How to Increase Church Staff Without Spending a Dime

I suspect if you are in a growing church, that you and your staff feel stretched to accomplish all there is to do. You have probably said aloud that you are “understaffed”. I know, because it is part of being a growing church….and I’ve said it many times. In any organization, growth brings stress to systems and structure. Growth in staffing needs will always outpace growth in cash flow.

What if you could increase the size of your staff without spending a dime?

You can. You may not be able to hire for a new paid position, but you could:

  • Raise up new leaders
  • Empower some volunteers
  • Hand out authority
  • Increase your delegating
  • Release some control
  • Share some vision
  • Enlist some support

Chances are, regardless of your church size, that you have some untapped leadership already in your church. They have skills you and your team don’t have. They may not be leading yet, they may not even appear committed at this time, but it also could be that they are waiting for an opportunity. They may need to be recruited. Some of the best leaders in your church are serving elsewhere in the community, but need to be asked to join your efforts in the church.

I’ve noticed many pastors and church staffs holding too tightly to the positions of leadership. This limits the church’s growth, stresses out the staff, and keeps volunteers from growing in experience and faith.

Take a risk on a new leader for your church. Recruit someone and give them a simple task as a trial run. I wouldn’t start with the finance chair position, but find something with an ending date, a special project perhaps, and let them lead. See how they do in a smaller role. You will discover that some people will let you down. That happens with paid staff, too. Evaluate if the problem was you or them and go from there. Remember that they may not do things your way, but analyze based on reaching the mission of the church. You may find a new volunteer staff member who can handle other, on-going, even larger tasks.

You may also want to read:

10 Ideas in Developing a Recruitment Strategy
Test Drive a Volunteer Opportunity
10 Steps to Replacing Yourself and Add New Leaders

If you are reading this post as a pastor or church leader, I’d love to hear from you. Who is your church, where is it, and what is your role there? Are you currently understaffed?

Sermon Message on Money and Giving

One of the most feared sermon messages, at least from personal experience, appears to be a message about money. Still, giving is a part of a maturing believer’s experience. In our series Concrete, which addresses the foundational issues for a growing follower of Christ, I recently addressed this issue of giving. I also address why I believe the church (the people) resist this type of message.

You can view the message here: If you don’t have time for the entire message, at least watch the opening illustration. God used it to speak volumes to me about this issue.

Just curious. If you are married, is one of you more giving than the other? Be honest.

(I should note that I borrowed ideas for my closing challenge from an Andy Stanley message I heard recently.)

3 Steps to Getting Things Accomplished as a Team

Recently I spoke to a group of church planters. My assigned task was to share the “3 most important steps to launching” a church plant in my opinion and experience. After the times of prayer…when you know you have a God-given assignment to plant a church…what next?

Here is what I shared. I believe these are similar for beginning any project.

Step One – Have a big vision

One that requires faith…

Where you can draw a clear picture…

And everyone on the team can know where you are going…

This is where you define the win…

Step Two – Write a strategic plan

There should be a well-written plan…

Stating what steps are needed…

When they are to be completed…

With accountability and reporting of benchmarks included…

Step Three – Assign specific tasks

Everyone has a job…

Everyone knows their role….

What would you add to my list?

If you could only share three things, what would you share?

5 Types of Church Visitors

One thing pastors love is church visitors. Really, what we like even more is church visitors who become regular church attenders, but that process begins with visitors. It’s always a mystery why some visit a church and never come back. Those reasons may be the subject of another post, but one thing I’ve learned, much of the chance for return depends on why the person chooses to visit in the first place.

I have discovered there are basically 5 types of visitors to a church:

Testers – These visitors are just looking around…perhaps for a new church…perhaps because they are dissatisfied where they currently attend church. They may feel they are not growing at their current church or they aren’t completely satisfied with the leadership, the programs or the opportunities for service available. If testers find what they are looking for they’ll be back, but most likely there is a specific fit they are seeking. I wouldn’t suggest altering things to keep them, but make sure their questions are answered.

Pleasers – These visitors are usually coming to appease someone who asked them. They have less interest in attending church than they have in satisfying the request of a spouse or friend. This is not a bad way to get them at first and I’m always happy to have them, but it is harder to get them to stick unless God moves in their heart for attending church to become their personal desire. For these visitors, the person inviting them is just as important as the visitor in keeping them, but help the pleaser feel welcome, don’t make them feel uncomfortable, and you’ve got a good chance of seeing them return.

Seekers – These are people who know they are missing something in life, but aren’t sure what it is. Church may simply be another option or it may be the only option, but these are the true unchurched. These visitors are a mission field. If we introduce them to Christ, they become forever loyal to the church where they found Him.

Jumpers – These visitors seldom stay long at one church. They get upset at something the church does, the church enters a building program that scares them away, or they simply grow bored. Likely they’ll only stick for a while at the new church too, so don’t be take it personal if they disappear, as it may not be anything you did or didn’t do. Enjoy them while they are with you.

Investors – Most likely these people moved to your community or some major issue caused them to leave their current church. These visitors are active church attenders looking for a new long-term home. They are ready to quickly commit and serve. It’s important to plug these people in as soon as possible.

Again, churches love visitors. In fact, we like any of these five types. Knowing why someone is visiting your church, however, often helps the way you respond to them and gives you a better chance of keeping them. I wouldn’t recommend you ask them which of these they are, but it’s good to have in the back of your mind as you get to know them.

Did I miss any type of visitor? Have you seen each of these?

Defining a Radical Faith

I see a growing interest in encouragement to sacrifice everything for the sake of the Gospel. I love that kind of passion. We see so many examples of it in Scripture and many are listed in the chronicles of faith in Hebrews Chapter 11. There have been a few times in my life where I’ve sensed a specific call to do something so drastic, so seemingly bizarre, so faith-stretching, that even thinking about those decisions today seems scary.

I wonder, however, if that expectation is unrealistic when applied to all of us at all times. Is it okay, should God allow it, to live a “normal” faith at times…to not feel like everything is on the line…but rather feel like you’re in a safe place…depending on a regular paycheck, in a steady job, with a healthy church…for example?  Would that be considered okay and still be considered radical in your faith?

Just asking…

Recently I was reading John 7:1, which says, “Jesus didn’t go where He knew there was immediate danger. There would be a time for this, but this was not the time.”

Of course, you should read it in the context….not just that context, but the entire context of Jesus’ story. There’s no mistaking, however, that at this particular moment…Jesus played it safe. He didn’t jeopardize His life for the mission…in fact He did the opposite. There would be a time when He would sacrifice everything…willingly…for the sake of the call, but this was a time to be wise rather than risky.

Here’s a bottom line where I’ve landed. I see lots of well-meaning people encouraging a radical, sold-out faith…and I’m totally for that. I think all of us should live that way, but my point is that will look different for all of us.

Living by faith may not require you to:

  • Sacrifice your family for the ministry…
  • Forgo earning an income to follow a call…
  • Risk your life to share the Gospel…
  • Surrender to full-time vocational ministry…
  • Sell everything and move to Africa…
  • Quit your current church…
  • Plant a church…
  • Ignore your safety to complete a mission…

There may be times God calls you to take tremendous risks of faith. He may ask you to sacrifice everything some day…or certainly be willing to…He may send you into dangerous moments…even be a martyr for your faith…

If that’s God call on your life…my best advice is to obey quickly!

But walking in faith doesn’t always require such extremes. The key is that you are willing to follow wherever He leads.

What do you think? Reflect on what I’ve written and give me your feedback. Help me think through this thought process.

If You Only Follow The Rules…

Just a quick reminder…

If you only follow the rules others set for you…

If you only do what others call “safe”…

If you never risk everything…

If you never step out of the norm…

There’s a chance….

Someone could drown…

Sometimes you have to step away from the established rules and traditions of men in order to do something no one has ever done…

You have to go where no one else has gone…

You have to refuse to play it safe…

You may even have to break someone’s established “rules”…

Be honest…if there were only two options…

Which sounds more appealing to you?

Playing by the rules…

Or…

Doing something others say couldn’t…or shouldn’t…be done…

Have you ever had to break the rules to do something worthwhile?

17 Months from Start to Launch: The Story of One Church Plant

We have had an incredible journey these last five years as a new church. God continues to amaze us. I am consistently asked the story of starting Grace Community Church. Specifically other planters want to know what we did prior to launch. I’ve been asked enough that I thought it was worth sharing here.

The vision for Grace was placed on my heart 10 years before this process began, so we either had a head start or we were behind the curve; however you look at it. There were three of us sharing the vision, but the other two moved and I wasn’t in full-time ministry at the time, so the dream basically died…at least to me.

That’s when our timeline began in May of 2004:

May – I had an almost prophetic encounter with another pastor who encouraged me to revive the 10 year dream God had placed on my heart.

May-June: I took about 6 weeks to pray…

July: Approached my co-pastor to see his interest (He wasn’t interested at the time.)

July-August: I kept praying during these months for clarity…

September – My co-pastor and I started dreaming together, he wasn’t completely on board yet, but he was willing to see what God wanted to do…

Oct-Dec – I personally met with potential core members to share the vision, while my co-pastor and I kept shaping the vision…

Jan – Feb – Core pastor agrees to be a part…we invited potential core team to an organizational meeting, committed core to vision, solidified core…

March – June – Core learnings – The core team divided responsibilities, then traveled to different churches, learning all they could about what a successful church might include.

July – Core Training – We met to make clear our vision and primary strategy.

August – Practice/Preview services – With these services, although we didn’t promote them, we invited anyone who wanted to attend.

September 11, 2005 – Launch church – The rest is our history post-launch…

That’s our timeline. How does that compare to your church plant?

Any questions? Please ask.

A Much Needed Encouragement for the Pastor

It’s Monday morning…

I have spoken with many pastors who share a common struggle with each other. If it was a good Sunday…one where God’s Spirit was at work…during the 24-hour period from Sunday noon and Monday noon…they face doubt and frustration.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. I knew I was speaking truth. I knew God was working, but I was teaching on God’s purposes for marriage to many who are undergoing tough times in their own marriages. It was difficult and I felt as though I was adding insult to injury to many. I left feeling down and I allowed the enemy to discourage me.

I am blessed to have several in our church sensitive to this issue…or sensitive to God’s Spirit in their own life. Yesterday afternoon I received this email from someone in our church:

Ron,

I cannot imagine how tough it had to be to deliver today’s (that desperately needed to be done) message. Thank you for being God’s “Good and Faithful Servant”. I feel as though you will (or may have already been) challenged and attacked for speaking the Truth!

Just want to remind you that the people that might not have liked it, needed to hear it the most! You know how the Devil gets when you hit a nerve. You get my vote for delivering a very difficult message that needed to be delivered.

Love you Brother!
Jay

I’m not too proud to say I needed this email. The stress of ministry is huge at times and I’m thankful for those who serve the body by building up others.

I received my encouragement this week, so I’m good.

Do you need to encourage your pastor this morning?

A Special Message to Stressed Out Church Planters (and others)

Dear church planter (and others)…

In the growth phase, everything is changing, life moves at rocket pace…

Somedays you don’t know whether you are coming or going…

It’s a bit overwhelming, stressful, even a bit scary at times…

I hear this often from new church plants and fast growing churches…

I feel (and identify with) your pain…

I see part of my calling to help church leaders during this time…

I pray you protect your heart and your family…

But…

Let’s hope things never change…

Oh, don’t misunderstand, I hope you get better…

I hope you increase structure as needed…

I hope you can soon afford more staff…

I hope more volunteers are recruited…

I hope more people start financially contributing to the vision…

I hope you gain wisdom from others who have gone before you…

But I hope you never stop feeling somewhat overwhelmed…

I hope that the sense of facing the unknown never completely leaves you…

You see…

If you ever get to the point where you always know what to do next…

You’ve probably reached your threshold for growth…

You’ll no longer need to walk by faith…

You’ll soon become bored, perhaps even complacent…

And, that’s not the dream God called you to…

Growth and change is always uncomfortable, because it’s taking you into the unknown…

Dear church planter (and others), if the stress is from things going right…God is bringing new people…He’s stretching your leadership skills…He’s allowing you to encounter the messiness of extending love and grace to hurting people…He’s accomplishing His will through you…

Praise God…stay on your knees…and rejoice that He is displaying His glory!

Do you need to be reminded to enjoy the journey today?