January 5, 2014

#2 on the 2014 Ministry Vision and Planning Countdown: 4 Steps to Building a Leadership Pipeline

Church Leadership PipelineLeadership development is by far the most discussed need these days. I believe we have grown more aware of the need, through a variety of emphasis including, the missional re-orientation, discipleship culture, multi-site and church planting. So how do you begin addressing your leadership development challenges? I believe there are four broad steps.

These steps come from work I have done with Mac Lake over the last several years.  We have designed a six-month coaching track to help your team design, build and install a leadership pipeline. Here is an overview of these steps:

Step #1: Define Your Structure and Redesign for Function and Development Not Just Function The first step is to take the leadership pipeline levels (see below) and evaluate every ministry area structure in light of it. Once all of the ministry area leaders do this visibly together in the same room, you will have break-thru perspective.

  1. Level one LEAD SELF
  2. Level two LEAD OTHERS
  3. Level three LEAD LEADERS
  4. Level four LEAD A DEPARTMENT

Step #2: Create a System to Move “Up” the Pipeline and Align Ministry Areas to the System.

Once the structure itself is defined, you must ask the practical questions of “how?” Here is how it works. Imagine saying to a student pastor, “I want you to show me how a 18-year old student comes to Christ and eventually becomes a student pastor some day. What would that process look like?” How many of your leaders actually have an answer to that question?

The system will include an overarching leadership development strategy. In 2004, Aubrey Malphurs and I wrote Building Leaders (link to the right). One of my favorite chapters in the book is one in which I document 16 leadership development “venues” that create a recipe book of sorts for building this part of your system. The system will answer many things. Here is small sampling:

  • How many times do all leaders gather throughout the year?
  • How many mentors or trainers do we need in order to keep up with church growth?
  • What will a centralized leadership application look like?
  • Will we have interviews?
  • What are the specific follow-up and contact steps?
  • How will leader to leader peer learning take place?
  • What qualifications or prerequisites are needed for each level?

Step #3 Capture a Fresh “Team Snapshot” of your Current Levels and the Roles that You Need to Fill

After you clarify your structure and system, it’s important to look at the people you currently have that populate each level.  Even though leaders are certainly one of the church’s more precious resources, I am amazed at how many churches do not have a team lists and levels defined and the practical tools to communicate with them.

Step #4 Define the Competencies Required at Each Level for Each Ministry Area

As you move up the pipeline, new skills and abilities are needed. Some of these will transcend ministry areas and some will not. I recommend starting by defining the top 5 competencies for each level that will apply to each ministry level. Then specific ministry areas can add others. For example, the worship ministry will add skills specific to musical talent. Once you have defined the competencies, you will have to create some training tools around the content. How we do that, I will save for a later post.

These four basic steps are critical to building an effective pipeline. If this simple overview is appealing, you may want to consider getting outside coaching assistance in developing your own. We have slots left for more churches this year if you are interested in the the 6-month process. Just post a comment and let me know.

December 31, 2013

How to Communicate Your Church’s Vision Visually (2014 Ministry Vision and Planning Countdown Post #4)

Communicate your church vision visuallyIf you are clear about who you are and where you are going as a church that’s awesome. Now it’s time to help everyone else in the world to see it, catch it and pass it on.

The single most powerful way to help people become contagious carriers of your vision is to give it to them visually! Did you know that of all five of your senses, your brain allocates 80% of its energy to the eyes. We are visual thinkers. I have watched over and over and over, how many people NEVER get the vision through words alone.

So what kind of visuals are we talking about? Allow me to explain two ways. First, I will ask you some simple questions as a bit of a litmus test. Second, I have attached Auxano’s brand process guide to illustrate how we build a design and communication toolbox for churches.

Have You Communicated Vision Visually?

  • Does your logo tell a story or create a conversation starting point?
  • Do you hand out a program or worship guide during services that is hard to throw away?
  • Is your church’s mobile website easy to use and engaging?
  • Can you draw your church’s strategy as a simple napkin sketch? (i.e., how you make disciples)
  • Do you capture video testimonies that illustrate your church’s mission, vision and values in the lives of people?
  • Do you have stylistically appealing tagline? (font, color, placement)
  • Can you read and see things about your church on social media (facebook, twitter, instagram)?
  • Do you have a 3-5 minute anchor video that shows where God is taking your church?
  • Do you have a consistent set of purposefully chosen design elements (based on you mission and values) that make up the look and fee of your primary communication tools?
  • Does your space intentionally utilize your church’s brand from architectural pieces and symbols to banners and signage?

Would you like to do a better job this year with this important aspect of vision-casting? If so, check out the brand process guide that we use at Auxano. It tells the story of the design and communication toolbox we did for Christ Fellowship in West Palm Beach last year.

DOWNLOAD:  The Auxano Brand Process Guide

If you are interested in getting some outside help for branding & design, you can let us know here:

Fill out my online form.

December 30, 2013

14 Posts You Loved (of over 500 Written) – #3 on the 2014 Ministry Vision and Planning Countdown

December 29, 2013

#5 on the 2014 Ministry Vision and Planning Countdown: Mike Breen’s Invitation & Challenge Matrix

At this point in our series,  I want to introduce you to one of the most powerful matrix concepts I have seen taught for discipleship. The source is Mike Breen and the fantastic team over at 3DM. This simple tool is useful for planning, vision casting, assessment, correction and leadership development. The chart below is pretty self explanatory.

Mike Breen's Invitation - Challenge Matrix for Making Disciples

Below you will find three excerpts from posts defining the matrix and two tools for you to use.  The first tool is a link to Community of Hope’s Kevin Vogt who does a short leadership piece with the matrix. Finally, I have included a “must see” support video, that is an amazingly powerful illustration of invite-challenge using the training of horses as an illustration. The first time I was taught this tool, I saw the video. It will be awesome to use during a leadership training even in 2014!


By Robert Neely on the 3dm team

Who is the best teacher you ever had? The best leader? The best mentor?

No matter whether you’re thinking about a teacher, a coach, a conductor, a parent, a youth-group leader, or some other guide in your life, chances are that the person who sprung to mind when you read those first three questions did two key things:

1)   He or she gave you access to his/her knowledge, expertise, experience – and maybe even life.

2)   He or she called you to be better than you were at a specific skill, talent, task – and maybe even life.

To put it another way, the best teachers and leaders and mentors both invite us and challenge us. Both are necessary to truly help a person grow.

This is true for music teachers, volleyball coaches, dance instructors, and head chefs, and it’s also true for people who disciple others to become followers of Jesus. As in all of these other areas, invitation and challenge are necessary to truly help a person become like Jesus was and to do what Jesus did.

Read more from Robert

By Ron Edmonson

Invitation - This refers to the atmosphere and degree of welcoming a church or an individual message provides. Do people enjoy being there? Do they want to come back? Is it inviting? Is a message fun to listen to? Is it encouraging and helpful?

Challenge - This refers to the degree others are encouraged to grow in their walk with Christ. Are they challenged? Are they held accountable? Are personal disciplines encouraged? Are sins exposed? Are expectations strong? The theory is that churches tend to fall into one of these four quadrants:

  • Low Invitation / High Challenge – Produces a discouraged/burnout culture.
  • Low Invitation / Low Challenge – Produces a bored culture.
  • High Invitation / Low Challenge – Produces a cozy/chaplaincy culture.
  • High Invitation / High Challenge – Produces a discipling culture.

Read more for Ron

By Ben Sternke

Invitation refers to an attitude that says, “I’m glad you are here, I’m committed to you and will welcome you no matter what.” Challenge refers to an attitude that says, “I want you to grow, I’m committed to holding you accountable to change for the better.”

People are used to experiencing cultures that are either highly invitational or highly challenging, but typically they don’t ever experience them together. Left to our own devices as leaders, we tend to either create cultures that are “high invitation/low challenge” (cozy, consumer) or “high challenge/low invitation” (stressed/discouraged), or perhaps we swing between the two, unsure of how to actually bring both at the same time.

Read more from Ben




This is fairly self explanatory. The trainer is the video is modeling a way to “break a horse” that is not customary. It has been the custom for years to use physical force or overly harsh methods to train. But Monty (the trainer) studied how horses naturally get assimilated or adopted by another family of horses. He then adapts the technique as a human. The technique beautifully illustrates the back-and-forth nature of invitation and challenge in the breaking process.

Support video for mike breen's invitation challenge matrix


December 28, 2013

Ministry Vision & Planning Series: Three Disciple Making Catalysts in the Life of Jesus (#6 of the 2014 Countdown)

Jesus the disciple maker It’s easy for the church’s disciple-making mission to get cluttered with lots of programmatic stuff. So as you look ahead to the next year, try refreshing your conviction for disciple-making by looking to the Master himself.

In each of the three synoptic gospels we see a different scene in the life of Jesus just before he calls his twelve disciples. Each snapshot, I believe,  reveals a unique aspect of both the heart of Jesus and his earthly-eternal kingdom strategy.

 Snapshot #1: The Great Opportunity Meets a Great Shortage (Matthew 9:35-38)

Before Jesus calls the twelve from Matthew’s perspective, we see the compassion of Jesus for the crowds. As he looked over masses (sheep without a shepherd) he observes that “the harvest is plenty but the workers are few.” His last command before selecting his inner circle is to pray earnestly to the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers. In the light of the urgent opportunity Jesus begins investing deeply into the Twelve. The first catalyst is the massive gap between the need and the manpower.

 Snapshot #2: Building the Infrastructure Not the Popularity (Mark 3:7-12)

Mark shows us a different angle of Jesus’ motive just before he appoints the Twelve. In this passage he repeats the phrase “great crowd” showing for the first time the sheer volume of people who were responding to Jesus. Not only that, he shows the intensity of their pursuit by explaining how the people were “pressing around him” and how they needed to escape in a boat “lest they be crushed.” If that wasn’t enough even the demons cried out that he was the Son of God. What was Jesus final act before appointing the twelve? Jesus strictly ordered them NOT to make him known.

Why in the world did Jesus come to earth if he wanted to lower the volume of his identity and mission? Why would he intentional minimize his platform? The answer is simple. He wasn’t building a stage and a audience, he was building a people movement. And the disciple-making infrastructure was being threatened by the quick popularity.  Thus he focuses even more on the Twelve. The second catalyst is the threat of a shallow and wide ministry. 

Snapshot #3: The Weight of Life’s Brevity on Earth (Luke 6:6-11)

In Luke’s snapshot before selecting the Twelve,  we see a simple healing scene. This is where Jesus heals the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. It’s also the first time we see the scribes Pharisees filled with fury to the point that they begin plotting what they are going to do with Jesus. This is the fountainhead of the death plot that would end Jesus’ physical opportunity on planet earth to be a disciple-maker. The next thing we see him doing is praying to the Father all night and then recruiting his core team.

The third catalyst is the recognition that you won’t be around forever.

What about you?

As you plan this year, how does Jesus disciple-making conviction, and especially these three catalysts, rescue you from a “program management” culture. Are you herding people through classes and events? Are you relying too much on  better preaching? Or do you have a robust, disciple-making strategy built around life-on-life investment, like Jesus.

Take these catalysts into your planning time:

  1. Helping people see the amazing opportunity of lost souls and recruiting them to pray for more harvest workers.
  2. Building the core with significant time investment before gathering the crowd.
  3. Being deeply aware of the finite window on earth to invest in others in light of eternity.