The Unstuck Church, by Tony Morgan
Tony Morgan has been a pastor himself, and is currently the lead strategist of The Unstuck Group, whose mission is to help churches get unstuck through consulting and coaching. He focuses on vision, strategy and action. I was made aware of his latest book, The Unstuck Church through my friend and pastor, Mark Barker of Columbia Community Church, here in Richland, Washington. I am very thankful for this recommendation because the book was so timely for me, and for our church team.
As the title suggests, The Unstuck Church is written for lead pastors and church staff members primarily. So I can recommend this book with gusto to you if you are in the role of pastor. However if you are not in that role, while the book could be interesting on some level, it’s probably not going to carry your attention all the way through.
Morgan’s premise is that there are 7 stages of growth (or decline) in every church's history:
- Launch growth
- Momentum growth
- Strategic growth
- Sustained health
- Maintenance (the beginning of decline)
- Life support/death
Being a church planter, I have seen these stages work out. And they are detailed with almost scary accuracy by Morgan in the chapters dedicated to each. You will find your experiences resonating with each stage, seeing how right he is about the traits in each of those seasons of a church’s life. But what makes this book so valuable is his assessment of not just what each stage is, but what each of the first four stages must FOCUS on to move to the next stage. This is so helpful, clear and consequently challenging.
"Growth problems are a lot more fun than decline problems." Tony Morgan
Although it was challenging in that light, for me as a lead pastor it was also somehow comforting. I recognized that although we are not where we want to be ultimately as a church, we are working through the focus points that we should be working on. Often, we can compare our church’s systems and practices to other churches; this is both harmful and frustrating. Morgan makes clear that depending on your stage, not your size, each church has to work on what will get them to the next stage. In Morgan’s model, the goal is for each church to get to the “Sustained Health” stage, and maintain it for the long haul.
These are the characteristics of what I’m hoping churches will experience in this stage of sustained health:
- They grow over time
- They are unified
- They are bearing good fruit
- The ministry is multiplying
- They embrace new
- They are generous
May all of our churches stay unstuck!
I highly recommend this book for lead pastors. For more of Tony Morgan’s resources online, go to theunstuckgroup.com.