One Secret Shared by Every Exceptional Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan Hartwig and Warren Bird, Teams That Thrive


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

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

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

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

  • Tweak existing language
  • Create a fresh statement

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



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

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

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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

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comment_post_ID); ?> 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
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.