4 Advantages of Video Multi-Site

My last few posts have been about Redemption Church’s multi-congregational model and then about why I believe this model is better than the video multi-site model. (Note: I didn’t say that our church is better than the video multi-site churches, but that our model is better).

multi-site church

In this post, I want to discuss four advantages that the video multi-site model has over the multi-congregational model.

1. Video multi-site leverages the significant strengths of a proven leader.

Churches that can even consider doing video multi-site are led by dynamic, gifted preachers who are often also gifted visionaries. These are often uncommonly gifted men whose gifts create parking problems and crowded rooms.

Whether a video multi-site starts in order to handle numerical growth or to reach a new community (or both), it has an advantage in starting with a proven, gifted leader doing most of the talking rather than a new church planter. While these churches still need good leadership to direct the ministry at the video campuses, there’s a huge advantage to having your teaching pastor be Andy Stanley, Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, or Matt Chandler.

2. Video multi-site is much simpler.

Notice, I didn’t say that video multi-site is simple. It’s not. Any kind of multi-site is shockingly complicated. But video multi-site is much simpler than multi-congregational (read this post to see my definitions).

  • It’s simpler to have one message given by one person via video than to have multiple pastors preaching the same passages.
  • It’s simpler to reproduce your ministry to a new community than to shape every aspect of your ministry to a new community.
  • It’s simpler to rally everyone around the vision and teaching of one Lead Pastor than multiple key leaders.
  • It’s simpler to find a campus pastor who can shepherd and organize people but doesn’t need to preach than to find a church planter who can do all of it.
  • It’s simpler to have a campus pastor with limited autonomy than to have a visionary congregation Lead Pastor who can significantly shape the culture and nuanced vision of his congregation.
  • It’s simpler to have one visionary leader who calls the shots than to have a plurality of strong leaders who have to work together.


3. Video multi-site more easily creates unified, multi-campus momentum.

There’s a continuum in all multi-site ministry: on one end is “we’re one church,” and on the other is “with multiple locations.” The video multi-site model tend to emphasize “one church” and the multi-congregational model tends to emphasize “multiple locations.”

If the goal is to create a lot of unified synergy, video multi-site is the way to go. Because the preaching comes from one main voice (or few voices) and the ministry is highly unified or even centralized, it’s much easier to create unified momentum. It’s easier to get people at one campus to identify with and rally around the other campuses. This sometimes even allows some video multi-sites to raise money on behalf of other campuses, which would be really hard in a multi-congregational model.

4. Video multi-site can launch and grow new sites faster.

Because of the factors above, video multi-sites can reproduce with much greater speed than multi-congregational churches. For instance, we recently had a church approach us about giving us their property for a new Redemption location. Unfortunately we had to decline. While we have a number of exciting young leaders who are developing, we did not have somebody at the moment ready to carry the leadership and preaching burden. If, on the other hand, we could get one of our associate, staff-level pastors who can shepherd and organize people and put him with video preaching of a highly gifted preacher, we could make that happen quickly.

Additionally, video multi-site churches can often grow faster. One of the major attractions to a church is the quality of the preaching and, with video preaching, the quality is superb. A church like Mars Hill can plant new campuses in cities where they already get many sermon downloads and quickly attract a strong following. Many church people are familiar with big-name preachers and transfer and many unchurched people are impressed with the high-quality communication and check it out.

There are a number of other strengths that video multi-sites and multi-congregations would have in common (reaching new people, multiplying ministry, leveraging administrative strengths and branding, etc.). But these are the places where I think video multi-sites have an edge.

In my next post, I’ll discuss what I think is at the heart of Redemption’s multi-congregational approach. It’s much more than just a “model,” and there are a few crucial elements worth highlighting.

What are some other advantages that you’d add to video multi-site?

5 Reasons Why Multi-Congregational Church is Better Than Video Multi-Site

In my last post I explained how our church does multi-congregational ministry. In this post, I want to flesh out how it’s different from “typical” video multi-site church and why I think our approach is better.

multi-congregational church

What’s the difference?

Technically, a multi-site church is one church meeting in multiple locations. The term multi-site is a bit like the term automobile. Just like there are different kinds of automobiles (cars, trucks, vans), there are different kinds of multi-site churches. For this discussion, I’m comparing multi-congregational churches with video multi-site churches.

A multi-congregational church is one church (one 501c3, payroll, employer ID, etc) with multiple congregations, each led by a Lead Pastor and elders who oversee the ministry, preach live, lead the vision and shape the culture of the local congregation in very specific and customized ways. Examples would be Redemption Church, Harbor PresbyterianExodus Church, and Redeemer Presbyterian (kind of).

A video multi-site church is also one church with multiple locations (usually called “campuses). In video multi-site, there is a highly gifted preacher (or team) who provide the sermons via video each week and lead the vision of the church. Local campuses are led by a Campus Pastor who reports to a centralized overseer from the main or original campus. While each campus has some distinct flavor, the branding, naming of ministries, culture and identity are highly similar between campuses. In some cases, even the service is planned identically (same songs, order of service, etc.). Examples would be North Point Community Church, LifeChurch.tv, Mars Hill, The Village Church and dozens of other nationally known churches.

Many churches are some kind of hybrid or something else altogether — these are not the only two kinds. However, video multi-site is the typical kind of multi-site church (amazing that anything could be typical that is still so historically new), and I want to compare that to our less-typical approach.

Why compare?

Some might ask, “Why talk about what’s better? Can’t we just say they are different? Aren’t we all trying to reach people for Jesus?” I appreciate that kind of question.

Let me state very clearly: I am not against video multi-site. I don’t think it’s wrong or bad. I actually think video multi-site is a good thing. It’s awesome when a church has a such a vibrant ministry that it can even consider expanding into video multi-site and reaching more people.

Let me also state very clearly: I’m not saying video multi-site doesn’t work. It works amazingly well. People are coming to Christ in droves as effective ministry gets pushed into new communities.

Video multi-site is good and it works. But I still think it’s weaker than multi-congregational church. And, since many of my readers are church leaders and pastors — some of whom are considering expanding their ministry to some kind of multi-site approach — I think it’s worth making a case for why our model is stronger.

5 reasons why multi-congregational is better.

1. All ministry is truly local.

I was recently at a gathering of larger church pastors and some were explaining how they do video multi-site. They emphasized a crucial phrase: All ministry is local. Their point was that if everything at a campus has to come from the mothership, it’s a bad thing. Local leaders have to be strong.

I agree that all ministry is local. But in a multi-congregational model, we actually believe it.

At a video multi-site, all ministry is local except the preaching. All ministry is local, except the primary catalyst for instruction, culture-setting, and vision.

You can call your kids ministry the same thing and have the same signage, but you can’t tell me that the culture in Edmond, OK is so similar to Wellington, FL that it makes no difference where the preaching comes from. I know that television, technology and pop culture unite us more than ever, but you can’t convince me that the culture in Bellevue, WA is the same as Olympia, WA — let alone the same as Huntington Beach, CA.

For example, LifeChurch.tv previously had a few campuses here in Phoenix. When I spoke to one of their leaders prior to launch, he was unaware that our suburban community has a 25%+ Mormon population. Additionally, they were surprised when their southern-accented preacher didn’t thrive out here in wanna-be-California. I was not surprised.

In multi-congregational church, sermons are preached, vision is cast and culture is shaped totally by leaders who are in the community where they are ministering. Lead Pastors have the opportunity to think through and address the issues that face their people and their neighbors in a way that video-preaching cannot.

2. Every level and kind of ministry is multiplied.

Video multi-sites are incredible at multiplication. Prior to going multi-site, they grew by multiplying services, small groups, and leaders. Then they grew by multiplying campuses and ministries. To do any kind of multi-site well, you have to multiply like crazy. But in video multi-site, everything gets multiplied except the preachers and the visionary leaders.

On the other hand, in a multi-congregational model (like a church plant) even the senior leaders get multiplied. This strengthens not only the congregations that get started but the body of Christ as a whole.

Now, some video multi-site pastors, like Mark Driscoll, have argued that he does multiply preachers because when he’s out of the pulpit he’s giving 15 preachers the chance to preach live. This means if he’s out of the pulpit 10 weeks a year, he’s giving 150 opportunities to preach. That is truly impressive. But while video multi-site gives a man the chance to preach, it never gives him the chance to be the preacher. Which leads to my next point…

3. Gifted young leaders want to stay.

I have no scientific data or research to point to, but from being quite connected in the ministry world, I can tell you that turnover among video multi-site Campus Pastors is very high. Additionally, many churches are having a hard time finding the kinds of leaders they need to be Campus Pastors.

In some cases, one wonders whether the turnover is because of the unhealthy culture of the particular church or because of the model itself. I’m not sure, but I know that gifted, visionary, leaders (especially with preaching gifts) are initially attracted to these visionary video multi-sites to receive training and growth, but often end up leaving when they realize there will not be a real opportunity to lead (North Point seems to be an exception).

On the other hand, we are attracting and keeping many young leaders who see that they can lead a congregation, have and cast a vision, and preach regularly while still having the benefits of being part of a healthy, visionary movement.

4. There is real freedom and real team.

My favorite part of being a Lead Pastor at a multi-congregational church is that I have the real freedom to lead with a real sense of team, friendship, and accountability.

I have a friend who was a Campus Pastor at a big video multi-site church that told me his boss came to town one day, didn’t like a song they sang (not on theological grounds, but stylistic) and told him, “We don’t sing that song here. You may not play that again.” Forget that the song fit his context better than the mothership’s context. It wasn’t allowed.

That would never happen for me. Instead, I can shape our ministry in ways that fit our context but still not be alone. I have real friendships with real peers who are in the same role as me and understand the same pressure I feel. We can carry each other’s burdens and help one another deeply.

5. It’s less dependent on one visionary leader.

All churches are personality driven to some degree. This is normal because people follow people. This is inevitable.

What nobody knows, however, is what will happen to the video multi-site movement when the visionary leaders go. The movement is too new to know. I’ve heard an assortment of ideas and plans for how things will be handled and many of them sound promising. But it concerns me to think that so much is riding on one leader.

In our model, the church as a whole is riding on a number of people. We’ve even lost our two best preachers (one to plant in San Francisco and the other to retirement) and have thrived despite the loss. This is partly because our model communicates that nobody is that important. As a result, the environment tends to be more humble and healthy.

Some video multi-site pastors scratch their heads when we tell them what we’re doing. They can’t imagine that something like this could work without a person like them calling the shots. It defies their categories.

Which makes me think we’re on a really good track.

These are some reasons why I prefer our model. In the next post, I’ll share some of the down sides and explain the advantages that video multi-site has over what we’re doing.

Any questions?

How Our Multi-Congregational Church Model Works

I am a Lead Pastor and part of the Leadership Team of Redemption Church, a growing multi-congregational church in Arizona. Our model of doing church is quite different from what most people have experienced. Especially among church leaders, we get a lot of questions about how and why we do what we do. This post will answer some of the common questions we get about our model.

multi-congregational church

How is Multi-Congregational Church different from Multi-Site Church?

Though we are technically “multi-site” (one church/multiple locations), this phrase often brings to mind video multi-site and is, thus, unhelpful in describing what we do. We also avoid the phrase “multi-campus” as it carries many of the same connotations. We will occasionally refer to a Redemption “campus” if we’re talking about the physical location. Otherwise we use the term “congregation.”

This is because we think the term “multi-congregational” most accurately describes what we’re doing. We are one church with multiple congregations.

We are one organization, with one employee ID number, one tax ID number, and one bank account. While united around theology, vision and values, each congregation has a very real opportunity to customize ministry to its particular context with its particular leadership.

How Does the Leadership Structure Work?

Each local congregation has a team of elders (staff and non-staff) that shepherd the congregation, oversee its ministry, set its budget, carry out discipline, hire its staff and lead the mission in its community. While these elders care deeply about the overall vision of Redemption Church, their authority and oversight extends only to the congregation they are leading.

There is also a Redemption-wide Leadership Team that oversees the church as a whole and make decisions that impact all congregations. This team consists of the Lead Pastors from each congregation as well as other strategic leaders including the CFO and Communications Pastor.

The Leadership Team is not focused on congregation specific issues (what music to play, how to get more small groups in Tempe, etc.), but is focused on Redemption-wide issues. These include policy, vision, acquiring property, and planting new churches or congregations.

Is There a Leader of Leaders?

Yes. Tyler Johnson is currently the Lead Pastor of Redemption Church. What makes this unique is that Tyler does not lead one of the congregations. Rather, he is a pastor to the pastors, often visiting different congregations, leading the Leadership Team, and forging relationships and partnerships between Redemption and outside organizations. This is only possible because Tyler is humble, trustworthy, and highly relational. He has apostolic gifting that allows other gifted leaders to follow and trust him.

How Do Finances Work?

Each congregation is expected to be self-supporting (obviously, this takes time for new plants).

At this point, each congregation gives roughly 10% to a centralized Outward Focused fund that supports church-planting and community ministry.

Each congregation also pays roughly 10% to Central Operations for accounting, payroll, communication, website, graphics, and facility maintenance services. This percentage could change in the future if the Leadership Team decides that more resources need to be devoted to Central Operations.

The remaining 80% is available for the local congregation to budget and spend as needed. These funds pay for facilities, staff salaries, and ministry expenses. In a very real way, this allows those giving at a local congregation to know that every dollar they give is supporting the mission of their local congregation, as even the Outward Focused and Central Ops monies are used to extend and support the ministry of the local congregation.

How Does Preaching Work?

Each congregation has regular live preaching, overseen by the congregation’s Lead Pastor. Most of the time (~45 weeks) each congregation is preaching on the same biblical text or topic. This allows the preachers to study in advance together (we have a weekly Preaching Collective for all preachers) and share resources. It also builds unity across our congregations as everybody is tethered to the same text. When necessary, the Lead Pastor has the freedom to set the scheduled sermon aside and address an issue he deems important.

How Much Unity is There? How Much Freedom?

These questions have been and continue to be the most challenging part of multi-congregational ministry. There is no set-it and forget-it approach. Based on personality and gifting, some leaders push for more unity and uniformity, while others push for more freedom and individuality. It’s a constant tension to manage and having this diversity of leaders forces us to a healthier place.

Additionally, one of the most confusing aspects early on was for pastors, staff, and volunteers to have clarity on chain-of-command, who had jurisdiction over what, and what ministry efforts were or should have been centralized or decentralized. To address this challenge, we introduced the following categories: Centralized, Unified, and Decentralized.

1. Centralized = Things done the same way, overseen by a centralized department. Right now, this category includes finance, accounting, HR, facility maintenance, media and communications, pastoral residencies and Outward Focused Ministries.

2. Unified = Things done the same way, overseen by the local leadership. Right now, this category includes communities (small groups), preaching, membership, classes, elder processes, church discipline, biblical counseling, and benevolence.

3. Decentralized = Things done in different ways, overseen by local leadership. Right now, many things are decentralized, including guest services, kids, students, worship, assimilation, internships and ministries for men and women.

How Does it Actually Make Everyone Better?

We don’t have a comprehensive list, but…

  • Lead Pastors are better because they have a team of other men in the same role who are supporting and encouraging them.
  • Staff are better because they have associates at other congregations who are doing similar work.
  • Volunteer leaders and new staff are especially helped by the experience surrounding them in other congregations.
  • Preachers are better because they sharpen each other and share ideas weekly.
  • Members are better because they have more places to invite friends and co-workers who live in other parts of town to attend.
  • Each congregation is strengthened by the overall reputation of Redemption.
  • Church planters are better because they don’t have to reinvent the wheel (especially with admin) and they have the support and strength of a movement behind them.
  • Newer congregations are better because financing is available that wouldn’t be available if they were on their own.
What other questions do you have about multi-congregational ministry?



Do You Know What it Really Means to Abide in Christ?

abideAbiding in Christ is not optional for effective Christian leadership. If you want to do true spiritual good, you must walk in dependence. Francis Schaeffer said that the central problem of our age is:

the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit.

If you are in ministry leadership, you have no doubt exhorted those you lead to abide in Christ. But do you know what it really means to abide in Christ? The answer may surprise you.

The biblical text where Jesus focuses on abiding in him is John 15. Here we learn three things about abiding in Christ. Each of them unfolds a deeper layer that eventually helps us get to the bottom of what it is to abide in Christ.

1. Abiding in Christ is Essential for Fruitfulness.

Jesus says:

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15:4-9, ESV)

If you abide in Christ, you: (a) will bear much fruit, (b) can do something, (c) have confidence of answered prayer, (d) can glorify God. In other words, abiding in Christ is essential for fruitfulness.

2. Abiding in Christ is Obeying His Commandments.

Jesus then digs a layer deeper, helping us see what it is to abide in him:

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:10-11, ESV)

So…abiding is obeying. We withdraw from abiding in Christ when we choose disobedience. When we obey, by faith, we draw near to Christ and abide in him. Additionally, according to verse 11, this is a path of real joy.

3. Abiding in Christ is Obeying His Commandment to Love.

Here we get to the root of the issue. What is it to really — at the deepest level — abide in Christ?

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:12-17, ESV)

Do you follow the logic?

Abiding in Christ = Obeying His Commandments
His Commandment = Love One Another
Abiding in Christ = Love One Another

We often think of abiding in Christ as prayer or having a quiet time. Surely this is a good thing, part of obeying his commandments. But the root of abiding in Christ is loving one another with sacrificial love.


A few concluding thoughts for ministry leaders:

  1. You stay closest to Christ when you really love others.
  2. You can have a terrific quiet time but if you are using people to prop up your fragile ego or misplaced identity, rather than loving them, you are not really abiding in Christ.
  3. We must see people as the precious bride of Christ and love them as he does.
  4. Real fruitfulness happens in a ministry of love.

What other ways would you apply this lesson about abiding?

How We Do Performance Reviews at Redemption Gateway

performance-reviewOne of the most satisfying things in life is to have clarity on your job and know that you’re doing it well. Conversely, if you’re uncertain about what you’re supposed to be doing and unsure about whether you’re doing it well, it’s a sure path to a miserable job.

That’s why, at Redemption Gateway, we have clear job descriptions for every staff member and we do annual performance reviews every October.

Here’s our process for performance reviews:

1. Standard 360-Degree Staff Assessment.
Each Staff Member experiences an identical 360-degree evaluation based on the “10 Commandments of Staff Engagement” we use. This evaluation is completed by 4 different people: (1) Staff Member, (2) Supervisor, (3) a Peer, and (4) a Direct Report (or volunteer). The Staff Member’s supervisor is the only person who receives the results of the evaluation.

2. Job-specific evaluation.
The Staff Member and Supervisor each fill out a job-specific evaluation (click here for a Word Template), customized based on each staff member’s job description.

3. 1:1 Meeting.
The Supervisor and Staff Member meet to discuss the results and answers from #1 and #2. While this meeting may be corrective in certain areas, it is often affirming and encouraging. It also provides a forum to talk intentionally about future goals, plans, dreams, career directions, salary, and other important topics.

It is crucial to note that this system does not–and cannot–replace the need for constant evaluation and feedback. We are evaluating things all the time. When issues need to be addressed, we don’t wait until the annual review to discuss them.

Nonetheless, having an annual review process makes sure that we’re intentional about doing a thorough assessment of many important areas of our staff’s roles, responsibilities, and performance.

Finally, there is one staff member whose review is slightly different: me. As the Lead Pastor, I report to our elder team. I’m the only person who answers to a “they.” In my case, I am reviewed by our non-staff elders and our Associate Pastor (who I work closest with). This allows the review to happen chiefly by people who are not my direct reports (non-staff elders) but with some insight from the staff person who sees my work the closest (Associate Pastor).

It likely isn’t a perfect system, but it’s working well for us.

How are performance reviews handled where you work?

What I Admire About Mormon Missions


I have a number of LDS friends and, living in Phoenix’s Southeast Valley, meet LDS folks on a regular basis. I often ask them about their experiences serving on a mission, as it always leads to interesting stories and conversation.

While I disagree with the core of LDS theology, I admire a number of things about the two-year missions that many Mormons serve.

There are surely things I could critique and, as an outsider, there are probably things I don’t understand and might not like if I knew more. However, for this post, I want to share a number of things I appreciate.

1. They are explicitly missionaries.

No identity confusion here. When you see the young men with white shirts and ties, you know what they’re there for. They want to serve people and talk to them about faith.

They don’t call themselves “english teachers,” “tour guides,” “businessmen,” or some other identity that doesn’t actually represent who they are, what they come to do, and where their money comes from. They claim to be what they are.

2. They work hard to fund their mission experience.

The vast majority of missions are funded by the individual or his/her family. In many cases, young people work and save for many years in preparation for their mission. This gives them a sense of ownership to the experience that likely makes it a more valuable experience. When I see young men pedaling their bikes in the brutal heat of an Arizona summer and realize that, in many cases, they paid their own way there–I’m impressed.

3. They spend two of their most formative years committing to serving others.

We all know that the two years after high school are crucial for determining your personal values and identity. This is valuable, prime-of-your-life years. I admire that these missionaries are using those best years to serve others and share their beliefs. I have to think that this creates a pattern and perspective of serving others and owning your faith.

4. They learn lessons (and sometimes languages) that help them for a lifetime.

Because these two years are so crucial for life development, missionaries learn incredible life lessons through their service. They learn how to talk with people. They learn how to knock on doors and work hard. They learn how to face rejection and failure. They learn teamwork. In many cases, they learn a new language.

All these lessons serve them for the rest of their lives. It’s no wonder that so many LDS folks are excellent in business, good with people, and hard working.

5. They involve the local, permanent church members in the mission.

Because missionaries are away from home and rarely see their families (another admirable thing), the local congregations rally around them. I often see people in restaurants treating missionaries to a meal and loving on them. When I’ve had conversations with LDS missionaries, they often invite me to connect with a local church leader. This rallies the local ward to own the mission with the missionaries and it also ensures that anybody who converts has a natural relational connection to the church.

6. They solidify their theological beliefs.

The best way to learn something is to teach it. I think many Christians never develop their theological and spiritual muscles because they often aren’t in a position to have to teach and defend their faith. Not so for Mormon missionaries. They spend every day talking with skeptics about their beliefs. That is an effective way to develop strong convictions.


Do You Love the People You Have Now?

keep-calm-and-love-sheep-32The best leaders are always looking for a way to take things to the next level.

That’s a good thing. Without this trait, we’d be stuck with the status quo, never pushing ourselves to improve or grow.

For church planters and pastors, this often means we focus on reaching new people. We cast vision to help the church care about new people. We create systems and strategies to reach new people. We create environments that will be attractive and helpful to new people.

The focus on reaching new people is a good thing, but only if you love the people you already have.

A major danger for church leaders is using the people you have to reach the people you really want. (Read that sentence again. How dark is that?)

But God has called church leaders to truly love. To lay their lives down for the sheep. To shepherd the flock of God that is among them. To love them the way we’d want to be loved ourselves.

If we don’t really love God’s people this way now, why would God want to send more people to us?

There’s a difference between a mom who wants to have more children because she treasures her kids and there’s still more love in her heart and a Ms. Hannigan who wants to house more orphans so she can get more money and free child labor.

Pastor, it’s good that you want to grow the church and reach new people. This is consistent with Jesus, who talked about a shepherd leaving the 99 to find the 1. But the good shepherd loves the 99 so much that he’d go after them too.

So let’s stop looking over the fence at the greener grass. Let’s stop letting our insecurities and pride drive us to make a name for ourselves.

Rather, let’s love the people we have so much that they would want their friends and neighbors to be loved like that too.

First Things First

First things first

Some things are more important than others. Leadership is required to filter what’s most important and keep first things first.

I received this email the other day from the folks at North Point Community Church who run the Drive Conference (We took our team to Drive earlier this year for a great few days of training):

We’re canceling Drive 2014
We’re in the middle of two major campus construction projects. The unusual amount of rainfall we’ve had this summer has caused the completion of the projects to bump up against Drive. Since we are a local church first, the building projects take priority.

Both of the construction projects are for different campuses than the one where Drive is hosted. It’s not like the building to host Drive would be unavailable. So why would they cancel Drive?

After all, Drive generates almost a million dollars in revenue from conference admissions, plus hundreds of thousands more in resource sales for North Point Ministries. It’s also a major rallying point for thousands of leaders who look to North Point for direction. This decision seriously hampers their platform. Why would they do this?

Because they are a local church first.

With the other projects going on, Drive–a good thing–would be a distraction.

This is an important lesson for pastors and church planters. It’s easy to be distracted by networking with other pastors, getting involved in multi-church events, speaking at outside events, writing blogs or books–all good things.

But often the cost is that the local church–a pastor’s first calling–suffers.

Whatever you’re calling, work hard to focus on that calling. Put first things first.

What I Learned at the Global Leadership Summit, Day 2

My last post shared what I learned at Day 1 of Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit. Here’s what I learned the second day:

leadership summit


grennyJoseph Grenny is a business leader and author. His presentation was practical and engaging.

  • Leadership is intentional influence.
  • We’re naive about how profound our social influences are.
  • There are personal, social, and structural influences.
  • Your job as an influencer is to help the good stuff feel pleasurable and the bad stuff feel painful.
  • Help people frame specific daily decisions in godly ways.
  • There are 6 sources of influence that can work for or against us:
Motivation Ability
Personal Make the Undesirable
Surpass Your Limits
Social Harness Peer Pressure Find Strength in Numbers
Structural Design Rewards &
Demand Accountability
Change the Environment


leadership summitBrene Brown is a professor at the University of Houston who gave a wildly popular TED talk on vulnerability.

  • People need to be be seen and loved, to belong, and to be brave.
  • If you struggle to ask for help, then you are judging other people when you offer them help.
  • Professing love has very little meaning in comparison to practicing love.
  • You can choose courage or comfort, but not both.
  • If you are not in the arena also getting your butt kicked on a regular basis, I am not interested in or open to your feedback.
  • As the world has grown, so have the number of cheap seats.


leadership summitOscar Miriu is the Senior Pastor of Nairobi Chapel in Kenya and is, apparently, a leadership development machine. As somebody who oversees a pastoral residency program, I had great interest in his talk.

Five Convictions About Leadership Development

  1. The size of your harvest depends on how many leaders you have (Matt 9:37-38).
  2. Don’t live just for your generation, but for the next one (Psalm 71:18).
  3. Identify the budding leaders around you and take them to the Lord in prayer (Num 11:10-17).
  4. Instill the 5 loves into your budding leaders (Mark 12:32-33).
  5. Never do ministry alone (Acts 4:13).


leadership summitDr. Henry Cloud has written about a million books and consults with many top companies and leaders. This talk resonated with me personally as I’ve had some moments where I’ve fallen into the trap he discusses.

  • The hardest thing that a leader has to be “ridiculously in charge” of…himself.
  • Leaders who lead themselves well think, feel, and behave differently than others.
  • When leaders get stuck along the way, they’re tempted to fall mentally into the 3P trap:
    • Personal — taking the challenge or failure personally. “I’m not good enough.”
    • Pervasive — thinking the problem is bigger than it is. “This happens all the time. Everyone knows I’m not good enough. Everything sucks.”
    • Permanent — thinking it won’t change. “It’s always going to be this way.”
  • Fortunately, there’s a way out:
    • Log & Dispute — write down the negative thoughts. Dispute it when it comes into your head with the word of God.
    • Get Back in Control — write out what you can and can’t control. Control what you can. Don’t worry about what you can’t.
    • Connect — your brain runs on oxygen, glucose, and relationship. Reconnect with people.


leadership summitAndy Stanley is the Senior Pastor of North Point Community Church. I’ve learned so much from Stanley over the years and I love his leadership podcast. This talk combined some of the material in his latest book, Deep & Wide. It was my favorite session by far. Great way to end the conference.

I liked this message so much that I plan to show it on a Sunday at Redemption Gateway at some point when the DVD is released. Because it was so good and I was so caught up in it, I didn’t take too many notes.

  • Jesus said he would build his “congregation”—how Tyndale translated Matt 16:18.
  • We are here because Jesus made a promise that he would build his church. Jesus has been and will continue to build his church and nobody will stop it.
  • The central teaching of the church was not, “We believe something was true” but “We believe something happened.”
  • Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain.



What I Learned at the Global Leadership Summit, Day 1

Each August tens of thousands of leaders gather in dozens of locations around the country to experience the Global Leadership Summit — two days of world-class leadership training. This year the Redemption Church Gateway staff is attending at the Mesa satellite location.

leadership summit

Yesterday was the first day of the Summit and it was a great learning experience.

I took tons of notes, but here are my major takeaways from each speaker.


leadership summit

I’ve been to a few Leadership Summits before. Hybels always does the opening session, and it’s always outstanding. This year was no different. In addition to the lessons below, I was most impacted by the obvious passion and heart that Hybels has. There are some big causes that he is giving his life for, and these things move him deeply.

  • Leadership demands a non-stop flow of fortitude from day 1 until the final day.
  • Old-fashioned courage and bravery correlates to every single component of leadership.
  • When God births a big vision in the heart of a leader, many leaders abort the vision secretly without telling anybody about it. They’re afraid the cost is too high.
  • Don’t go to your grave with big, cool visions dying inside you.
  • The leader’s job is to define reality.
  • Staff cultures will only ever be as healthy as the senior leader takes responsibility for them to be.
  • There comes a time when you have to stop casting vision and decide that something is an inviolable value.
  • If you lead an organization long enough, you’ll have to reinvent the organization, yourself, and your leadership approach more than once.
  • Some of God’s greatest rewards in a leader’s marathon happen late in the race.



leadership summit

You don’t become a four-star general, senior level advisor to four U.S. presidents, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor, or Secretary of State if you can’t lead. Great to hear from one of our country’s finest men.

  • Get the best people you can, people you trust and trust you, and empower them to do what you’re called to do.
  • Trust is the glue that holds an organization together and the lubricant that keeps it moving forward.
  • Leadership Proverbs
    • It’ll look different in the morning.” A day can go badly, but there’s an attitude and aspiration toward things getting better. It’s not a prediction, but a mentality.
    • Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” People look to the leader for confidence and stability.
    • Get mad but then get over it.” If you act while you’re mad, you’re not at your best. You can’t stay mad or the whole organization is contaminated. It freezes the organization when leaders run around mad.
    • Tell me early.” If you know something is going wrong, let me know as soon as possible. Have to have an open enough culture where people can tell you things are going wrong.
  • You promote people on the basis of potential, not performance. Some people who perform great at one level are not going to be great at the next.



leadership summit

I’ve read a bunch of Lencioni’s books. All of them are outstanding. He’s an even better speaker. So engaging, funny, and full of great content. This talk is one he rarely gives, based on his book, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job.

  • People leave a job because they’re miserable, not because it isn’t a good, well-paying job.
  • 3 things that cause job misery:
    • Anonymity: The people we work for don’t know us as people and aren’t interested in getting to know us. If your leaders don’t care about you, you won’t like your job.
    • Irrelevance: If you don’t think your job matters to somebody, in some way, you cannot love your work.
    • Immeasurement: People need to be able to assess for themselves whether they are doing a good job.

There, now you don’t need to read the book.



leadership summitI hadn’t heard of Liz Wiseman before today, but she had helpful content and was enjoyable to listen to. This talk was based on her book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.

  • There are Multipliers and Diminishers.

    • Multipliers believe that people are smart and will figure it out. As a result, the people around them perform smarter and better and the impact is multiplied.
    • Diminishers believe that nobody will figure it out without them. As a result, the people around them are disengaged and the impact is diminished.
  • Many of us are Accidental Diminishers.
  • Are you a genius or a genius maker?
Diminishers Multipliers
Empire Builder Talent Magnet
Tyrant Liberator
Know-it-all Challenger
Decision maker Debate Maker
Micromanager Investor


leadership summit

Wow. This was the most moving session by far. I’ve known of Chris Brown, one of four Senior Pastors at North Coast Church, because of one of his colleagues, Larry Osborne. But I hadn’t heard Chris speak before. He took a very familiar concept — servant leadership — and delivered it in a fresh way.

  • In the David & Goliath story, Saul is being called out for over a month. His leadership is paralyzed and everyone knows it.
  • Saul had room in the parade for David, but not room in the lead chariot.
  • Saul had the title of King, but it wasn’t his kingdom.
  • The temptation for leaders is to make it about themselves.
  • Insecure leaders have to have the title and position, but secure leaders will pick up the towel and wash their feet.
  • Servanthood isn’t for all leaders — just those who want to be great.
  • Don’t let the great things of leadership distract you from the God things.
  • Established leaders lose their best young leaders (“young eagles”) because they don’t make room for them in the nest.
  • Honestly, when forced to choose, do I expand God’s kingdom or my reputation?

One of the most moving parts of this talk was Brown’s obvious, heart-felt emotion when talking about Osborne’s humility in deferring so much leadership and platform to Brown even at the cost to his own opportunities. I’ve spent a little time with Osborne and it’s inspiring to see a leader modeling this humility.



leadership summitBob Goff is an attorney and the founder of Restore International. He was energetic and passionate, but this talk was more heat than light.

  • It’s easy to stalk Jesus — knowing a lot about him, but not knowing him.
  • Love God, love people, do stuff.
  • Live the calling you’ve received.
  • See people for who they are becoming.



leadership summit

Mark Burnett is an Emmy award winning producer of many uber-popular television shows including Survivor, The Apprentice, The Voice, and the 10-hour docudrama, The Bible. For this session, Hybels interviewed Burnett, which was a format I enjoyed.

  • NO stand for “next opportunity.”
  • “When God calls you, you actually have to get your ass off the couch and do something.”
  • Choose your companions before you choose your road.
  • The easiest thing to do is waste money.
  • “Making Christian shows or movies doesn’t give you permission to make it crappy.”

You can tell it was a full day. I’m looking forward to Day 2 and will be sure to post some highlights from that later.