Category Archives: Church Planting

Vision & Values

Over the past number of weeks, I have been recognizing the importance of CULTURE as it relates to leadership and ministry.  Merriam-Webster defines ‘culture’ as, ‘a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a group, family, or organization.’

My observation:  It is possible to have the right vision, and a solid strategy and yet fail to create a culture that reflects what we want to be.  I believe in that statement, ‘what we are is more important than what we do or how much we accomplish.’


Culture defines what we are.  Vision defines where we are going.  Strategy defines how we are going to get there.  Just like vision has to be pursued, and strategy has to be executed, culture has to be built one value at a time.


THE ONE- We want to have the eyes of Jesus to see the hurting, forgotten, broken, and disconnected from God. Our mission is simply love. If we go after the one everyone else overlooks, God will give us the ones everyone else wants.

KINGDOM FIRST – I put God’s problem first. If I care about God’s problems, he will care even about mine. We measure by Kingdom growth, not by church growth.

 BOOK OF ACTS LIFESTYLE – We want to see every aspect of the early church active in the way we do live, especially the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit giving evidence of the risen Jesus.

 DESIGNED FOR THE UNCHURCHED – We intentionally design our environments and experiences for those who are not yet followers of Jesus. We don’t compromise anything. We explain everything.

FAMILY-ORIENTED WITH A FOCUS ON THE NEXT GENERATION – We realize that the next generation is the most at risk of disconnecting with God and with the church. We also realize that they are the ripest harvest field. We live with the constant awareness, that we are always one generation away from extinction.

IT’S NOT WHAT WE DO, IT’S WHO WE SET INTO MOTION – Our primary role is to equip and release people into the work of the ministry. Jesus never focused on how many people attended His large events. He spent most of his time developing up a small group of world-changing leaders. This also affects how we see staff, not as employees, but as sons and daughters. We believe in people. We give them the chance to succeed and fail. We speak the truth in love and believe that He will use unlikely people to extraordinary things.

FUN –The primary way we do evangelism is to create an atmosphere of hospitality, food, and fun. We want to be like the ‘happenin house on the block’ where people not only feel welcome, they feel accepted just they way they are, and know that they can be themselves and have a good time.

When you think of the organization you lead, what are the values you are building upon?

Leading An Army Or Platoon?

Robert_Edward_LeeWhen a church gets planted, it goes through several phases of organizational development. Each phase requires the Lead Pastor to adjust their approach and grow as a leader. In fact, the ability to shift gears and change your approach to the organization is a major key in avoiding the plateau-syndrome, where you stay stuck and a certain organizational size.

PHASE ONE: Platoon Commander

The early stage of church planting is all about building a platoon of willing participants to join you in the launch process. Leading a group of 25-50 requires the leader to be high touch, personally available, providing direction to each individual as to where they fit and how they are to function. Just about everything at this stage is hands on and is highly relational.

Launching effectively requires vision and planning skills. But the key component to getting there involves being a ‘lover’ of people who is able to connect with, affirm, direct, challenge, and motivate a small group of people to accomplish a short-term goal – which is the hosting of a Grand Opening Service.

PHASE TWO: Division Commander

If ‘launch day’ is effective and the church is able to retain more than 100 people on week #2, then the Lead Pastor has to start thinking differently. Applying good ‘platoon commander’ skills at this moment will only take the church back toward 50. Most often, the ‘platoon commander’ pastor just adds more personal time and energy to his phase one skills and by sheer effort he keeps the entire church functioning.

This requires hundreds of personal conversations, coaching sessions, and care giving. When your church is the size of a division and you are functioning like you are leading a platoon, you will eventually wear yourself out and the church you lead will plateau in size and function.

Leading a ‘division’ requires that you have 3-12 platoon commanders who are leading with you. Your job shifts from leading one platoon, to leading the platoon commanders as they lead and pastor their people.

To be effective, you must concentrate on time management, project management, and managing the performance of your leaders. Your vision must be clear. Your plan must make sense to all those involved. Everyone must know where they are supposed to be and when. And as victories are won, the Division Commander learns to commend and celebrate the success of his leaders.


Functioning as a good ‘division commander’ can take a church from 150 to about 400. Again, there must be a shift in approach or the organization will plateau. What has to happen? A ‘general’ recruits and trains 3-5 ‘division commanders’ and releases them to lead major segments of the organization forward.

Generals have to limit their activities.
They have to continually see the entire battlefield.
They have to be good at advanced planning – thinking several moves and several months ahead.
They have to be excellent communicators in that they are keeping everyone aware of the next move and compelling vision behind it.
They have to be willing to confront the division commanders and platoon leaders who are failing to do their job effectively.


You can’t lead like a ‘general’ when you are in the ‘platoon’ phase.
You can’t lead like a ‘platoon commander’ when you are trying to break 200.

Every leader needs to recognize their organizational size and the kind of leadership that is necessary to make their organization effective.

What Makes Ministry Relationships Work

One of the advantages that I have as a Parent Church Pastor is that I get a ‘birds-eye’ view of a number of different churches and the culture of their church. One thing I have discovered is this: the overall church culture is primarily established by the behaviors and attitudes of those who serve together on the Leadership Team of that particular church.

Ephesians 5:21 declares, ‘Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ!’

It’s one of the most hidden verses in the Bible because of the verse that comes after it. “Wives, submit to your husbands…’ is what comes next in v. 22. The concept of submission tends to get lost in the shuffle because of the reaction, controversy, and at times mis-application of these marital verses.

But ‘submission’ is a major key to healthy relationships. It is defined as ‘the willingness to prefer and honor someone above yourself and in so doing, working with all your might to lift them up.’ Submission does not mean the same thing as the word ‘obedience.’ Submission is not in anyway demeaning or destructive. Being submissive is not the giving up of all rights, nor is it the decision to become a ‘doormat’ for someone else. It is definitely NOT an excuse for abuse.

It is simply a willful choice to prefer and honor someone else above yourself. Husbands should submit to wives (see Eph 5:21). Wives should submit to husbands (see Eph 5:22). Pastors should submit to their boards. Boards should submit to their pastors. Staff members should submit to one another. Everyone should submit to Christ.

When I submit to my board, I am not saying that somehow they are above me or can dictate to me. I believe God calls an individual to lead the way and never calls a committee. I believe I can lead them and yet on certain necessary issues, submit myself to them at the same time.

There are certain issues where I choose to submit myself to one of the pastors on my staff. Yes, I am the ‘boss’ and serve as their employer, so to speak. But when it comes to their area of expertise or an area of responsibility that I have delegate to them – I choose to prefer and honor their decisions above my own.

Submission should be mutual in the Kingdom. Mutual-submission is a key to organizational and relational health over the long-haul. Submission is best modeled by the leader first. When I leader requires others to submit without demonstrating the quality themselves, the environment because an oppressive one in which to work. But when I leader submits and leads others to do the same:

1. PEOPLE FEEL SAFE – security comes from knowing that my leader and those who lead with him/her are humble enough to listen and courageous enough to yield their agenda when it is needed.

2. PROBLEMS GET ADDRESSED – when submission is missing, people are unwilling to speak up when they see a problem for fear of offense, awkwardness, or even reprisal. Eventually, there are ‘elephants’ in the room that everyone sees, but no one will address.

3. PURPOSE BECOMES CLEAR – without mutual submission everyone ends up pursuing their own agenda and tolerating the agenda of those around them. But when we submit to one another in love, there is a unity of purpose and laser beam like focus.

4. PRESENCE IS INCREASED – meaning that the presence of God continues to rest. God’s grace is drawn like a magnet to humility expressed and is repelled equally by pride that is entrenched.

Creating a culture of submission is painful. It requires a death to self. It is counter-intuitive to the world’s system. It is often missing from local church. But it is so important to longevity and effectiveness in spiritual work.

We begin by realizing that as we submit to one another, we are not just doing it for them. We are doing it ‘out of reverence for Christ.’ It is a very practical clear way to honor God. And as we submit to Him, He will in due season – lift us up.