tonyI’m excited to interview Tony Morgan, church strategist and author of the new book, Stuck in a Funk. Here is 5 questions with Tony, and you can get a copy of his new book on Amazon right now for $5. He’s helped lead several churches I follow closely and have been inspired by him (and his incredible blog) regularly. I respect this guy a lot, and am thankful for all of the great things God is doing through him. Enjoy our discussion!

1. Excited to read your new book, Stuck in a Funk, have you ever found yourself in one? You better believe it. It’s part of life. We face being stuck in our organizations, but we also face it in our personal lives. In both instances, I’ve personally found that sense of stuckness happening when the future vision is unclear or there isn’t a plan to see the vision accomplished. Then once I determine the next steps, I need the discipline and perseverance to work my plan. All of that gets easier when you’re doing life with people who embrace the same vision.

2. Are there specific signs you’re stuck in a funk? Sometimes I find myself there but unable to explain it or how I got there to others? I think being too comfortable is a sign. The funny thing is everyone else around us is pursuing comfort and happiness. Wouldn’t it be nice if a warning light popped on in our lives when we’re getting too comfortable? It’s those seasons when we began to trust too much in our own experiences and capacities. The ironic thing is that I typically experience the most joy when I take risks where I genuinely have to trust God for wisdom and strength.

51kWfnfFAzL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-49,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_3. This book is about churches who are stuck, but it seems like at it’s core it is about leaders that are that way. Yes? Ah… I tend to agree. I think leaders getting stuck is certainly one of the key reasons that organizations get stuck. Leaders need to go back to whatever it is was prompted them to become a leader in the church. They need to recapture that passion and purpose from God. But, just to be honest, it’s going to take a different vision, strategy and systems to get different results. Hope is not a strategy. And, that’s the challenge — leaders actually have to lead at some point.

4. What is the biggest obstacle to getting out of a ministry funk? Every church is unique. Because of that, the combination of contributing factors that lead to a church getting into a ministry funk are going to look different from church to church. That said, one common challenge is being inward-focused. Another is holding onto leadership approaches or structures that may have worked in the past, but don’t now. Another common issue is gaining a clear vision, but, more important, being intentional about the strategies and systems to see that vision become reality. To get to where you want to go tomorrow, you have to know what’s important right now. Just to be honest, sometimes we need an outside set of eyes to facilitate us through that process.

5. Many youth workers have big vision and have a harder time with systems can you explain an easy way to keep these connected to move forward? Yes, vision is important. You certainly need that. The big mistake pastors (including youth workers) make is that they just need to teach people the vision, and everything will take care of itself. Well I can have a vision for being a physically fit, but hearing someone teach about it isn’t going to cut it. It may change my thinking, but systems help shift behaviors. I need new disciplines. I need an exercise system. I need an eating healthy system. I need a buddy system to stay motivated. You get the point. There are many systems in any body, and, unless the systems are healthy, the body won’t be healthy whether we embrace the a vision for health or not.

Thanks so much, Tony!


Was just thinking through some resources that I’d like to get into the hands of some key players in my youth ministry world, thought I would share a few things I’m processing to push my people (and myself) to the next level. Might inspire you to do the same:

For my upperclassmen Life Group leaders: Apologetics Bible
This year we’re giving all of our junior and senior Life Group leaders the Apologetics Bible from Sean McDowell. They’re handling some big questions and doubts and we want to equip them to build a healthy foundation for their beliefs. This is one of the tools we want to help with that journey! A steal at only $14 from Amazon.

For my underclassmen Life Group leaders: Emergency Response Handbook
New leaders need basic help – this little book gives you a quick list of things to do/not do and say/not say. Think of it as a primer and quick reference guide to a whole bunch of things they may encounter this year. It is still on sale (and has been for a long time) at SYM for $4.99. Incredible deal, we have it in the hands of every new leader on the team.

For my intern: Youthsphere
I actually want to take this course myself, but know it will tremendously benefit some of the younger youth workers out there. Youthsphere is an online youth ministry certificate program from my friend Doug Fields and a few other leading youth ministry experts. Pretty substantial investment, but one that will deliver big returns, too. Check out youthsphere right here and you can get 10% off using promocode: MTDB

For me: Take the Lid Off Your Church
I want to grow as a leader as well – I’m super excited to read Tony Morgan’s new book Take the Lid Off Your Church. He sent me a copy last week and I’m excited to dive in and be challenged by him as well. He’s one of the long-time bloggers I’ve followed for years – I read everything he writes! $2.99 on Amazon Kindle.

For the youth pastor buddy: The New Breed
I like to have a little gift when I have lunch with a youth worker in the area or someone comes to visit. Sometimes I have something around the office or an author copy of something I wrote – but I think I’m going to pick up a few copies of The New Breed by Jonathan McKee – looks like a great resource to help anyone working to develop a volunteer team. On closeout right now (since the 2nd edition is coming out this week I think) for $3.99!


Loved this post over on Tony Morgan’s blog from a father of 4 to the youth pastor. Here’s a clip, definitely worth the trip to get the rest:

1.Don’t have Bible studies on Sunday morning, but encourage my kids to serve. As a parent, I’m constantly battling everything in culture that’s telling my kids, “Life is all about YOU.” I don’t need my church to be compounding that challenge. Please help me parent my kids by encouraging them to serve other people. In the long run, learning to serve will ultimately keep them connected to the church after they graduate. Likely the additional Bible study will not.

2.Provide leadership opportunities for my kids. When we become Christ-followers, we receive spiritual gifts. God doesn’t hold on to those gifts until we become adults. In other words, students can also have the spiritual gift of leadership. If you don’t offer opportunities for my kids, they’ll check out of your student ministry and find another organization where they can use their gifts.

3.Don’t meet on Sunday night if at all possible. It’s true that there are no school activities on Sunday nights, but Sundays are a very busy evening for my kids. Every bit of homework and test preparation that needs to happen before Monday takes place on Sunday nights, because it certainly didn’t happen on Friday night or Saturday. At all three churches where I’ve served, the midweek student gatherings were always better attended than the Sunday evening gatherings. I know. There will be seasons when athletes may not be able to participate…though you can probably still accommodate them. I believe one of the key reasons midweek is stronger is because my kids can invite their friends at school that afternoon.


Was honored to be asked to participate in a guest series over on – he asked what leaders should start and stop in the New Year. Here’s a clip of my answer to that question, head over there for the rest:

Stop walking around with such urgency. When it is time for the service to start and the church staff is briskly running around the worship center then you are basically telling everyone, “I don’t have time for you.” If someone dares to stop you, you fidget nervously and struggle to maintain eye contact due to fear of dropping the ball on the last lingering details on the program task list. You peer over this more mortal’s shoulder and silently freak out as the countdown timer signifying the service start is now nearing zero.


Just read through Killing Cockroaches by Tony Morgan – and it instantly felt familiar to me. Of course, I’ve been a TM-stalker since the early days of his blog. Tony has put together his favorite blog posts, articles, writings and probably some new ideas into a little book that meanders through his leadership learnings over the past several years. The book has no chapters and reads like a slowly dripping mind dump from one of the modern day thought leaders of the church. Tony is engaging, casual and at times funny as he helps us think different about leadership and the church. A