It’s exciting to see a kingdom leader have a great start. This week I got front row seats watching Rich Kannwischer lead as the new Senior Pastor at St. Andrews Presbyterian, in Newport Beach, CA.

One the ride home, I reflected on a dynamic interplay I observed in Rich’s leadership, between two different kinds of “wins.” Some things that a new pastor does naturally relate to felt needs of the church. Other things are more significant changes that will eventually shape the church’s culture. Both are real wins but how they happen and how they feel are very different. Great leaders use them together to maximize positive change.

For example, not long into his assignment, Rich changed both the service times and the worship strategy. (There had been no change for 30 years.)  In the first 7 weeks after the change, the new strategy, coupled with his energy and preaching talent realized a 30% increase in weekend attendance. This dramatic change met a huge felt need (given the congregation's mildly declining attendance) by providing hope for their future.

But Rich took on two other projects in the short term.  First, he refused to move into the generous square footage of the previous pastor’s office, in favor of creating a more efficient, inviting and collaborative space. Second, he partnered with Auxano to navigate a team down the Vision Pathway. Even though the team had completed some strong strategic planning work, the language was not robust or specific enough to shape culture. Both of these initiatives required extra effort because they were completely off the felt need radar. 

Clearly, Rich is leveraging wins that meet felt needs for wins that guide a new future.

  • How are you balancing felt-need wins with culture-shaping wins?

  • Are you looking for and creating both kinds?

  • Are you trying to do too many culture-shaping wins at the expense of felt needs?

  • Are you only focusing on only felt needs, neglecting to challenge the status quo?

 As you review these questions consider the differences:

Wins that meet felt needs DO

  • Bring immediate satisfaction to individuals

  • Build immediate credibility for the leader (more chips in the bank)

  • Create a positive atmosphere


  • Change the expectations of people

  • Automatically align with the vision

  • Reflect the most pressing real needs

 Wins that shape culture DO

  • Introduce a new way of thinking

  • Align people, tools, and process toward a clear vision

  • Create long term value


  • Feel good at first

  • Build credibility immediately

  • Happen without dialogue and pushback