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Published every Thursday the goal of the unSeminary podcast is to be an encouragement to Pastors and Church Leaders with practical help you can apply to your ministry right away.
Latest Church Trends Post-COVID with Tony Morgan
Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We’re talking with Tony Morgan, the founder and lead strategist of The Unstuck Group, which offers consulting and coaching for churches as well as practical resources such as courses, access to research and more – all to help churches get unstuck.
The Unstuck Group does quarterly trend reports that reveal where churches are thriving or getting stuck in this season. Today Tony is talking with us about some of the latest findings.
* Spread the gospel. // One of the notable trends in churches right now is that baptisms have increased over the last 12 months, indicating that churches are reaching new people who are taking steps in their faith. This is an important shift because in the beginning of the pandemic, ministry leaders became so focused on taking care of their own congregations that they lost sight of the broader mission of spreading the gospel. The report on baptisms indicates that churches are bouncing back to being focused on pointing new people to Jesus.* Create an intentional discipleship strategy. // The average number of people that churches are baptizing is 5 people for every 100 people in attendance in a given year. In other words, if a church has 1000 people in attendance, on average between 50 and 60 people go public with their faith through baptism. Churches need to keep in mind the fact that people are on a spiritual journey. God ultimately has to work on someone’s heart to prompt them to take the step to be baptized. However churches also need to be intentional by having discipleship strategies in place that show people what their next steps are.* Create an intentional reach strategy. // In addition to having intentional discipleship strategies, churches need to have intentional reach strategies which engage new people outside the church and faith. The most common challenge for churches is this “front door” issue – engaging new people with the gospel. Without an intentional reach strategy we cannot live on mission, and it’s only a matter of time before our churches start to plateau and decline. * Decrease in church engagement both ways. // The Unstuck Group has gathered data for the first quarter which shows about a 15% drop in online engagement and a 27% drop in in-person church attendance. Church leaders have been hopeful that if people aren’t attending in-person then they’re watching online, but these numbers are indicating that church engagement overall is decreasing.* Engage with people online. // Our online services can be part of our reach strategy – many new people will watch a service online before they ever attend in person. However we need to create more connections with these people instead of just streaming services. Engage with people online to help them take next steps. Use social media for more than just promoting what’s happening at the church and actually interact with people. Discipleship happens in community so connect people online with each other as well.* More statistics from reports. // Tony shared some of the other statistics that the trend reports reveal as well. For example, growing churches have smaller boards and fewer committees. Growing churches also have less debt than declining churches and are baptizing a higher percentage of people. Most notably, declining churches have significantly bigger staff teams than growing churches, employing 56% more full time employees. Overstaffing means the staff does the work of the ministry instead of equipping the people of God to do it, as Paul instructs in Ephesians 4:11-12.
If you want to get a copy of the latest trend report from The Unstuck Group you can go to www.theunstuckgroup.com/trends and explore all of the resources available to...
Healing the Racial Divide in Your Church with Derwin Gray
Thanks for joining us for the unSeminary podcast. We’re talking with Dr. Derwin Gray, the lead pastor at Transformation Church in South Carolina.
In the bible we see every nation, tribe, and tongue worshiping Christ together, yet in our country and churches we continually see examples of the racial divide. Listen in as Derwin shares his heart and steps that we can take toward racial reconciliation in order to achieve God’s vision for a redeemed and reconciled multiethnic family of believers.
* Consumer Christianity versus authentic Christianity. // Jesus says the world will know His disciples because of their love for one another. There is a difference between consumer Christianity which says Jesus is a means to an end and authentic Christianity which says Jesus is the end. Jesus broke down every dividing wall so we could be a part of a new multiethnic family. This is intrinsic to the gospel.* Our differences reflect God. // Some Christians don’t want to talk about race, but Derwin points out that the bible does talk about it. God redeems our colors and our culture to be a beautiful reflection of Him in the world. At the end of the bible there’s every nation, tribe, and tongue worshiping around Christ. God saved us as individuals to put us into a family, and this family is a multicolored family. Keeping silent about the issue of racism hurts the witness of Christ.* Homogenous unit principle. // The homogenous unit principle teaches that if churches want to grow fast, they should gather and target the same type of people in a church. This idea was developed by a missionary in India to reach out to the different castes of people and bring them together as the family of God. But it was changed in the US to reach out to people who already look and think alike. Decades later the result is increased political division, racial prejudice, and isolation in the body of Christ, along with deteriorating discipleship.* A gospel issue. // If you truly want to heal the racial division in our churches, you need to recognize that there will be a backlash. You need to have a theological conviction that this is a gospel issue so that you can stand against the opposition. Examine your motives for taking this step. You shouldn’t want a diverse church just because America is more diverse, but because it is the outworking of the gospel of Jesus Christ.* Diversity in leadership. // Your leadership should reflect the congregation you want to have. That doesn’t mean that someone is on the immigration team just because they are Latino, or someone is on the urban team just because they are Black. It means sharing the pulpit and needs to be reflected in leadership positions that make decisions, such as executive pastors and small group pastors.* Cross-cultural competency is important. // Love means being willing to learn about someone else’s culture. When you have the majority culture, you don’t have to listen to others’ stories. Choose to listen so you can understand where people are coming from, and what they experience in their lives. In the gospel, our ethnic differences don’t need to be obliterated, they can be celebrated. All of us through the blood of Jesus are equally declared righteous.* Healing our racial divide and living in His light. // Derwin’s book, How to Heal Our Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew, about Racial Reconciliation, is meant to help leaders lead more effectively in the area of racial reconciliation. It goes through Scripture, showing the heart of God, and how God from the beginning envisioned a reconciled multiethnic family in loving community, reflecting his beauty and healing presence in the world.
Don’t miss the giveaway unSeminary is offering to the first five leaders who commit to reading Derwin’s book with another leader at their chu...
Leading in Our Churches & Community in this Current Moment with Dino Rizzo
Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. In this episode we’ll be chatting with Dino Rizzo, the executive director of the Association of Related Churches (ARC) as well as part of the senior leadership team at Church of the Highlands. ARC was created in 2000 by six pastors and has grown to be a preeminent church planting and leadership support organization.
Having been a church planter himself, Dino has a passion for training other church planters, and coming alongside them as an older brother in Christ to cheer them along on their journey. Listen in as Dino shares encouragement for church planters and leaders in this season.
* Decide on your outlook. // It’s been a season where church leaders everywhere are evaluating if their souls are healthy and their spirits are full. Painful seasons can cause you to focus on the complications of church and leadership and become disillusioned. Bring your focus back to the simple gospel of Jesus Christ and decide what your outlook will be.* Look at your soul. // If you find you are frustrated, angry, fixated on the negative, and comparing yourself to others, it’s a sign that you need to shift your focus. Remember that you are valued by God for who you are and not what you do. You are seen and loved. Look at the field you’re in and know that this is where God has you in this season. He’s responsible for your usefulness.* Reach out to others. // If you feel isolated, remember that you’re not alone. Take time to cultivate relationships and be proactive about reaching out to those around you. If you have friends you haven’t seen or talked to in a while, you can be the one to take that first step in reconnecting with them. * Serve your community. // So many times the way out of your own pain is by serving someone else. There is no peace or fulfillment when you live your life for just me, myself, and I. Dino recommends that before having your first church service at a new church launch, serve your city. You’re not there to just build a church; you’re there to make the city better and will grow the church by engaging and serving your community.* Empower your people to make a difference. // Church of the Highlands wants to empower their people to make a difference so they hold a Serve Day in July with the purpose of serving the people in their community in various ways. An “all call” event like this helps to pull in people who aren’t already exercising those serving muscles. Rather than a one-time event, a serve day is meant to build a culture of service at your church. As you create serving opportunities, you can develop leaders, build partnerships, and plug people into small groups where serving is a regular part of life.* Be a blessing today. // With all of the pain and hurt in the world, one of the greatest things we can do is decide to be a blessing each day. Get up and bless the people around you, even in the smallest ways, and model it to your church. For ideas on how to begin, visit www.serveday.com and www.servolution.org.
You can learn more about ARC and access their many resources for church planters at www.arcchurches.com. Or follow along at Church of the Highlands at www.churchofthehighlands.com.
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International Business & Marketing Coach Chris Ducker Offers Advice for Church Leaders
Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We’re chatting with marketplace leader Chris Ducker, who is a serial entrepreneur, bestselling author, and runs several businesses.
As churches find themselves more a part of the online world, there is continually a challenge to connect with people in a meaningful way. Listen in as Chris shares how to add a personal touch to your interactions online, encouraging conversations instead of simply shouting into a virtual megaphone.
* P to P versus B to B or B to C. // We may be familiar with businesses and organizations being business to business or business to consumer, but Chris says the new focus should be people to people. At the end of the day, whether you are signing a deal with a company, or serving a community, people are attracted to you because of who you are and what you stand for.* Attract and repel. // If you want to build a community and attract a certain segment of people, you have to be you all the time. You will equally deter and repel people away as you will attract the right people who want to be part of your tribe. You can’t please everyone. Understand what you want to be known for, where your unique traits lie in respect to that, and how to lean into it.* No comment left behind. // When someone sends Chris a direct message on social media or email, he believes strongly that they should get a direct reply from him because they’ve taken time out of their day to reach out to him. He tells us it’s wrong to ignore someone who has come to you in this way, seeking help. Take the time to respond to them even if it’s only a quick response.* Connect to the people. // Ask people open-ended questions about how you can serve them. When you are willing to have a conversation beyond a yes or no answer, you’ll be able to receive information that can help you offer value to others using your unique skillset as a leader.* Online communication is not a megaphone. // Pastors may not be willing to get into as many conversations online because it can be overwhelming and feel like a time-waster. But for those who decide to do it, Chris believes only good things can come from it. It’s a way to build relationships and you never know when one little question you answer can change a person’s mindset. As leaders we need to take seriously the responsibility to show up for our people. * Have a virtual staff. // Build a virtual team to support on the online communication and social media part of the church work. It will give you more time in your day to focus on aspects of your work that only you can do when you have others handle the repetitive tasks.* Hire the staff type you need. // If you’re looking for someone who can work a few hours a week on tasks you’d like to delegate, you can find individuals through freelance sites. The other way is to hire someone for a role rather than just a task, which can be done through Chris’s site virtualstafffinder.com. Virtual Stafffinder will go through the process of going through applications, vetting and testing them so you don’t have to focus on it.* One person is not the same as three. // A common misconception Chris notices when hiring virtual team members is the assumption that one person can successfully do three people’s jobs. That doesn’t work with local staff, and it doesn’t with virtual staff either. Another big mistake is assuming that because a person has a specific skill that they don’t need guidance or onboarding of any kind. Training always helps set new team members up for success.
We’re giving away 10 copies of Chris’s book, a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Youpreneur-Definitive-Go-Future-Proof/dp/1999857941/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?
Helpful Insights for Church Leaders with Brian Dodd
Thanks for joining in for the unSeminary podcast. This time we’re talking with Brian Dodd, the Director of New Ministry Partnerships at Injoy Stewardship Solutions. He also runs a blog called Brian Dodd on Leadership which provides perspective, encouragement, and solutions for church and ministry leaders.
When you look at the world today, there seems to be a real deficit in leadership at the top levels. But if you look at everyday life and what’s happening in local churches, local businesses, and community there’s extraordinary leadership going on right now. Listen in as Brian shares wisdom and insights on leadership that can be used to train, inspire, develop, and equip your people and teams.
* Humble leaders grow churches. // Around 85% of churches are plateaued or declining. If your church is one of the 15%, what are you doing to get to that point? The number one characteristic Brian sees in pastors of growing churches is unbelievable humility. A humble leader who is ready to follow God’s leading and steward well what they’ve been given is a number one asset for a growing church.* Three components to spiritual leadership. // There are three components to spiritual leadership: God, the assignment, and a person. God determines the assignment and then gives a person the privilege to be part of that assignment.* Character, competence, and creativity. // When doing personal coaching with church leaders, Brian has them focus on character, competence, and creativity. In his research on leadership, he found that character didn’t make it to the top ten traits needed to get to the top in a person’s line of work. While you may not need character to get to the top, however, you will need it to stay at the top. * Leadership skills and leader skills. // A leader must develop leadership skills and leader skills. Leadership skills are developing the skills, talents, and abilities to accomplish a task or assignment given to you by God. Leader development is becoming the man or woman who can accomplish those tasks given to you by God. When you systemize the setting of God as the primary resource of everything in your life and leadership you have solved 90-95% of the character issues you’ll face.* Creativity is about solutions. // Creativity is directly tied to what we are producing. It’s leveraging resources in a new and different way to produce results that nobody has ever done before. It doesn’t come from abundance, but rather from a lack of abundance. We need to make sure we aren’t leading in a domineering way that stifles creativity and does not produce solutions.* A tool for leading your people well. // Brian has written a book called 2021: The Year in Leadership. The Stories of Faith, Athletics, Business and Life Which Inspired Us All. Every page is filled with leadership lessons and contains over 80 illustrations that church leaders can use in sermons, trainings, team huddles, as well as individual growth and development.
You can follow along with Brian Dodd and grab a copy of his book at briandoddonleadership.com, plus get free access to The Top 75 Leadership Quotes Of 2021 Part 2.
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Coaching on Rebuilding a “New” Launch Team for Your Church with Shawn Lovejoy
Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We’re chatting with Shawn Lovejoy, the founder and CEO of Courageous Pastors and Courage to Lead. His work is all about coaching leaders around what keeps them up at night and focuses on personal and organizational growth.
Shawn is talking with us about building and redeploying healthy teams in our churches after the struggles of the last couple of years.
* A switch in the focus. // Shawn says that three years ago, before so much of the upheaval we’ve experienced, 90% of his talks with pastors were on the nuts and bolts side of leading a church and 10% on the personal side. Today with everything we have going on in our world, that has now switched to 90% personal and 10% nuts and bolts. Shawn’s organization talks with pastors about getting back up and finding confidence and courage again.* Grieve the loss, then move ahead. // Grieve the loss that you had in your church since the pandemic, but then focus on moving ahead. Look at the church leaders currently on your staff as your new launch team and pour into them. Rebuild the team you’ve got and deploy them to equip your people to live out the church’s mission.* Look at building leaders at every level. // The opportunity for church leaders now is not to focus on getting more followers, but rather building leaders at every level. Look for people who aren’t just ministry doers, but ministry developers. Build teams from the staff to lay leaders to volunteers. Train your staff team to replicate themselves and give their jobs away. In doing so they make themselves indispensable rather than being bottlenecks. And building a strong leadership culture at your church will strengthen you at the center so you can stand firm when the next challenge comes your way.* Culture, team, and systems. // Shawn’s book Building a Killer Team Without Killing Yourself or Your Team helps leaders move ahead with becoming a better leader and team builder. Shawn can trace every growing or non-growing church back to three things—the culture, the team, and the systems—and he coaches around these three gears of growth. The number one thing that keeps church leaders awake at night is people. We need to stop believing that if we can hire a certain person it will solve all of our problems. Instead we need to learn to develop our people on healthy teams.* Build great, healthy teams. // Shawn’s process to building healthy teams focuses five pillars. This sequence includes fostering togetherness, recruiting and building great talent, bolstering accountability, structuring for growth and peace, and maintaining rhythms and finish lines.* Be clear and honest with your staff. // We all would love to acquire the best team ever. But we all have folks on our teams who aren’t meeting expectations. As a leader, part of developing staff member means talking to them when we are not happy with their performance. By doing so we can help them get realigned, or they may recognize the current position isn’t right for them. Be clear and honest about not meeting your expectations. It allows them to hear from the Holy Spirit on where they are called and whether they should opt out. Offer clarity and honesty on where they are winning and not winning, on what’s acceptable and not acceptable.
You can learn more about Building a Killer Team Without Killing Yourself or Your Team at www.killerteambook.org. To get coaching help, listen to the Courageous Pastors podcast, and explore more free resources that can help your church, visit Courageous Pastors at www.courageouspastors.com.
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Subscribe- you’ll be glad
Add this one to your weekly listening routine. You’ll be encouraged and glad you did. Tremendous guests. Excellent insight in ministry leadership. I love the detailed show notes.
Thank you Mr. Birch for your podcast. I came across your work about a week before Covid-19 impacted the Houston area and signed up to Unseminary. I’ve been the lead pastor at The Life Church-Baytown going on 3 months, I look forward to your emails, podcast, and resources... thank you and your staff for you’re commitment, especially in these times.
Practical and Insightful
The unSeminary podcast is packed with practical and insightful content that keeps me listening. I enjoy both the interviews and the solo content from Rich. Keep up the great work!