Disciple Making Takes More than a Pipeline

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Disciple making is our one and only mission, as a church.  This mission-based pursuit means that our measure of success is more and better disciples that are making more and better disciples.  More and better disciples means have a growing pipeline, when it comes to disciples.  A generic disciple-making pipeline consists of pre-disciples, new disciples, growing disciples, multiplying disciples, and catalyzing disciples.  Therefore, a healthy pipeline means that we have a healthy number of disciples at every level, as described in the chart below.

The Disciple-Making Pipeline can be a good tool for assessing your overall effectiveness when in comes to making more and better disciples.  A simple place to begin an assessment is by identifying the percentage of individuals that fall into each of these categories that attend your Sunday Morning Gathering.  In a healthy disciple-making culture the results may look more like a normal bell curve.   ​

The Disciple-Making Pipeline is one tool, among others, when it comes to assessing our overall health and effectiveness in the area of a disciple-making culture.  Other areas that you will want to include in an assessment are culture, leadership, mindset, and strategy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Actions to Give You Confidence in Developing Vision

Here are my observations…many leaders default to what we call generic vision.  Generic vision is akin to having no vision at all.  There are several different types of generic vision.  They all take a kind of general tone like love God and love people, reach more people, or go make disciples.

I’m glad you love God and people.  I’m glad that you want to reach more people and make more disciples.  We already know that, but what if God wants to do something cosmically significant and locally specific through you and your church?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with a church when they actually “name” the vision and then for whatever the reason they blink.  They default back to generic vision.  I mean they pull back and retreat to the safe and secure lands of Generica.

What we need and what it takes to lead with specific and clear vision is courage.  Everyone loves you as long as you don’t have vision or have some common form of a lesser vision.  Get specific and guess what?  There are going to be people who are going to disagree with you.  Be bold and courageous!  Name your vision!  Get specific!

Let’s face it, we all lack courage at times.  You are not alone, but what if you could gain courage and by doing so discover that God is able to do abundantly above all you ask or imagine!

Here are three things that will give the confidence and courage when it comes to vision.

Collaboration with a Team
Don’t take the vision journey alone.  Build a team of both strategic and tactical people who are willing to own the journey with you.  A common mistake when it comes to vision is the idea that if we get it down on paper, we have a vision.  We may have a vision statement or a visionary plan, but what we want and need to build courage is so much more.  We need a sense of shared vision. This visionary plan isn’t a document that a leader wrote and is now sharing with us, but it is a shared vision that we discovered together.  Each person on the team is now a stakeholder and has a deep level of ownership.  Together we are more courageous than when we are separated.  We draw strength from the collective genius of all.

Confidence in a Process
As an organization, we consider ourselves a team of Navigators.  You, the client, are the content experts.  You and your organization are unique.  You consist of a unique people, in a unique place, and with a unique passion.  There is no one or any given place quite like you. At the same time, our navigators are process experts.  We believe God is at work in you and a great navigator with the best process tools should serve you well in helping you discover God’s unique vision for your church.  We have seen it work hundreds of times and we believe it can work for you.  Go ahead and check it out for yourself.  We included our entire process and many of our tools in a book by our founder Will Mancini titled God Dreams.

Clarity of Vision
The final component of courage when it comes to vision is clarity.  The way we say it is, “Clarity isn’t everything, but it changes everything.”  That’s right clarity changes everything.  When you have it, you experience the confidence and even the courage needed to lead with it.  However, getting to the point of clarity isn’t easy, if it were everyone would have it.  Clarity requires hard work.  Clarity requires time and testing.  There is rarely a day that I don’t encourage one or more of my clients to slow down in order to speed up.  That’s right, slow down and do the hard work of vision.  Work the process with your team until you experience breakthrough.  My consistent prayer for the teams I work with is for God to give us breakthrough.  Prior to clarity, it is my observation that we often have to go through the tunnel of chaos to get there.  This alone takes a level of courage.  You can be courageous even when you feel fear.  Courage is not the absent of fear, but the willingness to continue in spite of fear.

A great team, proven process, and clarity goes a long way when it comes to leading with confidence and courage.

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Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about leading with confidence and courage through vision clarity.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Jesus Built a Pipeline, Not a Platform

Imagine for a moment never having to say, “I don’t have the right leaders,” or “I don’t have enough leaders.”

What if, in the next few months you could eliminate the need to look outside your own leadership pipeline for your next strategic staff hire?

You can – with two days of training and preparation at Auxano’s all-new Leadership Pipeline Boot Camp in Houston, TX.

Introducing Auxano’s Leadership Pipeline Boot Camp:

Is your church over-programmed and under-discipled?
 Quit talking about it and do something!

Designed by Mac Lake and Will Mancini, the Boot Camp will provide the only toolbox on planet earth that will help you design a leadership pipeline to overcome your recurring leadership development problem. The Boot Camp will include:

  • Two full days training with your team (up to 5)
  • Leadership Pipeline Workbook for each team member
  • Customized Leadership Pipeline Implementation Plan for your church
  • Training Tools for your team
  • A 60-minute, one-on-one virtual coaching session for your church
  • Virtual follow-up sessions with Boot Camp participants
    • Wednesday, November 29, 2017
    • Wednesday, January 10, 2018
    • Wednesday, February 7, 2018
    • Plus two additional dates TBD
  • The virtual follow-up sessions will be run in two identical groups: Group 1 from 10 a.m. to Noon ET, and Group 2 from 1 – 3 p.m. ET.
  • Lunches and breaks throughout the Boot Camp

The Leadership Pipeline Boot Camp will be held at the Clear Creek Community Church in Houston, TX, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, October 23-24. The Clear Lake campus is easily accessible to hotels and restaurants.

Register for the Leadership Pipeline Boot Camp

The $1,995 investment includes registration for up to five members of your church team. Transportation to the host church, local lodging, breakfast, and evening meals are NOT included.

Your Boot Camp Navigators:

Mac Lake – Mac is a pioneering influence in the church planting movement. In 1997, he planted Carolina Forest Community Church (Myrtle Beach, SC). In 2004, he began serving as Leadership Development Pastor at Seacoast Church (Charleston, SC) where he served for over six years. In July 2010 Mac Lake joined with West Ridge Church to become the Visionary Architect for the LAUNCH Network.

David Putman – In 2010 David founded Planting the Gospel, a network of gospel-centered, disciple making churches committed to helping churches grow and multiply disciples. He planted his first church in 1988 and has served as a planter, strategist and coach. His experience includes serving with the North American Mission Board, where he was responsible for setting strategic direction for the Church Planting Group. He also served as Executive Pastor of Mountain Lake Church in the north Atlanta area where he co-founded churchplanters.com.

Join us at the Leadership Pipeline Boot Camp for a collaborative learning environment that will help you design a Leadership Pipeline centered on your vision and focused on building a culture of leadership development emphasizing four essential components.

Register for the Auxano Leadership Pipeline Boot Camp here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

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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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Moving from Financial Deficit to Abundance

Somewhere I picked up the line, “Your vision will always outpace your resources.” Can you relate? Do you find yourself in the position where you always need more money for more ministry? For the majority of us the answer is a resounding YES! When it comes to money there always seems to be more month than money. Unfortunately, great opportunities come and go simply because we lack the resources to take advantage of them.

What if it doesn’t have to be this way! What if the issue isn’t a lack of available resources? What if the lack of resources is a leadership issue? For many of us I believe this is the case. Let’s be honest. Many of us lack the skill and competency to move from a deficit to an abundance of resources for kingdom impact. It isn’t that we are bad leaders. It just happens to be where we are at and the good news now is we can do something about it.

Where do we start? Why not determine that the one big thing for this next year is going to be moving our financial needle from deficit to abundance. Here are some thoughts and best practices on getting there.

Start with Vision Clarity

When I assess the causes I’m giving to, there is always a clear and compelling vision behind it. I have no question what problem my resources will help solve. One of the ministries I support is a fast growing church planting movement among the Iranians. One way I can support them is by providing New Testaments at the cost of $6.00 each. For every New Testament we put in the hand of an Iranian, there are five to six Iranians who come to Christ.

Often when I do vision clarity and generosity work with churches I tell them this story and ask them, “What’s your Iran?” General appeals for resources get a general response. Abundance begins when we give people a compelling reason to give within the local church. People want to be a part of something significant. They want to do more than turn on the lights. They want to solve a problem that creates a better world.

Budget on Last Year’s Income

It doesn’t stop with vision. If we are going to have an abundant harvest of resources to invest in the kingdom, we must look at how we operate. A common practice in setting the church budget is to take last year’s receipts and add a certain percentage to that number based on anticipated growth in attendance and giving. If last year’s income was $500,000 we may anticipate a 10% growth in giving, so we set our new budget at $550,000. This is not necessarily a best practice or even a good practice.

What if instead we budget on last year’s income or even went a step further and budgeted on less than last years budget? What if instead of budgeting on $550,000 or even $500,000 we budged on $450,000?

What if while we budgeted on $450,000, our giving grows to $550,000? Now we get to live in abundance. Instead of fighting for budget we have a surplus to invest in the kingdom, margin for the lean times, and/or a head start on the next big capital need.

Rethink Your Percentages

In addition to budgeting on last year’s numbers, we need to rethink how we spend our budgets. We have found a consistent model for budget planning that allocates 50% on staffing, 25% on facilities, and 25% on ministry and missions. Whenever our staffing cost goes up, it has to come from somewhere. If the cost of our facilities increases, then a church has to cutback on ministry, staffing, raise additional dollars, or they enter into a deficit.

Driving down your numbers can be another way of creating an abundance of financial resources. Some churches have found the best way to do this is by lowering their staffing cost. This doesn’t mean that they pay their staff less and reduce the level of their benefits. It simply means that they expect staff to equip volunteers to lead ministries.

These churches often operate with 35% to 40% of their budget going to staff. This is radically different than how I was taught to budget. We budgeted to grow by adding staff even when we couldn’t afford it. We would rationalize it by saying things like, “A good staff member always pays for himself or herself.” Maybe you can relate. To be completely honest, it seldom or almost never worked out for us. We usually ended up cutting something or someone we deemed less strategic. It was the constant proverbial rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Develop a Robust Leadership System

You can’t reduce your investment in staff without developing a robust leadership system. To do this we need volunteers that can lead. Paul put it this way, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13, NIV).

In our work with churches across the nation it’s common to find an abundance of volunteers, but a deficit when it comes to volunteers who are actually leading. Churches that are able to dial back on staffing have an intentional process in place to raise-up an abundant harvest of leaders who can serve in strategic places eliminating the need for paid staff in certain places.

Create a Generous Disciple Pathway

At the end of the day we will never experience abundance if we don’t develop generous disciples. Disciple making at its core is about worldview transformation. We need to disciple people to think about their resources differently. For abundance to take place, we need the mind of Christ. A generous disciple pathway will help disciples navigate toward this new mindset regardless of where they begin. Imagine an intentional pathway that helps occasional givers become regular givers, and regular givers to become tithers, and tithers to become extravagant givers.

If we did this alone it would have an incredible impact on our ability to impact the kingdom. At the same time let’s face the fact that creating generous disciples without the other practices may not lead to abundance. Abundance is the result of a discipline approach that includes all of the practices mentioned above.

Conclusion

Chances are your financial systems are perfectly designed to get the results you are currently getting. Making lasting changes aren’t a matter of doing business as usual. We often believe that change is the result of our wills. Unfortunately, we don’t know what we don’t know.

Lacking the skills or competency as a leader to create abundance isn’t a failure. Failing to reach out to those who can help you learn new skills or competencies can be. Don’t be a leader that says that you will figure it out and don’t. There’s too much at stake.

Start by using the Generosity Dream Tool to dream a new generosity dream that includes an abundant harvest of resources for kingdom impact. Don’t stop there. Reach out for help! Make creating abundance for kingdom impact your one big thing this year. I promise you that it will have an incredible impact now and in the future.


Want to learn more about moving from financial deficit to abundance? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Love this
 
— Ann Stokman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Lasting Impact of Leading Up

I am fortunate in that I serve on a high performance team (auxano.com).  I would go a step further and say that I’ve had the good pleasure of serving on a number of high performance teams throughout my life.  At the same time there have been occasions and seasons when the senior leader was absent or distracted from providing the leadership the team needed and desired (sometimes I was that leader).  Perhaps you can relate!  As a consultant it is not unusual for me to be approached by someone who is frustrated or struggling with the senior leader. At the same time let’s face it, we are all human and regardless where we are in the leadership pipeline, we can fail at leading those below us.

If you are in a situation where you are not being led well, what you may not know is, you can and should do something about it.  I would go one step further and say you are part of the problem.  That’s right!  We all are responsible for helping lead those above us!

When it comes to leadership it’s important that we lead in all directions, or what Bill Hybels refers to in this short video teaching as 360 degree leadership.  By 360 degree leadership he’s referring to our need as a leader not to simply to lead those below us, but to lead those on the same level and above as well.  What you may or may not realize is that when it comes to leading, an effective leader spends more time leading up than he does leading down.    An effective leader leads from the center.

Which leads me to the question I want to address.  How do you lead up when your leader is not doing an effective job at leading below him or her?   Let me suggest three things I want my leader to know:

  • What I need to be successful at my job.  I want to make sure my leader knows what tools I need to be most effective.  This could include training, people, resources, technology, job description, clarity, time, and a whole host of other things.

 

  • What I can excel at and make my greatest contribution. I also want my leader to know how I can make my best and ultimate contribution.  I’m not helping the team achieve our overall vision if I spend my time on meaningless tasks or responsibilities.  I want my leader to know what I can do best and add the most value to our organization by doing.

 

  • What I need help with.  I want my leader to help me problem solve.  Maybe I’m doing a task I need to be doing, but I’m stuck.  I want him to know it long before it becomes the organization’s problem.


All this starts with good communication.  I’m going to do everything within my power to make sure I have a relational connect with him/her and that we meet on a a regular bases. The last thing I want is for my leader to only see me coming only when I have a laundry list of problems, complaints, or needs.  I understand that over time, if we don’t connect or meet regularly, we are going to suffer from distant decay, which simply means our relationship is going to deteriorate, no matter how well things are going.

Yes it is true everything rises and falls on leadership.  The question is whose leadership?  I think we all know the answer.  Take responsibility now.  Regardless of where you are in the leadership pipeline, lead well!  You won’t regret it.


Learn more about the impact of leading up – connect with an Auxano Navigator.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Love this
 
— Ann Stokman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Benefits of Personal Goal Setting

Over the last couple of years I’ve stumbled upon a nonlinear approach to personal goal setting that has greatly impacted my life for the better by changing my behavior, and thus transforming my life.  The simple drawing below represents not only how I set my goals, but how I tackle them.  They are arranged in spiritual, personal, and public domains.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 6.52.07 AM

  • My Spiritual Domain – This first and inner most domain ultimately answers the question, “Why do I exist?”  I believe this is the question we have to answer before we can answer any other.  In this domain I don’t set specific goals; however, I do seek to answer the Five Irreducible Questions of Leadership we use at Auxano in organizational consulting that include:

1. What am I doing
2. Why am I doing it?
3. How am I doing it?
4. When am I successful?
5. Where is God taking me?

Please note this is not a life planning process.  If you are interested in a life planning process, you will want to check out Will Mancini and David Rhodes’ personal vision and life planning process at LifeYounique. I have confidence in both of these men and am a huge fan of their process.

  • My Personal Domain – This domain creates balance and momentum for life.  We have to lead ourselves before we can lead others.  We must bring mastery over these goals before we can master others.  Because of this, I set four goals around four areas that include personal, intellectual, emotional, and financial.
  • My Public Domain – This domain allows you to create greater meaning in life by adding value to those around you.  It’s the playing field where we live our lives. I include family, friends, vocation, and adventures in this domain.

I chose these three domains and eight areas because it’s how I view my whole life.  While they are not exclusive to me, they are unique to me.  You may choose to define your domains in a different way and have eight very similar or different areas within these domains.  At the same time, I do think each of these domains and areas are important to each one of us as we pursue living a whole and fully integrated life.  My spiritual anchor for this holistic and integrated approach to goal setting is the teachings of Jesus.  In John 10:10 he declared, “The thief comes to still, kill, and destroy your life.  I have come that you might experience life to the full.”

While my napkin drawing is the original way I write my goals, I also borrowed from Michael Hyatt’s and Daniel Harkavy’s in Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want.  Here’s the four-step process I use.

  1. Begin with a purpose statement for each area.  The purpose statement is simply a summary of what it means to win in each area.
  2. Write a vision for each area.  This consists of three to four sentences describing the preferred future for that specific area within the context of a specific period of time.  I typically think in terms of where I want to be in the next five years.
  3. Perform an honest assessment of how you are doing in each specific area.  I include both the things I’m doing well and the things I’m struggling with.  This section is made up of four or five very focused bullets.
  4. Finally, set behavioral specific goals based on where you want to be. I’m typically thinking through what I want to accomplish over the next 12 months.

The biggest benefit from this approach to goal setting is, what I believe to be, the holistic and integrated nature of it.  Here’s what I’m learning.

  1. The more clarity I have in my spiritual domain, the clearer my goals are.
  2. I must master my personal domain before I can master my public domain.
  3. Getting stuck in one area can impact all the other areas in a negative way.
  4. Focusing on mastering one area at a time builds momentum and synergy for accomplishing my goals in all of the areas, especially when we focus on our personal domains before our public domains.
  5. Focusing on an integrated approach to goal setting creates a whole and healthier me.
  6. The more often I read and reflect on my goals, the more they become a normal part of my everyday life.

To help, I’m including a sample of my goal setting for one of the eight areas of my life. You will note this process is robust and involves an investment of your time and hard work to complete, but it’s well worth it.

Physical

Purpose Statement:

My purpose is to live a physically optimal life and to die healthy.

Envisioned Future:

Physically, I am at the top of my game. My body-to-fat ratio is at 14%. I am in the top 100 worldwide, in my age                category, in Crossfit. I am disciplined when it comes to exercise, diet, and rest. I have an abundance of energy to                do what’s important to me. I am setting an example of fitness for those around me.

Current reality:

  • I am committed to exercising 5 days a week. However, my work schedule and travel hinder me from working out the way I desire to work out.
  • I am 10 pounds heavier than what I believe to be my preferred weight.
  • I eat clean eighty percent of the time, but tend to snack at night.
  • I have a lot of energy and feel really good most of the time, but my travel, when at its peak, tears me down.
  • I am growing in my understanding of exercise, rest, and nutrition.

Specific Commitments:

  • I will exercise at least five times a week.
  • I will replace all unhealthy snacking in the evening with healthy snacks.
  • I will stick to a Paleo Diet on and off the road.
  • I will limit my cheat meals to once a week.
  • I will continue to train and compete at a high level in Crossfit.

> Read more from David.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Love this
 
— Ann Stokman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Marathon of Leading Yourself: 9 Areas for Constant Improvement

Recently I had the opportunity to host a younger friend that I’ve coached through the years, in my home. While we were on an afternoon run he asked me to share with him some of my life’s lessons that had impacted me the most.  More specifically the question my friend asked was, “Tell me about what you’ve learned that I need to know”.

As we begin a new year, I’ve found myself reflecting on his question.  I thought it might be helpful to share my list with you.  These simple practices are now hardwired in me.  I guess you could say they are what make me who I am.  I’m convinced that they have and continue to change the trajectory of my life for the better.

Starting each day with these practices makes my life and those around me better.  They motivate me to face each day as an exciting journey.  God is writing a story in each of our lives and he gives us the resolve and resources to influence that story for the better.

Here’s what you need to know!

Aim for 80%

This practice I’ve learned from my experience with fitness.  Over the last few years I have hit most of my fitness goals.  That hasn’t always been so.  There was a time when I was failing when it came to my own physical vitality.  I tried numerous diets and workout routines with no avail.  That has all changed.

I no longer diet.  Instead, I studied nutrition and developed a healthy lifestyle.  I’ve eliminated most sugar and gluten related products from my life.  I eat food rich in protein, healthy carbs I get from vegetables and fruits, and I include healthy fats.  I do this day-in and day-out or at least 80% of the time.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t times in my life that I aim for 100%.  As a lifestyle, I know that I’m not going to be 100% all the time.  However, as a discipline, in most things I can be 80%, and 80% has the potential for changing the trajectory of my life and putting a win in the win column.

Aiming at 80% can be applied to numerous areas of my life.  Hitting 80% of my savings goals is better than failing at 100%, and giving up all together.  The same is true in my consulting practices.  If I can get a 100% of a team of visionary leaders to agree at 80%, we can keep things moving until we get to 100%.

Perfectionism can lead to failure.  It tends to immobilize us and frustrates almost everyone around us.  Aiming at 80% allows us to extend a little grace to all.  Aiming at 80% may be actually what you need in your life to get unstuck and move forward toward achieving your goals.

Don’t Overthink

Overthinking is simply thinking about something too often for far too long.  This may not be your issue, but it certainly is mine.  It can be as innocent as planning a trip or making a simple purchase.  Other times it can be much more complex and leave us stuck in an unhealthy place.

A good example of my overthinking is my tendency to plan every detail of a trip when I travel with family and friends.   At times they love it, but other times it drives them over the edge.  They poke at me by suggesting that I don’t even need go, since I’ve already taken the trip – referring to my over planning.

While some overthinking is helpful, not all overthinking is created equal. Overthinking can have a negative effect on our lives and those around us.  If you are an over thinker, it is easy to obsess over decisions that need to be made, relationships that need to be healed, and experiences from which you need to move on.

Several years ago I became convinced that I needed to resign from my position as a pastor in a local church and invest my time helping other individuals, organizations, and churches succeed.  On a Tuesday morning, in my early morning reflection time, I finally reached a point of clarity that this was indeed what I needed to do.  That morning I shared with my wife my new insight and my resolve to make the change.  She quickly confirmed it and promised her support.  At 2pm that day I resigned.

Why did I resign so quickly?  Because I knew I would overthink my decision if I didn’t.  I knew I would spend the next days, weeks, months, and literally years thinking about making this change.  Instead I resigned that day.  I didn’t have all the answers, but I made the decision and this decision, I’m convinced, changed my life for the better.  It wasn’t easy.  I failed along the way.  I had doubts along the way, but, I acted and it made all the difference.

Express Gratitude Often

As I write this we are beginning a new year.  The previous year has been a difficult one.  As I scan through my Facebook feed I realize I’m not alone.  While I refrain from posting my personal life on Facebook, others I know feel the need to share.  I do appreciate my friends that do share because it helps give me perspective.  Life is difficult.  Jesus tells us that in this world we will have trouble.  He wasn’t kidding!  Yet in spite of whatever you and I have gone through, we have much for which to be grateful.

Practicing gratefulness by expressing those things we are grateful for unlocks our heart and creates a more generous and thankful me.  Most mornings, during my time of reflection, I send out a simple text to my spouse and grown children that simply states things for which I’m grateful.  I do this for myself and I do it for them.

During some really tough times I need perspective.  I need to see the good in the midst of the bad.  I need to be reminded that “all things do work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Roman 8:28).  I also want my wife and children to share that perspective.

I’ve learned this practice from many sources, but specifically my son.  While he was in the army he spent 15 months deployed in eastern Afghanistan.  During that time he spent most of his time on patrol.  Most of those months he slept out in the open and ate one meal a day.  On several occasions he came close to losing his life.  When he returned home I noticed that he constantly expressed gratitude for just about everything.  He was so grateful.  What I learned was that gratefulness is not about our circumstances, but a condition of our soul.  Our greatest expressions of gratitude often flow out of our most painful experiences.  Our adversity gives birth to gratitude.

Pray With Your Spouse Daily

This is one of my favorite practices.  It is so simple, but I’m convinced that it has shaped my marriage and changed my relationship with my wife for the better.  Each morning Tami and I face each other, hold hands, and pray a brief prayer together.  Usually our prayers are less than a minute long and are fairly predictable.  Yet at the same time this is the one practice that I believe has changed our life together the most.

I think it has had this profound impact for several reasons.  For one, it’s hard to pray with someone when you are mad or have unresolved issues. This is true even for a brief prayer.  In 37 years of marriage I can think of only two or three times that we didn’t pray because of conflict.  Whenever we have had conflict where we didn’t pray, that conflict was resolved by noon.  Another benefit of our daily prayer time is whenever something was going on in our lives that required a more focused time of prayer we already had a space in our lives for it.

Always Lead With Truth

This one is a little harder for me.  I’m a truth teller.  I value telling the truth.  At the same time, I struggle to always lead with truth.  For me, I have to work on my truth telling; I don’t want to hurt your feelings.  Sometimes I want to withhold information or my opinion.  At the same time, I think if you asked my friends if I am a truth teller, they would tell you that is one of the things I do well.  You don’t have to be wired or like truth telling to be truthful.  Some of us simply have to work at it.

On the other hand, my wife is a natural truth teller and because of it I respect her opinion or input more than anyone else.  When I’m struggling with something, I will sometimes ask her to speak truth into a certain situation or me.  I trust and need her perspective.  I have affectionately nicknamed her ‘the judge’.  It’s not that she judges people.  She is a very gracious person toward others, but she sees black and white and is gifted in calling it out.

Truth telling is important for a number of reasons.  Some of these reasons are obvious, while others not.  Truth brings to light whatever is in the dark.  Even though this truth often hurts, it is also this painful truth that heals.  Truth is essential to healthy relationships and a healthy life.

Always leading with truth involves being truthful at every level.  If you have an issue with something or someone, be truthful about it in the right way.  If you are caught in mistruth or half-truths of other’s relationships, bring everyone together in the same room.  Invite others to speak truth into your life.  We all have blind spots in our lives where we could benefit from skilled truth tellers.

Lead With The Golden Rule

There are two ways to live our lives.  We can live in a way where it’s all about us or we can live it in such a way that it’s all about others.  The Golden Rule is about treating others the way we want to be treated.  What an incredible principle.  We all know how we want to be treated; therefore, treating others good is innate.  I didn’t say it was easy, but when it comes to how we treat others, we are without excuse.

I find myself living my life in both ways.  There are days that I move through life so fast, anything and everything in front of me is in my way.  Its those days that I just steamroll over everyone and leave a wake of brokenness behind me.  This is an ugly and narcissistic way of living life.

On the other hand, there are days that I am more aware and intentional about living out the Golden Rule.  It’s a beautiful thing when I find myself deferring to those around me.  Living out the Golden Rule can be as simple as letting incoming traffic merge into my lane ahead of me.  This isn’t a typical response in Atlanta where I live.

For me living out the Golden Rule mostly means being aware of people around me and treating them with honor and respect. I treat them with honor and respect because that’s the way I like to be treated.  Sometimes living the Golden Rule can be challenging and difficult.  We live in a messy world.  We live in a world where there is hurt and pain.  When I feel that I am violated or mistreated, I want to lash out.  When I am the one who violates or mistreats, I want to experience grace.  Living the Golden Rule is about extending the grace that I so much want to experience.

Living the Golden Rule is life giving.  I never feel more alive than when I am intentionally living the Golden Rule.  Not only that, but I see people all around me coming alive.

Work On You Daily

It’s been said many times, you can’t lead others until you lead yourself.  Several years ago I made a transition from a leadership role in large organization to a local church.  The first thing I did in my new role was sought out advice from those who were experiencing success.  It won’t surprise you that the advice I received was “grow the leader…grow the church.” For the next six years I spent my time doing everything I possibly could to see that our senior leader was growing.  At the end of that season our church grew from 500 to over 2000 in weekend attendance.

What we learned during that incredible run was that we had to work on us if we were to lead a growing organization of any kind.  It wasn’t enough to work in it all the time.  It was just as important or more so to work on it.  Our first responsibility as a leader is to work on us.  Whether you are a mother who is leading three little ones at home, a student leading a drama team, a chief executive leading a large company, or a pastor leading a church, it all begins with leading ourselves.

For me, this means working on nine areas within three different domains around which I’ve built my Life Plan. The following diagram represents these three domains and nine areas. I break them down like this:

  • Spiritual Domain – I focus my life purpose.
  • Personal Domain – I focus on my emotional, physical, intellectual, and financial life.
  • Relational Domain – I focus on my family, friends, vocation, and adventures.

I set specific goals in all nine areas beginning with my Spiritual Domain and moving out.  I tend to focus on the mastery of one area at a time.  I focus on the area that needs the most work first.

I have also come to realize that winning in all these areas is a marathon, not a sprint.  Mastering all nine areas is a life long journey.  When I come to the end of my life, I think it would be appropriate to simply say, “At least he was working on it.”

Working on it involves working on me every single day of my life.  This is my most important responsibility.  I really don’t have anything to offer my family, friends, or those I coach and consult, until I work on me.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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5 Best Practices for Funding Your Mission

Every Lead Pastor is responsible for financing the mission.  As a Lead Pastor you have to own it.  We can delegate a lot of the responsibilities to the financial team, business administrator, or executive pastor, but at the end of the day the buck stops with you.  The degree in which your church is funded lands squarely on your shoulders.

At the same time, many Lead Pastors shy away from this role.  It’s almost as if they feel less spiritual if they think and talk about issues related to funding the mission. Because of this, it’s not unusual for churches to go under-funded or for significant ministry opportunities to simply never happen.

We could all use more funding.  Vision simply has a way of always out pacing our resources.  I’m convinced that we can be better funded with a little intentional effort.  Here are five best practices for funding the mission that I’ve observed and practiced over the years.

They talk about money.  Sometime during the 80’s we got the idea that we shouldn’t talk about money.  We went to great lengths to avoid the conversation.  We even invited people not to give when we passed the offering plates or baskets. At the same time, leaders who finance the mission don’t back away when it comes  to talking about money. They recognize that it’s their responsibility and they are intentional about talking to their teams, staff, and entire congregation.  Not talking about money doesn’t overcome the challenge of financing the mission, it only intensifies it.

They are conservative operators.  They expect God to do great things, but at the same time they realize they must live within their means.  This often plays out in three common ways:

  1.  They set their budgets on what they know, not on what they assume.
  2. They keep their staff percentages well below the norm.
  3.  They have a system for monitoring their budget regularly.

They help others win financially.  They understand that if the people they shepherd win, the church wins.  They are intentional about systems being put into place that teach people how to budget, save, and get out of debt.  I am convinced that the number one way of financing the mission is a long-term financial ministry.  This should be the first thing we staff and fund as a church, and not the last.

They understand the importance of focused campaigns.  They understand that a capital campaign is really not a capital campaign, but a spiritual initiative.  God uses these times of focused intensity to disciple His people, create movement, and fund his mission.

They are accountable and they communicate. They openly thank people for their sacrifice.  They connect their giving with real life change and ministry.  They are financially accountable to the body.  They create trust.  They are over- the-top in communicating through some kind of end-of-the-year report.

Here are five practical applications, based on these best practices, you can apply this year.

  1. Preach at least one series on giving.
  2. Budget on 90% of your income and keep staffing to 35% of total budget
  3. Launch a financial ministry that includes regular classes on getting out of debt, saving, and giving.  Include financial counselors.
  4. Schedule a capital or generosity campaign.
  5. Present an over-the-top end-of-the-year report.

We would love to help you win in these areas.  For your generosity and campaign needs don’t hesitate to reach out to us, the Auxano Team (www.auxano.com), or email me at davidp@auxano.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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6 Tips in Leading Your Next Capital Campaign

I was given a campaign manual on my first day as an XP. That’s right, I got my first assignment and it was to lead our growing church plant through a capital campaign that would allow us to double our space. Over the next six years, I found myself in back-to-back campaigns as our church attendance grew from 500 to over 2,000 people in weekend attendance. I learned some valuable lessons and some best practices during those six years that I want to pass on to you.

> Slow Down in Order to Speed Up

When it comes to campaigns everyone is in a hurry. Proper prep takes time especially when it’s linked to expanding your space. Most of us pastor types (human types) want everything right now. Determining the scope of a project, the consultant, the lender, the architect, the site issues, along with a dozen more issues are critical to address if your campaign is going to be successful. The more focused you are as you begin, the greater the impact and results. Often the best way to speed up the entire process is to slow down.

> Hire the Right Consultant

I’m not sure what would have happened if we had not hired the right consultant from day one. Failing to engage a consultant may actually cost you tens of thousands of dollars in the long haul. Yes, there are fees involved when you hire a good consultant, A good consultant can be costly, but I promise you it’s the best money you can spend if you want to maximize your campaign. You will find these characteristics in a top-notch consultant:

• Calling – Do they have a passion for helping the local church?

• Competent – Do they have a proven track record as a campaign consultant and do they have local church experience?

• Character – Do they do what they say they’ll do? What do are other people say about who they are?

• Chemistry – Do they understand and fit your culture?

> Let the Senior Leader Call the Shots

First, the Senior Pastor must have buy-in and be engaged. Clearly, every senior leader leads differently. I’ve been in situations where the senior leader wanted to micro-manage every detail. I’ve been in other situations where he wanted to be told “when” and “where.” As an XP it should always be your goal to help the senior leader succeed. So lean into his or her leadership style to accomplish this. My starting point as an XP was, “What is it that I must have from the senior leader for this to succeed?” I made sure he was freed up to actually do that. My job began with his job.

> Link Your Campaign to Vision

Campaigns tend to be too focused on money. The place we need to begin is vision. A good campaign will always start and end with vision. Vision clarity is a must. People give to vision, not to buildings unless it’s part of a larger vision.

> Listen to Your Consultant

Don’t assume you know more about the campaign than your consultant. I have found that there are times when leadership resists listening to their consultant. This happens when the church has had a previous win or big success. Unfortunately, a previous win doesn’t mean the next one will go just as well. It often doesn’t.

> Work Really Hard

Campaigns are hard work. Effective campaigns are even harder. The harder you work, the greater the results. Don’t take shortcuts during this season. Plan on working long, hard days. It will pay off.

I hope these tips will guide you to run a successful campaign that will help you advance your mission and make disciples.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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The Positive Benefits of Ministry Calendaring with a Systems Approach

“Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most out of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

It’s that time of year again.  Nothing prepares us for a new year like good planning.  If you lead or help lead a church, a systems approach to calendaring brings with it a number of positive benefits.  It allows you to…

  • Avoid the attendance roller coaster – This may be one of the biggest advantages to understanding your calendar.  Imagine getting off the attendance roller coaster.  Understanding the growth rhythm of church attendance makes this possible.
  • Maximize growth – There are a limited number of days each year that you grow in weekend attendance.  Understanding this allows you to maximize growth.
  • Create margin – We all could use some margin in our lives.  Good planning promotes margin.
  • Steward God’s vision – Good planning allows us to steward God’s vision well for our church and life.
  • Lead with clarity – When we lead others, clarity matters.  There are two ends when it comes to leadership.  There is vision and execution.  Leaders lead with a clear vision, and at the same time they get things done.  A systems approach to our ministry calendar allows us to schedule the implementation of a clear vision.  A must in leadership.

 Understanding Your Growth Rhythm

 Understanding your growth rhythm as a church is a must when it comes to calendaringA common misconception is that healthy churches experience consistent growth In reality we only grow a few weekends each year.   Here are the days a church typically grows with weekend services.

  • Weekend after New Years
  • Easter
  • Mother’s Day
  • Weekend after Labor Day
  • Christmas

On the other hand, here are some days a church doesn’t typically grow.

  • New Years
  • Memorial Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Weekend after Thanksgiving

In addition, the school calendar greatly impacts your growth rhythm.

In reality a healthy growth rhythm looks more like a healthy bull market on the stock exchange.  It’s goes up and down based on the time of year, holiday, school schedule, etc.  Knowing this can allow you to maximize growth.

A healthy exercise is to plot out your actual growth over a period of several years.  When you build a graph by layering each year you will begin to see the actual pattern of how the church grows.

A good calendar builds on the foundation of your growth rhythm.  Let me suggest that your overall church calendar is actually a collection of key calendars. A systems approach to calendaring should include the following, in this order:

  • Preaching Calendar
  • Personal Vitality Calendar
  • Giving Calendar
  • Ministry Calendar
  • Leadership Calendar

Here’s a brief description of each of these calendars for your consideration.

> Preaching Calendar

I recommend you start with your preaching calendar.  As noted you only have six to eight big days per year when your church is likely to experience a huge spike in weekend attendance, if utilized.  Here’s a list of things to consider when planning your preaching calendar.

  • Pre-plan your preaching calendar.
  • Plan the entire year.
  • Plan it around 10 to 12 series a year (4 to 6 weeks long).
  • Plan it around your growth rhythm.
  • Start new series on high days.
  • Develop new preachers on low days.

> Personal Vitality Calendar

Now that you’ve identified those high growth ties, move on to your personal vitality calendar.  Utilize the natural low days to take breaks for developing new communicators.  Early on in ministry I failed to plan well when it came to taking time off.  For some of you this may be a no brainer; for others, like me, we have to be proactive.

  • Schedule holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and special days.
  • Schedule your family vacation(s).
  • Schedule your day off.
  • Schedule your evenings.
  • Pay attention to your annual, quarterly, weekly, and daily rhythms.

> Giving Calendar

When it comes to calendaring we often over look our giving calendar.  Financing the mission isn’t automatic.  Giving is a discipleship issue and needs to be schedule around the five seasons of giving.  These seasons include:

  • New Year – can be an onramp to financial stewardship.
  • Pre-Summer – an onramp to automated giving.
  • Summer – a time to invest in your leaders and key givers.
  • Fall – a time for sacrifice or giving with vision.
  • End-of-Year – a time for that end-of-year gift.

> Ministry Calendar

Ministry calendar is another way of calendaring around your disciple-making assimilation.  To do this you need to map out your assimilation process.  This usually involves the following:

  • Newcomers events – depends of your need.
  • Groups – start up, breaks, training, launching of new groups, etc.
  • Volunteers – orientation, training, appreciation, etc.
  • Missions & Service opportunities – includes local and global opportunities to engage in planting the gospel.

> Leadership Calendar

A healthy church needs to calendar a number of leadership events.  They may include:

  • Ministry Team Meetings – good meetings are the playing field of great teams.  There are a number of team meetings you need to schedule.  Don’t leave your team guessing.
  • Vision Nights – excellent times for communicating vision and direction to your church body.  Plan four or five nights a year for rallying the body.
  • Training Events – Volunteers and group leaders need a heavy investment.
  • Staff Retreats – Plan several times a year to work “on it” with you team.  Let’s face it we need a break from working “in it”.

>>Tips for a Good Calendar Meeting

Taking time to plan your annual calendar can yield incredible results.  They also can be overwhelming. Here are some tips for a good calendar meeting.

  • Set aside a long day (noon-to-noon make for a good overnighter).
  • Involve your team.
  • Make sure they are well prepared.
  • Offsite locations are best.
  • Make sure you have access to all the information (Wi-Fi is a must).
  • Use large visible calendar (Taped together desk calendars work best).
  • Use different color sticky notes for maximum flexibility and creativity.
  • Assign someone to take notes, photograph, and create a public calendar.

Celebrate and enjoy the fruits of a well-planned year!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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sufferingservant — 03/30/14 8:46 pm

Outstanding perspective on ministry calendaring. Would be nice to see someone develop an online version of this approach to use.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> Love this
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.