5 Hidden Objections to Change

By | Change, Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 2 Comments

I’ve learned there are some common – often hidden – objections to change. These are secret objections.

No one admits to these, but they are real. In fact, they may be the biggest obstacles you’ll have to face in implementing change.

Show me an objection to change and you’re almost guaranteed to find one of these hidden in the crowd somewhere. And you’ll probably find multiples of them.

These are often hard to admit, but they are true. Understanding them can help you better lead change.

5 hidden objections to change:

Selfishness

Let’s face it – we want what we want. What’s comfortable requires less sacrifice on our part.

Pride

We like our ideas and don’t believe we can enjoy the ideas of others, as much as our own. The way I want to do things is best, isn’t it?

Fear

We are afraid of what could happen if we change. Change might launch a whole series of change. That’s scary.

Power

We want to make the decisions for our life and resist when others are making them for us. The reality is most of us have a very real and sometimes hidden desire for control.

Satisfaction

We are satisfied with current status. Things are being done the way they’ve always been done. This is the way things are supposed to be. And we like it this way.

To be clear, I don’t believe we can continue to grow most of the time without change. Change is all around us. Therefore, failing to embrace change only leads to more severe problems later. But that doesn’t mean change is easy.

Sometimes understanding the hidden reasons behind the objection helps the leader better address the situation.

What hidden objections to change have you seen?

Check out my new leadership podcast on the Lifeway Podcast Network or wherever you listen to podcasts. In an upcoming episode, we will address these hidden objections and ways to address them.

7 Common Connectors for People

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization | No Comments

One thing which has always come naturally to me and I love doing is connecting people with similar interests. This skill has served me well as a pastor.

I believe one of the best ways within the Body of Christ for “iron to sharpen iron” is to help find common connectors for people.

From a strategic, discipleship standpoint, I know people are more likely to be connected to the church if they are connected to other people at deeper levels than simply attending the same church. If they can identify with people who understand them or embrace something they embrace, they feel more a part of things.

Connection is huge if we want to be effective at discipleship.

Connecting people with similarities is one of the more effective ways I’ve seen to do this. When two people have similar interests other barriers seem to diminish.

So, I’m always looking for ways to connect people to other people through commonalities.

Let me give you some examples of similar interests I look for in connecting people.

7 common connectors for people:

Common pain – For example, one of the hardest losses in the church is the loss of a child. This is a pain I can’t fully understand the way someone who has experienced it does. Sadly, we always have a number of parents who have experienced this in our church. I’m regularly connecting them as I learn of their struggles.

No one can walk through pain better with you than someone who knows the exact pain you feel. And there are lots of other common pains in the church – infertility, personal failure, and divorce – just to name a few.

Common struggle – Different from pain, these are people who share a common issue they frequently are wrestling with or are currently. One example is someone who is looking for work. Another is someone struggling with a wayward child. The whole success of Alcoholics Anonymous is built on this principle.

Of course, there are safeguards you need to consider with this one. You want to make sure the people you’re connecting are going to actually help each other and not be a bigger temptation to them in the struggle, but there can also be great strength in people bonding together during common struggles.

Common passion – One of the issues of struggle in our society today is human trafficking. The statistics are astounding and all of us – especially believers – should be concerned about the issue.

I’ve seen, however, some people have formed a passion for doing something about it. Whole ministries have started with this passion. If I run into two people who share this passion it makes sense for me to introduce them. And I have many times in our church. This is just one example. It could be a cause, or a cure, or a dream which is driving a person. If I know someone else shares this passion I want to connect them.

Common vocation – This is one of the easiest connecting pieces for people. Teachers understand the unique issues other teachers face daily. So do policeman. As do bankers, attorneys, the self-employed and engineers.

With so much of our life revolving around what we do vocationally this makes such a natural place to connect people with a similar interest.

Common hobby – I’m no longer a golfer. I used to be, but just haven’t found the time the last decade. I love to meet a golfer though, because I almost always know another golfer. The same is true with people who fish, hunt, crochet, play cards or are amateur chefs.

Common seasons –  If you are a parent of older children, do you remember the days of endless diapers and sleepless nights? We do, but not as well as someone experiencing it today does. I love connecting new parents together. Of course, we do some of this through the programs and Bible studies of the church, but this is also a way to connect people who haven’t yet “connected” to the church. Widows and widowers of the church are in a different season of life.

One specific season where I’ve connected people is new empty-nesters. I’m familiar with this one and it is hard adjusting to this season, which makes it a great connecting point.

Common goals – This is where two or more people have a specific goal in mind they want to achieve. It could be to run a marathon, to write a book, or to learn to fly a plane.

Recently, I connected two women who were both trying to memorize the book of Philippians. (I’m so impressed by people who can do this.) One was a young mother and one was a grandmother. I knew they needed to know each other, and I didn’t think it a coincidence I had just heard each of them express this goal at separate times within the span of a few days. They began meeting together regularly and formed a wonderful bond and love for one another.

Of course, huge in making this happen is getting to know people – asking questions – listening for the things which are important to them and remembering some of those details. And this has to be developed with discipline and time. It’s one way I remember people, even in a large church, is by the things I learn about them.

Pastors and ministry leaders, I cannot tell you how powerful and rewarding this has been for my ministry. To see people form lasting friendships and grow in their walk with Christ – knowing the connection I made helped it happen – is such an honor and blessing.

And, again, while you are looking for common connectors, this is actually a way to build diversity into your church. People may have differing backgrounds or demographics, but they share something else in common.

I highly recommend the intentionality – and it does take intentionality!

What are other similar common connectors have you seen where you can connect people?

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RELP – Episode 4 – Things I Try to Control as a Leader

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Podcast | 2 Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast, Ron and Nate discuss the things that a leader should try to control.

Ron is blessed to have successfully led in the planting of two churches and leading in three revitalization efforts in established churches. Because of this experience, Ron is frequently asked what things he tries to control and which he releases to others.

Ron says, “I love that question, because I think its one all leaders need to ask themselves – frequently.”

You create a leadership lid in whatever areas you choose to control.

So, a leader shouldn’t try to control much. But there are things a leader should try to control.

Join in as Ron and Nate talk about those things.

A favor to ask:

Would you take time to write a review (a nice one preferred), share this podcast with others, and subscribe? Launching anything new greatly depends on the support of a few people. In this case, these are people who help get the word out about the podcast, therefore I appreciate you being one of those people.

This podcast is part of the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network. We are excited to be a part of such a rich platform. Check out all the great resources provided by Lifeway Leadership.

7 Things TO DO When a Church Is In Decline

By | Church, Church Revitalization | No Comments

I recently posted 7 things NOT to do when the church is in decline. This is a companion post.

What should you do when a church is in decline?

There are no cookie-cutter solutions for reversing a church in decline. Churches have unique characteristics, because they have different people. They are different reasons which cause decline. It could be anything from poor leadership, to being locked into the traditions of men or simply a change in population in the community.

I would be considered arrogant and even hurtful to pretend to have all the answers for a church I do not know.

When I’ve worked with a church in decline I almost always give at least some of these same suggestions.

7 things TO DO when the church is in decline:

Evaluate

What went wrong or is going wrong? Why are less people attending? Why are new people not? Ask the hard questions. Is it programmatic, a people problem, or a Biblical issue? Perhaps your church is just plain boring?

If nothing has changed in the programs you offer in the last 10 years – I may already have your answer. But ask questions.

Ask for inside and outside opinions. This takes guts, but is critically necessary. You can’t address problems until you know them. There may be a need for an outside perspective. Recruit a “secret shopper” attendee to give you an objective look at the church. You must evaluate even if you are afraid to know the answers.

Own it

The problems are real. Don’t pretend they are not. Cause or blame is not important. Quit denying. Start owning the issues. I see too many churches avoid the issues because they are difficult – or unpopular – to address.

Find a Bible story where people of God were called to do something which didn’t involve a certain level if risk, hard work, fear or the necessity of faith.

Address major, obvious issues

If the church has “forgotten your first love” – repent. When the church holds on to bitterness and anger from the past – forgive. If walking by faith has been replaced by an abundance of structure – step out boldly. When disunity is an issue it must come together first.

If you love the traditions of men more than the commands of God – turn from sin. And if the problems involve people, don’t set out to please people- address them. Yes, this requires leadership.

Church leaders lead. And leadership takes us through the hard places to get to the best places.

Find alignment

Where does the church best find unity? What will everyone get excited about doing? This is many times a vision, or a moment in history that was special to everyone, or a common thread within the DNA. Find and focus attention on it.

In my experience, God will not bless a church in disunity, but churches have issues, causes or programs that everyone can get excited about and support. Working together builds enthusiasm, momentum and unity.

Regroup

At some point, regardless of how drained you feel from the decline, you’ve got to come to a strategy of what to do next. It needs to be written. You need a road map of where you are going in the next season.

I’ve never personally been able to plan in great detail more than twelve months out and sometimes, especially in times of less clarity, only a few months, but you need a plan. Start with your overall vision and explore ideas of how to accomplish it again. Put some measurable goals in place to make progress – things you’ll do next week, next month, and in a few months down the road. It will hold you accountable if you have an action-oriented strategy.

Reignite

Put your energy and resources where it matters most. This often involves getting back to the basics of what it takes to achieve your vision. If you are a church with a heart for missions, for example, amp up your mission efforts.

It may mean not doing things that aren’t working. They tend to drain energy and resources. Look for what is working, or has the potential to work again – the fastest, and begin to stir energy around that program or ministry. You need quick wins so the church can feel a sense of progress again.

Celebrate

There will be wins. You may have to look for them some days, but when they occur celebrate. Celebrate big. Remind people that God is still moving among you. Now, it should be noted, for the overly celebratory types, that you can’t celebrate everything.

If everything is wonderful – or amazing – then wonderful and amazing is really average. They need to be legitimate wins. If you celebrate mediocrity you’ll set a precedent of mediocrity. But when you see signs of heading in the right direction, make a big deal out of it.

Those are seven suggestions.

I strongly encourage you, if you want to see the church growing again – if the church yearns for health again – be intentional. Be willing to ask for help. Raise the white flag and invite honest dialogue.

The harvest is ready – the workers are few – we need you! We are losing too many churches and not planting and reviving enough. Do the hard work. Pray without ceasing. And, trust your labor will not be in vain. Praying for you.

Check out my new leadership podcast subscribe and leave a review.

7 Things NOT to Do When the Church is In Decline

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Often when I hear from a pastor the church has been plateaued or in a season of decline for several years. They are often looking for answers of how they can turnaround.

I love helping churches, but there truly are no standard answers. It’s unique for every church and every situation.

The hardest lesson a church needs to learn in a period of decline, however, is often not what they should do, but what they shouldn’t. I’ve seen churches make, at least what appears to me, to be an abundance of wrong decisions towards growing again.

In a future post, I’ll share some suggestions of what a church in decline should do.

7 things NOT to do when in decline:

Blame others

It’s easy to blame the decline on a former pastor – or the deacons – or the senior adults – or even on the culture. I continually hear phrases such as, “If it weren’t for a few people we could probably grow again.” But the reality is, when you are in decline, this matters less than what you are going to do about it. As long as you are blaming someone or something you won’t address the real issues.

Make excuses

There are a multiple reasons we could probably discover – many of them true – of why a church begins to decline. You should know them, but at some point excuses only cloud our ability to move forward.

Pretend

I’ve seen so many churches pretend there isn’t a problem when everyone knows there is one. If you want to grow again, you’ll have to admit there is a problem which needs addressing. (And this likely involves implementing some change.)

Lower expectations

It seems natural when the church is in decline to expect less, but this never works. You are trying to attract new people. There is a need for more excellence, not more mediocrity to do it. You may need to lower the number of programs you offer, but never lower expectations of the ones you do.

Cut expenses

This one has dual meanings, of course, because reducing expenses may be exactly what you need to do. The point here is to make sure you lower the right expenses. Don’t cut things which got you where you are or will get you where you need to go. You shouldn’t cut promotional or community investment dollars. The fact here is many times the expenses you may need to cut are difficult – unpopular decisions.

Overreact

Too much change during a period of decline can be deadly. Too little change can be equally damaging. Panic of leadership almost always leads to panic in people trying to follow. Strive not to react too strongly either way. Don’t change everything and don’t clamp down and refuse to change anything. Renew the vision God called you to – set good, clear goals and objectives to chart a course forward – and then trust God will see you through this period.

Give up

There may be a time to quit. The fact is the church, as in the Body of Christ, is here to stay. Jesus promised that. He didn’t make the promise to every local church. Local churches close every year. But before you give up, or before you resolve church growth is for other churches – but not this one – make sure you haven’t given up too soon. In my experience, we often quit just before the breakthrough. Do all you know to do, then stay close to the heart of God, waiting for Him to bring the increase again or lead you in making harder decisions.

Check out my new Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast.

RELP – Episode 3 – Why People Aren’t Leading Now

By | Leadership, Podcast | 2 Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast, Ron and Nate discuss why people are not leading now.

In my experience, there are people sitting in every church who should and could be leading, but they simply are not. Why is that? What keeps them from leading? How do we find them and attract them to positions of leadership?

Working with dozens of pastors every year, a top need they experience is attracting new leaders. Therefore, recognizing this fact, attracting new leaders has been a key focus over the years on my blog. I have spoken about the issue at conferences and with church ministry teams. I do not believe it has to be as complicated as we sometimes make the issue. We can find the leaders we need for our churches.

Ron and Nate try to get practical and helpful in every podcast. If you need new leaders – and you likely do even if you are not aware of that yet – we hope this episode will give you some fresh ideas.

Would you take time to write a review (a nice one preferred), share this podcast with others, and subscribe so you do not miss an episode? Launching anything new greatly depends on the support of a few people who help get the word out about it. I appreciate you being one of those people.

This podcast is part of the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network. We are excited to be a part of such a rich platform. Check out all the great resources provided by Lifeway Leadership.

RELP – Episode 2 – Where to Find New Leaders

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Podcast | No Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast, Ron and Nate discuss where to find new leaders.

Finding leaders is critical to the success of any nonprofit organization. Therefore, the church should have the greatest volunteer pool among all organizations. Sadly, many churches overlook some of their best volunteers.

In both church planting and church revitalization, I discovered one secret to our success was going to be the quality of leaders we could attract. Many times in church planting we had to recruit people who never had experience leading in a ministry context. While I do not believe it is that much different from other contexts of leadership, it was often intimidating to them.

In the established church, we often had plenty of people in leadership positions. Many of them, however, had been in those positions for years. We need new leaders with new approaches to realize needed change.

Where do you find new leaders? Where are some places to look?

So, in this episode, Ron and Nate get practical about finding new volunteers – who do not simply do what they are told to do – they lead. For any church to grow, volunteers need to take leadership roles in the church.

I hope these podcasts are helpful. They really are an extension of years of blogging, but this puts a little more personal touch to this. I hope as you listen to Nate and me discuss practical leadership issues, you will feel the comfortable tone of a conversation between father and son. That is our desire.

Please take a minute to review, share, and subscribe to this podcast.

This podcast is a part of the Lifeway Leadership Network of podcasts. Check out the other great podcasts.

RELP – Episode 1 – Leading Difficult People

By | Leadership, Podcast | No Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast, Ron and Nate discuss leading difficult people. We are joining the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network.

Why launch a podcast with a topic so grim?

Well, two options –

A. This is simply the first one we recorded and we weren’t thinking about the grimness. (We recorded 10 episodes before we launched.)

B. This is my current reality and one I have experienced throughout my ministry (and leadership) career. (And true for Nate as well.)

And both would probably be true. This podcast builds from the blog I’ve had for over 10 years addressing real issues in leadership – primarily in the ministry context. I try to provide applicable, helpful advice to sometimes weary leaders.

I have dealt with some really difficult people over the years. A few stand out to me more than others. In the business world and government world, there were people who I just knew I had to learn to contend with. They were key customers or crucial financial supporters.

What I did not realize was how these people are also in the church. Many times they are in church leadership. If I did not learn how to lead them well, I would never have been successful in church planting or church revitalization.

Thankfully, along the way, I have learned some hard lessons. If you have difficult people in your ministry context, I hope this will help.

Here’s to leading difficult people well.

If you enjoy this podcast, please leave a review, share it, and subscribe. Thanks for helping me launch this podcast.

3 Reasons I’m Launching a Leadership Podcast

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

I’ve sent a few teasers out via social media, but I can officially say I’m launching a podcast. I couldn’t come up with a creative name, so it’s officially The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. Catchy, huh?

I’ll be posting new episodes on this blog and I am also excited to be a part of the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network. So, you’ll see some publicity about it there also.

Here are 3 Reasons I’m Launching a Leadership Podcast:

A new way to share my existing content. If you have followed this blog, you know I have lots of intellectual property here. People can usually ask me any leadership question and I have written something close to addressing the issue. Podcasting will allow me a way to further use what I have learned and am experience in leadership, but in a different format.

Practical help for leaders. People tell me they like my stuff, because I make it easy to apply. I hope so. I realize some people like longer posts (and would prefer longer podcasts – this one will not be long), but some like the quick, to the point ideas I provide. That’s the way I think and apparently others think so too.

Every episode we will address a specific problem and we will talk practically about how I would approach the issue. I’ll use tons of real life examples.

Hang-time with my son. In every episode, my youngest son Nate will be the host and interviewer. He provides the technical ability to record that I simply don’t have. He understands me, knows many of the stories, and can bring out of me what I may have forgotten. But Nate also brings his own level of expertise. He’s served in some really good leadership roles for his age and done some really hard things. I personally think he’s one of the best leaders I know. (And yes, I’m biased.)

We are working out some of the technical issues, but we have a good backlog already recorded. Stay tuned! And please listen, like, review (positively) and share.

Welcome to The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast – Episode 0

By | Leadership, Podcast | 2 Comments

Welcome to The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast, a podcast of practical, actionable tips from real-life stories in leadership and ministry.

The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast is a podcast featuring Ron Edmondson and his son, Nate Edmondson.

In each episode, Ron and Nate, both pastors, walk through a unique leadership challenge and discuss practical tips and counsel to address the situation. This real-life discussion provides immediately actionable steps for pastors and ministry leaders.

Here are just a few topics that they will tackle:

  • Leading Difficult People
  • Where to Find New Leaders
  • Why People Aren’t Leading Now
  • Things I Try to Control
  • New Leader Mistakes

If you are a Christian leader, this podcast is for you!