How a Simple Organizational Leadership Equation Can Change the Way You Lead

On September 27, 1905 an obscure clerk in the Swiss Patent Office published an article that changed the world. Although few of us can explain the premise of the article we all recognize the clerk’s revolutionary equation, E = mc2. The amazing thing about Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity is both its elegant simplicity and its massive implications.

Einstein’s ability to take the complex and turn it into something simple has always intrigued me. Anyone can find complex solutions to complex situations, but finding simple (not easy) solutions to complex problems is rare. If the solution is simple enough it applies across multiple environments and bring significant change. E = mc2 changed the world.

What if we could find a simple but elegant theory of organizational leadership? There are thousands of leadership books with tens of thousands of leadership principles, and every day hundreds of blog posts adding to the cacophony. It is easy to get lost in the weeds. I wonder if there we can take basic concepts woven through the literature and create a simple but robust model? Something like Einstein’s theory of relativity or Newton’s laws of physics applied to organizational leadership.

I am certainly no Einstein, everything I know about physics I learned on Beakman’s World, but I’d like to take a stab at a simple organizational leadership equation. I’m not trying to create new leadership principles, but to synthesize what we know into a simple, replicable equation. I’d love to get your feedback and suggestions. We may not change the world, but we might end up with something useful.

Here is my first draft of an organizational leadership equation:

GeoffSLship1

Terms

Mission: What are we trying to accomplish?

I have heard mission and vision defined a hundred different ways and I always wind up confused. Most of the mission statements I’ve seen are long and don’t really say anything. I agree with Guy Kawasaki who prefers mantra over mission. Here is his definition of mantra:

Forget mission statements; they’re long, boring, and irrelevant. No one can ever remember them—much less implement them. Instead, take your meaning and make a mantra out of it. This will set your entire team on the right course. (The Art of the Start)

Some of my favorite church mission statements/mantras:

  • Willow Creek (back in the day) We turn unchurched people into fully devoted followers of Christ
  • Community Christian Church (Naperville, Illinois) We help people find their way back to God
  • Southeast Christian Church (Parker, Colorado) We make daily disciples

Success always begins with a compelling mission.

Values: What is important in our culture?

Core values are often another leadership cul-de-sac. One extreme is making everything a core value; a church sent me a list of 21 core values, that seems a tad too many. The other extreme is using universal catchphrases for core values. I think every church in America has authenticity on their value plaque. At the risk of contradicting what I just said here are my top five values for staff culture.

  • God-centered
  • Fun
  • Collaborative
  • Candid
  • Safe

A truly successful mission is executed within the values of the culture.

Results: How do we know we are accomplishing our mission?

A mission without measurements is a mirage. Measurements, however, have to go beyond the easily quantifiable. One of the biggest mistakes of the Vietnam War was confusing the daily body count with winning the war. Churches make this same mistake when they rely solely on hard counts like attendance, giving or small group participation.

The hard work of accomplishing the mission begins with learning to measure the right results.

Goals: What part of the mission does each team member own?

Dividing the mission into individual goals is where the magic happens. Great leaders help every team member see how their goals connect directly to the mission. The questions leaders continually  must ask is, “If a task, activity or job isn’t tied directly to the mission then why are doing it?”

Individual goals are where the mission is accomplished.

Accountability: How do team members know they are accomplishing their part of the mission?

Every team member, from the leader to the part-time custodian, needs to know how they are doing. Consistent, honest feedback is a major key to high performance as well as healthy morale. There is nothing more demoralizing as feeling like no one in the organization cares about what you are doing.

Accountability is why the mission is accomplished.

Putting it all together

So my simple organizational leadership equation can be abbreviated like this:

GeoffSLship2

The MISSION of an organization is accomplished when measurable RESULTS, divided into individual GOALS for which each team member is ACCOUNTABLE, are achieved in a culture faithful to organizational VALUES.

Does any of this make sense? What would you change? Could it be helpful in leading in an organization?

>> Read more from Geoff.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Tim Johnson — 11/17/14 6:43 am

Good point. another equation for you: Simplicity = Doable. Our church's mission, vision, purpose, values, and goals are stated in 5 words, our internal explanations are in parentheses: Laugh (have fun with each other), Love (God), Learn (what He says), Live (do what He says), Lead (others to Him).

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comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

What Will You Do When the Very Worst Thing Happens?

In spite of all the hype about the 2013 George Clooney/Sandra Bullock movie Gravity, my expectations were rather low. I was wrong. Gravity is one of the best movies of the year, maybe of the decade. The cinematography is out of this world (literally) and the suspense is incredible. I know some of the science doesn’t work, but it doesn’t matter; it is a simple story told in a masterful way.

(Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen Gravity see it before reading further because I’m going to ruin it for you.)

The story of Gravity revolves around the theme, “What do you do when the very worst thing possible happens?” Just when the characters think it can’t get any worse it does. Its a feeling many leaders experience every Monday morning, so here are five powerful lessons leaders in crisis mode can glean from the movie:

>>Things are seldom as bad as you think

When the Space Shuttle is destroyed and Sandra Bullock goes tumbling into space my first thought is, “This is going to be a really short movie, no way she survives.” I can’t imagine a worse disaster. George Clooney realizes, however, that while this is bad things could be worse. They have a little oxygen, a jet pack and a clear path to the International Space Station. Things are bad but not hopeless.

While the disasters we face as leaders are seldom as catastrophic as being stranded in space without a ride back to earth, they can certainly feel that way. A staff member is caught in an affair, the bookkeeper embezzles the payroll, or that crack in the sidewalk turns out to be major structural damage. The team can feel like the walls are caving in, but a leader’s job is to assess the situation, calm the team and begin immediately to plan the next steps.

>>There is almost always a way out

When Bullock’s oxygen runs out Clooney tells her there’s more air still in her suit, just take smaller breaths. (“Sips not gulps, wine not beer”). When the Soyuz escape pod is unusable on the ISS he points her to the Chinese space station. At each dead-end Clooney  finds an alternate route.

Leaders can’t give in to dead ends. The leader is the advance scout looking for the next option, the next step toward safety and success. The reality is even in the most hopeless circumstances there is almost always a way over, through or around the obstacle; the leader’s job is to find that route.

>>Friendship is crucial

At its core Gravity is a buddy movie. The disaster is really just a backdrop for the growing trust and friendship between Clooney and Bullock. Even after he’s gone Bullock continues to draw hope from their relationship.

Success or failure in the face of disaster often hinges on the relationship between the leader and her team. Do they trust her? Does she trust them? Does the team know the leader is genuinely concerned about their welfare, or is she simply using them to reach her pre-determined goal? Without friendship and trust disaster will quickly destroy a team.

>>Sometimes you have to let go

One of the most poignant moments of the film is Clooney disconnecting the tether to Bullock. He knows that she cannot survive unless she lets him go. (The physics are completely wrong, but the point is valid) If she continues to cling to Clooney they both will die, if she will let him go she can survive. He makes the only choice that makes sense.

Letting go is one of the hardest things to do in a crisis. Our natural instinct is to cling to what we know, to the familiar, to what seems safe. But survival often requires release. In a crisis it is important not to make snap judgements, but the only path to organizational health may be to let someone go.

>>It seldom turns out the way you think it will (but that’s ok)

Sandra Bullock’s character never imagines her mission will end alone in a Chinese escape pod near an island in the middle of nowhere. Everything she thinks success looks like is turned upside down. In the end she survives, she realizes what is important and she reaches out to God. (My interpretation of her prayer) She would never choose this path, but she wouldn’t trade it either.

It is in the disasters of life that individuals and organizations are shaped. We learn what is important, we learn what we are made of and we learn we can survive. David was shaped in Cave of Adullum, Moses was shaped on the back side of the desert, Peter was shaped in High Priest’s courtyard. We are refined by the things we most want to avoid.

As leaders we have to be prepared to lead our team through crisis, because crisis will come. The question is how will we survive?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Pastor Geoff Surratt on 4 Lessons of Healthy Ministry

My heart broke recently as I watched pastor Ron Carpenter pour out his heart in his weekend message to his congregation. It was a gut wrenching experience as he shared with his church the devastating pain his family has endured over the past ten years, and the incredibly difficult future they now face. I have never met Ron, but my heart and prayers go out to him. I can’t imagine the anguish of sharing the most awful parts of your private life with 100s of friends and 1000s of strangers. This is a time when we put aside theological differences and preconceptions and pray for a man and a family wrecked by the effects of evil.

Seeing Ron expose his heart and soul to his congregation reminds me of several hard-earned lessons from a lifetime of ministry. These lessons are not about Ron Carpenter or Redemption World Outreach Center, I don’t know anything about Ron, his leadership or the structure of his church; these are the lessons of 31 years of vocational ministry. Lessons learned growing up a third generation pastor’s kid, watching 30 members of my extended family in active ministry, and interacting with hundreds of pastors and leaders across the country. I’ve organized these lessons into four “Y”s of healthy ministry.

1. Integrity: I am real

Integrity: being complete or undivided.

While all pastors stress the importance of integrity, there is a temptation in ministry to create an onstage image different from who they really are. Very few  set out to be two different people, it just happens. This is an incredibly dangerous road to go down.

I’ve seen a couple of iterations of this tendency to project an idealized leader for public consumption. In one version the leader creates a more polished image of himself. He is incredibly happy, has a well-adjusted family, and lives a super desirable lifestyle. He faces challenges and temptations, but he always overcomes in the end. The implied message is that if his followers will emulate his faith they too can live a charmed life. Social media has made this temptation into an art. The leader tweets about his “smokin’ hot wife”, his incredible kids and the constant spiritual breakthroughs he achieves. He creates a life everyone wishes they had. In reality its a life he wishes he had as well.

In the second version the leader creates a more raw version of himself. He talks about a crisis of faith he never really had. He embellishes college stories to better match those of his congregation. He exaggerates family challenges to sound more like the real life stuff his followers deal with every day. This version of the leader requires that he hide a relatively innocent youth as well as the luxuries ministry success has afforded him. He must feign humility even when he doesn’t feel humble. The message to the church is, “You can follow me because I’m just like you.”

Authentic ministry requires one version of you. You may be a little more refined in public, hopefully you don’t scratch and spit as much, but people who know you should be able to say you’re the same guy on stage as you are at the ballgame. The real you will eventually come out, so you might as well be you from the beginning.

2. Transparency: I am human

Transparency: Able to be seen through

Integrity says what you see is what you get while transparency says what you see is a normal human being. Transparent, human leaders get tired, discouraged and frustrated. They’re not always sure where to go or what to do next. They don’t have a fairy tale marriages and their kids sometimes (all the time) exasperate them. They worry about their finances, and their health and how they’re going to care for their parents when the time comes. They have been called into a position of public ministry, but they’re just an ordinary humans.

The image of a leader with the perfect hair, the perfect spouse and the perfect children isn’t realistic, sustainable or biblical. Elijah got tired, Peter got hungry, Paul got ticked off at his best friend. There isn’t a single example in the Bible of a leader who didn’t struggle with his humanity. Being transparent about our humanity means admitting we sometimes struggle in our marriage, feel clueless as parents and wrestle balancing our faith with our doubt. Transparency says the human condition is universal; I’m no exception.

3. Vulnerability: I am broken

Vulnerable: Capable of being wounded our hurt

We are creating a version of Christianity that says the true believer, if they follow the right plan or practice the right disciplines, will inch closer and closer to spiritual perfection. The goal is to be a mature believer who almost never sins, and if he does it just little things like forgetting to leave a tip or sighing out loud in line at Wal-Mart. Leading the parade is the pastor who proclaims he has overcome the sin he used to struggle with, and is now nearing heavenly nirvana. He might have been saved by grace, but he has worked his way to true holiness. Won’t you follow in his footsteps?

This in spite of all the biblical evidence to the contrary. David seduces Bathsheba and murders Uriah long after writing the 23rd Psalm. Peter succumbs to hypocrisy, refusing to eat with Gentiles, years after leading Cornelius to faith. Paul, the greatest evangelist the world has seen,  writes in Romans 7

I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 

The healthy leader says with integrity that there is only one version of me, with transparency that I am only human and with vulnerability that I have broken parts in my life. I am growing spiritually, but like  you, I struggle with sin every day.

4. Accountability: I am under authority

Accountable: Responsible, answerable

I have not seen a leader fail or crumble who has a small circle of friends to whom he is accountable. Friends who know his family, his background, his sins and his failures. Friends who call him out on his stuff and have permission to remove him from his position of leadership if necessary. This only works if the leader is honest with his circle. If he isn’s real, transparent and vulnerable with this group they are of little value. If, however, this is a group of peers he trusts with his life they will likely catch him before his world comes crashing down.

A danger here is the illusion of accountability. A pastor will point to a board of overseers, deacons or elders; or he might say denominational oversight provides this safeguard. Normally, however, the accountability at this level is surface. The pastor rarely shares his intimate challenges and sins with an appointed board. They have the power to discipline or remove, but they don’t live in the daily details. Board accountability is like floodgates on a dam; it is the last line of defense. True accountability happens in a smaller circle at a deeper level.

Living it out

A final note on living out the Four “Y”s; everything is not appropriate to share at every level. It is as unhealthy to dump your garbage on your neighbor’s lawn as it is to hide it in your basement. While a healthy leader has integrity, transparency, vulnerability and accountability at every level, he also understands what should be revealed at every level of leadership. Below is a pyramid that illustrates this concept:

pyramid

The leader’s small circle of friends have open access to his life. Nothing is off limits. They also help him determine what is appropriate to share at the other levels. The overseers have access to the general outline, but not necessarily the details. The staff has a clear picture of the leader’s life without information that could hurt or embarrass others. (i.e. the staff leadership team would know the pastor is struggling at home, but doesn’t need to know the specific challenge). The congregation knows enough to understand the overall picture of the pastor’s life. If a pastor has been real with the congregation and his son is arrested for drugs the attenders won’t be shocked. They know the pastor has been struggling with a family issue, they just didn’t know which family member or the specific issue.

This post is not aimed at any pastor nor is it not a blueprint for growing a church. You might be able to lead a church by projecting an image that isn’t true to you or the life you live. You might convince people to follow an illusion. I’m sure there are successful (and unsuccessful) pastors who are able to make this work. But the illusion will crumble and the facade will fail and you will be left naked and ashamed.

This is a guide for healthy ministry that reminds people that your role, your only role, is to point followers to Jesus.

Read more from Geoff here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Being Crazy and 7 Other Traits of Church Planters

How do you know if you might make a good church planter? There are great online tools to help determine your readiness to plant and every church planting network and denomination has some form of formal assessment, if you feel called to plant that’s where you should start.

But what if you don’t know if you’re called? What if you just kind of wonder if planting a church (or helping plant a church) might be in your future? Here are eight traits based on eight biblical characters that might indicate you have the stuff to start a church from scratch.

(SPOILER ALERT: IT STARTS WITH BEING CRAZY!)

You might be a church planter if…

> You’re crazy like Noah

Noah didn’t know how to build a boat, gather animals or run a floating zoo, but when God said build the Ark Noah grabbed a hammer and a saw and went to work. His neighbors were right, Noah was a little nuts.

Church planters are a little nuts. They look at people far from God and see future church elders. They look at a run down middle school and see a great place to have church. They look at a tatted up bar singer and see a potential worship leader.

Most of the successful church planters I know are a little crazy.

> You’re arrogant like Nehemiah

Nehemiah had the audacity to believe that a ragtag group of rejects could be turned into a top-notch building crew. He thought this newly assembled crew could rebuild a massive wall, that laid in ruins for 70 years, in a matter of weeks. And Nehemiah thought he was just the man to lead the project. Nehemiah was a little arrogant.

A church planter goes to a city where the vast majority of people don’t attend church, where dozens of churches with massive budgets and bloated staffs are slowly dying, a community where a dozen leaders before him have failed to build a sustainable church. He looks at the dismal statistics and says, “I can do this.”

Surviving as a church planter requires a little arrogance.

> You’re determined like Caleb

When Caleb is 80 years old he goes to his long time friend Joshua and says, “Listen, dude. I have done everything you’ve asked me to do. I have fought side-by-side with you to drive the heathens from the Promised Land for 40 years. I’ve put up with the yammering and complaining of the Israelites. I’ve eaten so much manna and quail I can’t face another chicken sandwich. Now, GIVE ME MY MOUNTAIN!”

Church planters struggle understanding the word “No”. When the school says “No” they hear, “Not today, come back tomorrow.” When their next door neighbor says, “NO” they hear, “Not yet.” When the high-capacity potential volunteer says “No” they hear “I don’t quite understand the vision.”

Great church planters are determined not to fail.

> You party like Matthew

When Matthew realizes Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah he doesn’t build a church, he doesn’t call a priest and he doesn’t write a poem; Matthew throws a party. And based on the guest list, Matthews gang of tax collectors and sinners, its likely a party to be remembered. The cops may or may not have been called.

Church planters who reach people who aren’t church shopping, people who don’t even think about church, know how to throw an epic party. There is music, there is laughter, things sometimes get a little out of hand. Church planting and party planning seem to go hand in hand.

Evangelistic church planters tend to party hard.

> You can lead a band of misfits like David

“David and his Mighty Men” sounds like a great title for a superhero movie. We have visions of brave soldiers straight out of the movie “300″ with square jaws, bulging muscles and wills of steel. But that isn’t who David’s mighty men were. Here’s their description from 1 Samuel 22:

“So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So his brothers and all his other relatives joined him there. Then others began coming-men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented-until David was the captain of about 400 men.”

These “mighty men” were worthless malcontents running from the law. This was David’s leadership pipeline.

Church Planters build leaders from soon-to-be former drug addicts, deadbeat dads and unemployed blue-collar workers. The John Maxwell leaders play golf and attend a megachurch. Leaders in a church plant work the night shift and hang out at a bar. When I was trying to grow a church in Huffman, Texas my leader/misfits were a guy hiding from the IRS, a recovering cocaine addict and a guy who smoked a joint before church every Sunday morning to calm his  nerves.

> You’re passionate like Peter

Peter meets Elijah and Moses and responds, “Let’s build a hotel right here!”

Jesus instructs Peter on foot washing so Peter says, “Give me bath!”

Jesus says that all the disciples will leave him and Peter proclaims, “I will never deny you!”

Peter hops out of boat in the middle of a lake, cuts off a guy’s ear, cusses out a servant girl and sobs his guts out when he realizes the depth of his betrayal.

Everything Peter does he does with passion.

Church planters lead with their heart. Their heart breaks when a marriage fails, they party like its 1999 every time someone commits their life to Christ, they get so excited they can’t stand themselves after every baptism. Church planters are obnoxious on Twitter because their emotions are on display for the world to see. I haven’t met a successful stoic church planter. I’m just glad Peter didn’t have a Facebook page.

> You’re tenacious like Paul

The Apostle Paul just didn’t know when to quit

Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on my long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but ar not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.

After the third or fourth beating any normal person would have said, “Well, that’s about it for me”, but Paul wasn’t a normal person, he was a church planter.

The single biggest difference between a successful church planter and one who doesn’t make it is tenacity. The ability to continue to work and change and adapt until he finds a way to reach people far from God and mold them into a local faith community. This is different than doing the same thing over and over and hoping this time things will work out differently (tenacity vs persistence). Church planters are crazy, not insane.

> You love your city like Jesus

Jerusalem, the city that rejected Jesus more than any other was the city he loved most. Not long before he was crucified just outside the walls Jesus wept over the city he longed to save. He knew returning to Jerusalem for his final passover sealed his fate, but he loved the city and what it represented so much he refused to stay way. And it cost him his life.

The truly successful church planter, the one who makes a lasting difference, is willing to lay down his life for his city. His heart is broken by the lostness he sees and he can’t imagine ministering anywhere else. If he has to work two jobs to feed his family he will. The one thing he won’t do is abandon his city.

 

Are you a church planter (or someone who will help plant a church)? Are you obsessed with a city? Are you willing to do anything to reach that city? Can you take a punch? Can you mold a group of losers and outcasts into a band of mighty men? If you’re just that crazy, then yes, you might be a church planter.

Read more from Geoff here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Dr. Chuck Balsamo — 09/09/15 7:24 am

I'm so impressed with your awesome thoughts, Geoff! I'm planning to visit Denver soon. Would love to connect for an hour.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Hitting the 2014 Reset Button: 5 Opportunities to Make a Significant Kingdom Impact

I love New Years. Its an annual opportunity to hit the reset button, to explore who we could be, to dream about a better future. I know the statistics about how few resolutions we actually keep, but I don’t care; leaves die every winter, but spring still brings hope. So every year around this time I make a new list.

What if you made New Year’s Resolutions for your church? What could you change in 2014 that would make a significant impact for the Kingdom and the future health of your church? I’ve put together a list of five (based on five of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions) to get you started.

>>Lose weight

Your church is probably carrying a little extra weight; programs and ministries that really don’t make a difference and just take up time and space. There are a few volunteers that hang on year after year, but the group is really a drag on resources that could be better invested elsewhere. Its time to cut back.

Weight loss is always challenging. It takes discipline and determination, but it is always worth the sacrifice. How much healthier will your church be if you endure the short term pain of trimming dead weight for the long term gain of freed up resources?

>>Learn something new

How long has it been since your church has truly learned something new? Maybe its a completely new process of assimilation, a new order of service or a completely new model of youth ministry. This is the chance to shake things up, try something completely out of the box.

Most churches seldom try anything truly new for fear of upsetting the saints. Trying new things always disturbs the comfortable. But new life requires new thinking, so this is the year to launch a brand new initiative and see what happens. If you’re not learning you are dying.

>>Get out of debt

This is really boring but incredibly powerful. What if you focused 2014 on paying down a huge chunk of debt? Think of the increased ministry opportunities for the money no longer committed to debt service. I know new buildings, campuses and staff are more sexy, but reduced debt opens up the future exponentially. If you really want to invest in the next generation you’ll pay off our generation’s debt.

>>Quit Smoking

When Peter decided he knew better than Jesus how the future should play out Jesus left no room for doubt in his rebuke, “Get behind me Satan.” Peter’s intent might be good, but the outcome of his attitude would be devastating. Jesus was willing to sacrifice Peter’s feelings for the health of the mission.

Who are the toxic people in your church? The staff member, volunteer or elder who leaves a trail of destruction everywhere they go? How will the culture of your church improve if you stop them from dropping another verbal bomb or perpetuating another rumor? There’s nothing harder than quitting smoking, and nothing better for your health. Maybe you should stop reading blogs and make that phone call.

>>Travel to new places

Is time to open a new campus or plant a new church? All living things reproduce, but 95% of churches never start a new faith community. If more churches don’t wake up to the need for new congregations Christianity will continue to fade in America. There are at least 100 ways your church can travel to a new place this year. If you think you’re too small, too poor or too old to start something new let me know. I know we can find an amazing adventure for your church. Don’t just sit there in 2014, go somewhere new.

There are five ideas to get the juices flowing. I’d love to hear your New Year’s Resolutions for your church.

Read more from Geoff here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Why Didn’t Jesus Do More?

I am amazed at all Jesus didn’t do while he was on earth. His public ministry only lasted three years, and in those years his scope of ministry was incredibly narrow. He is God after all, it seems like he could broaden his scope a little. Think about all the things Jesus didn’t do:

  • He didn’t reform the government
  • He didn’t solve orphan care
  • He didn’t wipe out poverty
  • He didn’t improve medical care

While Jesus taught principles that applied to all of these situations, he could have had an incredible impact in any of these areas. He could have ended abuse by the Romans, he could have launched a system of compassionate care for orphans, he could have ended poverty, or he could have instituted medical practices that would save millions of lives. But he didn’t.

Though Jesus had the opportunity, resources and ability to address many needs he limited himself to a very narrow mission; “to seek and save the lost”. Everything he did pointed to that one very succinct task. He knew that in this fallen world there will always be hundreds of desperate needs screaming for attention, but only one can be most important. Although he healed people, fed crowds and occasionally raised the dead, Jesus didn’t make any of those the focal point of his time on earth. He knew the more time he spent focusing on secondary issues, no matter how desperate or urgent, the less time he had for the main thing.

As church leaders we don’t claim to be God (well most of us), but act like we can accomplish more than Jesus. We believe our ministry or our church should be effective in a dozen or more areas. We feel obligated to meet as many needs, to fill as many gaps, to respond to as many crises as possible. How can we say we love God and not feed the hungry, care for the sick, educate the children, fight for the underdog, shelter the homeless, provide for the handicapped and adopt the orphans? All of this while we promote small groups, conduct church services, perform weddings and funerals, host VBS, send kids to camp, and counsel people in crisis.

When Martha complained that her sister wasn’t doing enough Jesus shared the power of a narrow vision, “You are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.” The authors of The Four Disciplines of Execution call the trouble of many things “the whirlwind” and the focus of the one necessary thing the “Wildly Important Goal”. Their premise is that most individuals and businesses (I’d add churches) spend so much time on the whirlwind (many things) they don’t have time for their Wildly Important Goal (one thing). What if we patterned our lives, our ministries and our churches after Jesus and really drilled down to the one thing? We will always have the whirlwind to contend with, Jesus certainly did, but imagine the power of spending at least 20% of every day on our one Wildly Important Goal? Here are the questions we could ask:

  • What is the one thing our church (or ministry) absolutely must accomplish in the next year? How will we know we accomplished it?
  • What measurable activities will lead to accomplishing that one thing?
  • How will we keep score? How will we know we are actually accomplishing what we say?
  • How will we hold each other accountable to the one thing?

In over 30 years of ministry I’ve encountered very few churches with this kind of focus and discipline. I wonder what would happen if we actually followed the pattern of Jesus and focused on the one thing.

Read more from Geoff here.
To learn more about resources that will help you focus on “the one thing,” go here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

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Patti O. — 10/14/13 9:08 am

If you are truly following Jesus commands as laid out in the Gospels, why do you need metrics? It is as if we need to know we are making a difference. To what end? Self-aggrandizement? Jesus told us to feed and clothe the poor and visit the sick and imprisoned. The institutional church is so busy taking care of its own needs(programs, finances, divisions, growth) that it certainly doesn't have time to do more than one thing. It is such a pity.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Are You Building a Ministry Without God?

I wonder how long I could be successful in ministry without God? I’ve been in vocational ministry for 31 years, and I seldom encounter a situation I haven’t seen before. I have a stockpile of sermons to pull from, and many other places where I can grab a complete sermon with a moments notice. I do strategy, staffing and structure in my sleep. My experience, connections and the internet give me all the tools I need to do ministry, and do it at a very high level. God is good, but often not all that necessary.

How about you? How long could your church function, and function well, without God? You have your sermons planned through Easter, your song lists loaded into Planning Center and your small group resources online. You have well-trained volunteers and the best staff money can buy. Your IT and weekend tech have redundancies built in to handle any contingency. The people who attend your church know that they will have a quality experience every weekend regardless what might happen behind the scenes. Certainly God is welcome at your church, but is he really necessary?

Israel created an elaborate and efficient church that ran very well without God. The priests and Levites excelled at their roles, the sacrificial system was geared to handle the crowds at Passover efficiently, and the Jewish people knew their needs were met with consistency and care. 400 years after God stepped away the Jews no longer missed him. They had created a church without God.

And then one weekend he showed up. He ignored their service run down, he tore up their resource table and he violated their policies and procedures. Every time he came to a service havoc ensued. Finally they had to either completely change the way they did church or kill God. They chose to kill God.

I am all for policies, procedures, strategy, training, planning and technology. If fact, except for policies and procedures, these are the things I love the most. And I am amazed to see how effectively churches use these tools to reach people far from God and lead them into biblical discipleship. What scares me, shakes me to my core, however is how easily we can substitute the tools of worship for genuine worship. How often we find ourselves worshipping the creation rather than the creator. How many weekends we leave church feeling satisfied because the music was good, the sermon was well received and the attendance was up without even considering if God was pleased.

How long has it been since I have been on my face before God, desperate to hear from him, knowing that I am absolutely toast without him? When was the last time I was so hungry to experience the power and presence of God that I could not eat, I could not sleep until I felt the supernatural touch of his Holy Spirit? When was the last time I was so overwhelmed by the responsibility of preaching the Word that I could barely breathe?

It is not all that hard to build a ministry without God. What a terrifying place to be.

Read more from Geoff here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

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David Good — 09/04/13 9:22 am

Great post Geoff and I couldn't agree more. I just had breakfast last week with a 92 year old man of God who has pastored all his life. He is disturbed by the plight of many of today's churches and how God is missing from much of what is called ministry today. It was great to be reminded by a great pioneer that "it's not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord." Thanks for sharing your insight.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

7 Reasons a Church Planting Effort Fails

The number of failed church plants in the Denver area over the past decade is staggering. Depending on which organization you talk to the number is dozens to hundreds. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, untold man hours and many lives invested in churches that no longer exist. Since moving here last year I’ve been asking every church planter, church plant leader and pastor I meet why they think so many planters fail in the Mile High City. After countless chai lattes, white chocolate mochas and orange cranberry scones I am beginning see some patterns emerge. Maybe this list will be helpful in your life or your community as you or your church consider entering the world of church planting.

Why do church plants fail?

 1) Unqualified leaders

Certain good men appeal to me who are distinguished by enormous passion and zeal, and a conspicuous absence of brains; brethren who would talk forever and ever upon nothing – who would stamp and thump the Bible, and get nothing out of it at all; earnest, awfully earnest, mountains in labor of the most painful kind; but nothing comes of it all…therefore I have usually declined their applications”

Charles Spurgeon (Quoted by Tim Keller in Center Church)Despite the abundance of church planter assessments and training there are still a lot of people attempting to plant churches who aren’t cut out for the task. For some it is a lack of leadership ability, for some it is a lack of the requisite gifts of a church planter and for some it is lack of entrepreneurial experience. Success as a youth pastor doesn’t necessarily equate to success in starting a church from scratch. The harsh reality is there are a lot of people trying to plant churches who would better serve the Kingdom coming alongside another leader.

2) Lack of understanding  or respect of the local context
Understanding: Reading demographic reports, subscribing to the local paper, and chatting with a barista at Starbucks doesn’t prepare a transplant for the unique context of a city. There is no substitute for extended time living in the culture to understand the culture. I think it is significant that Jesus lived in Galilee for 30 years before he began his ministry.Making the context even more difficult to grasp are the vast differences from neighborhood to neighborhood in a typical city. There is no such thing as a Denver culture; Boulder and Parker might as well be on different planets, Washington Park and Highlands have almost nothing in common, and Stapleton has a completely different vibe than Thornton. The only way to begin to understand the difference between Lakewood and Littleton is to rent a condo off Sante Fe and hang out at Merle’s on Main Street.
Respect: A local leader who has seen many church planters come and go over the past 15 years told me one of the biggest mistakes is a lack of respect for the local context. Planters move from another part of the country and unconsciously try to turn Denver into a version of their home town. They see a casual attitude, fierce independence and commitment to the outdoors as obstacles to be overcome rather than a culture to embrace. They believe deeply that once people are exposed to authentic worship and true Gospel preaching they will cancel their season lift tickets and skip Broncos games to join a small group and faithfully attend Sunday services. Sadly when this doesn’t happen they are disillusioned and soon move back home.

3) Underfunded
Church planting is an expensive business. It will usually take longer and cost more than planned for, and this catches many planters by surprise. It doesn’t matter what model you use, it takes money to survive.Many planters have tried to plant in Denver using missional communities thinking it is cheaper than the traditional launch large model espoused by Rick Warren, Nelson Searcy and others. While they don’t have to purchase a monster sound system, a massive trailer and incredible children’s ministry equipment, what they often fail to account for is how little money 30 people in a missional community give. Missional church planters often find themselves working a full-time job to feed their family and leading missional communities in their spare time. Growing  a vibrant, self-supporting church from a missional community base is  incredibly difficult and slow. Many planters run out of energy and money before the new church can thrive.Not only is the launch large model expensive upfront, but the costs just keep coming even after the equipment is purchased and the mailers are sent. The Overhead Monster (payroll, rent, insurance, supplies, equipment repair) eats 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Services cancelled because of a snow storm? Feed the Monster. Offering drops by half because the Broncos have a 11:00 a.m kickoff? Feed the Monster. Trailer and all the equipment stolen and insurance won’t pay? Feed the Monster. Feed the Monster. Feed the Monster.While piles of cash don’t guarantee a church plant will survive and thrive, lack of funding eventually dooms many church plants. You can’t raise too much money.

4) Rigid model
Church planters often arrive in Denver with a fully formed model in mind; they have been to NorthPoint, Elevation or New Spring, they’ve read a book by Stanley, Searcy or Stetzer, they plan to copy the church they came from or they plan to do the opposite of the church they came from. They have a catchy name, a splashy website and a three-ring binder full of mission, vision and values. And then they encounter Denver. It turns out nine other church plants have the same catchy name, unchurched people aren’t compelled by their compelling environments, and its hard to turn a Crowd into a Core when the entire crowd shares a last name with the planter. All of the work they did at church planter boot camp seems wasted.The military maxim, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy” applies to church planters. The planters who survive and thrive are able to adapt, modify or scrap their pre-determined model as they begin to understand their context. The planters who fail tend to be more in love with their model than the people their model is intended to reach.

5) Planting alone
One of the enduring legends of church planting is Rick and Kay Warren driving from Texas  to Orange County, California with nothing but a U-Haul, a real estate agent and a call from God. From that meager beginning Rick planted what became Saddleback Church, one of the most influential churches on the planet. Many, many church planters have followed in Rick’s footsteps, moving their family  across the country to plant a church in a city where they don’t know a soul. What is often missed in the legend is that Rick grew up in California. He preached evangelistic rallies up and down the California coast while attending college at California Baptist University, 40 miles from the Saddleback Valley. Rick was not a good ole boy from the south coming to save a foreign people, he was a California boy returning home after  a couple of  years in seminary. While the church did begin with Rick, Kay and their real estate agent, they were able to draw on existing connections with other churches and leaders in the area.Church planting is a lonely business and every planter needs a team. A great indicator of future success is the ability to bring a team along on the mission. While there are challenges when a pre-existing tight knit group tries to start a church in a new community, it is much better than the alternative. The Lone Ranger parachute drop into a new town makes the path to a  thriving church incredibly difficult.

6) Resiliency
“Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face”  Mike Tyson
The one common factor in every church plant is getting punched in the face. It may be a best friend who decides to move back home, a key family who transfers to the local mega church so their kids can attend a better youth program, or discovering the worship leader is sleeping with a band member to whom they are not married. For me it was the three biggest tithing families representing over 25% of the annual budget quitting the church in a two-week period. I’ve yet to meet a church planter who hasn’t experienced a gut-wrenching, circumstantial punch to the face, often repeatedly. Some leaders  get up from the canvas and stay in the match; many leaders count the cost and decide that it is just too difficult to continue to fight.Getting punched in the face again and again and again isn’t necessarily the right decision. Many times the pain is so great, the cost so enormous that the only reasonable choice is to throw in the towel. This doesn’t mean the leader is weak or wrong, it simply means the match is over and the church closes. The church plants that survive and thrive are led by leaders who are able take the punches and get up from the canvas again and again. In many cases the only reason a church plant is still alive is because the leader doesn’t have the sense to quit.One question many church plant leaders in Denver ask a potential planter is, “If the church doesn’t make it, are you going to stay in Colorado? Are you in love with our community or are you in love with church planting?” This is a really tough question, but it speaks to resiliency. Many planters are gone when the money runs out, while others get part-time jobs, change models, change locations, join with another church, do anything it takes to continue to be a part of what God is up to on the Front Range of Colorado because the burden is so deep they can’t imagine living anywhere else.

7) Intangibles
Calling
: Does the leader have a clear calling from God to plant a new church in this community? Wanting to do church a new way, a desire to start something new, or a passion to lead fall short of motivation to survive and thrive in a tough environment.Tough soil: Jesus said that the Gospel is planted in all kinds of soil and yields wildly different results. There are places in Colorado (Boulder) that are as receptive as  a concrete slab to the Word. There is a romanticism to “planting in the toughest place on earth”, but there is also a need for sober judgement. Jesus said there are some towns that simply won’t receive the Gospel.

Luke 10:8 –Luke 10:11 (ESV) Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’

TimingSome successful church plants are just in the right place at the right time. A  subdivision is  built, a freeway off ramp opens, or a local church splits and suddenly the church planter is teaching workshops on the right way to plant a church while negotiating a book deal. Any church plant that grows from 0-400 overnight has likely hit the mother lode of  timing.

Unmerited favor
: God blesses who and where he chooses . There are many examples of thriving churches who missed on almost every criteria I’ve mentioned in these posts and there are churches with everything going for them that didn’t make it. At the end of the day success in the Kingdom is determined by the unmerited favor of God.

Why do you think church plants fail in your community?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

evansavage1 — 04/25/19 10:35 am

good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth

Tau Kutloano Christinah — 10/12/18 8:11 pm

Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.

Linda Speaks — 09/07/18 11:32 am

I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.

Linda — 09/03/18 7:52 pm

We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.

Jon Moore — 07/02/18 2:58 pm

Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?

Glenna Hendricks — 05/30/18 9:24 am

I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks

Joe — 09/05/15 12:59 am

Good stuff. I have wondered about Denver and how church planting works there. I'm from Seattle and it is equally difficult up there. This is at this point my only research into church planting success or failure in Denver.

Oree McKenzie — 07/30/13 9:34 am

I saw myself and our team in a lot of areas of this article. Unfortunately, my wife of 34 years passed in the second year of our effort. I did not have the resiliency to continue. I now work with an effort locally and God's grace is abounding towards us. Thank you folks for publishing this article.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Have You Considered a Ministry Connections Concierge at Your Church?

How do you help people make meaningful connections when they attend your church? One of the most frustrating things in finding a church has been figuring how to connect with other attenders. My wife had a great idea the other day and I wanted to pass it on before it slips into the abyss forgetfulness that is my brain. What if you had a Connection Concierge?

Most people are familiar with the Concierge at an upscale hotel. Their job is to help hotel guests buy tickets, make dinner reservations or suggest day trip destinations; basically to ensure the guest has a positive experience while they are in town. Here is a typical conversation with a Concierge:

“Can you help us find a nice place to eat tonight?”

“Absolutely. What kind of food are you in the mood for?”

“Italian sounds good”

“Excellent, here are three nice Italian restaurants in the area. I highly recommend Guido’s, their lasagna is amazing. Would you  like me to make a reservation?”

“That would be great, thanks!”

“My pleasure”

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a Concierge available at your church? A conversation might go like this:

“We’re new to the church and we’re wondering how we could connect?”

“I’d love to help you with that! Can you tell me a little about your family?”

“We are empty nesters and we just moved to town. We’d love to meet other people around our age”

“Excellent. Let me suggest two or three ways we can help. First, we have a Newcomers Gathering next weekend, here’s a flyer about that. We also several couples groups that meet in homes. Let me show you a list on our website. I highly recommend the Smith’s group which meets on Friday nights in the Oaks Subdivision, they are a lot of fun and love welcoming new attenders. Could I assist with an introduction?”

“We probably need to think about it?”

“Absolutely. Please stop back by any weekend and we’d be glad to help you make a connection. Thanks for stopping by!”

Ideally there are be several trained volunteers who man a Concierge desk each weekend as well as be available at the end of events like Newcomers, Membership Class, Meet the Pastor to help people take next steps. The goal is to provide easy onramps for people with a desire to serve and/or connect at the church beyond sign up sheets or simply answering questions at a Welcome Center.

I think there is huge potential, I just wish I had thought of it.

Read more from Geoff here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Please Stop Herding Me

As I said in my previous post, I think the primary business of the church is the Moving Business. We are called to help people move from where they are to where God is calling them. Today I’d like to share a contrast and a prediction. First the contrast.

Moving vs Herding

We are in the Moving Business, not the Herding Business. The Herding Business gets the livestock to go where the leader decides they need to go. There is a pre-determined destination for the herd; the individual isn’t important. The goal is to move as many animals (members, attenders, cattle) from point A to point B as efficiently as possible.The challenge is to protect my herd from poachers, who have a different destination in mind, while moving them closer to my end point.

In the Moving Business the goal is to move the individual toward their destination, not necessarily the destination the leader chooses. Almost everyone has a different destination, so there is no “one size fits all” ministry package. The Moving Business is much slower and more complicated than the Herding Business. The Moving Business is only effective when the herd is broken down into much smaller groups with many more leaders; each individual needs a leader who will help them move toward their God-ordained destination. While connection to the herd is important, these smaller groups are where the actual moving is accomplished.

The Moving Business has huge, untapped potential

Jesus demonstrated the Moving Business approach when he called his first disciples. He pointed them toward their God-given destination as fishers of men and then spent three years teaching them to fish. Although Jesus attracted crowds and taught the masses, his primary focus was moving 12 men toward their God-given destinations. Jesus final act as he wrapped up his mission on earth in John 21 was reminding Peter of the primacy and individual nature of his mission.

John 21:22 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

The Moving Business has potential for exponential growth. People desperately want to know how to find the way to their God-given destination. Rick Warren sold 60 million copies of “Purpose Driven Live” because of this drive. Joel Osteen’s “Your Best Life Now” addressed the same topic from a different angle. Even “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne appeals to this desire. A church that delivers on the promise to help people discover and find their way to their true God-ordained destination won’t be able to contain the growth.

To see this kind of impact, however, a church has to change businesses. Educating, warehousing, entertaining and herding become secondary, and they refocus their energy and resources on the Moving Business. The key activity becomes equipping leaders to help people discover and move toward their God-given destination. The Moving Business is all-encompassing but hugely rewarding.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Renee Haupt — 02/15/13 4:52 pm

That is so spot on. Love it.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

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