Scott ClevengerScott Clevenger Church Culture Guru! Mon, 03 Jul 2017 01:40:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 PASTOR: You Are The Lead Worshipper! Mon, 15 Feb 2016 13:56:20 +0000 clevster I was visiting with a mentor of mine on the phone this past week. Him and I both served at a church about fifteen years ago together. A church that was making waves in their community in that season. Since then, though, the church has struggled. There are all kinds of variables that play into those struggles that I won’t go into in this post. However, there is one aspect that he mentioned that made me perk up.

Do people sing in your church? Philosophically, we can go around and around with the topic of worship. I grew up in the church singing hymns to a piano and organ, always the first, second and fourth stanza from the hymnbook. I love some of those hymns. My favorite is “How Great Thou Art.” I get totally lost in the moment every time I sing that song. At least in the church that I grew up in, people sang pretty well. I don’t mean to sound judgmental, but I have no idea whether most of them sang because their hearts were in it, or if it was just the routine, what they were supposed to do.

As you know, though, musical styles have evolved quite a bit over the past 25 years or so. It’s almost a daily thing for me to see someone post something online about how our modern-day worship style is lacking. How people no longer sing, they just observe. I don’t really get that myself. We rock the rafters in my church and people sing their hearts out. It begs the question.

Why do people sing in some churches and not in others?

The comment that was made in that phone call with my mentor was this. He said, “Scott, even as the preacher, you still approach the stage as a worship leader.” I paused for a moment attempting to process exactly what he meant by that. At first, I was unsure if I should take it as a compliment or not. He went on to explain that, to him, my first and foremost responsibility was not to teach, but rather to lead. (Okay, now I get where he’s going.) We pay very close attention to transitions between songs, from a song into the welcoming, into a video, out of the message, etc.

PASTOR: Here’s the reality…


It is your utmost responsibility on Sunday mornings to ensure the environment of your worship service lends itself to non-believers meeting Jesus and to believers worshipping Jesus. For example, let’s say you have a video cued to set up your message. It’s a fairly deep video and will tug at people’s hearts. Your plan is to come out of that video into your message. However, because of the nature of the video, you’re going to be pretty mellow in your introduction. There’s a moment at the end of the video to drive a significant point home. You’re standing at the front of the stage ready to make that point. There’s just one problem. The lighting guy in the AVL booth fails to bring the lights up. You have a choice. You can attempt to make the point… in the dark. Or, you can stand there and wait. Either option will kill the moment. People are sitting there with their hearts wide open. Then, suddenly they’re distracted and the moment is gone.

Worship isn’t just about the music. It’s about the entire experience from the first song that’s sung to that final word that’s spoken. At the end of the day, it’s not about people singing… it’s about people growing! That’s what it means as the pastor to approach the stage as the lead worshiper. You’re always looking for key moments to allow Jesus to touch people’s hearts. When you miss those moments, you realize you missed the boat and you train your people up so that you don’t miss it the next time.

So, here’s the question. If you’re the pastor, what do you consider your role to be in the Sunday morning worship service. If you’re just solely the preacher, you’re missing the boat. Your role is so much more. You’re the lead worshipper!

Be Blessed!


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Stop Ignoring Second-Time Guests Mon, 01 Feb 2016 15:09:52 +0000 clevster Ever had one of those AHA-Moments? Ya know, when the light comes on? I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not the brightest crayon in the box. Metaphorically speaking, most of the time I’m so slow that I’m one of the final ones to reach the finish line. I finally got there the other day and I want to share my AHA-Moment with you.

One of the greatest insights that a friend taught me recently was about second-time guests. In fact, this was HUGE for me. Maybe you already know this. In fact, this will probably sound fairly elementary to you, just as it did for me when it first clicked in my little peabrain. Are you ready? Here’s the question…

Who has greater odds of sticking at your church? First-time guests or second-time guests?

The answer to that is simple, right? The one who’s come back for a second time, showing interest in your church, who obviously had a great first experience, have greater odds of sticking. That person is well on his/her way to becoming a regular attender and eventually a sold-out member of your church. Why is it, then, that most churches put more time and more money into their first-time guests over their second timers?

Allow me to suggest a few steps to implement to start giving more attention to your second-time guests…


It should go without saying that if you do not currently have a system in place which allows you to track your second-time guests, then you won’t know when they attend for the second time preventing you from giving them more attention. If you do not have some way to identify second-time guests, then you need to implement my Connection Card System immediately. It’s so incredibly simple. If you’d like more information about how to track and identify your second-time guests, just hit the reply button and let me know. It will take too long within this one post to flesh out. Bottom line, though, you have to track your second-time guests if you’re going to adequately follow up with them.


When I was growing up, we didn’t have internet and email. All we had was phone (and I’m talking about rotary-dial phones), snail mail, and face-to-face visits. Each week, the pastor would physically pick up the phone and call the guests from the previous Sunday. Well, as the internet took off and everyone become enthralled with email, the phone call began to take a back seat to the point that it’s rarely used any longer. We almost exclusively rely upon digital means to communicate. That’s why a quick, simple phone call is once again, extraordinary. I’m telling ya, if you begin to call your second-time guests, you’ll begin to hear comments floating around about how the pastor actually took time to call us. It’s a lost art. NOTE: A voicemail message is JUST AS effective as speaking with them. If they don’t answer (which the majority will not), leave a message. Also, make it a pastoral call and always finish by asking how you can pray for them this next week. If the person share’s something pretty serious, take a minute and pray with them on the phone before hanging up. (Want to really make a great impression? After hanging up, set a reminder for one week later to send that person an email asking about that prayer request.)


Here’s the transition we recently made at my church. Last year, I took the past 5 years of my sermons and revised and edited them into a book. I was very pleased with how it turned out and the people in the church went just a little crazy because “their pastor wrote a book.” (Even though I just self-published it.) Originally the bottom-line purpose for the book was to be a gift for new believers and for first-time guests. Now we’ve changed that. First-time guests get an email and a hand-written card from me in the mail the week after they visit. Second-time guests now get the book. It’s a simple way to go the extra mile with those who have clearly showed they’re interested in the church. I’m not saying that you have to go write a book. I’ll gladly sell you mine. LOL! It can be anything, though. Just give them a little more attention.

Okay, so I’m expecting for you to say, that’s all elementary. Maybe you just had an AHA-moment like I did. I hope you got a next step or two out of this to make your church more effective in retaining those who have expressed an interest in your church.

Be Blessed,

PS. Check out my book called DRIFT on Amazon HERE!

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3 Triggers To Take Your Sermon To The Next Level! Thu, 28 Jan 2016 17:26:39 +0000 clevster You know what a trigger is, right? The first thing that pops into my mind when I hear the word, trigger, is a gun. Without a trigger, your gun would be worthless. Well, unless you use it as a club. Without a trigger, you can’t fire the weapon. You can’t defend yourself. You can’t take care of what’s standing in your way. When you weigh the importance of the trigger in comparison to the rest of the gun, it’s rather small but absolutely critical.

If you think about it, a trigger is nothing more than a tool that prompts action. It’s the tool that will take you from point A to point B. In other words, from a loaded gun to an empty gun. It just so happens that you have all kinds of triggers that you can use in your preaching. Metaphorically speaking, when you pull the trigger, it will move your target. In this case, your listening audience/congregation. It’s up to you to figure out which triggers to use… and when the best time is to pull those triggers. Let me give you a few of the whopper, more common triggers…


It doesn’t matter who is sitting in your congregation, everyone is scared of something. Young, old, rich, poor, Christian and non-Christian alike, fear is a very real emotion. In fact, I believe it to be one of the more powerful emotions we experience as humans. Fear will paralyze you. Fear will also motivate you. Addressing what people fear most is a powerful trigger. For example, do you know the reason why many people will not give financially to your church? It’s not because they’re selfish and don’t want to give. It’s not because they don’t believe in your church. It’s because they’re afraid. They’re afraid that they won’t have enough money at the end of the pay period to make it. They’re afraid that an emergency will emerge and they won’t have the financial ability to take care of it. Fear is the #1 de-motivator when it comes to giving in your church.

What are you talking about this Sunday? What fears are associated with that topic. If you’re talking about marriage, address the fear that spouses have with each other. “If I say this, she’ll say that and be mad.” If you’re talking about forgiving others, address the fear of having that uncomfortable talk with the one you’re forgiving.


Hope is another powerful trigger. In fact, you can often use this trigger in conjunction with the trigger of fear. After addressing the fears associated with the topic you’re speaking on, talk about the hopes that are addressed with the topic as well. Use phrases like… Can you imagine. Can you imagine a life with no financial fear? Can you imagine a marriage full of trust? Can you imagine being freed from unforgiveness? If you’re not constantly offering your people hope, they’ll become hopeless. In my experience, when people become hopeless, they begin to shut down.


This is such a huge trigger that’s often overlooked by many preachers. Insecurities haunt the best and strongest of us all. Introverts are insecure being around people they don’t know personally. When a new guy begins on the job with you and he’s knocking it out of the park each and every day, you may struggle with insecurity. A married couple having a baby for the very first time is going to experience insecurity. Parents are going to question themselves when their teens begin to rebel. I promise you, whatever topic you’re preaching on this Sunday, there are insecurities that go along with it. What are they? Address them and help your people process through them

Here’s the thing. When you begin to effectively use triggers in your message, that’s when you’ll begin to notice more and more people coming up to you after the service making comments like… It felt like you were talking directly to me! That’s all because you pulled a trigger in that person’s life at the precise moment that it needed to be pulled.

Be Blessed,

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How To Recover After Tragedy Fri, 22 Jan 2016 14:05:27 +0000 clevster I just came out of a fairly long couple of weeks full of broken hearts for several folks in my church. As a pastor, it’s part of ministry. You don’t get to just shepherd people on the mountaintops. You also must shepherd them in the valleys as well. Depending on your personality, that can really suck the life out of you. In times of extreme loss, like the loss of a loved one, personality doesn’t really matter. You’ll find yourself totally depleted.

That’s where I found myself this week. I got the call last Saturday of a gentleman in my church who’s been fighting cancer. He’s had several brain surgeries. When he was first diagnosed three years ago, he was given only a few months, but he continued to defeat the odds. He was one of those individuals who always thought of others before himself, no matter how rough he was feeling. I can remember one specific Sunday as he came walking, rather slowly, through the front doors of the church. He had about 100 staples down the side of his head from the brain surgery he had just three days prior. I told him that he needed to be home in bed resting. However, he’d always say, “I’m still here, so God must have a purpose for me. I need to be in church!”

The call I received this past Saturday evening was from hospice. That individual didn’t have much longer. In fact, he didn’t make it through the night. I spent several hours with the family that evening. Then went through three worship services and a newcomer luncheon on Sunday. I was already exhausted by that point. But, then I had to get the memorial service planned and written. I spent the day Monday (when I normally take my Sabbath) working on the service and the message for the memorial service. Monday evening was the visitation. Tuesday morning was the memorial service, with the graveside service and lunch with the family to follow. Oh, the funeral home was a little over an hour away from where I live, so there was travel. I got home about 4:00pm on Tuesday and collapsed. When I arrived to my office early Wednesday morning, I began to stare at my computer screen. I was spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically depleted. I had nothing left to give.

I don’t want to sound like I’m whining. Actually, the memorial service for a man like that was an absolute blessing. However, I do have a question for you to ponder. It’s a question that you need to figure out, if you haven’t yet. In fact, if you do not answer this question and then follow through with however you answer it, you’ll probably find yourself struggling for long periods of time after tragedies like I just described. Most likely, you’ll burnout!

How do you recover after tragedy?

Everyone is different, therefore, I don’t feel that I can give you a cure-all formula for how to recover. What you enjoy and what feeds life into your soul will most likely be different from me. However, I do believe there are some core necessities you must work into your schedule.


Okay, so that may not be a reality to just up and spontaneously leave. Think short-term. Rather than a full-blown, week-long vacation, think a couple of days. Would it be possible for you to get away for just a couple of days with your family and have some fun. If not, how about just one day? What is it that your family likes to do. If you love camping and the outdoors, get outside. If you love the beach, go. Get away from the normal, daily routine and re-fuel.


If you’re a pastor, I hope that this one goes without saying. You need to find a place to be alone with God. However, you need to understand that to recoup from the recent events, it may take more time that normal. You definitely need to be intentional and you definitely do not need to apologize for it.

For example, when I got back home from the services this past Tuesday, I knew that I had an elders meeting the following morning. I have never stepped into a single elders meeting without a printed up, formal agenda. I’m a little anal with things like that. I opened my computer Tuesday evening and begin to create an agenda, but then it hit me… we’ll be just fine doing without it this one time. Rather than allowing myself to feel guilty for not creating that agenda, I was intentional about using that time to be with God, pray, read my Bible, and listen to a couple of good podcasts.


This is similar to taking a vacation. However, I want to get a little more specific. Here’s the reality… you need to do something that takes your mind completely off of recent events. What is that for you? I love woodworking and when I’m in my shop, I am totally disconnected from everything else going on. I also love to kill terrorists on my Playstation. There is nothing else that can consume my mind when I’m being shot at on the big screen. What do you like to do for fun? Is it movies? Then go see one. Is it golf? Go play? Do you love to read? Flop down in your favorite chair and escape in a good book.

If it hasn’t clicked yet, allow me to share with you why this is so critical. It’s because YOU CANNOT GIVE WHAT YOU DO NOT HAVE!!! If you’re totally depleted, you won’t have anything to offer your people come Sunday morning. More importantly, if you’re depleted, you won’t have anything to offer your family. Recoup! Revive! Refuel! If you don’t, you might find yourself in the grave next!

Be Blessed!

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It’s Only 12 Sundays Away! Wed, 06 Jan 2016 11:30:16 +0000 clevster I know we just got through Christmas and New Year’s, but I have to put this bug in your ear.  You may hate me after saying this, but we simply cannot ignore what’s just right around the bend in the near future.


That’s it.  Have you looked it up on the calendar yet?  Easter is super early this year.  It’s the last Sunday of March and that’s only twelve Sundays away.  As a pastor, God gave you one of the greatest gifts you could receive.  It’s the Super Bowl for churches and you get to play in that game every year.  Plus, it’s the one Sunday out of the year that everyone feels compelled to go to church.

For you and me, part of being a good steward is doing the most we can possibly do with Easter each year.  That means you have to plan.  You have to prepare.  You have to get your church ready.  Allow me to challenge you in a few areas.

1.  What will be the universal direction of your message?

Now, there’s an obvious answer to that question and then a not-so-obvious answer.  You know the obvious answer, right?  The direction of your message will be centered about the resurrection.  The not-so-obvious answer, though, is how you’re going to teach that story in a fresh, new way that will challenge believers and non-believers alike.  Put some thought into it and I’m confident that the Holy Spirit will work in you to give you a new message for Easter this year.

2.  What kind of attendance do you anticipate?

In fact, I would challenge you to set a goal.  My goal each year is to double our average attendance going into Easter.  You may think that’s just for the sake of numbers, and you would be correct.  I WANT MORE NUMBERS.  Do you know why?  It’s because every number represents a name for whom Jesus died for on the cross.  If each of those numbers are important to God, they should each be important to you!

Here’s the thing about a goal.  A good goal sets your direction.  It directs your focus.  It directs your energy.  Without it, you’ll coast.  Without it, you’ll settle.  So, set a goal.  You don’t have to announce it to your church.  Keep it internal with your staff and leadership.  Set the attendance goal and then pray it up and plan on it.

3.  How many extra volunteers will you need?

If you hit the attendance goal, how many volunteers will you need.  What’s your average children’s attendance right now?  If you hit your attendance goal for Easter and you maintain the same children’s attendance average, how many children will attend?  Now, how many volunteers do you need just for children’s ministry?  If every volunteer serves on Easter Sunday, will that be enough?  If not, recruit more and get them trained up.

Easter is a great Sunday to ask those not already serving on a ministry team to serve just one Sunday.  It’s like a special event.  Recruit them, train them, and plug them in.

4.  How will you market your Easter services?

Different marketing works better in different places.  One thing I know for sure that will work for you is invite cards.  It’s dirt cheap to order thousands of business cards with your Easter service information on the card.  Then give 10-packs of those cards to your people to pass out like candy in your community.

Again, I know Easter seems like months away and you have plenty of time, BUT, create the the timeline.  You want invite cards in the hands of your people at least three weeks in advance of Easter Sunday.  That means two weeks prior to that you have to order the cards.  That means the cards have to be designed and approved a week before that.  Finally, that means the graphics for Easter have to be designed a week before that.  Count up those weeks and you need to start that process the end of January.

Another idea that I’ve found to be effective and affordable in my community (and I believe every community costs differently) is movie theater advertising.  If you’re in a relatively small community, this may be a great option.  I live in a community with one movie theater.  It’s only $350 to run an ad for 4 weeks prior to Easter.  That’s a 30-second ad that runs prior to every movie, for every time scheduled on every day.  That’s a ton of airtime!  However, it takes time and preparation to set that in motion.  You have to get a quote for the movie theater corporation.  You have to sign the contract.  The video has to be written, taped and post-produced.

The good thing is that you’re reading an article from a coach who’s pushing you to implement this stuff with plenty of time to spare!  Now is the time.  Plan it.  Prepare it.  Then watch God work through you!

Be Blessed, Scott

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The Practical Side Of Strategy Thu, 17 Dec 2015 15:02:20 +0000 clevster This is the final article in my strategy and planning series. We’ve talked about it quite a bit, but at the end of the day, if you follow this process step-by-step, you should be able to come up with months of ideas, events and sermon series. If you’re diligent, you should be able to plan a year in advance. If you missed any of the previous four articles, there are links below.

Now, that we’ve critiqued this past year of ministry, gone through the SWOT Analysis, brainstormed the critical key questions, and connected the dots, it’s time to get practical. At this point, you should have a list of 7-10 common themes from all of the previous exercises. Now it’s time to create events and sermon series around those common themes.

Let me be very careful to NOT give you the impression that the list of common themes are the ONLY things you should address throughout the upcoming year. There will be other areas. For example, you may want to do a message series on your church’s mission and/or values. You may want to do a fundamentals series on why you should join a church, your identity in Christ, etc. However, when you take a 30,000 foot look down upon your church, you should see that list of themes recurring over and over.

Here’s the list that we came up with for my church…

  • Relationships
  • Marriage and parenting
  • Money management (stewardship, tithing, etc)
  • Fear (of the unknown, of my past, etc.)
  • Spiritual health
  • Families
  • Identity (Do I find my identity in this world or in Christ?)
  • Outreach
  • Contentment and joy

Just looking at that list, I can tell you that those recurring themes will emerge in every message series throughout 2016. For example, we’re kicking off in January with a stewardship series. February is relationships. Coming out of Easter, we’ll address those core fears that everyone wrestles with. In the fall, we’re doing a series on spiritual disciplines. In November, leading up to Thanksgiving, we’re doing a series on Philippians on contentment and joy.

At the tail end of the stewardship series, we’re having a free Financial 101 seminar following our Sunday services. In May, we’re having a parenting seminar. All throughout the year, we’re getting very intentional with outreach participating in community events already happening like local 5K races, festivals, etc.

Mixed in here, you also need to plan for volunteer appreciation. We have a small local aquatic center. It has a couple pools and a lazy river. It only costs a couple hundred dollars to rent it out for two hours on a Sunday night during the summer. This past summer was our first Volunteer Appreciation Aquatic Night, a free event for volunteers and their families. (See what we did there? We created an event that appreciated volunteers while also creating an environment for their families!) The best part… It required next to no prep from our staff to pull off. If you have something local like that in your community, look into it.

Listen, it really doesn’t take that much to plan months ahead of time. You just have to do it! You just have to take a couple of days, get away, and do the hard work of planning. The question now is… will you!

Be Blessed!

PS. I’m checking out for the holidays. I’ll be back the first of the year with an exciting announcement about a brand new coaching network that I’m kicking off in January. If you already know that you might be interested in getting your church healthy in 2016, hit the reply button now and let me know. I’ll zip you back an email with the details. I pray you have a very blessed Christmas!

PSS.  Here’s the links to the previous articles on Strategy & Planning…

PART 1…  Is Your Strategy NO Strategy?

PART 2…  4 Steps To Critiquing This Year Of Ministry.

PART 3…  15 Critical Questions To Plan A Year In Advance.

PART 4…  The Fun Part Of Strategy… Connecting The Dots.

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Here Comes The FUN Part Of Strategy! Mon, 07 Dec 2015 15:30:30 +0000 clevster Well, depending on your personality type, what we’ve been talking about throughout this strategy series may be fun to you. For others, it’s been dreadful. For all, though, it’s a necessity! If you’ve been following along with the strategy and planning process, the FUN part is coming. Get ready. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re gonna begin to make huge discoveries!

If you go through the nuts and bolts of what I’ve lined out in the past few posts (check below for links if you missed them), then you should have critiqued the current year of ministry. You should have a completed SWOT Analysis. You should also have a pretty large list of answers to the 15 Key Questions I provided you with in the last post.

Now, it’s time to connect the dots! This is fun because it’s enlightening. If you’ve been struggling with what direction to lead your church, you’re about to find out. If you’ve been wondering what to preach about Sunday after Sunday, you’re about to get your answers. It all begins by connecting the dots. Here’s what I want you do…

Please know that it goes without saying, if you’re a pastor, that you should have already prayed… A LOT!!! I don’t want anyone to read through this strategy process and believe that by simply doing SWOT and answering a few key questions, that God will give you a concrete vision for your church. This entire process MUST be drenched in prayer! So, before connecting the dots, pray again. Pray that the Holy Spirit will show you the common themes. Pray for direction.

Take your giant Post-In Notes and line them up on a wall in front of you and your team. You should have your SWOT Analysis followed by the answers to your key questions. Begin by looking at SWOT. Look for common themes between your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Grab a red sharpie and circle, underline, draw lines between all of the commonalities. Do the same with your Key Question answers. Finally, take a blank giant Post-It Note and begin writing down those common themes. You’re looking for a list of about 7-10.

At the close of this step, you should be able to step back and begin to see a solid foundation for where to lead your church in the upcoming year. I’m not talking about the kind of vision where you’re dreaming of how your church can grow in numbers, or how many small groups you can establish. What I’m talking about is going to give you a “topical” direction. You may think that this is purely internal, but here’s the thing. If the people in your church are wrestling with the common themes that you just discovered, the people in your community are as well.

The next article will be the final one of this strategy series. We’ll take all of the common themes you’ve just discovered and get really practical.

Be Blessed

PS…  If you missed any of the prior posts leading up to this one, here are the direct links.

  1. Is Your Strategy NO Strategy? – General overview to the strategy and planning process.  Click HERE!
  2. 4 Steps To Critiquing This Year Of Ministry. – You can plan ahead until you know where you’ve been.  Click HERE!
  3. 15 Critical Questions To Plan A Year In Advance.  –  I can’t stress how HUGE the answers to these questions will be to you!!!  Click HERE!
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15 Critical Questions To Plan A Year In Advance! Mon, 30 Nov 2015 17:30:52 +0000 clevster This is the third of five articles on how to plan ahead. In fact, if you follow what I’m lining out, you should be able to plan out a year in advance. Not many churches can get ahead like that and stay ahead. I know you can do it, though, by taking some key, strategic steps.

I had the opportunity earlier in the year to join a few pastors for a leadership intensive with Perry Noble. No matter what you think of Perry, you cannot deny the impact that he and NewSpring Church has had on the kingdom. One of the questions that was asked was how does he and his teaching team know what to address. In other words, how do they know what topic to preach about Sunday after Sunday. I loved Perry’s response…

“We’re simply answering the questions the people in our church are asking.”

Pastor: Let’s be honest. How many times have you preached a message simply because you heard someone else preach a similar message and you thought it was cool? How many times have you planned out a message series because you saw another church do something similar? How many times did that strategy flop?

So, here’s what I did. I came back home and began to research those questions. I believe what I came up with is a list of critical questions that will guide you as to what topics to talk about, what kind of message series you should be doing, and what kind of events and seminars you should be planning. The first time I used these questions with my staff, IT WAS AMAZING to see what came out of it. Are you ready? Here we go…

  1. What are our people’s biggest source of pain?
  2. What keeps them awake at night?
  3. What scares our people?
  4. What is the biggest danger they might not even see yet?
  5. What are their greatest opportunities?
  6. Do they have opportunities they might not know about yet?
  7. What are their hopes and dreams?
  8. Who or what do they aspire to be?
  9. How can our church positively impact the people in our church?
  10. How can their lives look differently because of our church?
  11. What will it cost our people should they not accept the transformation we know they need?
  12. What kind of pain and/or frustration will our people experience should they not accept the transformation we know they need?
  13. What could our people miss out on?
  14. Who can our people become as a result of our church?
  15. What have we learned about our people by asking the previous questions?

Okay, so I know that a few of those are very similar. In fact, I’m guessing that many of your answers from question to question may be the same. AND THAT’S THE KEY! That’s what you’re looking for. The first time my staff worked through those 15 questions, the direction we needed to take our church became clear as day.

Here’s what I want you to do. Print out that list of questions. Gather your key pastors/staff. Get some of those giant, sticky Post-It Notes, and begin answering those questions. Later this week, I’ll tell you how to begin putting everything together.

Be Blessed!

PS. If you missed the first two articles on Strategy & Planning, check them out here…
Article 1: General overview of the strategy planning process. Click HERE.
Article 2: 4 steps to critiquing this year of ministry. Click HERE.

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4 Steps To Critiquing This Year Of Ministry Mon, 23 Nov 2015 16:55:57 +0000 clevster We’re in a training series on strategy and how to get the most out of next year. If you missed the last post, be sure to go back and read that first. It gives a great overview of the entire strategy and planning process so that next year can be the most effective year of ministry you’ve ever had.

The first step to planning next year is actually to look back over this past year. I realize at this point that the year isn’t yet complete. However, you can dissect what has transpired thus far.

NOTE: THIS IS CRITICAL!!! Never enter into the planning process for next year until you’ve critiqued the current year. Otherwise, you risk making the exact same mistakes and you may miss out on some great opportunities!

Here’s what I want you to do. Take your giant Post-It notes and begin to answer the following four questions. Write everything down! Later in the strategy process, you may begin to see recurring themes. Here are your 4 questions to ask with some bullets to help get you heading the right direction under each…

1. What went WELL?
What was your favorite event this year? Why?
What was your favorite message series? Why?
What did you get the most feedback on?

2. What did NOT go well?
What was your least favorite event this year? Why?
What was your least favorite message series? Why?
What did you receive negative feedback on?

3. What was MISSING?
Were you missing a key staff person?
Were there topics that should have been taught?
Were you missing a critical ministry team?

4. What was CONFUSING?
Did you have a staff person who didn’t produce?
Were there any message series that didn’t translate?
Were there dysfunctional ministry teams? Why?

You may have heard those 4 questions before, or variations of them. It’s become one of the standard procedure’s for critiquing in the local church, but it’s incredibly effective. Here’s the key, though…


To have a proper critique, everything must be on the table. If there’s one person on your team who cannot be honest and vulnerable, it will throw the entire process off balance and you won’t get accurate results.

This is the very first step to planning out effective ministry for next year. Get your team together. Get your giant Post-It notes and begin dissecting this previous year and what went well, not so well, what was missing, and what was confusing.

Be Blessed,

PS. I pray you have an incredibly blessed Thanksgiving on Thursday!

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Is your Strategy NO Strategy? Thu, 19 Nov 2015 18:34:04 +0000 clevster We’re drawing close to the end of the year. That means it’s time to talk strategy, planning and preparation for the new year. What I’m going to share with you over the next several posts very well could be the SINGLE GREATEST training that you’ve ever received. If you’re a typical pastor who attended a typical seminary, I would be shocked if you ever received this kind of training.


In fact, NO strategy is still a strategy. It’s not a very wise strategy. Although, in reality, the majority of churches I come in contact with opt for the no-strategy strategy. Wasn’t it Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? If you’re not pleased with the current status of your church, then you need a new strategy!

So, for the next few posts, that’s what we’ll break down. If you’re wondering how to plan out a 12-month message calendar, it all starts with strategy. If you’re wondering what kind of events your church should put together next year, it all starts with strategy. Let me share with you the key elements…

1. Critique
You should never plan next year without first analyzing the previous year. What when well and what didn’t go so well? If you could do it all over again, what would you change and what would you keep the same? I’ll take this to a much deeper level in the next post.

Nope, I’m not talking about the police raiding your church. I’m talking about taking a deep, honest look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. There will always be common themes that will show you the direction you need to head.

3. Key Questions
This one post will be worth all your time. In fact, I’m going to give you a list of questions for you and your pastoral staff to answer that will shed an incredible amount of light on your direction and strategy. I should charge a hundred dollars for this one document, but I’m going to give it to you for free!

4. Connecting The Dots
Once you’ve accomplished all of the above, then it’s time to connect the dots. In other words, what similarities are you seeing between SWOT and all the questions you’ve just answered?

5. Planning
Once you’ve connected the dots, then you’ll see a very clear direction you need to lead your church in the new year. You’ll know the topics you need to preach on. You’ll know the type of events you need to plan. You’ll form a strategy rather than settling for NO strategy.

One final thing. Please know going into the strategy and planning process that this is not something you can sit down and do in a couple of hours. In fact, I take my entire pastoral team off site for close to three days each year just to go through the above five steps. It’s always amazing to see how God works in our hearts throughout that retreat. I’m confident He’ll work in yours as well.

I’ll be back the beginning of next week to talk through the critiquing process. Till then, get ready to plan!

Be Blessed,

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