Just finished reading The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber for my coaching network. What a great read. The point of the book is that the reason many small businesses (and churches) don’t get off the ground or have problems sustaining themselves passed the leadership of the founder is because of very simple reasons. As I read the book, I was struck by his examples of why small businesses struggle and how it pertains to church plants or small churches.
Too many church planters start a church without any systems. So, it is all up to the church planter to make things happen. He has to build the leaders, connect with all the new people, care for everyone in the church and ultimately, everything is connected to him. I think this is why 85% of the churches in America are under 80 people.
One of the things that has been a huge benefit for us at Revolution is the systems we have put into place. Systems when it comes to evangelism, small groups, follow up of new believers, first and second time guests and first time givers, leadership and strategy. Systems have to be in place for a church or a business to be healthy and effective. Especially if your goal is to plant new churches or launch new sites as is our goal at Revolution.
For my coaching network, I had to write down my top takeaways from this book (I inserted church every time he used the word business), so here they are:
- Your church, as a church planter is nothing more than a distinct reflection of who you are. At some point, a church will begin to look and act like the lead pastor. His strengths and weaknesses will be seen in the church at large. His passions and the vision he drives will be seen in the church. If you look around a church and don’t like the lack of evangelism or community or discipleship, look to the lead pastor. Now, this is where churches differ and have different visions and it plays out differently, which I think is a positive thing. It would be a bad thing if every church was alike or tried to be alike.
- A church doesn’t just become a great church. They have to act and think like it first. One of the things we have always tried to do at Revolution is act and think larger than we are. To get somewhere, you must have a goal, and you must think and act to get there. You cannot grow a church from 50 to 200 without at some point thinking and acting like a church of 200, and you must think and act like a church of 200 before you get there. One way to think about this is spiritual readiness, the idea that God sends people to churches that are ready for them, God uses people who are ready and willing to be used. Growth, health and effectiveness in a church does not just happen, it must be prayed for, planned and acted upon.
- Growth and effectiveness has less to do with what’s done in a church and more to do with how it’s done. Brining your A game is something we talk a lot about as leaders at Revolution. Everything must be done to the best of our ability, with excellence. Excellence is simply doing the best you can with what you have. Too many churches are willing to put out thrown together things, whether it is songs, videos, sermons (don’t get me started on lazy preachers), invite cards, mailers, name tags, whatever. When something has your church’s name on it, it represents not only your church, but also Jesus. How you do things is a direct reflection of the gospel and if it is worth your time and hard work. Remember, someone always pays the price, it is either you as a leader or your church/city.
- Systems are the solution to the problems you are experiencing. This idea is throughout the book and worth the price of the book. The reason many churches and leaders fail is because they lack systems to succeed. At some point, the weaknesses you and I have as leaders will become apparent and will hurt your church and mine if we don’t have systems in place. If it was up to me to connect to everyone and care for everyone at Revolution, we would be in trouble. My gifts don’t lie in those areas, so we have created systems where people with those gifts are able to bless the church and use them. My gifts lie in the areas of leadership and teaching and because of the systems we have in place, I am freed up to use them to bless our church.
- A church that looks orderly says to the people who walk through your door, we know what we’re doing. This is the death of many churches, they have no idea what they are doing and it is obvious. Anything from no signs, unclear vision, follow up that doesn’t happen, last minute announcements for events, services that are thrown together, sermons that are not well planned (plan a preaching calendar). All of this says to people, we don’t know what we are doing, we weren’t expecting you but we hope you’ll stay. I think many church planters hope to get by because they are a church plant and not having their act together. The people who walk through your door have full-time jobs, families, kids, they want things to be together, they want church to start on time. Our sign says we start at 5pm, we start at 5pm. All of this speaks volumes to guests, good or ill.
- Have consistency in your experiences. When people show up at your church, do they know what to expect? If someone brings a first time guest, will they feel comfortable knowing what church will be like? This doesn’t mean you can’t have surprises and change things up, but is there a certain level of quality that your church always shoots for? For people to invite someone to church with them, they need to know what church will be like and that they won’t have to apologize to their friend and say, “Sorry, it isn’t normally like this.”
- The difference between great people (and churches) and everyone else is the great ones actively created their lives and churches instead of waiting or hoping it would happen.I hear pastors complain about the culture or city they are in, how unchurched it is and how hard it is to do ministry. It is true, but it is hard for everyone. And don’t forget, our world is not anymore broken or sinful than the first century world in which the apostles turned the world upside down with the gospel. So, pray up, get a vision, get some passion and start moving. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in you as a follower of Jesus, start acting like it.
All in all, a good read. Worth picking up in you are a small business owner, church planter, or pastor of a church.