CNLP 280: Ron Edmondson on The Essentials For Helping a Stagnant Church Grow Again, How to Handle Your Critics, and the Changing Landscape of Leadership

It’s easy to write off a stuck or plateaued church as irrelevant or bound to close, but that’s not what happened when Ron Edmondson became senior pastor of a church of 1000 in Lexington Kentucky. Under Ron’s leadership, Immanuel Baptist grew from 1000 attenders to over 3000 in six years and is firmly positioned for the future.

Ron explains the keys to turning a church around, how to handle critics, and we talk about his new job as CEO of Leadership Network and how the leadership landscape is changing.

Welcome to Episode 280 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Guest Links

Ron Edmondson | Leadership Network | The Mythical Leader

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3 Insights from Ron

1. When revitalizing a church, look at the last good thing that has happened in the church and start from there

Ron has helped with a lot of church revitalizations. One of the biggest lessons he has learned is that when you begin to bring big changes to a church (or any organization) you have to look back at the last good thing the church did and was excited about, point to it, and say, “We need to do more of that.”

If you can point people to the good things in the past, and say “remember when,” you will get lots of early adopters. They will hop on board with the new vision because they can easily visualize what the new normal can become. This is a huge part of starting a revitalization out on the right foot.

2. How should we think about online attendance?

Online church attendance has begun to take place of regular Sunday morning attendance. A big debate in the church world nowadays is: “Does online church attendance count?” Carey and Ron have both been diving into this conversation and asking hard questions of some of the top leaders in North America.

Ron has begun to see that many people are just as evangelistic and outreach focused if they are attending online. They are sharing the messages with their co-workers, and they truly feel like a member of the church. This is a good sign, but the goal of online attendance should always be to bring people into true discipleship and community in person. That is possible with online church, but it is much more probable if we can get people to begin to come in person.

3. When transitioning an organization, the right fix trumps a quick fix every time

When you step into a new organization, it is really common to want to make quick fixes right away. Ron has had to learn that this is not always the best approach. The quick fix never solves the problem. He has learned that it is best to come in and lead by learning. The longer he can wait, the closer to the right fix he will get.

There are some decisions you have to make quickly. Sometimes everybody knows that there are certain employees that just have to go. You can make those decisions fast, but the bigger strategy decisions, like company values and product releases, take time to nail down. If you wait to gain more context you will be better equipped to create a successful long-term solution.

Quotes from Episode 280

The new challenge that the church is facing is the decline of regular attendance on Sunday. @RonEdmondson Click To Tweet

3% of the Bay area will be at church on Sunday morning, but 76% will be at work on Monday morning. What you do on Monday is as important as what you do on Sunday. @RonEdmondson Click To Tweet

Quick is the enemy of right. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Every zip code has a different struggle. @RonEdmondson Click To Tweet

If you don't know who you're trying to minister to, you'll give them the wrong remedy. @RonEdmondson Click To Tweet

I've never seen decreasing attendance lead to increasing devotion. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 280

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Next Episode: Heather Zempel

Heather Zempel is a biological engineer who started working as a policy advisor to a US Senator on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. She now works with Mark Batterson doing ministry on Capitol Hill. In a wide ranging interview, Heather describes the culture in DC during the 90s and early 2000s and compares it to how it is today. She talks about reaching young adults in the city, developing young leaders, and why she’s rethinking her groups and teaching strategy as DC becomes more and more post-Christian.

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3 Comments

  1. Randal Troop on July 30, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    Carey,

    What do you feel are the best 2-3 non church related leadership conferences to attend? I hear you talk about Orange Conference and Rethink leadership but these sound like they are geared for church leaders. I am a strong christian but I do not work in the church and I am looking for a good leadership conference to attend. Thank you.

  2. ESTHER A. OLUTENDE on July 30, 2019 at 4:15 am

    You are right in most instances, now what my church requires is finances! the congregation in this church can barely meet the church expenses let alone their own needs. Most of the squabbles/wrangles are on finances which is short coming as the little gotten can to even pay for the land on which mud walled church stands!

    My humble question? is there a church that can connect with ours “VICTORY CHURCH” to help us fund raise so as to reduce wrangles and have a title deed for our church land? We need help.

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