My final word on being fired by a church

Monday’s rant about churches firing without warning and without a legitimate reason has received an unexpected amount of response. About 20,000 people read the post and almost 3,000 liked it on Facebook. That is a tsunami compared to the response my posts normally generate. There is obviously a lot of emotion around this topic. I have also receive numerous private message from people with open wounds from their interactions with churches. This breaks my heart.

I’m afraid in my haste writing the post I gave the wrong impression about a few things. Let me follow up on some areas where I might have been misunderstood:

  • I love the Church. I work for a church, and I coach pastors all over the country. Although church leaders make terrible decisions and fire people in awful ways, I will not give up on the local church. I have had bad doctors, but I never gave up on medicine. If you have been hurt, please do not give up on the church.
  • I believe there are legitimate reasons to fire a staff member. If you consistently lie, cheat or steal you should be fired. If you don’t keep your word, if you have sexual interactions with people you are not married to, if you repeatedly bring division in the church, you should be fired.
  • While being on staff is similar to being in a family, its not the same. You are not paid to be in your family, you are paid to work for a church.If you don’t do the job you are paid to do the church has just cause to stop paying you.
  • No matter why someone is fired it should never come as a surprise.
  • If you have been hurt by a church you need to meet with a wise counselor. Time does not heal all wounds, time by itself just creates scars.

I promise this will be sealmy last post on churches firing people for a long, long time. I think my next post will be about kittens and bunnies and adorable baby seals. Surely we can all agree on adorable mammals. And seals.

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Monday Rant: Churches who fire without cause

So it happened again last week. Another cool, growing mega-church told a friend he needs to find a new job because he is no longer a fit for their corporate chemistry. Even though they said he consistently hit his goals, and they Fired-300x300had no complaints about the results he was achieving, they decided he wasn’t the style leader they wanted to work with. So now he has to uproot his family from a church they love, leave friendships formed over years of ministry together and find another place to work. The church he is leaving will likely employ a search firm to find someone whose chemistry they prefer who happens to be currently employed at another church. And the merry-go-round continues.

In case you haven’t picked it up yet, this is going to be a rant. I am over the corporate practices so many American churches have adopted that run counter to basic biblical principles of leadership and Christian relationship. Here are my thoughts:

  • If you can’t find a direct correlation between your HR practices and how Jesus treated his disciples, you need to change how you do HR.
  • Jesus never fired a disciple. He didn’t fire Peter for mouthing off in front of Elijah and Moses, he didn’t fire Thomas for doubting the outcome of the mission, and he didn’t fire Philip for missing the point entirely. He didn’t even fire Judas for betraying him. If Jesus didn’t fire, we should be very cautious about how and why we fire.
  • Forcing someone to resign is the same as firing.
  • If the church fired (or forced the resignation) of your predecessor, they will fire you eventually. Trust me on this.
  • Being unwilling to work through relational messiness is a terrible excuse for firing someone. Peter and Paul had serious issues, but they worked it out.
  • Your mission is never more important than your staff; your staff is your mission. If you can’t develop, love and care for your staff, how in the world are you going to develop, love and care for your congregation.
  • There are times when staff should be let go, but this should never come as a surprise. Unless there is a major moral issue, firing should always follow multiple conversations and a well-defined growth plan.
  • A revolving door of staff members is indicative of a deeper problem, and hiring more staff isn’t going to solve the problem. To quote a friend, “How long are you going to work on what’s not the problem before you work on what is the problem?”

That’s probably enough rant for one Monday morning. I’ll leave you with two things to think about:

  • If you lead a church that has a high turnover rate on staff, you may be the problem.
  • If you work at a church that has a high turnover rate on staff, you should polish your resume. Your time is coming.

[I posted an addendum to this post here]

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Six steps to parenting great kids

stick-familyI was talking to a friend who has young kids the other day and he was stressing over an episode he’d had with his son the night before. He said, “If i react in one way it feels like I’m being too strict, if I react in another way it feels like I’m not being strict enough. A lot of time in parenting it feels l like there is no right answer.”

I know the feeling. When our kids were young it felt like their future hung in the balance every time we made a decision. My kids would either grow up and go on Oprah to tell the world how their dad ruined their lives, or end up doing hard time as an axe murderer based solely on whether I got the parenting thing right. The biggest challenge was there wasn’t a manual. There were plenty of parenting books, but no one had a simple guide to great kids.

I have good news. I have finally created just such a guide and I’m giving it to you free today. Not only is it free, but it is six simple steps. If you will follow you these steps I can 100% guarantee how your kids will turn out. Here are the steps:

  1. Keep them in church
  2. Make sure they know you love them every day (or as many days as you can)
  3. Send time with them
  4. Be ok with being hated for once in awhile
  5. Be ok with being a terrible parent once in awhile
  6. Do your best

If you follow these steps I guarantee that your kids will become what they will become. The reality is we can really mess our kids up by being terrible parents (the lock them in the basement kind), but outside of that kids will become what they will become. I have a friend who has four adult children. They raised all four the same, kept them in church, loved them, and spent time with them. Three of them grew up to be successful adults who love Jesus with all their hearts and one grew up to be a complete goofball. Same parenting, wildly different results.

So if you still have kids in the home do your best and trust God. If your kids are already grown give yourself a break. You did your best, what happens now is up to them.

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Sometimes church events hurt more than help

My daughter, who I love with all my heart, didn’t fit the stereotype of the American Girl. She didn’t like to play dress up and she didn’t want Barbie Dolls. She didn’t dream of being a princess or going to the ball. She never understood why other girls would rather cheer on the sidelines than play in the game. She was beautiful, funny and brilliant, but she didn’t want what other mothers thought little girls should want. This wasn’t an issue for me, the only thing I ever wanted for my daughter was to become who God created her to be.

Then my church instituted the Daddy/Daughter Valentines Dance. This was the event that almost every girl dreamed of; a chance to dress up, to go to the ball, to dance with her daddy and giggle with her friends. The dance was organized by a group of my friends who care deeply about children and families. It continues to be a very special night for many fathers and their beautiful little girls.

The question in our house was whether my little girl and I would go to the dance. What kind of father wouldn’t take his daughter on her dream date? My stomach still ties up in knots when I think about the pressure I felt to take my daughter; I can’t imagine the pressure she face from her friends. “What are you going to wear to the dance? What do you mean you don’t want to go?”

We didn’t go. She would have hated every minute because the dance wasn’t her dream. She dreamed of basketball and soccer and playing guitar. One of my favorite daddy/daughter nights was sitting in the freezing rain watching the Women’s USA soccer team play the national team from Iceland, At the end of the game, dripping wet and shivering from the cold, my daughter got so close to her hero, Mia Hamm, she could almost touch her. That was our Daddy/Daughter dance.

There are many times throughout the year when churches unintentionally alienate those who fall outside the mainstream. Women who can’t have children on Mother’s Day, divorced dads on Father’s Day, singles during the annual Marriage Series and people without families during Christmas. No one means to be hurtful, but sometimes it seems like we go out of the way to cause maxIMG_0173.PNGimum pain.

I’m not against Daddy/Daughter dances or Valentines Day or Barbie Dolls (or puppies and kittens for that matter). I love that these type of events are so special to so many families. My encouragement to church leaders as you plan series and events is to remember the people who don’t fit the ideal American mold. Single moms, divorced dads, unmarried adults and little girls who’d rather hit a three than dance with a prince matter too. In your enthusiasm to cater to the mainstream don’t forget those who dance to a different drum.

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Why in the world would you want to go multisite?

Why Logo White copyWhen Seacoast Church launched our first offsite campus in April of 2002 we only knew of a handful of churches around the country that were  one church in multiple locations. Many of our friends (most of whom now lead multisite churches) thought we were crazy. We didn’t go multisite because it was cool, we just couldn’t think of anything else to do.

12 years later multisite has become incredibly popular across the country. Leadership Network estimates there are over 8000 multisite churches in America, and most of the churches listed in Outreach Magazine’s 100 largest and 100 fastest growing churches have multiple locations. So is multisite a good idea for your church?

It depends on several factors. Last week we looked at whether your church is healthy enough to go multisite. Today let’s look at the driving impetus behind opening another physical location. If you can’t answer the “Why” question the “What” won’t matter. Here are a few positive drivers for churches who’ve successfully made the multisite leap:

Rapid Growth

When Seacoast Church went multisite we were out of room. We were doing five identical weekend services and most of them packed. We tried to build a bigger building, but the town turned us down. We opened our second location to make room for more people.

North Point Church tells a very similar story. When they launched their Buckhead Campus they were simply trying to open up seats at the Alpharetta location. There was no grand plan to spread across the country, they were simply out of options.

The most effective driver of multisite is rapid growth. When a church is adding new attenders on a weekly basis there is forward momentum that overcomes many of the challenges of multiple campuses. Conversely, a church not growing on one campus won’t grow at two locations. Multisite almost never jump starts growth where none exists.

Underserved Community

Another positive driver for a church adding locations is moving into an underserved community. My definition of an underserved community is one where

  • There are few, if any, vibrant life-giving churches or
  • There is a people group, culture or demographic not being reached by existing churches or
  • There is a rapidly growing community with a limited number of healthy churches

One caution about labeling a community as underserved; avoid the phrase “no good churches in town”. There are good churches in almost every community in America. They may not look, smell or sound like the amazing grace bomb you’re about to drop on the local middle school, but there is likely a good church already in the community. Know before you go.

God-sized Opportunity

Seacoast’s second offsite campus is located 100 miles away in Columbia, South Carolina. Opening a campus in Columbia wasn’t a response to growth or even moving into an underserved community; a church we had helped plant five years before asked to be adopted into the Seacoast family. Today that campus has nearly 400 attenders every weekend and launched a second campus in the Columbia area.

It is becoming common for churches to adopt other congregations. There are many reasons this can be a win-win if done correctly. (You can read more about healthy church mergers here) One caution, not every chance to merge is good idea. A mentor once told me that “opportunity can be temptation in disguise.” If you are considering adopting (or being adopted) go slow, keep your eyes wide-open for pitfalls, and be willing to walk away if it becomes apparent that the merger won’t be healthy.

A final word of caution; going multisite will likely cost more, take longer, and be more difficult than you imagine. Multisite makes a terrible hobby. Make sure you have a solid “Why” before making the decision to go  multisite.

You can find further information on multisite churches in The Multisite Church Revolution and The Multisite Church Roadtrip.



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