3 Things That Can Kill Vision And Direction In Your Church

People follow vision and direction.  

Has your church plateaued? Note: A new person trickling in once in a while doesn't count as growth. 

Has your church been in decline? Note: Decline isn't measured in seasonal or short term attendance drop off.  Instead, decline means a sustained decrease in more than one area of your church. Are leaders leaving and finances dwindling? Is attendance dropping while volunteer recruitment has become next to impossible without tapping the same people over and over again? 

Are you feeling stuck and unsure what lies ahead for you or your church?  Note:  Being stuck can present itself in a number of different ways. Such as:  lack of clarity, unwillingness to consider change, a failure to consider new approaches to ministry.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you aren't alone.  I have been able to answer yes to all of the above at some point in my role as a lead pastor.  

If you answered yes to any of the above questions the chances are one of the big issues you need to start with is a good, long and honest look at the vision and direction in your church. 

One of my main roles as a lead pastor is to drive and initiate vision and direction.  If you are the person at the top of your organization/ministry that applies to you as well.   Vision and direction needs to be initiated from the top. 

The problem: I'm not perfect and neither are you.  Ministry can highlight our insecurities and imperfections.  Sometimes ministry can just be down right tough and exhausting.  There are things that can get in the way as we try to find, initiate or drive vision and direction for our church and organization.

Here are three things that can kill vision and direction in your church.

  1. Pressure.  "I don't want to do it, but I will."  Pressure can become a driving force in our ministry in many different ways, but when it comes to the vision and direction of the church, it will sideline you.  Pressure becomes an unhealthy driving force when:  You give in to the power players at church who want the church to serve their agenda.  You are making the easier decisions instead of the right decisions.  Too many voices are considered in an attempt to please others.  
  2. Desire. "I want to."  You can easily lose your direction and vision when you put your desires and preferences above the needs of the church.  Desire becomes and unhealthy driving force killing your vision and essentially your church when "I" statements grab too much space in your heart.  Here are some examples: I want to have a big church.  I want to be a lead pastor.  I want to teach every week.  I want to retire in this town.  I want to be the most important person in the organization.  I want to write a book. I want to ___________. Seeking God's direction and casting vision is a constant removal of self.  I know you would never say those things out loud, but don't let them steal your heart's attention away from God's direction.  What if the vision and direction for the church should cost you your role at church?  What if God has something better for you?  What if the vision and direction of the church is bigger and better than you can imagine?  You will never be insignificant if you keep seeking God's direction.
  3. Fear.  "I am afraid to."  This one is so tough and it is the most common driving force that sidelines vision and direction.  The fears that pop up run deep.  Financial fears -> I won't be able to pay my mortgage if I lose this job. Fear of losing significance -> If I am not teaching every week, who am I. Fear of not having a future -> I can't do anything else if I lose this job.  Fear can be paralyzing, but you can trust Jesus through it.  Don't let your fears drive you to insignificance.  Step out in courage.  Here is a talk about my journey through fear  https://vimeo.com/240025716  You aren't alone.


The driving force of vision and direction is always and should always be faith.

You can get back on track as a visionary leader today in 2 simple steps:

 1) Evaluate the 3 driving forces mentioned above.  What pressures, desires or fears have you been wrestling with?  Have they been getting in the way of you initiating and driving vision for your organization?

2) Talk about them with a staff member/colleague/friend/spouse.  Once you start talking about these three driving forces they start to lose their power to push you away from the direction God has for you.

God is going to do awesome stuff through you as you continue to seek his direction for your ministry.  We all drift sometimes.  It's okay.  Realign yourself today.  Start leading with vision and direction and watch health start to blossom in your church.

Place your confidence in God. 

Let's do this.

Your voice matters.



Don't Lose Your Audience - LEVEL UP

This will be really hard for you to hear if you are a good communicator, if you speak most Sundays to a decent crowd, if you feel confident in your ability as a communicator, if you are a pastor but you need to hear it. 

I need to hear it too. Often.

You will lose your audience if you don't continue to level up.

Watch this --->

Here is the direct link to watch it: https://youtu.be/mhTTz5lXUKc

Top 5 ways to level up your communication today:

First, if you aren't comfortable with what you are doing today work on refining it.  Spend some time thinking through what you don't like and then experiment with little tweaks.

Ok here are the top 5 ways to level up:

  1. Hang out with fellow communicators who are passionate about their craft.  There is nothing better than thinking through your process with someone else who is also thinking through their process and understands the complexities of being a communicator.  Be intentional, set aside your pride, set the stage and tell them you want help not just encouragement.
  2. Take an online course.  There are lots of them.  I have one you can start today with instant results: https://www.thespeakingcourse.com/    Carey Nieuwhof is coming out with one.  Eric Samuel Timm has one too.   My course is designed to make you a great communicator especially if you are a pastor or Christian speaker.  I literally packed 15 years of lessons into a sweet course that will have you improving your craft in (literally) minutes. Videos.  Worksheets. Cheatsheets.  The whole deal.  An online course is a way to jump up multiple levels in a very short amount of time with minimal investment.
  3. Join a Toastmasters International Club. My friend Joe (a remarkable communicator himself) has young leaders who are learning how to communicate go to Toastmasters.  It is a great idea to get real time practice and feedback. (If you are out there Joe thanks for the idea.)
  4. Eliminate stuff.  If you are really looking to level up but don't want to invest energy into learning just experiment by eliminating stuff from your routine.  While I think this is the weakest way to level up it still can work for you.  Here is why.  It is easy to become over dependent on notes, tools, routine and settings.  Change it up.  Drop down to one page of notes.  Try and outline or kill your outline.  Through out the manuscript.  Work on memorizing your talk.  Use keywords.  Remove the podium.  Throw out the music stand.  I don't know what works for you at your level with your style but set a goal for how you want to communicate and then experiment with ways to get there.
  5. Study the best communicators in your field.  Don't take notes on what they say, take notes on how they say it.  Watch the best of the best, preferably with different styles of communication and take a lot of notes. Pay attention to their rhythm, how they engage the audience and how enhance their delivery with pace, pause and tone.  Watch their movements, when they move and when they stop moving.  Learn from them and translate those lessons into applications that fit your style and speaking DNA.

Or start fast and free with instant results go here and download the free stuff geared to help you level up : http://www.joshuaott.us/maximize/

By the way the best communicators aren't born that way, they work really hard on their craft and they care very much about their delivery.  They got to where they are by constantly leveling up.  You can get there too.

People who are good at something often feel like they are good enough.  People who are great at something are always looking for ways to get better.

Your voice matters, 


7 Reasons Announcements Are Killing Your Vibe

As communicators in the church world do you ever think about more than just your sermon? Do you ever think about what the entire service communicates? 

I do all the time and that’s why, years ago, I killed announcement time in a dying church.

As we turned a dying church around into what is now a very quickly growing and healthy church we made all kinds of hard decisions that would upset a lot of people.  What was surprising to me was that killing announcement time was the one decision people complained about the most. They complained about it for years. Looking back it was a great decision for a number of reasons, but the most important reason was announcements were killing our church.  Ok, that’s not true.  Maybe announcements can’t kill a church but they can kill your vibe and limit your reach to new people.  

Here are 7 reasons why announcement time could be killing your vibe and pushing newcomers away. 

  1. People are conditioned to check out during commercials. What do you do when you see a commercial.  I pull out my phone and check social media.  My guess is that most people do.  We are conditioned to disengage when commercials start rolling.   Whether you want to admit it or not your announcements are commercials and if you look closely you will be able to see the soft bluish white glow of phones reflecting off of peoples faces during announcement time.
  2. Your announcements are filled with insider language.  I visited a church that I love.  Amazing people who love God and who desperately want to reach the unchurched people of their community.  We sang a song and then there was literally a 5 minute long series of awkward announcements.  I didn’t understand the insider lingo or jokes and I am a Pastor. I was frustrated but a newcomer would have just checked out.  
  3. You can’t always control the message.  Sit down with some old school pastors sometime and ask them to tell you funny stories about church.  One thing you will notice is the funny stuff happens when announcement time (or special music time - another thing to kill) goes off the deep end.  Someone goes rogue and asks the church to pray for their husband offering way too much information.  The head of the baking club promised it would only take a minute to remind everyone of their upcoming event and 5 minutes later they are knee deep in a lecture about how no one is buying their pies anymore.  Announcement time is a breading ground for weird stuff.
  4. It is a crutch for your leaders.   There are lots of ways to communicate your event or announcement.  In fact, if the goal is to get a measurable response to the information you are putting out there, announcement time is probably one of the least effective ways to communicate.  Try a personal conversation or card or email.  Try using video or social media or a church app.  Try something. Try anything.  Build a system. Your leaders love announcement time because it is easy and it gives the illusion of actually communicating to a large group of people, but it is just an illusion and it isn't accomplishing what you hope it is accomplishing.
  5. It makes you look like you are selling stuff.  People are hypersensitive to being sold anything.  The more we stand in front of them and push announcements and programs and “opportunities” the more they start to feel like we are just trying to sell them our programs and “opportunities.”  At best it becomes white noise.  At worst they leave because of the following point...
  6. It can easily make you look look like a needy church.  Have you ever had someone ask you or tell you the same thing over and over again?  You eventually get sick of it.  If they keep it up you are going to check out of the relationship, because they are just too needy. Announcements can make your church look needy, especially if you are pushing the same ask over and over again.  Instead of asking for volunteers every week upfront, pick some people out to personally be a part of what you need help with.  Or better yet, evaluate whether it is something you really should be doing in the first place.
  7. It doesn’t have an immediate next step.  We live in a world where we have to provide people with a simple, actionable next step. It is just the world we live in.  Learn from people who pay to study culture and people so they can build marketing strategies to sell those people stuff.  Apply those lessons for the benefit of the people you are trying to reach.  I’ll save you some time…provide them with a simple, actionable, next step every time.  Make that next step one they can take immediately. A button on an app or mobile device works extremely well.

Since killing announcements we have found effective ways to communicate important information with everyone.  This once dying church is rapidly growing and has a communication system that can successfully add a second Good Friday Service at 11AM the day of, fill it up and pull it off as if it had been planned all year.   When our people go on vacation and visit other churches they always come back and thank me for not doing announcements.  Crazy, right? Don’t let announcements kill your vibe.

As you think about what you communicate spend some time thinking about what the whole service communicates.

Was this helpful?  

How do you feel about announcements?  (Let me know in the comments.)

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Your voice matters,