Developing a Leadership Pipelinepodcaststrategy

Coaching on Rebuilding a “New” Launch Team for Your Church with Shawn Lovejoy

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We’re chatting with Shawn Lovejoy, the founder and CEO of Courageous Pastors and Courage to Lead. His work is all about coaching leaders around what keeps them up at night and focuses on personal and organizational growth.

Shawn is talking with us about building and redeploying healthy teams in our churches after the struggles of the last couple of years.

  • A switch in the focus. // Shawn says that three years ago, before so much of the upheaval we’ve experienced, 90% of his talks with pastors were on the nuts and bolts side of leading a church and 10% on the personal side. Today with everything we have going on in our world, that has now switched to 90% personal and 10% nuts and bolts. Shawn’s organization talks with pastors about getting back up and finding confidence and courage again.
  • Grieve the loss, then move ahead. // Grieve the loss that you had in your church since the pandemic, but then focus on moving ahead. Look at the church leaders currently on your staff as your new launch team and pour into them. Rebuild the team you’ve got and deploy them to equip your people to live out the church’s mission.
  • Look at building leaders at every level. // The opportunity for church leaders now is not to focus on getting more followers, but rather building leaders at every level. Look for people who aren’t just ministry doers, but ministry developers. Build teams from the staff to lay leaders to volunteers. Train your staff team to replicate themselves and give their jobs away. In doing so they make themselves indispensable rather than being bottlenecks. And building a strong leadership culture at your church will strengthen you at the center so you can stand firm when the next challenge comes your way.
  • Culture, team, and systems. // Shawn’s book Building a Killer Team Without Killing Yourself or Your Team helps leaders move ahead with becoming a better leader and team builder. Shawn can trace every growing or non-growing church back to three things—the culture, the team, and the systems—and he coaches around these three gears of growth. The number one thing that keeps church leaders awake at night is people. We need to stop believing that if we can hire a certain person it will solve all of our problems. Instead we need to learn to develop our people on healthy teams.
  • Build great, healthy teams. // Shawn’s process to building healthy teams focuses five pillars. This sequence includes fostering togetherness, recruiting and building great talent, bolstering accountability, structuring for growth and peace, and maintaining rhythms and finish lines.
  • Be clear and honest with your staff. // We all would love to acquire the best team ever. But we all have folks on our teams who aren’t meeting expectations. As a leader, part of developing staff member means talking to them when we are not happy with their performance. By doing so we can help them get realigned, or they may recognize the current position isn’t right for them. Be clear and honest about not meeting your expectations. It allows them to hear from the Holy Spirit on where they are called and whether they should opt out. Offer clarity and honesty on where they are winning and not winning, on what’s acceptable and not acceptable.

You can learn more about Building a Killer Team Without Killing Yourself or Your Team at To get coaching help, listen to the Courageous Pastors podcast, and explore more free resources that can help your church, visit Courageous Pastors at

Thank You for Tuning In!

There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons you see at the left hand side of this page. Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and you can bet that I read every single one of them personally!

Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live!

Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: CDF Capital

Since 1953, CDF Capital has helped Christians and churches embrace their part in this story by providing the 3 kinds of capital every congregation needs for growth—Financial Capital, Leadership Capital, and Spiritual Capital. At CDF Capital, we care about each of these components. When a church is properly resourced financially, spiritually, and in leadership, lives are transformed.

Sign-up to learn more about CDF Capital and how we can help your church grow. Receive a 50% discount on a monthly subscription to the CDF Capital Subscribe & Save Bundle.

Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Hey, friends welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have decided to tune in. You know today we’ve got a leader you’re going to want to lean in on and and learn from. We’ve got a leader of leaders – someone who’s connected with just so many great people across the country. We’ve got Shawn Lovejoy – he’s the founder and CEO of Courage to Lead which is all about coaching leaders around what keeps them up at night. They really facilitate organizational and personal growth for leaders. He has a real diverse background. He’s been a church planter, a pastor, a real estate developer, entrepreneur, a leadership coach. He is the host of the Courage to Lead podcast and just a fantastic guy. Plus he’s written ah a book that we want to make sure you hear more about. So Shawn, welcome to the show. So glad you’re here. Welcome back to the show. You’ve been on again which is nice, which if you’re longtime listener, you know we don’t do that often. So glad so glad to have Shawn back.

Shawn Lovejoy — Honored to be with you and honored to be your friend, and I’m glad you and I have a relationship, man, because you’re one of the smartest guys that I know, but you’re also one of the most approachable and accessible guys that I know. So I just appreciate that about you.

Rich Birch — Oh thanks so much, Shawn. Why don’t you kind of fill out this Shawn story a little bit for folks that might not know who you are. Tell us a little bit about yourself, give us that kind of a bit of the story there.

Shawn Lovejoy — Yeah, so I didn’t grow up wanting to be a pastor. Nobody my family had ever been in ministry, you know. I grew up in Alabama, man. We are all my my grandparents and all his brothers – they were all in bar fights. They’d all been stabbed and shot, you know, and so and then my my grandfather broke the cycle. Um, godly man, you know, and got his family back in church. So um, I’m third generation you know Christ follower. You know my dad was the same – Baptist deacon, you know and but all I ever want to do is follow in his steps and do real estate. And I got my real estate license when I was 19 years old, started selling real estate on the side. By the time I’m 21 I’m making a 6 figure income, and that was in the early 90s, Rich.

Rich Birch — Yes, back when 6 figures was like a big deal.

Shawn Lovejoy — That’s that’s when 6 figures was a lot of money. Yeah.

Rich Birch — Yes, exactly. Wow.

Shawn Lovejoy — And I started teaching a college and career Sunday school class.

Rich Birch — Oh nice.

Shawn Lovejoy — Yeah, you didn’t know this part of my story did you?

Rich Birch — Ah I didn’t know this this is new. This is great.

Shawn Lovejoy — And and God swept the whole church really up in revival out of our Sunday school class.

Rich Birch — That’s cool.

Shawn Lovejoy — And like ruined us in the best way. And I walked in and told my dad I was leaving the family business and going to be a pastor.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Shawn Lovejoy — And he compared me to David Koresh that day. You know he told me he said even David Koresh thought he was doing God’s will.

Rich Birch — Oh gosh – that’s a great opening line. Oh my goodness. Nice like it worked. Yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — Ah ah well it made no sense. You know what I’m saying. And so served a couple traditional churches and then moved to metro Atlanta and started a church. You know it kind of grew, despite my preaching, into a megachurch. But I always felt like a business guy trapped in a pastor’s body.

Rich Birch — Okay.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know and I realized that I was good at the between Sunday stuff. Which is what seminary does not teach you…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes, yes, right.

Shawn Lovejoy — …thus the need for this podcast.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — Like I I started the church when I was 28, Rich. I was starting a church and I had never led a staff meeting.

Rich Birch — Right. Amazing. Yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — I had never hired anyone much less fired anyone before, nor had anyone ever taught me how to do any of that. So we had we had four and a half hour staff meetings on Mondays.

Rich Birch — Nice – sort it all out. Get it all figured out on Monday.

Shawn Lovejoy — That’s how I started. And so through great coaching you know and and school of hard knocks, you know and then I started coaching leaders. You know, just how to get better between Sundays, and how to stay sane, centered, and married in the process, like that’s that’s an important tenet of you know my coaching over the years.

Rich Birch — Amy Amy

Shawn Lovejoy — And so made the second scariest decision I made eight years ago to hand off the church and go full-time coaching.

Rich Birch — Right.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know and we’ve been coaching marketplace and ministry leaders now for the last eight years, and I’m having the time of my life. We’ve got 17, 18 coaches now, you know it’s just crazy what God’s done. So.

Rich Birch — That’s so good.

Shawn Lovejoy — I never walked off a stage when I was a megachurch pastor, Rich, and said I like, I was made for that, honestly.

Rich Birch — Okay, interesting. Yes, yeah, yeah, totally.

Shawn Lovejoy — But like you know how that is, like I walk out of coffee shops and boardrooms now all the time and I’m like man, I’m good at that.

Rich Birch — Yes, love that. Yeah yeah, totally.

Shawn Lovejoy — God’s given me a gift I’m, you know so I can I’m decent on a stage, but I’m I’m better in circles than I am in rows.

Rich Birch — Yeah, right. So good. And so you really have two parts of what you do. There’s the Courage to Lead side, which is is really about marketplace leaders—correct me if I’m wrong—and then you’ve got kind of the courageous pastor side which is about coaching pastors. Help me understand those two – give us like… I want to focus in on what you’re seeing in pastors particularly, but kind of talk to us about the two parts of what you do.

Shawn Lovejoy — Well I always felt like because I had a previous life, you know outside vocational Ministry, a lot of what we were teaching was scalable to the marketplace. You know and I wrote my first book to pastors The Measure of Our Success with Baker Books. The editor of my book cried he said I’ve never been a pastor but all this personal leadership stuff you’re teaching like man, I need to hear this. I could… he tried to get me to expand it to marketplace leaders as well and I just said no, I just want to write to pastors. Because I’d had several pastors disqualify themselves in the process of building this thing they were building, and just passionate about it. So the goal all along was to take the organizational design principles and leadership principles that I’ve learned from great coaches, and scale it from the ministry into the marketplace as well, and we’ve been able to do that. For a while they lived under the same brand, you know, now we have Courage to Lead and Courageous Pastors and we’re coaching both.

Rich Birch — Yeah, so good. Well you spent a lot of time thinking about leaders. A part of why I love you and what I love what you do is there are folks who are in this space of you know, helping church leaders who I get the vibe from sometimes that that they just see us as a market. They just see us as like, hey we’re trying to like sell junk to churches. And that’s not you at all. I really do you give out the vibe and I’ve seen it consistently of your love for church leaders. Um, and which I I just want to hero and champion I think is fantastic. You spend a lot of time thinking about church leaders, talking to church leaders. What are you seeing these days? You know we’re coming up on 600 episodes I wanted to get you on and kind of tap your kind of meta thinking around where are church leaders at? What are you wrestling in what are they wrestling with? What are you hearing them thinking about consistently these days?

Shawn Lovejoy — Well I would say you know first of all, you know three years ago 90% of my discussion with pastors was on the nuts and bolt side. 10% was on the personal side. Three years later the backside of political tensions, and pandemic pandemics, and racial tensions, and every other kind of possible accusation that pastors could have thrown at them in the last three years, you know it’s now 90% personal and 10% nuts and bolts.

Rich Birch — Flip-flopped. Interesting. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — Like a lot of church leaders lost their swagger, I call it.

Rich Birch — No, it’s true.

Shawn Lovejoy — In in the last three years like we we just we’re just trying to stay out of off the front page, stay out of the headlines…

Rich Birch — Yeah, yes, yep.

Shawn Lovejoy — …you know not be accused of something we didn’t do, trying to be so careful and so tentative. If you’re not careful, you still can get in that mode where you’re playing defense all the time. You know so one of the things we’re talking a lot to pastors about is like, hey we got to get back off of our heels and get back up on the balls of our feet again. We got to start thinking. Let’s not let’s don’t move the target, move the bullseye, settle for less. Like the Lord wants your church to grow, more than you do.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s so good.

Shawn Lovejoy — So don’t over spiritualize this. Okay, he wants your church healthy things grow so we need to hold ourselves accountable to that and we can’t blame the pandemic forever. We got to we got to get back, you know and play offense. But that takes some you know some some they got to get their confidence, their courage back, you know to to take new ground in Jesus’ name.

Rich Birch — Yeah, let’s talk about that. So I love that. I’ve seen that as well. I think there is we’ve all taken a hit in these last number of years.

Shawn Lovejoy — We all have. Yeah.

Rich Birch — And and it’s this sense of like, oh gosh I’m not sure, you know what is it that God’s calling us to do. I do sense that there’s a pivot, as in conversations I’m having, there’s more and more leaders are leaning into… they’re not talking about rebuilding. We’re we’re done thinking about the percentage of people that were with us in 2019.

Shawn Lovejoy — Yeah.

Rich Birch — We’re like okay these are the people that are here. Let’s let’s build from here. What are you doing to help them get back in the game? What kind of coaching are you giving them? How are you helping but to kind of regain that swagger as you say? What’s that look like?

Shawn Lovejoy — One, you know I’ve been telling a lot of guys—it’s a beautiful biblical metaphor.

Rich Birch — Right.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know in Jewish culture some still true but ah orthodox do, you know, that when they when there’s a death, they have ah a period of grieving publicly signified by the sackcloth and ashes idea. But then there’s like that day of declaration when when the the period of grieving is over, and widows date again. It’s okay to ask a widow out on a date.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know I’ve told pastors like you need to grieve the loss that we had because that will affect you. It’s called PTSD and as much as 50% of pastors could be clinically diagnosed with PTSD. I really but do believe that. But there comes a day of declaration when it’s no more. We’re no more focused on the loss, like you say.

Rich Birch — Right, right, right.

Shawn Lovejoy — We don’t have 70%, we don’t have 80%, we got 100% – that’s what we got. We got a new launch team for the next level.

Rich Birch — Right. Yeah so good. Yeah I love that. Yes, yep.

Shawn Lovejoy — So we’re not going to talk about who’s missing anymore. We’re not going to talk about who’s left anymore. End of discussion. And I think there’s power in saying, no more. After today we got what we got, we’re going with the goers. The good news is everyone hasn’t left…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — …and and now we’re going to develop a strategy to take what we’ve got and treat them as a launch team to go into the future.

Rich Birch — Okay.

Shawn Lovejoy — And there’s power I think there’s spiritual and emotional power in that.

Rich Birch — Yeah, so you haven’t heard episodes that we’re recording so Greg Surratt said exactly the same thing. He was like, listen friends we have to treat the people that are…

Shawn Lovejoy — He probably stole it from me somewhere.

Rich Birch — Yeah I’m sure he, you know, but ah hey I think that’s important like let’s lean in here folks, we’re hearing similar things here. Ah and he literally was the same language around we should be thinking about this as a new launch team that it’s like, hey you know and and he obviously talks to a lot of church planters and you know and there have been a you know ton of churches that have taken a hit. And seeing like okay I’m I’m back to just a couple hundred people. But hey if you were to start with a couple hundred people um, ah that would be amazing. You would have loved it right? You’d be like this is incredible. Um.

Shawn Lovejoy — I tell guys, you know Rich, I say how many people were here this past Sunday? And they’re like well you know, only 200 or or only a hundred or whatevers. Like and what was your giving?

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — Okay, all right. It was you know $3000 let’s just so let’s be very very concerned.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — …say if I went to a church planter…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — …and said I’ve got a core group of a hundred and a hundred and fifty thousand dollars that I’ll hand you…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes, yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — …over the would you what… how many church planters you think would take that deal?

Rich Birch — Yes, all day long. Yes, all day long. Absolutely.

Shawn Lovejoy — Ah yeah, it’s matter perspective.

Rich Birch — Yes, absolutely, yeah. I love it. So let’s think about that. So we’re we’re talking to some church leaders. We’re trying to encourage them, hey you you know we’re let’s think about the people that were you know they’re with us. They’re a launch team. That that means building teams again. That means rebuilding the people we’ve got. That means kind of redeploying them. What would be some of those practical steps about enlisting the people that are with us? Kind of helping them get plugged in helping them end up in, you know the right seat on the bus. All those kinds of things. What kind of things should we thinking about that that?

Shawn Lovejoy — One of the things we learned through the pandemic is one of the most indicting things about a lot of churches we talked with is not they couldn’t… it wasn’t just fringe people that left, it was leaders that left, and they didn’t even know where they were.

Rich Birch — Yeah yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — So we’ve worked with a lot of fast-growing churches. But and I attend one now. But during the pandemic a lot of those churches looked around and said we we can’t even find our leaders. Like we’re not as close to we as we thought we were to our leaders. So I think the opportunity now is not focus on followers, getting more followers. But with this new launch team you know, to really look at building leaders at every level. So the new team I’m building is not a much of ministry doers, they’re ministry developers, and we’re going to build teams at every level. And the next time some calamity comes along, because it’s going to come along – Jesus sort of promised that, you know we’re going to be strong at the center.

Shawn Lovejoy — We’re not going to have people we pay to do ministry, and we’re going to build a leadership culture. And you’re responsible for not just making Sundays happen but reproducing yourself. I want a list of people you’re meeting with.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — That you’re training to think like you think, see what you see, say what you say, and we’re going to make that part of our metrics on our staff going forward.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — That you’re reproducing yourself in the lives of others, and we’ll be stronger next time if we’ll start at the center and build out that way.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love that. Let’s lean in a little bit more on that. I think we all agree Ephesians 4 we should be building up. Our job is not to do the ministry. We need to be equippers of the saints. That’s what we’re called to do. But we all seem to be caught in this temptation of let’s just find some doers, or or maybe even more pointedly, let’s pay some doers because then I don’t have to develop people. Um push the push more on that.

Shawn Lovejoy — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Tell tell us more about the distinction between a doer and a leader. Help us understand that.

Shawn Lovejoy — It’s like everything else that God has taught us. I mean his his his teachings are not restrictive. They’re freeing. I mean you know, I tell guys the the tagline for the book is “this doesn’t have to kill you”.

Rich Birch — Hmmm.

Shawn Lovejoy — Like if you’re if you’re overwhelmed right now and you’re overextended, you’re over committed. You have to ask yourself is it because Jesus has put more on me than human what’s humanly possible… Or is it because I’m a control freak…

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Shawn Lovejoy — …and I think nobody can do it better than me?

Rich Birch — Yeah, right. Yes, yes, right.

Shawn Lovejoy — And I I want I want or can’t build a team. You know so one is that it’s that spiritual desire and commandment but two it’s it’s leadership’s a spiritual gift. So pastors need to hear the mandate to say we need to put people in leadership positions not that push buttons and move chairs, which is what we tend to hire. We tend to look for doers, technicians.

Rich Birch — Yes, right.

Shawn Lovejoy — When we’re better off… God knew there’s not enough money to go around to pay everybody to do ministry. And very few people were paid to be good in the new testament church.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — Very few of them. And money was scarce.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know and it can and can and will be scarce at times with us. We’re never gonna have enough money to pay everybody to do ministry. He knew that would be a lid to the church. So he said, you guys that are the elders you gotta you got to teach people, you got to equip people rather than do the work of the ministry.

Rich Birch — So why do you think we’re so tempted towards doers? Why why does? Why do we?

Shawn Lovejoy — It’s quicker.

Rich Birch — It’s quicker.

Shawn Lovejoy — It’s quicker. It’s faster. It’s plug and play.

Rich Birch — Okay, yeah, yes, yeah yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — I mean it’s it’s easier for me to just grab somebody and put them on staff and start paying them. You know because Sunday’s always coming. It comes every seven days.

Rich Birch — Right.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know it’s the tyranny of the urgent over what’s really really important. So but the cool thing is it is measurable. Like I I can I can I can raise the value of this in our organization and say, you’re no longer just going to be prized for making junk happen. Like you’re actually going to be valued and indispensable here by giving your job away over time.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, love it. It’s It’s so good. You know I think we’re always, you know, leadership development is one of those pieces where it’s like it’s like we all know we’re called to that. we all know hey that’s the thing we’re called to do but then actually so few of us actually hunker down and do the week-in/week-out… What would be some of those habits that you’ve seen, or those kind of repetitive things that leaders who develop other leaders just seem to do all the time? …They find themselves repeating time and again?

Shawn Lovejoy — Well, you know it starts at the top. I mean I was just with a you know megachurch this this week who knocked it out. You know had 8000 people there for Easter – is an all time high for them. Their biggest auditorium seats 900 people…

Rich Birch — Love it. Love it.

Shawn Lovejoy — …and 8000 people they’re just people everywhere. But I asked the pastor, I said how many times you teach this past year? He said I think 48 something like that.

Rich Birch — Wow. Wow. Yes, yeah, yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — Dude, it starts at the top. Starts at the top. Like you need to be here those 48 Sundays, perhaps, but you need to get get get down to about 35 Sundays a year. Not just for your benefit, but you need to pick 4 to 6 Sundays this next year, let somebody else teach, and you be there and debrief after every single service, like that’s how you build a deeper bench.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know we usually don’t give our job away in ministry until we’re on vacation. But like the new value is like I want you to have four Sundays a year. Let’s just start there.

Rich Birch — Right.

Shawn Lovejoy — Four Sundays a year when you’re not on vacation, but someone’s doing your job.

Rich Birch — Right. Right. Yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — Worship leader, one Sunday a month. Okay, you can’t be on the stage you’re here can’t be on the stage.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Shawn Lovejoy — So like you can begin to systemize this at every level, and like raise that value. That man the goal is not just performing, producing events and services and getting my atta-boy atta-girl because of that…

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — But like I’m I’m I’m reproducing myself and other people and that’s championed on our team. And valued and that’s what makes me indispensable.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — A lot of leaders get insecure like, but if I get off the stage, you know… You know that they might like the new guy better or whatever.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — But that’s that’s pride. That’s fear. None of those things come from God. That’s straight from the evil one. We have to wrestle those things to the ground. In reality I’ve been the senior leader. Man the most indispensable people on my team were people who had that knack of giving their job away. The ones that couldn’t became the bottleneck, you know.

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah, yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — They hit a lid and and everybody will.

Rich Birch — Yeah, there’s an interesting thing there, you know, I think and I’ve seen this happen in my own life, I’ve seen it happen with other leaders where you know early on—maybe in our 20s or 30s—we have a measure of success. And oftentimes when you peel back the layers of what that is it comes down to, wow that person is like super-dedicated. They are um like they’ve got tons of energy. They are willing to come in early and leave late. And all of those things are good, but there’s a downside to that, which is um, you well, first of all, you can’t keep doing that. At some point that’s a that’s actually a function of your age and your you know energy and all of that, and that does wane eventually in life. I know that’s hard to believe, young leaders, but eventually that does wane and we don’t reinforce the right behavior early on which is you have got to develop people around you. That’s actually that’s the killer skill we’re all looking for at the end of the day that is the way you will be indispensable and never lose a job in the local church, which is if you can replace yourself time and again as opposed to you’re the person that was always here before the doors open and you’re here you know and late into the night working hard. But we but we all still do seem to pat those people on the head and be thanks so much for working.

Shawn Lovejoy — It’s so true. It’s so true.

Rich Birch — So so difficult. Um now you’ve written a book I want to dive into. Talk a little bit about this. It’s called Building a Killer Team—I love this—Without Killing Yourself or Your Team. We don’t want to kill anybody ah… tell us about this. Why did you write this book? And we want to I friends we’re going to send you to – we want to send you there today. But tell us about why you wrote this book. What was it that led you to say, hey now’s the time to write this book?

Shawn Lovejoy — Yeah, well you know we’ve been coaching and teaching for years around what we call the gears of growth, like I can trace every growing or non-growing church really back to three things. It’s the culture, the team, or the systems. And they’re separate but interdependent gears.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know and we’ve talked about as you said earlier coaching leaders through what keeps them awake at night. I could promise every leader who’s listening to your podcast today. The number one thing that keeps them awake at night? People. Finances is number two, but it’s people. And the two biggest lies from hell ever believed is like, it’ll be easier when we get to here.

Rich Birch — Right, right, right.

Shawn Lovejoy — And if I can hire this person, it will solve all my problems.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know, then you realize every person is a problem, you know.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — And so I sought out to sort of take a lot of our coaching on and around what we’d done in terms of like how to build great healthy teams.

Rich Birch — Right.

Shawn Lovejoy — And build it into a framework or a sequence. And shout out to you. I don’t want this time to get away from you because I I sought out some of the smartest people I know… I say in the book like every great decision and great idea ought to come out of out of a out of collaboration not isolation. You know and so knowing that I wanted to put together a framework, a sequence, and a little bit tighter in a knit way um I reached out to you and my buddy Kenny Jahng, you know over three years ago, if you can believe that.

Rich Birch — It’s been that long?! Gosh.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know and I said hey guys, help me. Like I’ve got a lot of great stuff here bouncing around in my head, but I want to build like a mandate. I want to build a sequence. I want to build a framework. I want to build a job description for how a leader can build a killer team without killing themselves for their team. But I didn’t use that word and you were the ones spoke up and said, you know what you’re describing? You’re describing a killer team. And I’m like bam! That’s it! You know God was loud, and it was birth out of that meeting.

Rich Birch — Right. It’s funny. Yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know in collaboration with some friends. So shout out to you and God speaking through you, and then it was just off to the races. It just made a lot of sense and I later went looked it up – it’s on the back cover of the book. The first word the first definition of the word killer is a murderer, somebody that slays people, you know…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — …but the adjective is something that’s strikingly impressive or effective.

Rich Birch — Love it. Yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — And I thought that’s it. That’s it. That’s how … So so ah so the the goal of this work was to get up, give a job description to a leader who says I I need to be a better team leader, team builder, and I’m kind of overwhelmed, kind of overextended, kind of overcommitted, kind of overexposed – something we taught as a leader. And I look like I’m always available, and I’m in the middle of the weeds and I can’t get out, and that was the heart behind the book.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love it. So The thing I love about it is it is a sequence. It’s a you know, it is a a process. It’s a a way to understand how to step through developing. Can you give us a sense of that process – kind of give us a you know, maybe a few of those highlights that have been like, okay here are some important steps in this process that we need to make sure um that we follow as we’re building our relaunch team, as we’re thinking about you know, rebuilding the teams around us.

Shawn Lovejoy — Yeah, so we we talk about five in the book – five pillars of a killer team. One is to foster togetherness. You know we’ve got to we’ve got to help the the worship ministry care about the children’s ministry. Because I hate to tell you this, they don’t care about the children’s ministry.

Rich Birch — True.

Shawn Lovejoy — Like we have to get the team and the family at the table, get them communicating with each other, learning from each other. And I say in there, killer teams are not just committed to the mission. They’re committed to each other.

Rich Birch — So good.

Shawn Lovejoy — And of course that that goes hand-in-hand to what Lencioni says in The Advantage. He says a highly-aligned, highly-cohesive leadership team is the competitive advantage. And I think that’s true in church, by the way. It’s not… they’re all we’re all singing the same songs, teaching out of the same book. Why are why are a few growing and many aren’t? It’s it’s this team piece.

Rich Birch — Right.

Shawn Lovejoy — It’s a leader’s ability to build a cohesive leadership team, and then recruit and build great talent. You know you got… I tell people average talent will sign up on a card and raise their hands, you know. Elite talent has to be recruited. And then you got ah you gotta you gotta to keep that talent. And then we talk about bolstering accountability, and building what we call last 10% culture and we we encourage more conflict in the book. A healthy conflict, rather than artificial harmony. And then structuring for growth and peace, and that’s you know reproducing. We talk about building one-pizza teams. I don’t want more people reporting to a leader that can split a pizza.

Rich Birch — Right, right, right. Love it. So good.

Shawn Lovejoy — Because I can manage more people than that, but I can’t reproduce myself in 15 people.

Rich Birch — Right. No.

Shawn Lovejoy — I’m not that good.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know Jesus only selected 12 – how many you think we can do?

Rich Birch — Right.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know and he spent more time with 3.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — So the good news is more people can lead 4 people than can lead 15 people.

Rich Birch — Right. Yeah, I love that.

Shawn Lovejoy — So it’s that’s literally your leadership pipeline. And then maintaining rhythms and and finish lines. You know it’s it’s making sure we set a team culture where there’s like ah a daily finish line. We can’t be working all the time. A weekly finish line, and a so a rhythm in our culture where we celebrate wins more often. I was talked I talked with the CEOs of two of the ministry staffing companies – two of the biggest ones. This the ministry search firms in North America – you would know they’re known if I called them. And the great resignation has happened in the church as well as the marketplace.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Shawn Lovejoy — And one Harvard Business review, and I think this is true for ministry, one of the primary reasons people are are giving for resigning from their positions is not going somewhere else for more money.

Rich Birch — Right.

Shawn Lovejoy — It was that we never celebrate the wins here. Like nothing’s ever good enough.

Rich Birch — Oh yeah, that’s good.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know and Sunday’s always coming, and the next series has got to be better than the last series, and we got raise the bar and we’re about excellence because that’s what Bill Hybels said you know blah blah blah blah blah and like nothing’s ever good enough and and we we never celebrate progress and…

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — …the the simple little life change stories that make ministry worth it all, you know? And so.

Rich Birch — Well and that I think is a particular danger in the church world because Sunday is always coming, because we are on this treadmill, and you know and you you know you feel this. And you know you come through whatever big day Christmas, Easter, you know some huge things happen, baptism Sundays, whatever that looks like in your church. And I know for me I have to fight I have to fight the feeling inside at like one o’clock two o’clock Sunday afternoon where it’s like okay well here comes the next one. The next one’s coming like we you know that’s we just need to move on. But we’ve got to slow down. We’ve got to you know say okay, let’s celebrate. I love that that’s you know, defined finish lines. That’s really really good.

Shawn Lovejoy — I say in the book, Rich, that some of the most depressing times in my life as a megachurch pastor was in the car on the way home from Easter services after hitting our numerical goal…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes, yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — …and realizing, oh stink.

Rich Birch — Yeah, we just raised the bar.

Shawn Lovejoy — Sunday comes in seven days – like it’s so fleeting.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know that’s what I mean by the fact that this this numerical thing, it’s a mirage. Like you’re if you’re not happy now, you’re not going to be happy there.

Rich Birch — Right right.

Shawn Lovejoy — And it’s learning to enjoy the day and live in this rhythm between intensity and rest every day. And enjoying the journey, because it gets more complex. It gets more difficult as God blesses it. So I got to make sure I’m in this for the long haul.

Rich Birch — Love it. Can you give us some practical coaching around, you know, we all love to acquire. We all would love to acquire like the best team ever. We would all be like we’d like to find these people, raise them up, put them on our team, and be like these are like you know these are experts in all these areas. But you know we all have folks on our team that maybe are not just not cutting it in one way or another. They’re just not um, living up to our expectations. They’re maybe not living up to their own expectations. What coaching would you give to us on what we how we should help get them realigned, or frankly move them out? What what would what does that look like for us? Because that’s a part of building a killer team right is that…

Shawn Lovejoy — Yeah, yeah.

Rich Birch — …hey you know there’s going to be some folks that maybe aren’t performing as well. They’re not in the killer category yet. What’s that look like?

Shawn Lovejoy — I think I got to like like three chapters in the book on that but I’ll try to do it in 60 seconds or less. You know one… I have a leader called—you’ll love this, Rich—I mean you had this a million times happened to you. Like I’ll have a senior leader or a team leader, you know, call me and they’re frustrated about somebody on their staff or on their team, and they’re whining, and groaning. And and they’re like what do you think I should do? And I’m like, well first of all have you told them what you just told me?

Rich Birch — It’s so true. So true.

Shawn Lovejoy — 99 out of a hundred times, you know what their answer is. Well no, not exactly. I’m like well first of all, that lacks integrity. If you’re frustrated by people on your team, and you’re not telling them, like that lacks integrity.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Shawn Lovejoy — You need to be willing to be clear and honest with them about not meeting your expectations. And the cool thing about that is the clearer we get with our expectations of a team member, the more it allows them to hear from the Holy Spirit. And self-select, opt-out, you know, etc. For them to come to the… it’s better for them to come to the conclusion they can’t keep up then you come to that conclusion privately and then go surprise them by it. You know and if we’re thinking about moving somebody, or managing them off the team like Lencioni says. And I tell leaders if they would be surprised by that conversation, we haven’t been honest with them along the way.

Rich Birch — Yes. Right. Absolutely.

Shawn Lovejoy — So it begins with like an honesty and a clarity. And here’s where you’re winning. Here’s where you’re not winning. Here’s what’s acceptable. Here’s what’s not acceptable. I owe you that kind of honesty, owe you grace, honesty but I also owe you proper placement.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — Like I owe you the privilege of being in a seat on the bus that aligns with your gifting, your wiring, and your level of talent. If I put you in over your head, it’s gonna steal your joy, and it’s gonna steal my joy.

Rich Birch — Yeah, Love it.

Shawn Lovejoy — So that’s why we’ve got to hang on to our roles loosely and keep our eyes on the goal, you know? And so all of that spiritual enterprise and that conviction and courage to be more candid and not try to be the most popular person on the team, be the most respected person on the team, and to be really, really honest and courageous with our with our teammates puts ourselves and our teammates in our best position to hear from God, and know whether we’re meeting expectations or not.

Rich Birch — Yeah there’s no doubt that candor is kindness, right? That we want to be super clear with people on where they’re at and the earlier we can do that, the better. Um, you know I know in my own life I’ve respected leaders who have come to me early and been like, hey this is not meeting my expectations. I would way rather that than… because we’ve all been in the opposite of those conversations where it’s like they’re they’re describing something that happened last week but you can tell that there’s emotional baggage from a year ago, two years ago, ten years ago…

Shawn Lovejoy — Yep yep.

Rich Birch — …and you can smell that stuff a mile away. And we just know then then I feel and I feel stupid as a leader. I’m like I can’t believe you didn’t talk to me about this. We could have sorted this out. Love that. Love that. Love that. Well, where do we want to send people, you know, I want to make sure people pick up a copy of this this book. So where do we want to send them want to send them to – tell us more about that. What what do we want to where do we want to send them all those kind of things?

Shawn Lovejoy — Yeah, well I self-published with my my friend and coach Sam Chan’s …(?)… labels mainly because I wanted to get the book as cheap as possible so I could give it away. You know I don’t need to I don’t need to try to get rich or famous on books. I’m a coach.

Rich Birch — Totally.

Shawn Lovejoy — But but I want this content out to as many leaders as possible. So we’re able to get give give almost give the book away…

Rich Birch — Yep. Yep.

Shawn Lovejoy — …you know for shipping plus cost and you know by not signing with a national publisher.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Shawn Lovejoy — So you’ll see that reflected at literally for the cost of me printing the book and shipping it to you.

Rich Birch — Yes. Yeah, love it. Friends, this is incredible. You know you know this book is worth, while it’s worth multiple times… you know the content is worth you know a hundred times what you’re going to pay for it or more – a thousand times what you’re going to pay for it. Ah, but even just you know you know from a book point if if you go there, you’ll see it’s a super low price. Like it’s say it’s just cost plus shipping, which is amazing. This would be a great tool for for teams to do together. is that the best place we want to do that there too if I’m looking for multiple copies – should I just send everybody on my team there to pick up their own copy? Is that the best for that?

Shawn Lovejoy — Yep yep, you can that literally. There’s a couple bump ups you can buy 3 copies 10 copies.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know there’re on the site if you want extra copies for your team. And I should say you know one of the reasons we wrote the book the way we did, it’s not just for ministry leaders. It’s for marketplace leaders.

Rich Birch — Right, right, right.

Shawn Lovejoy — So I say to senior pastors, and stewardship pastors, and executive pastors like you, you getting some of these for the Christian CEOs and…

Rich Birch — Oh that’s a great idea.

Shawn Lovejoy — …and and Christian leaders in your congregation, you know, um, they’re all trying to build a killer team and you can get some street cred.

Rich Birch — Oh totally.

Shawn Lovejoy — By giving them a book that’s safe. It’s not loaded with Christian-ese, you know, because they may or may not be as devout in their faith. You know as you want them to be. And they also might be leading teams that are diverse spiritually. So I sort of wrote it through those lenses as well. But it’s a safe book to give to the Christian leaders in your congregation. And you’ll get some street cred by adding some value to their lives. You know because…

Rich Birch — I love it. That’s a great idea.

Shawn Lovejoy — Yeah yeah.

Rich Birch — You know I think particularly you know we we have those sometimes we don’t know what to do with marketplace leaders in our church. We don’t know how do we connect with them. I know there’s church leaders that are listening in that are a bit perplexed on how to engage with them. I love that idea – hey buy 10 but buy 10 copies of the book—friends, you won’t believe how cheap it is—and you know wrap it up, write a nice note on the cover, hey I was thinking about you as you lead at X organization…

Shawn Lovejoy — Gold.

Rich Birch — Um, you know my friend Shawn wrote this book – I think you’ll find it helpful. Let’s get together in a month and talk about it. Man, that would be amazing. I love that – that’s a great idea. So good. Well Shawn, this has been incredible. I appreciate your time today. Anything else you want to share just as we wrap up today’s episode?

Shawn Lovejoy — I’ll just close by saying you know the team is not the frustration. It’s not the interruptions, not the distraction. It’s not the footstool to build your kingdom. You know the team is the work. That’s what I say in the book. I mean the team is the work. And and at the end of the day I’m proud of a lot of things God’s accomplished through my life, but but but um, ah, all the books and the institutions and the nickels and the noses, and you know zeros – if you want me to boast about something I’ll talk about that the men and women I’ve been able to reproduce myself in.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love it. Right.

Shawn Lovejoy — You know they have great ministries today. You know who came to a really really difficult spot in their life and I coached them through that…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Shawn Lovejoy — …and they broke through. And you know whatever. Your legacy will be people.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Shawn Lovejoy — It’s so it’s it’s crazy that we would have that conversation in ministry, Rich, but we do.

Rich Birch — Yeah, no, it’s true.

Shawn Lovejoy — Make it about people. The team is the work it is. It is the closest group to you that you have an opportunity to disciple…

Rich Birch — Yes, love it.

Shawn Lovejoy — So don’t just use them to build this kingdom, man, reproduce yourself in them. That’s what you’ll be most proud of one of these days.

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it. So good. Ah so – is there anywhere else we want to send them online if people want to track with you or with what you’re up to?

Shawn Lovejoy — Of course is our marketplace expression of what we do. And then and the Courageous Pastors podcast over there is what we do on the on the ministry side of things.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Shawn Lovejoy — Lots of free stuff there.

Rich Birch — Love it. Thanks so much, Shawn. Appreciate being here today.

Shawn Lovejoy — Thank you, man.

1 Comment

  1. […] Coaching On Rebuilding A “New” Launch Team For Your Church With Shawn Lovejoy by Rich Birch.  Also, there are few ministry consultants as smart as Rich!!!  Click for info on his new resource The Hosting Coaching Clinic. This is a 6-week training course helps church leaders maximize their church announcement time & increase engagement.  Definitely worth your time and a look! […]

Leave a Response

Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.