You can be stuck and still have a lot of activity
As we begin this case study— with Pastor Mark Cummins— I share some of my story…
You’ll hear about the night my wife confronted me. I was happy with the growth in our church (we were, finally, on fire!). But, I had done so at the expense of… well… just about everything else.
- I hadn’t been on a date night with my wife in years
- I wasn’t empowering my team
- I was doing everything “on my own” rather than equipping others— and then trusting them to
She told me, graciously but bluntly, “I don’t think our daughter even knows you at this point… and, the way you’re running, I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.”
I needed a strategy to make radical change. So, I got coaching and began making adjustments.
This is important…
… and I tell people often.
I didn’t just HOPE for change. I actually CHANGED.
Here’s why: hope isn’t a strategy. And when things need to transform, you need hope + habits you begin implementing daily.
After my adjustments, a few things occurred:
- Our church attendance tippled over just a few months
- My team become more engaged, each of them leading at levels previously unimagined
- Volunteerism and giving sky-rocketed
In other words, the external measures all happened. But, they came AFTER my internal transition.
I believe— and teach— that healthy things grow. And the first thing that needs to become healthier at most churches— though it’s hard to admit— is the point leader.
The markers of success
The markers of success for me are these:
- I changed careers about a decade after my “wake up call” and moved into coaching full time, leaving the church in the hands of a staff member.
- The church continues to grow to this day— with a healthy team (the better you get at team building, the more things can sustain and even GAIN in your absence).
- My wife loves— and respects— me. Our marriage has never been stronger!
- All 3 of my kids love the church— and have dynamic faith lives.
I persisted in unhealthy patterns because I wanted desperately to grow the church. I found, though, that Jesus wants to grow the church more than I do.
But, if He had grown it when and how I wanted Him to, it would have crushed me.
(Maybe the same is true for you, too.)
You’re in one of two groups
We often coach two groups of pastors:
#1 = fast growing churches which need to get healthier
(These churches want to SUSTAIN momentum.)
These leaders (rightly) recognize that if you’re growing fast you actually replicate everything in your DNA. That means that healthy things gets amplified— and unhealthy patterns carry on, as well.
Opportunities become bigger— and so do the problems! These leaders want to include the former, while making sure they exclude the latter.
#2 = churches which are stuck
(These churches want to GAIN momentum.)
As we teach with our Gears of Growth Framework, everything drills down to Culture, Team, or Systems.
Pastor Mark’s church grows and then plateaus
Pastor Mark Cummins is the founding pastor of Church of Hope (Ocala, Florida). His church grew fast— and early. And, they built a great reputation in the area.
By all accounts publicly, things looked great.
But, the leader, when he got gut-honest with himself, felt otherwise.
When we initially met Mark, he said:
“While we experienced some early successes, our church had hit a wall.”
“When I got into the day to day and week to week grind of leading church, all of the tools I had didn’t stay sharp for very long.”
“We were stuck. We had a lot of activity and energy, but we weren’t going anywhere.”
The strategic plan
We lead Mark and his team through the following:
✅ Personal Gears of Growth (assess the leader first, because the leader is the lid— and when the leader grows, the organization can grow)
✅ Organizational Gears of Growth (assess the organization) = every tension and opportunity traces to one of the main three (Culture, Team, Systems)
✅ We helped them develop a strategy to break an attendance barrier in a non-holiday weekend.
(A lot of leaders want to do this ON a holiday weekend, but doing this on a non-holiday weekend identifies people who don’t feel obligated to attend because it’s Christmas or Easter, so you encounter people who are genuinely interested in your church.)
The gear needing attention + results
Through this process, Mark learned that his gear was TEAM. He led great from the stage (and could inspire a crowd), but he had a difficult time transforming individuals into a common vision.
Solomon tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).
The opposite is true, too: “Where this is vision, people come alive and thrive!”
As he implemented the Coaching Pathway, Mark and his church experiecned—
👉 A new unity & synergy among the team
👉 A 30% increase attendance within 90 days of registering for coaching