I had the chance to catch up with Tony Morgan regarding his latest book, Stuck In A Funk?. I highly recommend it. In this interview, Tony shares some great insights for leaders of churches in need of change.
RYAN: Stuck in a Funk has been in the works for a couple of years. What inspired you to write it?
TONY: Well, not to over-spiritualize it, but I really do believe God called me to this mission. From the very beginning of my walk with Christ, I was captivated by the story of the early church…particularly in the Book of Acts. God put something in me to help the local church fulfill its mission. I want the Church to have impact in people’s lives. People need Jesus. It’s what drives me to help churches get unstuck. This book is an outgrowth of that passion and personal mission.
RYAN: You suggest that one reason church plants are effective is because they have a simple structure. I imagine that many leaders of established churches would like to find a magic reset button. How can those leaders begin reducing complexity to get simple again?
TONY: I think you need to begin with the end in mind. Working through a process to clarify mission, vision, values and the church’s core discipleship strategy needs to be a priority. After that’s in place, the church is in a much better position to begin focusing on what’s most important now. That focus will force the church to consider everything it’s doing and how it is stewarding it’s resources–people, leadership, time, space, money, etc. Churches shouldn’t just start cutting programs. That’s a recipe for disaster.
RYAN: You encourage pastors to reach the next generation by giving greater opportunities to younger leaders. To reverse that, how can next generation leaders earn the respect of their older pastors?
TONY: If you want to earn respect, I think you first have to give respect. Young leaders need to acknowledge that though they have wisdom and perspective that may be unique, they don’t have experience. I’ll be honest — I had more answers when I was 25. Now that I have another 20 years of leadership experience under my belt, I learned that I know a lot less than I thought I did. I have a new sense of respect for those who have gone before me that I didn’t have when I was younger. Beyond that, young leaders also need to work hard and stay faithful. That includes staying faithful to your family/spouse, to Jesus, and to the mission God has called you to. In the end, character makes or breaks a leader’s influence and impact.
RYAN: The last part of Stuck In A Funk stresses the need for churches to prioritize messages and stop promoting everything at the same level. Which types of messages deserve the most attention?
TONY: Again, I’ll go back to my response regarding simple structure. You need to begin with clarity of purpose and vision. That will shape your communications priorities. With that, you need to acknowledge the fact that “fairness” will never lead to healthy communications. If you treat every message with the same weight, it will just create noise and cause confusion. We need to be more intentional about what gets communicated when and how. Part of that means we’re going to have to eliminate the competing messages from the various ministries, programs and events in our churches. We need to become one church with one message — helping people take their next steps toward Christ.
Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of TonyMorganLive.com. He’s a consultant, leadership coach and writer who helps churches get unstuck and have a bigger impact. Learn more about Tony and his work here. You can also pick up a copy of Stuck In A Funk?.