One Secret Shared by Every Exceptional Team

Does your team have a vague or undefined strategy, and therefore your leaders are inventing their own?

Auxano Founder Will Mancini believes that over 90% of churches in North America are not functioning with strategic clarity. Many churches have some kind of expression for mission and values, but not for strategy. The absence of strategy, as Mancini defines it, is the number one cause of ineffectiveness in a healthy church.

This map, or strategy picture, is like a container that holds all church activities in one meaningful whole. Without this orientation, individuals within the organization will forget how each major component or ministry activity fits to advance the mission.

When you don’t have a strategy, or your strategy isn’t clear, a threefold problem can occur:

  • too many ministry or program options and no prioritization;
  • ministry options that have no relationship with one another;
  • ministries themselves have no connection to the mission.

Having a clear map – one that shows how you will get things done – is a strong indicator that the effectiveness of your mission will go through the roof. Strategic clarity can birth a quantum leap in your ministry.

Solution – Share a singular focus instead of focusing on general success 

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Teams That Thrive by Ryan Hartwig and Warren Bird

It’s increasingly clear that leadership should be shared―for the good of any organization and for the good of the leader. Many churches have begun to share key leadership duties, but don’t know how to take their leadership team to the point where it thrives. Others seriously need a new approach to leadership: pastors are tired, congregations are stuck, and meanwhile the work never lets up.

But what does it actually mean to do leadership well as a team? How can it be done in a way that avoids frustration and burnout? How does team leadership best equip the staff and bless a congregation? What do the top church teams do to actually thrive together?

Researchers and practitioners Ryan Hartwig and Warren Bird have discovered churches of various sizes and traditions throughout the United States who have learned to thrive under healthy team leadership. Using actual church examples, they present their discoveries here, culminating in five disciplines that, if implemented, can enable your team to thrive. The result? A coaching tool for senior leadership teams that enables struggling teams to thrive, and resources teams doing well to do their work even better.


The reason why your organization exists must be absolutely clear, as everything else hinges on this purpose. Auxano Founder and Team Leader Will Mancini, writing in Church Unique, identifies “5Cs” as the measure of success. Your church’s purpose must be clear, concise, compelling, catalytic, and contextual.

  • Clear is measured by the Junior High Rule: Is our language clear enough that a 12-year old boy who has not been to church would understand it.
  • Concise is measured by the One Breath Rule: Can any part of the purpose be stated in one breath?
  • Compelling is measured by the Resonance Rule: When the purpose is sated, does this make people want to say it again?
  • Catalytic is measured by the Actionability Rule: Does your language inherently remind the listener to act rather than define success as what the ministerial staff does?
  • Contextual is measured by the Bouquet Rule: Do the words communicate biblical truth for the listener’s time and place?

Without a 5C purpose, a team will never reach its potential or be able to set meaningful performance goals, which transform the broad purpose into specific and measurable performance challenges, focus the team on pursuing results, facilitate decision making and constructive conflict, and drive the development of an approach to get the work done.

A 5C purpose offers extensive benefits for your team, as the following points illustrate. A 5C purpose:

  1. Narrows your team’s scope. A 5C purpose allows teams to accomplish key elements of their work outside of team meetings, such as meeting with staff or volunteers, building teams, executing strategies, and the like.

  2. Creates space for staff or volunteers to contribute at a higher level. A 5C purpose allows team members to make an important contribution to the church’s mission.

  3. Compels people to contribute their best to the team. In teams marked with a strong 5C purpose, meetings are crucial because they provide a venue for argument, conflict, and meaningful discussion.

  4. Inspires and energizes the team. When a team is committed to a 5C purpose, the purpose itself provides motivation and energy to the team.

  5. Distinguishes the leadership team’s unique contribution at the church. A 5C purpose, when shared with others, articulates the value to the church of the leadership team, establishing the team as an important part of the church’s governance and leadership structure.

  6. Cultivates trust and relationships among team members. A team gels as it gets to work in pursuing a 5C purpose.

Ryan Hartwig and Warren Bird, Teams That Thrive


As an organization’s purpose is understood and communicated through the 5Cs, amazing energy is released. People understand the purpose because it is broken down into meaningful bite-sized chunks. Credibility is enhanced by virtue of the fact that it is comprehensive without being overwhelming. Ownership is increased because it is portable; people can remember it, use it, and share it.

Reflect on your church’s current mission statement in terms of the 5Cs listed above by completing the following exercise.

Distribute the current mission statement of your church. List the 5Cs (clear, concise, compelling, catalytic, contextual) on a flip chart table so they will be visible to the entire team. Assess our current language against each of the 5Cs on a scale of 1-5 where 1 is weak, 3 is moderate, and 5 is strong.

Run down the list and discuss as a team, recording the votes by each of the 5Cs. Build consensus in the room for one of two options:

  • Tweak existing language
  • Create a fresh statement

If the team senses a need to create a new statement of Mission, take a look at Chapter 12 of Church Unique by Will Mancini, describing the missional Mandate. If a strategic outsider is needed to advance this next step, start a conversation with an Auxano Navigator to learn more.



Taken from SUMS Remix 38-3, published April, 2016

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
— Argaw Alemu
comment_post_ID); ?> Amen!!
— Scott Michael Whitley

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