It has been my extreme privilege during the past month or so to visit some great churches… some churches that are really firing on all cylinders. I was thinking about my visits the past few days and decided that there were some similarities in these churches that I really should write down. At least six of these churches have reported over 250 decisions for Christ over the past year. In my opinion, with that many conversions per year, that should place these churches in at least the top 5% of churches who are making a real Kingdom impact in the country today. Here are some serious (and not so serious) observations about these churches:
1. Each church has a pastor with a vision. And it’s not just that these pastors have a vision… it’s that they have a gift for communicating that vision to their staff and their entire church. While it might not be a surprise to anyone that churches that ‘get it’ have pastors who ‘get it’, it is a glaring similarity among these churches: their pastors are great leaders with a great vision.
2. Each church hires almost exclusively from within. Most every staff member of these churches was hired from within. When asked if this was intentional, most said that it was. Here’s the deal: most of these churches do a tremendous job of training leaders and empowering people in ministry. When that happens, the cream rises to the top, and that’s how they find their best staff people. Most do not have church staff experience, but rather bring their expertise from another area of business or commerce. And, I have to say, these are some sharp people.
3. Speaking of staff, the staff of these churches ‘get it’ too. The staff in these churches are very loyal to their church and to their leadership. These are people that have a long history with the church; and they are totally sold on the mission, vision and values of their church. They also view their job not only as to serve God, and the church; but also to come along side and support the vision and leadership of the senior pastor. These churches have very loyal staff.
4. A larger percentage of their staff (or staff wives) are pregnant. Just an observation here… but there are a lot of staff pregnancies at these churches. I’ve done no official polling or investigation here… it’s just a trend I’m seeing in these churches that ‘get it’.
5. These churches and pastors don’t have a clue what they’re doing. No really… more than one of the senior pastors told me something to the effect of “I really have no idea what I’m doing.” But, they’re having a great time doing it! Most of these leaders have never led a church larger than what they’re currently pastoring. One pastor said, “I’ve never even attended a church like this one.” They expressed the amount of faith they need to place in God just to lead where they are. In other words, they don’t have it all figured out!
6. Since they don’t have it all figured out, these pastors all shared with me their desire to connect with other leaders who can help mentor them. Each and every leader I’ve spoken to has asked in one way or another, “Who are some people that you think I should talk with?” In other words… who are the people out there that can help mentor me? Another encouraging thing is that these pastors are also excited about mentoring others.
7. These churches are not shy about sharing resources. Each one of these churches that I visited share their stuff with others freely. These aren’t a group of stingy churches… they are sold on their mission; and at the same time want to help other churches and their leaders however they can. Some are becoming ‘teaching churches’ who actively put the ‘helping other churches’ right in their DNA as a part of their identity and mission.
8. Most all of these pastors are bloggers. Not sure what the correlation is here; but four out of the six senior pastors are active bloggers. Some blog more to their church audience; others blog for other church leaders. Many of these churches have multiple church staff blogs. And the influence of their blogs and voice is expanding.
9. These churches are not afraid to make tough calls. If they see a ministry that needs cut, they’ll cut it. A staff member that’s not pulling his/her weight? They’ll reassign them or help ‘free their future’. They are not afraid to make gutsy and/or controversial calls. And best of all, it is their vision and mission that make these decisions, according to them, much easier.
10. Numbers are important to them. Each and every one of them. Because each person represents someone that Jesus died for, they make an effort to count that person because that person matters. While numbers is not the end-all measurement; it does provide insight into the amount of ministry and serves as one stat to how well you are achieving your ministry goals. As I said, each of these churches have counted at least 250 conversions in the past year. That’s something to count and get excited about.
Am I saying that these churches are flawless? Not by any means. And their pastors would tell you the same thing. I am saying that after visiting these churches fairly closely together that these are some of the common threads that I see. Take them for what they are worth, and see how many of these things these churches have in common with your church. It could be an interesting exercise!