Bill Simmons - helping leaders and churches shift

28 Apr 2015

3 Ways to Transition Church Members into Church Leaders

transitionOne of the best ways for your church to become healthier is to help your members to become leaders. This requires the primary leader allow a team of leaders to take ownership for shaping the culture of the church.

Members need to move from merely focusing on completing tasks to owning the destiny of the church. The pastor must move from being responsible for everything to delegating responsibilities. The church’s achievements should be the result of shared responsibility, shared vision, and shared leadership.

When we allow people to become leaders in the church, greater things can be accomplished. How can a pastor make this transition successfully?

1 – Trust Your People

Trust means believing the best in people. Often times, pastors hold back from inviting other people to take ownership and responsibility in the ministry because they are uncertain of whether their people can be trusted to follow through.

When Jesus recruited the 12 Disciples, he trusted that they would change.

We must recognize that giving leadership responsibilities and experiences to people is part of the discipleship process. Though not every person in your church is currently capable of exercising the level of leadership you would like, you must believe that they will grow as leaders over time. As leaders, we are responsible for giving them opportunities to lead.

We must believe the best in our people. We must believe they can accomplish what we want them to accomplish as long as we are willing to guide them in the process.

If you are a pastor, I recommend you pray for the ability to trust those you are leading and invite them into leadership.

2 – Set Clear Expectations

If we are going to be successful in helping people to become leaders and not just members, we need to provide clear expectations.

When you invite somebody to fill a key role in your church, take the necessary time to write down a description of their roles and responsibilities. Too often, church leaders give broad descriptions of what they are asking from people at church. When that happens, it muddies the waters. Down the road, conflict ensues because people are not meeting the unspoken expectations.

Clear expectations enhance communication and allow for greater effectiveness down the road.

3 – Leverage Spiritual Gifts

By helping your people to become leaders, you are helping them to exercise their spiritual gifts.

Paul reminds us in Romans 12 that every part of the body has a purpose. The church is a body, and every part must fulfill its intended function. The whole body must work together to accomplish what God has called your church to do.

Ask people to join your leadership team not merely to take responsibility for tasks but to exercise their spiritual gifts.

If you find people serving in your church who are chronically critical, discouraged, and negative, this is usually because they are not serving according to their spiritual gifts. When people are exercising their spiritual gifts, it is a life-giving experience as the joy of the Lord increases in their lives.

Is it time for some of your members to become leaders in your church?

Do you need to start trusting your people more? Do you need to provide clearer expectations? Are you helping your people to exercise their spiritual gifts?


21 Apr 2015

3 Ways to Measure Effectiveness in Your Church

measure effectivenessAs I serve pastors and churches, I’ve noticed many pastors are frustrated with the results they are getting from the events and services they provide. I have seen this frustration nearly everywhere I have gone in my travels. This frustration is due mainly to the lack of good tools and methods for evaluating their effectiveness.

At the same time, many of these same church leaders become proud of accomplishments that do not produce long-lasting fruit for their churches.

I was recently with a church that provides an outreach for their local community. They partner with the local government, the police, and a variety of other organizations. They do a fantastic job. The pastor is extremely proud of how their church represents the Lord, serves with excellence, and has a well-organized event.

The church has been doing this event for quite a few years, but this church (who runs under 100 attendees) has yet to see any long-lasting fruit as a result of this event. Yes, there are some relationships being built with the local government and other organizations, but in over five years, not one person who attended this event has become a part of their local church.

Though it sounds nice that they are serving hundreds of people, the event has not helped the church to grow or to become healthier.

What was the goal of the event? Was the goal just to have a good event that seemed to be well-organized? The event needed to have specific results. How effective could the event be if it did not help the church to grow and become healthier?

When something is not effective, it means that we are not getting the results we want. First, we must identify the results we want. This is the basis for measuring effectiveness in our churches.

Here are three ways to measure and achieve effectiveness in your church.

1 – Begin with the End in Mind

What outcome are you pursuing? What are you trying to accomplish? What will be the results of doing this event?

Is it simply to brand your church and be known in the community, or are you trying to bring more people into your church?

Whatever it is, begin with the end in mind, knowing what you are trying to accomplish.

2 – Ask Better Questions

If we are going to evaluate and measure what we are doing in ministry, we need to ask better questions.

You can do this for your Sunday morning worship services, children and student ministries, outreaches, and anything else you do in your church. Ask yourself and your team, “Is this helping us to grow our church and become healthier?”

Be sure to clarify your goals before doing an event or a worship service.

Without measuring success properly, we will be guided by opinions and feelings.

3 – Combine Faith with Facts

Faith and facts are tag-team partners. Yes, we need to have faith that our services are going to allow the Spirit of God to do what only he can do. Yes, we need faith that the finances are going to come in, enabling us to accomplish that outreach.

At the same time, we need facts. We cannot measure without facts. How many people actually came to the event? How many people registered? How did we follow up with them? How many people came to a service as a result of our follow-up?

Facts, when brought together with faith, form a powerful combination.

How do you measure effectiveness in your church?

14 Apr 2015

4 Ways to Make Disciples through Your Church

disciplesAs church leaders, we have the privilege and responsibility to provide Kingdom influence. In other words, we have the opportunity to make disciples of Jesus.

We need to be good organizers as leaders and take responsibility to grow healthy churches, but we can’t let the tasks of organization overshadow our responsibility to make disciples. We can’t let tasks become more important than the people. The tasks need to get done, but we are in the business of discipling people in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, every task and responsibility must help to advance this disciple-making mandate.

As pastors, how can we keep discipleship as a priority despite the need to get things done?

1 – Build Transparent Relationships

As leaders, we must build relationships with those we are discipling. Jesus modeled this perfectly and demonstrated this throughout the Gospels through his relationships with his disciples.

As leaders, we must be transparent toward those we are discipling, letting them know we were once where they are now. We also need to share that we are not leaders deserving to be put up on a pedestal but that we are leaders among equals.

Even though we are leaders, we must grow in our spiritual development, just as we expect from our people. This requires transparency. We must let them know we have the same kinds of struggles. We must let them know we are living the same Romans 7 experience that they are. They need to know that, sometimes, we do things that we wish we hadn’t done.

People need to see we are real and we are on the same journey of discipleship they are on. When they see that, we will have the opportunity to influence them.

2 – Ask Powerful Questions

Not only do we need to provide answers for the people around us, we need to help them think for themselves.

Jesus asked questions on a regular basis that forced other people to stop, reflect, and think on their own. Through asking questions, he helped them to arrive at their own conclusions.

Sometimes, our questions will cause people to think about their own character. Other times, they will cause people to think about the character of God. When we ask powerful questions, they facilitate growth opportunities for the people we are discipling.

3 – Tell Amazing Stories

Stories help people to understand how faithful God has been, not only in our lives, but in the church. When people can see how amazing God is and how he has come through in amazing ways, they become drawn to him.

Our testimonies of God’s faithfulness will expand their faith, which is what we are trying to do in discipleship.

4 – Present Powerful Principles

To keep disciple-making as a priority, we must present powerful principles. When there is an opportunity to teach a scriptural lesson or principle in response to a real-life situation, we must seize the opportunity. This will help our people to understand why we react the way we do. They will begin to understand why we face conflict in a biblical way. They will understand why we pray the way we pray. They will understand why we wait and why we move forward in certain leadership decisions.

When we can present powerful scriptural principles to people, and they can learn where to apply those principles in their lives, we are expanding discipleship at our church.

When church leaders tell me that they are struggling to develop leaders in their churches, I often say, “You do not have a leadership problem; you have a discipleship problem.”

People who are being discipled will turn into leaders. The 12 Disciples proved that. After Jesus had discipled them, they had turned the world upside down by Acts Chapter 17. Nobody anticipated they would become the leaders they became. Because Jesus poured into them as disciples, they became the leaders the world needed.

Who in your church will someday be the leader your church needs because you stopped and discipled them first?



3 Mar 2015

How to Clarify Expectations for Your Church Staff

clarity churchAs the church expands and more people take on leadership roles, a greater level of communication is necessary. At the same time, this creates a greater potential for miscommunication, hurt feelings, and more frustration.
Make sure to clarify expectations. This includes defining the roles people are supposed to have and tasks they need to get done. Follow-up to make sure roles are clear. Miscommunications can happen concerning what a person is supposed to do and when they are supposed to do it.
Clarifying expectations can help to prevent hurt feelings and under-performance. There will be no guesswork about what needs to be done. Conflict will be reduced. Clarifying expectations also fosters a greater sense of unity within the team when everyone knows their role.
Never be afraid to over-communicate 
“People are down on what they are not up on.” What this means is, when you don’t know what is going on, you assume something is wrong. To reduce this problem, make sure things are getting done through over-communication. Communicate what is going right, not just what is wrong.
Face conflict or tough conversations, head on 
In leadership roles, we often face tough situations that can make it difficult to work together with our teams effectively. At these times, it is important to face the situation head on rather than letting it keep happening and cause greater disruption.
Unresolved issues will derail relationships. In the book of Matthew, Jesus said that, if I have an issue with someone, I should tell him or her. If you have an issue with someone or something that is going on, run to that person or toward that situation, and meet it head on.
In order to do this, we may need to have a “fierce conversation.” According to Susan Scott, there are four purposes of a fierce conversation:

  • Interrogate reality
  • Provoke learning
  • Tackle tough issues
  • Enrich relationships

There are seven steps in a fierce conversation:
1. Name the issue
2. Provide a specific example of the behavior and talk about how it needs to change
3. Describe your emotions (How you feel)
4. Clarify what is at stake (What could be lost? i.e. relationships/ ministry/ organization)
5. Identify your contribution to the problem (How you have enabled it to happen?)
6. Indicate your desire to correct or resolve the problem
7. Invite the other party to respond (How can WE solve the problem?)

Fierce conversations can help you to correct a problem and provide constructive criticism to, ideally, change the situation.

What are some techniques that you use to clarify expectations for your church staff?