4 Moves to Elevate Performance at Your Church

Published January 24, 2019

Quick, make a list of five high performance organizations.

Seriously, make a list, at least in your mind. Got it?

Now, let’s review your list. You probably have a couple of iconic brands on your list—perhaps Apple or Starbucks. If you’re younger, you may have Zappos.

I’m sure some of you would include a sports franchise or two like the New England Patriots or University of Alabama football teams. And, I’m guessing many of you would include the Navy SEALs. Great list!

Here are my questions: Is your church on the list? Is there any church on your list? If not, why not?

Before we go any further, let’s define terms. A High Performance Organization (HPO) is one in which leadership ensures everyone is aligned and pursuing common goals, consistently giving their full and best effort, and experiencing uncommon results.

The investment in leadership development is strategic and persistent.

After studying High Performance Organizations for decades and working with thousands of churches around the world, I am 100 percent convinced that every church has the potential to be an HPO. I base this bold proclamation on two significant factors.

First, and most importantly, Jesus said, He would build His church and against it the gates of hell would not prevail. (Matt. 16:18) So, if we let Him, we have the supernatural creator of the universe on our side. What a consultant! I would call that serious competitive advantage. And, I can’t imagine a scenario in which He would encourage or condone building a mediocre or dysfunctional organization.

I also think every church could become an HPO because the actions that differentiate the best from the rest are known and replicable. I wrote about the four moves of all these organizations in my book Chess Not Checkers.


Here’s a brief summary of the four “moves” made by all HPOs:


1) Bet on leadership—All HPOs are well-led

The investment in leadership development is strategic and persistent. There is a relentless focus on building the leadership capacity necessary to execute the remaining three moves. Does your church have a plan to develop your staff and lay leaders? You could.


2) Act as one—All HPOs are hyper-aligned.

What is considered important is known throughout the organization. This could be mission, vision or values. Leaders decide what matters most, but the trick is not deciding; it is disseminating these key messages that adds real value. If you don’t, you never harness the talent, passion and energy of the entire organization. The power to change your world resides in the pew, not the pulpit.


3) Win the heart—In HPOs, engagement is a big deal.

Without engagement, the talent and energy referenced previously is never released. When engagement is low in an organization, the followers are not at fault. The leaders need to take a long look in the mirror and ask: what have we done or failed to do to generate massive levels of care?


4) Excel at execution—HPOs do the right things, the right way, consistently

Go back to the imaginary list I asked you to make. If an organization made your list, they are really good at what they do. FedEx gets the packages delivered. Theme parks are consistently clean and staffed with friendly people. Here’s the insight: if you are struggling with execution, in most cases, the root cause can be traced to one of the first three moves.

Without engagement, the talent and energy referenced previously is never released.


Let’s cut to the chase. If Jesus is on our side and the playbook is available, why aren’t there more high-performance churches?

No organization drifts to greatness or high performance. Building a High-Performance Organization is a choice that can only be actualized by diligence and persistence. The barrier to creating an HPO is leadership. Leaders must be decisive, disciplined and undeterred by countless challenges along the way.

My prayer is that you will set your sights on creating something great—an organization among the best in the world, powered by the Holy Spirit; a shining example of what is possible when people are well-led, aligned and fully engaged.

Create an organization pushing back the darkness in every corner of the planet with God’s love in action.

It’s your move!

About the Author
Mark Miller

Mark Miller

Vice President of High-Performance Leadership


Mark Miller is a business leader, international best-selling author and storyteller. He currently serves as Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A, Inc. As an author, he now has over one million books in print including The Heart of Leadership, Chess Not Checkers , and his latest, Win Every Day, to be released in March 2020. Over the years, Mark has spoken to countless groups around the world—his message is consistent with his calling: He wants to encourage and equip leaders to change their world. Learn more at TMarkMiller.com