What Does Your Primary Customer Value?

In an earlier post, I discussed the importance of knowing your Primary Customer. If you haven’t read it, go back and read that post first. As important as it is to know your Primary Customer, it’s not enough. You must get under their skin to know and feel their pain points.

Here is where we get hung up: we tend to project our organization’s values onto our customer. And not because we are selfish, it’s just faster and easier to do this. It might be time to pause for a few hours, gather your team and make some key discoveries.

Here’s how:

  • Gather your team and make a long list of what you believe your Primary Customer values.
  • Consider their needs, wants and aspirations.
  • Consider their life rhythms and relationships.
  • Ask “Is that their value or our value?"
  • Narrow the long list down to 4-5 and ask...

“If we provide these values to these customers with more frequency and intentionality, would we experience increasing momentum?"

Do you have consensus? If so, get these values in front of your team. Talk about them as often as you can. Filter your plans and initiatives through these values.

@@Your organization will plateau when your vision doesn’t speak to your customer’s values.@@

Lastly, you may be thinking, “Can’t I just ask them what they value?” You could. But I don’t believe people always know what they need or want. They do know what you want to hear though, and they will tend to tell you that instead. Be sure to really pay attention to what they communicate through the life they live.

What does your primary customer value?

Church Health Check-Up: Giving

Last week in our Church Health Check-Up series, we looked at people in groups, and today we want to look at giving.

Once again, we'll look at what I’ve learned as we launched and have grown through our first 5 years. We’ll also use this number as a barometer to ask certain questions when you’re above or below.

Healthy Per Head Giving Number:

$26

To figure this out, simply take your total annual giving divided by your average attendance and divide by 52 (weeks in a year). What do you end up with? The average number for the Church in America is around $26.

Things to consider when checking your health against this metric:

If Below $26

  • Are you pastoring and teaching about giving?
  • Do you invite people to give and talk about giving on a weekly basis?
  • Are you making giving too difficult?
  • Do you have a singular person who is responsible for stewardship?

If Above $26

  • Are you thanking regularly?
  • Are you tracking and affirming new givers?
  • Are you gathering your top percentage to thank and remind how their sacrifice is powering your church’s mission?
  • Has a campaign made you successful?

In our case:

Mission Church has always been fiscally healthy, since our Lead Pastor raised a healthy amount of funds to launch the church. Our giving has stayed above the healthy line, almost on accident, we have felt at times. This has caused complacency when it comes to pastoring towards giving. We are discovering that – in the midst of healthy giving trends – there is a huge opportunity to teach and equip others in the discipline and sacrifice of giving to the local church. @@Do you allow fiscal health to distract pastoral teaching towards generosity?@@

So when it comes to giving, where do you stand? How is it affecting your church?

Church Health Check-Up: People in Groups

Last week in our Church Health Check-Up series, we looked at volunteers serving in your church. Today, I want to shift to the percentage of people connecting in small groups.

Once again, we'll look at what I’ve learned as we launched and have grown through our first 5 years. We’ll also use this number as a barometer to ask certain questions when you’re above or below.

Healthy Percentage of Adults & Students in Groups:

50%

To figure this out, simply take your total number of Adults and Students in a Small Group and divide that by the number of Students & Adults in attendance on the weekend. What do you end up with? The average number for the Church in America is around 45-55%.

Things to consider when checking your health against this metric:

If Below 50%

  • Are you running groups in terms instead of groups beginning and running forever?
  • Are your group leaders great at filling their group or are your groups dependent on a large push from the stage to fill them?
  • Have you cast a compelling vision around why connecting in a group is connected to initial spiritual growth?
  • Do you have a culture of apprenticeship and multiplication with your groups?

If Above 50%

  • Are groups catalyzing sustained spiritual growth that leads to discipleship?
  • Are groups causing your church and your people to be more missional?
  • Are groups the end you have in mind for your people or is there something more to call them to?

In our case:

Mission Church has always sustained a Group Rate of above 50%, typically around 60%. We load groups in January, May and September, and each group term takes place during those 3 months in between. This rhythm provides breaks and rest and encourages apprenticeship and the starting of new groups. We believe groups, for our first 5 years, have contributed to our sustained growth by helping people connect to one another. We also have recognized that groups (as we have done them) put a ceiling on people’s spiritual growth. The next 5 years will look very different when it comes to how we are helping people follow Christ…more to come!

If you’re a Church Planter or leading a young church, I would lean heavy into building a healthy small group ministry to promote the growth of your church and the initial spiritual growth of your people. If you are hitting the 3-5 year mark, here’s what I would say to you: @@Your church has a mission statement. Your church has small groups. How aligned are the two?@@

So when it comes to small groups, where do you stand? How is it affecting your church?

Church Health Check-Up: Volunteers

Last week in our Church Health Check-Up series, we looked at Kids & Students in attendance at your church. Today, I want to shift to the percentage of people serving in a volunteer capacity at your church.

Once again, we'll look at what I’ve learned as we launched and have grown through our first 5 years. We’ll also use this number as a barometer to ask certain questions when you’re above or below.

Healthy Percentage of Adults & Students Serving:

50%

To figure this out, simply take your total number of volunteers and divide that by the number of Students & Adults in attendance. What do you end up with? The average number for the Church in America is around 45%.

Things to consider when checking your health against this metric:

If Below 50%

  • Are you overstaffed? Churches with larger staffs tend to have a lower percentage of people serving. The large staff begins to do the ministry rather than lead others to do the ministry.
  • Have you cast a compelling vision around why serving the local church is connected to initial spiritual growth?
  • Have you communicated the need? Most people come and go on a Sunday assuming you have all the help you need.

If Above 50%

  • Are new people attending your church? If you’re getting up near the 60% mark, you’ve probably seen a decrease in new attendees.
  • Serving may have become the end rather than the means. @@A serving role in church must lead to discipleship.@@ If people aren’t growing out of their roles and developing others into it, you’ve made serving the priority and not leadership and discipleship.

In our case:

Mission Church has always been portable, so there has never been a shortage of need. But we’ve done a poor job, at times, communicating our need. We often hear from people, “I didn’t think you needed my help.”  This breaks our heart, because while there is a need, we love seeing people find their way off the sideline quickly at our church. Our first 3 years of ministry, we were in the 55-60% range and have moved into the 40-45% range the past 18 months.

So when it comes to people serving, where do you stand? How is it affecting your church?

Church Health Check-Up: Kids & Students

As the Church in America gets knee-deep into this Fall ministry season, are you getting healthier? What does health look like? I have found that no single number will tell you your health, but monitoring it by setting a barometer leads to health. It’s simple. Set a metric. When it surpasses, ask “Why?” and “How is this affecting us?” And when it dips, do the same.

I want to begin to look at what I’ve learned are healthy metrics for our church as we launched and have grown through our first 5 years. And today, I want to focus on Kids & Students' attendance ratios.

Percentage of Kids (Baby-5th Grade) in Attendance:

20%

To figure this out, simply take your total church attendance number (including kids) and divide that by the number of kids baby-5th Grade in attendance. What do you end up with?

Percentage of Students (6th-12th Grade) in Attendance:

10%

To figure this out simply take your total church attendance number (including students) and divide that by the number of students 6th-12th grade in attendance. What do you end up with?

Things to consider when checking your health against these metrics:

  • Don’t immediately jump down the throat of the ministry director if the number is too low
  • Has the church’s overall strategy supported these ratios?
  • Does the demographic you are reaching reflect these ratios?

In our case:

Mission Church is a suburban church in a metropolitan area. The average age of our leadership is 35, therefore we should target and attract young families. Only 10% of churches have more than 30% kids, and our goal isn’t to get there. For us, 20% is healthy. We value the Baby Boomer (52-70 in 2016) generation in our church. If we climbed towards 30%, that older generation is probably getting squeezed out. For Students, you will rarely launch at 10%. Instead, you will grow into it. This metric ensures that your Generation Xers are present and that your kids ministry is effectively bridging kids into their next phase as a student.

So when it comes to kids & students, where do you stand? How is it affecting your church?

Strategy 06 // What’s Your Plan of Attack?

Now that your Defining Objectives are set, the goal is to accomplish them. In my last five years of leading a team, I've had seasons of leading with Defining Objectives and seasons without. I’m currently in my first season of seeing quick and consistent results with our team’s Defining Objectives. Here’s how:

1. Appoint a Leader

If there isn’t a singular person responsible, it won’t get done. Each Objective Leader has a team, but the leader is responsible. A person should also lead only one team, making it their primary focus.

2. Assemble Teams

Each team should consist of multiple team members. While a person should only lead one team, they can contribute to 2-3 teams. You should be able to place people, based on their passion and competency, into the right teams. Make up a draft roster and present it to your staff. Allow them to discuss, make any recommended shifts, and sign off on the Objective Teams.

3. Analyze your Starting Point

At the first meeting, each team should do a SWOT analysis on the Defining Objective.

  • What are our current strengths? (Within the objective)
  • What are our current weaknesses? (Within the objective)
  • What are our current opportunities? (Outside of the objective)
  • What are our current threats? (Outside of the objective)

4. Assign Tasks

Based on the SWOT analysis, determine which 4-6 tasks need to be assigned to accomplish the objective. Tasks should be descriptive, not prescriptive. Tasks should describe a preferred future, not a preferred path. Each task should be owned by one team member. 

5. Align with Meetings

No one loves meetings. But when meetings are actually focused on moving Defining Objectives forward, they're energizing to an individual and a team. We shifted a key maintenance meeting to report status updates on Defining Objectives by Team Leaders. We’ve also found that tasks aren’t agreed upon and accomplished without conversation. Schedule meetings and checkins to move your objectives forward.

@@Objectives are accomplished with a description of the preferred future first, and a prescription of a preferred plan second.@@ Follow these steps, and accomplish your team’s Defining Objectives.

Are you seeing results on your objectives? What is your action plan?


This is the sixth post in a series on strategy.

Strategy 05 // What Are You Moving Toward?

So you’ve done the work of setting your team’s Thematic Goal – now what? It’s time to figure out what the team is actually moving toward. Patrick Lencioni calls these Defining Objectives.

By definition, these are temporary, qualitative components that serve to clarify exactly what is meant by the thematic goal; shared by all members of the team (and usually varying in number from four to six). Defining objectives provide a level of specificity so the thematic goal isn’t merely a slogan but rather a specific and understandable call to action.

1. Make a list.

Based on your primary customer and knowing what has momentum and what doesn’t, it’s time to make an exhaustive list, at first, of what will move your church toward its preferred future.

2. Narrow the list.

After the list is up, have your team discuss the list. You are looking for items that can be paired into a single objective. Typically, when multiple items can be grouped together, that’s a sign that it is likely a Defining Objective. You are also looking for non-agreement. When a team member pitches an objective and no one else gets excited, it’s not a Defining Objective. When 1 or 2 more team member do show energy, it’s probably a Defining Objective.

3. Save the rest for later.

Isolate your top 5. These are now your Defining Objectives. What remains should be saved and discussed the next time you set strategy and refresh your Thematic Goal.

Similar to your Thematic Goal, Defining Objectives help you know where to focus your team’s energy. If you aim to accomplish the entire list of objectives, you will probably accomplish nothing. Defining Objectives ensure that you aren’t wasting away in maintenance mode. Instead, you are allocating energy for making your church better at accomplishing its mission.

@@You can’t maintain your church toward movement. You must make it better for mission.@@

What are your church's Defining Objectives? Do you know what you're moving toward?


This is the fifth post in a series on strategy.

Strategy 04 // What's The Most Important Thing?

When was the last time your team asked the question, “What’s the most important thing right now?” In every season of your church, something new should be rising to the top as the primary focus to accomplish your mission.

The answer to the question, “What’s the most important thing right now?” shouldn’t remain the same. Why? Because your organization should be growing and changing. When this happens, there are new objectives to accomplish your mission.

In his book The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni calls the answer to this question your Thematic Goal. It can also be known as your Rallying Cry. He states that a Thematic Goal’s purpose is to give a clear direction for the entire organization for a fixed period of time. And defines it as a single, qualitative focus that is shared by the entire leadership team—and ultimately by the entire organization—and that applies for only a specified period of time.

In the process of setting strategy for our next season at Mission, we have defined our Thematic Goal as:

Clarify the purpose. Simplify the process.

Here are statements/questions that helped us arrive at our Thematic Goal:

  • If we accomplish one thing during the next x months, what would it be?
  • If we do not accomplish ____________, we have failed.
  • What compelling statement summarizes the short-term goals we hope to accomplish?
  • What is unique to this season and unlike others?

You can aim to do everything this next season or even just try to improve everything. However, @@when everything is important, nothing is.@@

What is the most important thing right now for your church?


This is the fourth post in a series on strategy.

Strategy 03 // Do You Know Your Primary Customer?

Choosing the right customer is the first step in a winning strategy.
— Robert Simons, Harvard Business Professor

In the world of church, we have the greatest value proposition to offer people: the gospel. And because of the truth of the gospel, everyone on earth becomes the demographic we aim to reach. To narrow our focus to a smaller group would be to exclude people, right?

Here are two reasons why we must define our primary customer:

1. Our Resources Are Limited

All churches are limited in resources, whether it appears so or not. There is only so much time, energy, money and people you can throw at a customer base. By focusing your resources to a specific people group, you will maximize your investment of resources to that people group.

2. Their Attention Is Limited

All people are limited in their attention. The church has never competed for people’s attention so much as it does in today’s day in age. And it won’t get easier. By focusing on a primary customer base, you can compete for greater attention with them. You can deliver the same message 5 times to a single group instead of 1 time to multiple groups.

Here’s how to define your primary customer:

  • Assess who your current customer base is. Who engages with your church?
  • Acknowledge you will tend to reach who you are. What is the demographic of your staff/team?
  • Analyze the long list. What characteristics can be grouped into a primary customer?

Here is our primary customer: Young families in The 10 who don’t attend church.

To adhere to a primary customer is to believe that a deeper investment in a smaller group will spread to other people groups. Could your church could be stewarding its resources to better serve a primary customer? @@The broader your customer base, the more limited your resources and their attention become.@@

Who is your church’s primary customer?


This is the third post in a series on strategy.

Strategy 02 // Are You Wasting Your Church’s Resources?

Image courtesy of  pexels.com

Image courtesy of pexels.com

The simplest way to explain strategy is planning for tomorrow, today

We must stop once a year to gain perspective on where we stand as churches when it comes to our effectiveness. Everything we do has a life cycle, and nothing lasts forever. @@Too often, we waste our resources rescuing the things that are dying and neglect to maximize the things that are growing.@@

Our staff team at Mission just went through two intense days of the StratOp Process, developed by Tom Paterson. We spent almost the entirety of day one gaining perspective on where we’ve been and where we currently stand. The best exercise we did was the Life Cycle Analysis.

Here’s how it works:

Make an exhaustive list of everything you do as a church. And I mean everything. Everything you do that currently has any life in it. Then plot it on the chart asking these questions:

Is it accelerating?

  • Is it brand new and just catching momentum?
  • Has it picked up steam with even better days ahead of it?

If so, find ways to energize these things with vision, people and dollars.

Is it booming?

  • Is it one of your most effective things?
  • Is it at the early stages of it’s climb?
  • Has it been climbing for awhile and in danger of plateauing?

If so, continue to energize and celebrate the things in the early stages, but be prepared to reinvent the things that are close to their plateau. When things plateau and don’t get reinvented, they begin to decelerate.

Is it decelerating?

  • Are its best days behind it?
  • Is it starting to lose priority and energy?

If so, chances are low you can rescue it, and chances are high it will begin to tank. What I am learning is to kill it early before it tanks. While this may hurt some people’s feelings in the short run, in the long run it saves resources by allowing you to shift them to things that are accelerating.

Is it tanking?

  • Has it lost all of its priority and energy, but it's still hanging around?
  • Is it the thing nobody wants to mention, but everybody knows it’s dead?

If so, celebrate the impact it had, and learn when and why it began to decelerate and eventually tank.

Energize the accelerating, celebrate the booming, reinvent the plateauing, kill the decelerating, learn from the tanking.

What are some of your most exciting, accelerating projects? How can you shift your resources to give them more life?


This is the second post in a series on strategy.