to be left undone. Asking questions like, “How are things going? How can I help? Do you have everything you need to meet your goal?” reminds teams that the finish line is in sight. When people know that the pastor is aware of the deadlines, it changes things. In Luke 14, Jesus tells a story about a man who started building a tower; in the parable, He explains the value of following through on commitments from beginning to end. Deadlines, if used properly, can help teams follow-through.
3. Vision is vital
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ’They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” Jeremiah 29:11
Getting unstuck begins with gaining perspective and determining a clear vision. When churches begin moving forward, there is always a tendency to create or add new things. It is important to make sure that every new endeavor aligns with the overall vision. The vision gives you permission to say no. Anything that doesn’t drive the vision must be cut loose. The pastor has to stand firm anytime something or someone wants to deviate from the direction God has provided. My friend Shawn Lovejoy wrote a book Be Mean about the Vision that deals with this subject. When God provides a vision, you can trust it.
4. Teams need a CEO
“Do not withhold good from those whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27
The pastor is the CEO, which means two things: the Chief Executive Officer AND the Chief Encouragement Officer. Pastors must invest in their teams by reassuring their efforts and celebrating the wins.
5. Prayer is your best strategy
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” Ephesians 5:20
Lastly, above everything else, pray. Plans and strategies are pointless if we aren’t prayerful. The voice of the Holy Spirit is the most important voice of all. Any church that attempts to impact lives for Christ can expect resistance from people and retaliation from Satan. It’s during those times that pastors must pray and lean into Ephesians 5:20.
Here’s the best news of all. The church belongs to Jesus. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, “…on this rock I will build MY CHURCH.” Jesus wants your church to succeed. He wants your church to help people know Him. And if Jesus is for you…then who can stand against you?
Chad Hunt was a presenter at our Grow! 2018 Rural and Small Town Church Conference. Chad served as the lead pastor for sixteen years in a town of 2,000 people, where he grew a church from 60 to 500 people. Chad currently serves as the executive pastor at Eagle Heights Church in Somerset, KY and led strategic planning sessions for the rural pastors at the Center of Rural Church Advancement at the Nebraska Christian College in Omaha.
The Unstuck Group helps churches grow their impact through church consulting and coaching experiences designed to focus vision, strategy and action.