numerical growth

Good to Great


The book Good to Great, by Jim Collins, explores why good companies do not make the leap to great. Today, we are going to take a look at what moves a good church to become a great church.

A Good Church vs. A Great Church

Collins defines a great company as one that has a “financial performance several multiples better than the market average over a sustained period.” I think a great church the would be one that has sustained numerical growth, namely through the attraction of unchurched people, better than the average in the same area.

Looking at the evidence and observations of churches that have moved from just being good to becoming great, there are two variables; qualitative and quantitative analysis. By qualitative, we are looking at the quality of ministry, while by quantitative we are measuring the quantity of their effectiveness in numerous areas.

I agree with Collins when it comes to the number one contributing factor to the greats. He said it all starts with leadership. John Maxwell says that “everything rises and falls on leadership” and I absolutely believe that to be true. So, the great churches usually have great leaders at the helm. And, just like Collins discovered, the best leaders are the ones that have a blend of personal humility and professional will. The sustainable great churches aren’t led by the celebrity type pastors, but often by self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy leaders who build great leaders around them - but they have an insatiable drive to get better and reach their communities.

A strong leader must be surrounded by strong team members leading their ministries. I have found that it takes more than just a great preacher to grow a church; it also takes great music, great children’s ministry, great pastoral care, and great administration just to name a few. One leader is just not capable of doing all of that on their own, therefore they need a great team around them.

I also believe that great churches are not afraid to confront the brutal facts. What I mean by this is that they have an incredible faith that they will prevail and grow as well as an incredible discipline to confront the most brutal facts of their current reality and adjust accordingly. Great churches also have a clear vision and narrow focus. They know where they are going and they refuse to clutter that vision with busyness and complex programs. 

Another differentiation of great churches is that they continually mess with the methods and move with times without compromising the message. They know that the methods are there to serve the message, not the other way around. So, they will continue to use whatever means necessary to get the gospel out to the world in an understandable way and they don’t get married to their methods. If it’s not working, they are willing to change.

I’ve noticed that churches that attract people from other churches and mainly grow through transfer growth are ones that may have a quick boost in growth, but it often isn’t sustainable. This is because if people switched churches once, they are likely to transfer again when something bigger or better comes to town. In contrast, people that grow in unchurched people and lead them to Jesus are more likely to sustain their growth because people are more likely to stay in the church where they became born again. They are also the group that is most likely to invite their unchurched friends and family to the church which keeps multiplying the growth and is much more sustainable.

Collins breaks down the transformation of companies that go from good to great into 3 broad stages; disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined actions. There is no doubt that these 3 stages translate into the church world.

Disciplined People

When it comes to disciplined people, it is important that the leader leads the way and that the leadership team follows suit; discipline has to flow from the top down. I think this is even more important because the church is largely a volunteer-led organization. Disciplined people is all about having the right people on the right bus - first who, and then what. This is so vital.

I often talk to pastors who say they just don’t have any leaders in their church. I have found that leaders don’t just show up, they are created. What I mean is that the leader (the senior pastor) has to invest in growing his team to become what the church needs. In the process of growing people, you will learn who you have on the bus and what seat they should be sitting in. This process is invaluable to the development of having disciplined people.

I have always set aside time each week and each month to train and develop my leadership team. To me, this might be the most important activity I do as a lead pastor. Paul said in Ephesians that the job of a pastor is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” Equip means skill develop. So, my role as the pastor is to skill develop people in my church to carry out the work of the ministry. It doesn’t happen by default; it happens by being very intentional about training and developing a team. When you do this intentionally, you will develop the right people on the bus, as opposed to just waiting for the right people to show up. I’ve tried that and I soon ran out of patience waiting for the right people. I’ve found it better to develop the right people from within.

Disciplined Thought

Disciplined thought is about marrying both faith for a big future and the ability to confront the brutal facts of today’s reality. That is a juggling act and requires great discipline. I have discovered that great churches do this really, really well. That is what makes them the best.

I can recall an example of when I’ve had to face the brutal facts. We were getting hundreds saved every year but we were not seeing that translate into disciples. When we studied it, we discovered that we were seeing under 5% retention on our new converts. Grossly dissatisfied, we decided to do something about it. That’s where the My Victory Starts Here book and discipleship plan came from. Last year, we were able to retain 48% of our converts. We still want to improve on that, but that was a drastic increase and greatly grew our church because we were willing to face the brutal facts.

Disciplined Action

Disciplined action is about going to work every day to create the church you envision. This is rolling up your sleeves and working hard. It’s about creating a culture within your organization that will allow the vision to move forward. It’s about being willing to mess with the methods and change what needs to be changed in order to move forward. It really is all about a dogged determination to not settle for anything less than the best.

Level 5 Leadership

In chapter 2, Collins describes a Level 5 Leader as one who “builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.” Former U.S. President Harry S. Truman said this: “You can accomplish anything in life provided you do not mind who gets the credit.” I believe this is so important to sustainability. We need to refrain from the celebrity pastor led church model. Firstly, it is not biblical, and secondly, it can be very short lived. A prime example of this happened just a couple years ago when Mark Driscoll was fired from his church in Seattle. At the time, his church average was 14,000 in attendance. Within a few short months of his leaving, the church no longer existed. It completely disappeared, which is tragic. I believe great churches are led by leaders who don’t care who gets the credit and they operate with incredible humility. In my mind, a positive example of this is Brian Houston. For years, I had no idea who the senior pastor of Hillsong Church was. All I knew was that Darlene Zchech led worship. The music team was more famous, and probably still is more famous, than the lead pastor. I think Brian has done a great job of leading in such a way that it doesn’t matter who gets the credit, and Hillsong Church has truly accomplished much in the process.

Level 4 Leadership

A Level 4 Leader is described as committed to the vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision and higher performance standards. Level 5 Leaders have these Level 4 leadership qualities as well as the ones we previously discussed. I think the biggest battle for all of us “driven” types is the art of delegation and letting go. We do things ourselves because we know we will do it well and it is hard to release a task to someone who may not do as good of a job as we would. However, it is crucial to delegate and release the work to others. They will inevitably make mistakes, but that’s how they will learn. Let them have success and get the credit because what matters, in the end, is not who gets the credit but that the vision is accomplished. So, my recommendation for Level 4 Leaders is to let go and be willing to release.

Good to Great Leaders

At one point, Collins describes a Level 5 Leader as “ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.” The traditional mindset of a great leader often depicts a person with a high-profile image and a charismatic personality. But, Collins goes on to describe the top leadership characteristics of a leader who has taken a good company to become a great company as “quiet, humble, modest, reserved, shy, gracious, mild-mannered, self-effacing, understated…” There was a day when these characteristics were not true of major players in the church world, especially in North America. I think there has been a subtle transition over the past couple of decades. Churches that are built to last have been led by no-name leaders. I think this is important because if a church is built on a personality, it will only last as long as that individual lasts in ministry. But, if the church is not built solely on a personality, it can navigate the troubled waters of transition and survive generation to generation. It is amazing when that happens. I think in the next 5 to 10 years we are going to see this become more evident than ever before because most of the celebrity pastors are going to retire and then we will see what happens to their churches. Depending on the outcome, we will know whether these pastors were great leaders who built their church on a team and a vision, or if they were just good leaders who built a mega church on a personality.

Good church leaders may look for someone or something to blame for stagnate growth. They may blame the economy, community layoffs, lack of funds, inadequate facilities, their history, the list goes on. Level 5 Leaders look at similar situations and must move forward without placing blame on external factors. I often say that excuses strip you of your power to change. The moment we place blame elsewhere, we remove our ability to solve the problem. We have to be willing to confront the brutal facts, take ownership of the mistakes, and be willing to change the methods. If we can’t do these three things, we will be overcome by the obstacles to growth and will stagnate, or even disappear. It’s vital to observe and act. I think the Level 5 Leaders face just as much adversity as everyone else, however, they respond differently. They hit the realities of their situations head-on and as a result, emerge from the adversity even stronger.

The Law of Velocity

In Chapter 3, Collins made about called Practical Discipline #3 which says, “Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.” This really stood out to me when I re-read the book a couple of weeks ago. This is about the law of velocity; hitch your wagon to something that is already moving to make it move even faster, rather than trying to kickstart something that isn’t moving at all. I would love it if we in the church world could grasp this concept. The reason I say that is because there are a ton of really great pastors out there who are killing themselves trying to jumpstart a dead or dying church when they could be way more effective in the kingdom if they just attached to churches that have great momentum. There are other pastors who are leading nearly dead congregations in large beautiful buildings. At the same time, there are churches in the same community that are growing in temporary rented facilities or outgrowing their current locations and are in danger of having their lack of facilities inhibit their momentum. What if we were kingdom minded in our communities and married the great facilities with the great churches? What could happen?

Brutal Facts

I am always surprised when I hear a pastor say “numbers don’t matter,” or “it’s not just about the numbers.” When I hear that said, I know their church is struggling numerically. It think it is amazing that pastors make excuses for why their church isn’t growing, or worse yet, they refuse to ask questions as to why it has stopped growing or is declining. Numbers matter! Numbers represent souls and we are all in it for souls. Number mattered to Jesus; He counted everything. We know how many people attended almost every meeting Jesus ever had. The 5000, the 120, the 70, and so on. We need to be willing to count and observe the trends, confront the brutal facts if necessary, and then ask the hard questions to get the proper solution. It’s all about simply refusing to settle for average.

I think the major takeaway from this week's podcast is to start with the determination to push beyond "good" and "good enough". Our nation and our world have no need for good churches; they need great churches. Great churches led by leaders who are determined to make their church grow and are fixed on reaching the unchurched in their community for Jesus. We need great leaders who are determined to be great leaders, who invest in growing themselves and in growing their teams. We need great leaders who are willing to confront the brutal facts and change if necessary. Why? Because the church is the hope of the world and we’ve been given a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.


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The 7 Growth Points of Every Organization


The church is a movement and movements move. Jesus spoke of a church that He would continually build into, so it is expected that the church should be continually growing as well. We need to master this growth in all areas of the church.

Our focus today is from one of our recent All-Staff training days on the subject of “The 7 Growth Points of Every Organization”. Before we dive in, here is a list of the seven points:

  1. The Leader must grow
  2. Grow your team
  3. Grow your systems
  4. Grow your numbers
  5. Grow your income
  6. Grow the expectation in the church
  7. Grow your facilities

I came to discover these growth points through discussions with my mentors as well as other pastors, and through observations from being a pastor myself over the past 20 years. These were the first things I taught the staff here in Lethbridge when I arrived six and a half years ago. They have remained a regular part of our discussions and have made a huge impact on our growth as a church. We are always looking at which of the seven are our current weakness; which one we need to focus on in the season we are in to move the church forward.

Growth Point #1: The Leader Must Grow

I believe that when a leader stops growing, he stops leading and the organization will no longer grow. So, it is imperative that a leader continually grows themselves. I take this one very seriously and have developed a personal growth plan within each of my priorities.

My growth plan includes learning daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. I want to grow as a pastor and leader, so daily, I listen to a podcast of a leader or pastor who has gone further than me. Weekly, I read a book on leadership, pastoring, marriage, management, biographies, etc. Monthly, I will connect with a leader who has gone further than me and ask a series of questions that will help me in my situation. Yearly, I attend a mega-conference at a church that is much larger than my own so I can physically see and experience a church of that size, and learn form the leaders there as well. This type of regimen takes time and money, but it is an investment into my growth and I believe that if I intentionally grow, then what I lead will grow too.

Growth Point #2: Grow Your Team

I very much believe that our church’s “secret sauce” is the fact we very intentionally grow our team in leadership. John Maxwell defines leadership as influence, so it seems reasonable that if we grow our people in leadership, they will grow in influence and our church will inevitably grow. So, from the beginning, we have spent a lot of time and money on intentionally growing our team.

For the first 5 years, I taught our whole team a leadership lesson for an hour a week. When we expanded to 4 campuses in 4 different cities, we decided to invest in an entire day a month dedicated to teaching our teams. And then, we added this weekly podcast for our team. We have also invested in books for them as well as in sending them to conferences together. I feel that we have saved ourselves years of training by simply learning and growing together at a conference. We then come home all passionate about the same changes we feel we need to implement in our own setting.

It is so important to invest time and money into purposefully growing your team. If your team stops growing, your church will stop growing. But if your volunteers and staff continually grow, your church will grow too.

Growth Point #3: Grow Your Systems

While systems won’t grow a church, poor systems will definitely stop a church from growing. A system is all about creating movement from one level of commitment to another. A church needs to create movement from the community into the church, from first time attenders to regular attenders, from regular attenders to members, from members to partners, and from partners to the committed core. All of these steps require movement in commitment, and a good system will facilitate that. So, if we are not gaining enough visitors, then we have a systems problem at that level. And if we have a lot of visitors, but they do not stay, then we have a systems problem in retention. The list goes on.

I have learned that there is no “one size fits all” system. As our church grows, we outgrow our current systems and we need to make a change to make systems better to keep healthy movement in all aspects of our growth. 

[bctt tweet="“Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results.” - Michael Gerber" username="kellystickel"]

Michael Gerber says that “Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results.” And I would agree with this. Good systems make leaders look better than they actually are and poor systems make them look worse than they are. I think what is important in evaluating your systems is to design a clear path of movement for your people. Simply answer, “What’s next?”. Then, keep accurate numbers of each stage and evaluate whether there is regular movement and growth at each level. Once you identify an area where growth has stopped, evaluate the leaders and the systems and ask, “What’s the best way to grow that in our church?”. Also, ask “Is there anything we are doing that is hindering growth in that area?”. Once you have answers to those questions, you can go to work designing a system that will go to work for you.

I think it is important to note that systems need to work for us and serve the people, not the other way around. We don’t ever want to get to a place where we are serving the system. We make it clear around here that our systems are always open for change. We simply want to find the best way, and if there is a better way, then let’s do it!

Growth Point #4: Grow Your Numbers

This one seems pretty obvious. Every church wants to grow their numbers and this is usually how we define whether a church is growing and healthy or not. But, it is important to note that this is just one of the growth points; it is not the only defining factor. When we recognized this, we were able to more effectively evaluate this point of growth.

We began studying our trends and identified seasons in our church; seasons in which our numbers grew rapidly and when they seemed to decline. Seasons of growth for us were from Thanksgiving to Christmas and from Easter to May Long Weekend. During these times, our numbers naturally inclined. But, we also noticed that they naturally declined in July and August as well as January to Easter.

When we noticed these trends, we started to recognize our harvest time so we changed how we approached those natural growth times. We altered how we preached, how our staff focused, and how we would work our schedule to take advantage of what was happening naturally. When we were in a season of decline, we decided to use those seasons to grow one or more of the other growth points. So, in the summer, we typically evaluate our systems and tweak them to be ready to handle the anticipated numerical growth in fall. Identifying seasons has really helped us grow our numbers and to retain the growth that seems to naturally occur.

Growth Point #5: Grow Your Income

I rarely talk about money publicly. This is because I have learned that begging for money or guilting people into giving is not the best way to grow your income. To me, the best way is with clear vision. I have found that if people are clear on where you are going, and are passionate about going there with you, then they will be more apt to buy in, in every sense of the word. So, we work hard on being clear with our vision. I am not afraid to talk about money, I just feel like I don’t need to focus on it in order to encourage giving. I do teach one or two series a year about money, but it is teaching on why generosity and giving is a vital part of our personal growth, and the benefit it has to each of us personally.

Growth Point #6: Grow the Expectation in the Church

I have noticed that the higher the expectation of the people attending, the greater the level of anointing the service has. I first realized this trend as a musician who participated on worship teams during conferences. At a conference, people were engaged and pulling on us as a team within the first chord being played. Then, we would take that same team and the same set list and play it for our congregation on Sunday and it was like crickets. Jesus could do miracles everywhere except in his hometown. Why? Because they were too familiar with him and their expectations were low. This had a direct effect on his anointing.

The question I asked our team was, “How do we effect the expectations of our people attending weekly so that we can have the highest level of anointing possible in our weekly services?” We came up with two main ways to of that:

  1. With Creativity. If people are not sure what is going to happen each week, they will be more excited to come.
  2. With Excellence. If we can do everything we do with the highest level of excellence within our capabilities, people will raise their expectations. And when they raise their expectations, they will draw on the anointing and that will have a larger effect on the outcome.

So, we are constantly evaluating this area and trying to get a sense of the expectation level in our church. If we sense it is low, then we know we have to shake things up to increase the congregations expectations.

Growth Point #7: Grow Your Facilities

There is a general rule that if a room is 80% full or more, people will be uncomfortable and less likely to come back, bottlenecking your growth. This rule is true for the auditorium, kids classrooms, the parking lot, and the foyer. So, if you identify a bottleneck, then you will have to find ways to alleviate this issue. We are constantly working on this one. It is difficult because the easiest solution is often too expensive, so you have to get creative. That might mean multiplying services, splitting classrooms, renting other facilities, etc. As pastors, we love full rooms, but we have to realize that most people don’t.

My “aha” moment came when I was at a full movie theatre. I was uncomfortable when someone other than my family member was sitting in the seat right next to me. It felt awkward, and because of this, I tend to avoid opening night movies because of how I feel about full theatres. What if people are doing the same in our services? That could be a simple hinderance to our growth and we will have to remedy that problem somehow.

The Movement of the Church

The church is a movement and movements move. The church Jesus talked about is one in which He would continually build and the gates of hell could not stop it. So, the church should be continually growing. God asked us to be managers of that growth and Jesus commissioned his followers to go and create growth; therefore, we need to do it.

[bctt tweet="The church is a movement, and movements move. #growth" username="kellystickel"]

I have found that growth isn’t automatic; it is reliant on a lot more than prayer and surrender to God. It takes skills and silks are learned. God created soil to produce fruit, but He gave the responsibility of managing the growth to the farmers. If two farmers have fields side by side and one field produces a bumper crop while the other is full of weeds and minimal fruit, then the problem was not God’s fault, it was the fault of the farmer for not managing the soil better.

Paul likened us to farmers when he said to the Corinthian church that he planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. That statement does not remove our responsibility for growth, it accentuates it. We have a big part to play. Sounds depend on it and we must increase in our skill set of growing churches because the church is the hope of the world and we’re on a mission, to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.


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How to Design the Culture of Your Organization


Culture is prominent in every organization, whether that organization realizes it or not. It s how the organization feels—it’s the heart of the organization. It is more powerful than vision, mission or strategy and it happens by default or by design.

I talk about culture often and that’s because when I discovered that culture is more powerful than vision, mission or strategy it became a focus and one that we decided to design on our own. Culture is prominent in every organization, whether that organization realizes it or not. It happens by default or it happens by design. Culture is how the organization feels—it’s the heart of the organization.

It’s based on how the organization naturally behaves, thinks, and feels. Its why Tim Hortons feels different than a Starbucks or why an A&W feels different than the Keg. It’s about the atmosphere, the behaviours, attitudes of everyone in the organization, etc.

So, about 4 years ago we decided to design the culture we wanted to work in. So, as a staff we took 3 months in our weekly staff meetings and designed the kind of church we all wanted to work in. I asked the team questions like, “what do you value most?” or “what are our non-negotiables? The things we are doing that we just can’t imagine not doing anymore?”  And when the team started answering them, we wrote all of the answers down on a huge whiteboard and then the next week, I asked the same questions again until we had exhausted all of the answers. Then we took all of the answers and began to see similarities in many of them and we narrowed them down to ten simple cultural codes we try to live by.

[bctt tweet="If you don’t design your culture, you will be a slave to it" username="kellystickel"]

It was a lot of work. But again, culture will happen by design or by default. I’d rather design my culture than have it happen by default, because culture will determine what vision, mission, or strategy will work or not work. If you don’t design your culture, then you will be a slave to it and it will become much more difficult to implement a vision or strategy within your organization. It was a lot of work for us to design the culture we wanted to work in, but I’m telling you, the 3 months we spent were maybe the most important 3 months we ever spent as a staff because that investment has allowed all of us to move the vision forward at a much more productive rate.

Culture Code: We Mess With The Methods

We guard our hearts against the thought that “we’ve never done it that way"

Just that one code would shut down a lot of traditional thought about ministry.  When a ministry removes that phrase from the daily dialogue of their staff, what happens? Well, awesomeness happens! Creativity happens. Permission to look at things differently happens. Permission to change things up happens. We simplified this desire in the simple statement “We mess with the methods.” This allows all of our people to challenge the process safely and to look at new ways of doing things. It also subtly gives us a guideline to walk within—when we say we mess with the methods it also tells us that we don’t mess with the message. The message is sacred, the methods are not.

Guarding our hearts is key to effective leadership. I read a statement from someone that said that culture is the “heart of the organization.” The first thing that came to my mind was Solomon’s statement in Proverbs 4 when he said, “above all else, guard your heart.” Of course he’s talking to us personally, but I think it is just as important for an organization to “guard its heart” or in other words “guard its culture.”

The rest of that scripture says that “out of our hearts flows the issues of life” and the word “issues” refers to boundaries.  That takes this thought to a whole different level.  The Hebrew word for issues can be defined as a fence or property boundary. So, take that in context and it means that the culture you design in your organization will determine the boundary of the vision you can undertake. That puts a whole new level of importance on designing the right culture for your organization!

[bctt tweet="The culture you design will determine the boundary of the vision you undertake. " username="kellystickel"]

Culture Code: We Never Waste A Crisis

We guard our hearts against being overwhelmed by problems

The typical church’s schedule can be a whirlwind of activities and then from outside the whirlwind comes a crisis.  One way we guard our hearts is by being aware that dealing with crisis is part of what we do. Imagine a doctor or an EMT being overwhelmed by crisis? They don’t because, that is what they are there for. Sometimes, in the middle of a crisis situation, I have to remind myself and our team that this is what we are there for. Part of our job is to help people through a crisis and to point them to the One who is the hope—the anchor for their soul—in the middle of the chaos. That means that we as pastors and church leaders need to know where our hope comes from and who is our source of peace. We need to be anchored in our faith in God in order to bring hope to others.

One thing I do is ask them if they see an opportunity in the crisis. Hidden in every problem is an opportunity. Dr. George Hill calls this “crisitunity.” Did you know that more millionaire’s were made in the Great Recession than in any other time in history before that? These were people who saw opportunity in the middle of a crisis when others only saw problems. So, I try to focus on finding the opportunity and try to focus my team on the same.

Culture Code: We Lead With Vision

We guard our hearts against becoming reactionary

One culture code that I see modelled here on a day to day basis can be one of the most challenging.  MyVictory is a busy place, stuff happens on a regular basis, opportunities abound. One code that proves valuable over and over again is this one: We guard our hearts against becoming reactionary”. This is key, because it is so easy as leaders to lead by reaction instead of with vision. Because part of our job involves problem solving it is so easy to slip into the whirlwind of just reacting to the next problem.

The best leaders get out in front of the problems by leading with vision. Solomon said it this way, “the wise see trouble coming and avoid it.” One way of avoiding trouble is by leading with vision and speaking the solution before the problem becomes a problem. This statement is really about keeping your eyes up and leading ahead of the problems. It’s also about having an agricultural paradigm rather than a mechanical one. What I mean by that is a mechanic only fixes things, whereas a farmer plants seed today in order to reap a harvest down the road. An agricultural paradigm is realizing I can plants seeds of vision today that will solve the problems of tomorrow before we even get there.

Culture Code: We Need To Know

We guard our hearts against secret cliques and under-communication.

New staff members face challenges beyond just their new job description, often its the challenge of understanding the culture when it’s not written or talked about. It’s especially difficult for new staff members to come into a culture with a long history, especially when existing staff members have lived that history. New staff members ask questions and often get “readers digest” type answers.  Unintentionally, existing staff may give incomplete information. It’s hard for those who lived history to clarify it from the perspective of a new staff person. For growing churches, hiring and expanding their staff is constant. 

Our thought and simple statement is “We need to know.” I hate the statement “this is on a need to know basis and you don’t need to know.” This thinking creates an incredibly political atmosphere that is deadly to teamwork and buy in. We do everything possible to let people know everything and to avoid secrets. This has become increasingly difficult as we have grown so quickly and there is a lot that is happening. But the intent is to avoid secrets and to do what we can to over communicate everything. One way we have done this is by resisting becoming an organization that communicates only from the top down. We all participated in creating these culture codes and we all enforce them. As much as is possible, we try to involve as many people as possible in the planning of events and strategies to keep everyone on the need to know basis and to avoid information only flowing from the top down.

Culture Code: We Are All In

We guard our hearts against an attitude of “that’s not my job”.

Traditionally, job descriptions were an end all for discussions about whose job it is. Our culture code of we guard our hearts against an attitude of “that’s not my job” takes that conversation off the table. 

"We are all in" was important to us because we didn’t want to slip into a rut of becoming territorial with doing only our job and not being willing to help someone else do theirs even if we saw they could use our help. I’ve been in church all my life and I  have seen the habit of people walking past a piece of garbage in the hall, unwilling to pick it up because that’s not their job, or of not being willing to help haul equipment in to the auditorium because they were not part of the set up team. We’re all in. We all can pitch in and help anyone, anywhere, at any time. That’s how we guard our heart against becoming territorial in our positions and against the attitude of “that’s not my job.” 

Purposely Design Your Culture

Culture Codes shape the “personality” of a local church or business. Guarding our heart specifically on a set of codes, by definition of culture, sets a pattern of thinking, acting and feeling for our people to mirror. Every church has a culture, whether it’s by default or by design. We chose to design ours because we wanted to created an atmosphere that was going to be welcoming to anyone and everyone who came through our doors. And we regularly hear positive comments from first time visitors about how they felt coming into our building. I want to challenge every pastor to look at their culture and if there is something that doesn’t feel right, work on redesigning the culture before you implement vision in that area. And I must caution every leader listening. While you might like some of our culture codes and want to implement them in your church or business, I want you to know that it was the process of working them through together as a team that was probably more important than what we came up with because we are all very passionate about these codes and we all guard them together. So, take the time to work through as a team to design the culture that works for you because that will help you stay on mission to reach every available person at every available time by every available means with the Gospel of Jesus Christ by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

If you’re listening and would like a copy of our culture codes, you can download the complete set here.

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The Why Behind My Victory Starts Here

I began pastoring as a very naive 23 year old. I was the worship leader at a fairly new church plant in Canmore, Alberta and one day our senior pastor felt he should go plant another church and turned his church over to me.

To be honest, I hadn’t ever planned on being a lead pastor. I wasn’t sure how to run a church and so I looked everywhere for help and for a mentor. Pastor George Hill became that mentor to me. I am so appreciative of what he has poured into me over the years.

It was his Bible College class on the book of Acts that I first fell in love with the local church and its call on the earth. I was inspired by his vision and the vision of Victory Churches to Reach, Teach, and Mobilize. To me, this vision most reflected the heartbeat of the early church in the book of Acts and it was a vision that fulfilled the global mission Jesus gave his followers in Matthew 28.

It is a never ending vision. We reach every available person, by every available means, at every available time with the Gospel of Jesus Christ; teaching them to become disciples and mobilizing them to Reach every available person. It is a vision that works in every country, with every people group, in every language. It is simple and portable. And I love it!

So, I went to work as a pastor to live this vision in my church. The problem was, I wasn’t sure how to translate the vision to my local setting. How does a local church most effectively reach every available person, while at the same time teaching those you’ve reached, while mobilizing others into their own callings?

To be honest, I have wrestled with how to most effectively do all three of these things for most of my ministry career. It’s required me to continually mess with the methods while keeping the message sacred.

By the time I had arrived in Lethbridge, five and a half years ago, I had learned how to become effective in reaching a community. I went to work, with our amazing board and staff, at refocusing the Lethbridge church outward and at reaching the unchurched community. Because Pastor George Hill was my mentor for many years, and continues to be to this day, and because he was the founding pastor of this church, the church very quickly took to the vision. Many of those who had been in the church from the beginning remarked at how it felt just like it did in the beginning with Pastors George and Hazel. I knew we were moving in the right direction. Our methods are a little different, but they should be. After all, it is 2016 not 1979. But the vision was the same.

We started to see amazing results. In the first year we saw 386 people come to a relationship with Jesus for the first time. In our second year, another 400 became first time believers. We had successfully created a church that unchurched people loved to attend and we were effectively reaching every available person, by every available means with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A new problem presented itself. While hundreds were coming to Christ every year, a very small percentage of them were remaining in the church. The majority of those we had reached we never saw again. We were greatly dissatisfied. Jesus said to go into all of the world and make disciples, not just converts.

Desperate to find a solution, our pastoral team gathered together and began to brainstorm how we could most effectively increase our retention rates and make disciples.

The first question we tackled was “What is a disciple?” We knew that if we couldn’t concretely define what one was, we would not be effective in making one. It was in the middle of this search, that I heard Pastor George speak at one of our conferences and in his talk he used verses from 1 John 2 where John said to the early church, “I write to you little children…I write to you young men…and I write to you fathers.”

That’s when it hit me, he was describing the maturity process of a Christ follower. He was defining a disciple!

I came back to our team and shared my revelation. They were all excited and we began brainstorming around what all of that would mean and how to translate that into the every day life of our church.

The conclusion we came to was that spiritual maturity revolves totally around the Word of God. When John described little children, he was describing the new believers who did not yet understand the Word and were still completely dependent on others to teach them and feed them spiritually.

When John described the young men, he described them as strong in the Word. We concluded that they were strong because they were independent and regularly fed themselves the Word.

When John described fathers, he was describing those who were not only self feeders, but also took to the time and effort to teach and train others in the Word. We suddenly saw, REACH, TEACH, and MOBILIZE in the Scripture.

We went to work designing a new retention plan. We evaluated everything we were doing as a church and discussed at length what we should be doing in order to effectively Reach, Teach, and Mobilize disciples.

We settled on 5 things:

  1. _____________________. We would continue to create weekly church services that the unchurched would love to attend and in every single service we committed to giving an opportunity for people to commit their lives to Christ by leading them through the salvation prayer.
  2. _____________________. We would begin small groups in our church and would encourage all of our weekly attendees to participate in a weekly Connect Group with the purpose of building intimate relationships while discussing the Bible in a small group setting. Relationships are the key to helping new comers “remain” and it is a great way to make a big church small. It is also a great way to mobilize our mature believers to become “fathers”—feeding others the Word.
  3. _____________________. We determined to make it a weekly habit to encourage our people to read the Bible daily as well as provide as many ways as we could for them to feed on the Word of God themselves. We determined to not be a church that keeps people dependent on their pastor to feed them, but instead taught them how to feed themselves. This is where they become strong to face their storms, and remain standing.
  4. _____________________. We decided that we would unashamedly encourage all of our people to participate in the activities of the local church by volunteering their time and energies to its growth. We feel that if people can give of themselves by serving others that they will not drift into the dangerous lane of me-church. I feel that the natural gravitation pull of every local church is to become insider focused. To resist this pull, we feel it necessary to keep our people participating in serving others. Regular volunteering is one great way to do just that.
  5. _____________________. One of the big tests as to whether we are effectively creating services that unchurched people love to attend, is whether or not our regular attenders feel comfortable to invite their unchurch friends or family to our weekly services. Using Acts 15:19 as our cue, “we don’t want to make it difficult for the unchurched to come to Jesus.” So, we regularly poll our people as to whether they are inviting or feel comfortable to invite their friends or family members to church. And we do what we can to remove all cringe factors that would hinder them from doing so. In our latest poll, 78% of our regular attenders invited at least one unchurched person to church with them in the last year.

These 5 were the model in which we built all of our ministries on. Our children’s ministry leads kids to Attend, Connect, Read, Serve, and Invite. Our youth ministry leads people to Attend, Connect, Read, Serve, and Invite. The entire church does these 5 things and only these 5 things. Any activity that does not lead people to do these 5, does not happen. 

With this model in place, we then began working on materials to teach and equip our new believers into a fully committed relationship with Christ. We looked at all kinds of materials out there, and while there are a lot of great tools that teach people the basics of Christianity, we didn't find anything that led people into a deeper participation in what we feel are vital activities within the local church. And, we didn’t find anything that really furthered our vision of Reach, Teach, Mobilize. We found things that were effective in one or two, but nothing that led people into all three.

So, we built our own. We first released it as a January series to begin our year. We called it B40X. It included a weekly sermon, a weekly small group guide, and a daily devotional. The effect on our church was incredible. That year we led over 400 people to Jesus and retained over 250 of them in the church! We were excited, but felt we could do even better. So, we have been honing this process for the last couple of years, and the result is My Victory Starts Here.

We put the devotional and small group guides in print because we felt they could become a tool to REACH the unchurched, TEACH the little children, and MOBILIZE the young men to become fathers by giving them a resource that they could give to someone they were discipling.

We have now equipped our mature believers with a resource that they can disciple their new believing friends and family members with, on their own, without relying on the pastors of the church to conduct a Christianity 101 class.

Our retention has never been better and I think if we use this tool properly we can become even more effective in making disciples. This is a tool to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. This is also a tool that allows us to effectively REACH, TEACH, and MOBILIZE.


7 Characteristics of a Pastoral Team

This past week was a super exciting week for us at My Victory. We released the book My Victory Starts Here along with the series on the same topic. We celebrated 8 baptisms in our site in Okotoks and we successfully launched our campus in Lloydminster with 190 people in attendance! I am so proud of our team there and all of the work they put in to make the church launch such a success. It is no small feat to gather a crowd of this magnitude when opening a brand new church in a community. I am so impressed.

Now the work begins to turn that crowd into a congregation, to turn our new converts into disciples. This is a big job, and it takes a highly qualified and passionate team to do this. This is much more than just a job that one pastor can do. Remember, John Maxwell once said that “one is too small a number to achieve greatness.”

I often get asked the question, “why do you choose to do multisite church plants instead of just planting an independent church. Here are 10 reasons why we decided to plant a multisite churches:

  1. _____________________.
  2. Sharing of _____________________.
  3. Infusion of_____________________  workers.
  4. Shared _____________________ and core _____________________.
  5. Greater_____________________ support.
  6. Pre-established network for _____________________ _____________________.
  7. Not needing to _____________________.
  8. Connection with others doing the _____________________ thing.
  9. Less_____________________ and greater_____________________.
  10. New-church vibe with a _____________________punch.

What Does a Campus Pastor & Campus Staff Do?

The primary responsibility of a campus pastor is to ensure the transfer of the ministry _____________________ _____________________ and _____________________ of the sending church.

The goal is really to be_____________________ church in_____________________ locations.

What are the Characteristics of an Effective Campus Team?

  1. High _____________________ leader.
  2. _____________________ players.
  3. People _____________________.
  4. _____________________.
  5. _____________________ _____________________.
  6. _____________________.
  7.  _____________________ _____________________.

“Our campus pastors have an unwavering loyalty to the lead pastor, believe in the mission of our church, connect with their congregation and develop leaders.” ~ Jim Tomberlin, who is the Multisite Pastor for Willow Creek Church

Episode Resources:

How to Lead a Connect Group

This is an exciting week for me. I am launching my first book this Sunday, plus we are officially opening our fourth campus in Lloydminster, a city that straddles the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The book is called My Victory Starts Here and it is a 40 day devotional designed to set the foundation for what Christianity is all about. It’s a great resource for new believers and was written based on the discipleship program we have been running here at My Victory for the past 2 years. In that time we have led over 1000 people to Jesus and have been able to incorporate over half of them into the regular life of the church and ministry. We’re excited about the retention of new believers and even more excited about releasing this book now as a tool for our church members to use to lead their friends and family members to Christ and then be equipped disciple them.

The book is available for order now on my website, or on

The 40 day devotional will be accompanied by a 6 week new believers course that will take the form of a comfortable small group. We think that life change happens best in a small group setting and that the best way to make a disciple is through relationship. We didn’t want to create a classroom style new believers course. We wanted to create relational based disciples as we feel this is the best way to mature in Christ over the long term.

I want to give you an overview of how we do small groups, or as we like to call them connect groups. We want to avoid the typical bible studies or small groups that has one predominate teacher who does all of the talking. Instead, we want to create discussion groups that are based on relationships and biblical discussion.

Here is what we encourage our group leaders to do:

  1. Encourage _________________.
  2. Ask great _________________.
  3. Cultivate _________________.
  4. Be _________________.

Our suggested meeting schedule:

  1. _________________ time (10 minutes)
  2. _________________ (10 minutes)
  3. _________________ (18 minutes)
  4. _________________ (5 minutes)
  5. _________________ (45 minutes)

    a. _________________ does is say? b. _________________ do you think it means? c. _________________ do we do about it?

  6. _________________ (10 minutes)


Episode Resources:


6 Catalysts for a Deeper Ministry Experience

Last week I talked about casting a compelling vision and as an example I walked through our vision as a church for the upcoming year. Our goal is to go deeper. Now, I know that seems vague and can mean a million things, but today I want to give you the specifics of how we intend to do this.

This is the teaching I gave to our team at our All Staff Meeting last week. We talked about how we intend to take our church deeper in the upcoming year. I gave Six Catalysts for a Deeper Faith Experience at My Victory.

6 Catalysts for a Deeper Ministry Experience:

  1. Personal _____________________.  Questions for Reflection: How do we most effectively provide personal ministry to individuals in a corporate setting without getting weird? How do we provide personal ministry without it becoming so routine it becomes religious? What can we do to measure our progress in this area?
  2. Practical _____________________. Questions for Reflection: What do we want them to know? What do we want them to do? Why do we want them to know it? Why do we want them to do it? What can we do to help them remember? What can we do to create next steps? What can we do to measure our progress in this area?
  3.   Pivotal _____________________. Questions for Reflection: How do we most effectively capture life change? How do we celebrate pivotal life events? baptism? baby dedication? newlyweds? communion? What can we do to measure our progress in this area? 
  4. Providential _____________________. Questions for Reflection: Do we connect people quickly and keep them connected? Do we have easy, obvious steps into community? Is it easy of nonbelievers to find their places? What can we do programmatically to create more relational connection opportunities? What can we do to measure our progress in this area?
  5. Private _____________________. Questions for Reflection: At what age do we begin teaching the importance of private spiritual disciplines? How and how often is this value reinforced with our students? What devotional and personal Bible study resources do we make available, and how accessible are they? When is the last time we did a weekend series on the spiritual disciplines? How could we use the weekend to reinforce this value on a regular basis? What could you do to prioritize this in the mix of everything else you are doing? Are spiritual disciplines a priority in your life? What can we do to measure our progress in this area?
  6. Paternal _____________________. Questions for Reflection: How easy is it for new people and nonmembers to get involved in our ministry? Does our approach to equipping and training keep people out of ministry environments longer than necessary? Are there steps we could shorten or eliminate altogether? Are there areas where nonbelievers could be encouraged to serve? What can we do to measure our progress in this area?

Our bottom line: We’re in it for the  _____________________.

Episode Resources:

What Impact Do Facilities Have on Church Growth?

Having a great facility does not guarantee your church will grow, but like it or not, church facilities can either enhance or undermine the worship experience of people, especially visitors. When it comes to church visitors, you don't have a second chance for a good first impression.

The state of your church facility has a much bigger influence on your visitors than it does on your regular attendees. Why? The longer a person is at your church, the less he or she is able to see the building through the eyes of a newcomer. The saying is true, “Time in erodes awareness of.” The frays in your carpet or the out-dated paint colours don't really matter to long-time attendees, because they are coming for the people, the relationships, the fellowship, the spiritual growth; not the facilities. But for visitors with none of these reasons to attend, other things shape their first impressions…and your building is one of them.

While nice facilities won't cause your church to grow, poor facilities can prevent it from growing.

Here are some environmental factors you should pay close attention to:

  1. The ______________________.
  2. ______________________.
  3. ______________________.
  4. ______________________.
  5. ______________________.
  6. ______________________, ______________________ nurseries and children’s ministry.

Titus 2:10 “… so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” (NIV)

Episode Resources

10.5 Commandments of Creativity

We have been learning about the 7 growth points of every organization. The 7 growth points pertain to every church, small group, business, or department. Again, they are: 1) The leader must grow; 2) the leadership team must be intentionally grown; 3) the leadership must work and grow the systems; 4) the numbers must grow (attendance for churches or number of customers for businesses); 5) the finances must grow; 6) the expectations must grow; 7) The facilities must grow.

In today’s podcast I’m going to focus on the 6th growth point, expectations. This is the growth point that warrants the greatest number of questions because it seems so unusual in comparison to the others. But make no mistake, growing your expectations will greatly impact the growth of your church or small group. Expectations draw on the anointing.

Remember when Jesus entered his home town? The Bible says he was unable to do miracles there. This is Jesus. God Himself! Yet, He was limited in doing miracles because the people were too familiar with him. They didn’t come to him with great expectations, because this was Jesus—Joseph and Mary’s kid—the one who grew up just down the street from them. They had  known Him since He was a child.

When something becomes familiar, it loses the awe factor and the expectations decrease. When the expectations decrease, the anointing decreases as we see in the story of Jesus returning home. I don’t know about you, but I want our people to come expectant to church because I want the anointing and power of God to move in and amongst them. When our church services become familiar and predicable, we lose some of that expectation and it will negatively impact our services.

That is why it is important to regularly evaluate our attenders expectation level. And, when it is low—yes, we need to pray and ask God to intervene—but we can also go to work to practically address the problem. Of course, being practical doesn’t replace the power of God. But it is one way to fertilize the soil to allow God to go to work. I believe one of the best ways to practically impact the expectation level of your attenders is with creativity.

Here are the 10.5 Commandments of Creativity:

  1. Thou shalt create in___________________.Creative team’s are comprised of:     i. ___________________     ii.  ___________________     iii. ___________________     iv. ___________________
  2. Thou shalt give the right people a___________________.
  3. Thou shalt remember the ___________________ and keep it holy.
  4. Thou shalt hire___________________ men and women.

Avoid These People:

• Avoid people who cause___________________. • Avoid people who___________________ the conversation. • Avoid people who don’t ___________________. • Avoid people who always ___________________ .

    Get These People

• Get people who have a ___________________ heart for the church.  • Get people who have ___________________ with each other. • Get people who move the conversation ___________________.

5. Thou shalt___________________ ideas and make them better.

6. Thou shalt be ___________________. 7. Thou shalt ask ___________________.

a -___________________  s - ___________________  k - ___________________

WHY: W =___________________ the point? H =___________________ do I pull this off? Y =___________________ style?

8. Thou shalt put in the___________________. 9. Thou shalt___________________ ___________________ ___________________ .

10. Thou shalt not chase the___________________.

The 6 stages of creativity:

Stage 1: This is ___________________! Stage 2: This has___________________. Stage 3: This is___________________! Stage 4: I am___________________! Stage 5: This has___________________. Stage 6: This is___________________.

11. Thou shalt install the ___________________ principle.

The definition of creativity: To be consistently ___________________. To be predictably___________________. To be comfortably ___________________. To be on the radical edge of ___________________.

10.5 Thou shalt create a climate of ___________________.

Episode Resources


Four Church Financial Management Tips

Having a flush bank account will not guarantee your church or organization will grow, however, it is very difficult to grow when you are always strapped for cash. It takes money to preach the gospel and as church leaders we need to be wise stewards of the money we are called to manage.

I want to give you 4 tips to church financial management.

  1. Lead with _____________.
  2. _____________ receive offerings.
  3. Establish a _____________ and live within it.
  4. Develop a _____________ plan.


Episode Resources


Our Team's Culture Code

It’s amazing how growing your church is so controversial these days. I again read an article this week that stated that a growing church does not mean a healthy church—I believe that to be absolutely true. However they went on to say that if a church is not growing that does not mean it is unhealthy. That’s where I would have to disagree.

While no timeline of “not growing” was mentioned I would have to assume they were speaking over a lengthy period of time. If a church has not grown numerically in a year or more, something is not right and something needs to be addressed in order to see numerical growth happen again.

Why do I believe this? Because Jesus gave the mission to the church to “GO into all the world and make disciples…” If we cease to “go and make” we are not on mission and something is wrong. That’s why I focus so much on the 7 growth points. These 7 points help me discern what is wrong if our church doesn’t grow over the course of a year or two.

To me, the church was designed to grow. Has to grow. That is it’s mandate and our vision as a Victory Church is to “Reach every available person at every available time by every available means with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” If we are not growing, we are not following our mission or our vision and we must immediately assess the cause.

One of the greatest effects on numerical growth is the effect of culture. Culture happens by design or by default. What I mean is every church has a culture, just like every home and business has a culture. That culture is determined on purpose or by accident. I prefer to design the culture I want on purpose so that it matches what our mission and vision are.

Three years ago, our staff sat down and over a period of three months in our weekly staff meetings we discussed and designed the culture we wanted to work in. It was one of the most impacting things we have ever done as a team. I love what we came up with, but it was the process of coming to these team values that was the most impacting on our team and church.

Our Culture Code:

  1. We lead with _______________.We guard our hearts against becoming reactionary.Proverbs 29:18 (NASB) Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,
  2. We make it_______________.We guard our hearts against an attitude of “it’s good enough.”Matthew 25:25-27 (Msg) “Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent. The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least?”
  3. We_______________ with the methods.We guard our hearts against the thought of “we’ve never done it that way before.”Isaiah 43:19 (NIV) “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
  4. We keep it _______________.We guard our hearts against over complexity and busyness.Luke 9:1-4 (Msg) Jesus now called the Twelve and gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases. He commissioned them to preach the news of God’s kingdom and heal the sick. He said, “Don’t load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment.”
  5. We need to _______________.We guard our hearts against being secret cliques and under-communication.Ephesians 4:25 (Msg) “What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.”
  6. We’re all_______________.We guard our hearts against an attitude of “that’s not my job.”Galatians 6:2 (NIV) Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
  7. We never waste a_______________ .We guard our hearts against being overwhelmed by problems.Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  8. We make each other look_______________.We guard our hearts against gossip and being publicly critical.1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
  9. We_______________ ourselves.We guard our hearts against selfish ambition.2 Timothy 2:1-2 (Msg) So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!—to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others.
  10. We _______________ our culture.We guard our hearts against division & hypocrisy.Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”


Episode Resources

How to Shape a Culture


The big question today is what effect do we as leaders in the church have on numerical growth? Especially because 1 Corinthians 3 says, “Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”  Does this mean that God is the only one who determines growth?

It is absolutely true that God causes growth. Just like it is true that God causes my garden to grow. The miracle of growth is His, but when my neighbour’s garden grows so much better than mine does that mean God favours them more than me? No, it simply means they are a better gardener than me. They worked the soil better. They watered it better. They used the right mix of fertilizers, etc.

The church is exactly the same. God is absolutely the one that causes increase and changes hearts and lives. Our job is to create the atmosphere, work the soil, water and fertilize it, using our knowledge and skill to ensure that people will connect with God and grow.

My mentor and friend, the late Jack Whitesell once told me, “If a man enters a harvest field and when he leaves his bags are full. Another man enters the same harvest field and leaves with his bags empty. The differences between the two are skills, systems and methods.”

One of the most underrated, yet impactful effect on church growth is culture.

What is Culture?

Culture is more important than ______________.

Culture is more important than ______________ ______________.

Culture is more important than ______________.

Culture is the______________ of the organization. It tells us what is most ______________ in this organization.

Culture is shaped over time through tangible and intangible behaviours.

the tangibles:

  1. ______________ .
  2. ______________.
  3. The look of the______________.
  4. The ______________.
  5. ______________ .

the intangibles:

  1. Our______________ (stated and unstated)
  2. Our ______________ and______________. “You absolutely cannot make a series of good decisions without first confronting the brutal facts.”~Jim CollinsQuestions I frequently ask to evaluate where we are a. What are we doing right? Let’s optimize. b. What’s wrong? Let’s change. c. What’s confusing? Let’s clarify. d. What’s missing? Let’s add. e. What are the threats? Let’s avoid. f. What are the opportunities? Let’s exploit. g. What could we eliminate that no one would miss? Let’s cut.
  3. How success is______________ .
  4. How ______________ are addressed.
  5. The manifestation of ______________ and______________ at all levels of the organization. “When there is an absence of trust, it stems from the leader’s unwillingness to be vulnerable with the group. Leaders who are not genuinely open with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build a foundation of trust.” ~Patrick Lencioni in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Episode Resources

6 Principles that Effect Numerical Growth

For the church, numerical growth is our bottom line. Whenever we talk about a growing church, we are referring to the number of bums in the seats for a weekend service. Everything a church does is purposed to increase that number. Before you hyper-spiritual types push back and argue that numbers don’t matter and that church leaders shouldn’t focus on them so much, must I remind you that there is an entire book in the Bible entitled Numbers and that Jesus counted everything. He had 12 disciples, 70 close followers, fed the 5000 and later the 4000, He had 500 at His ascension and 120 in the upper room and I could go on and on. Yes, numbers count (and that’s not just a play on words). Numbers are important because numbers reflect souls and eternities.

In today’s podcast I want to share 6 key principles that have proven to work for us and I know these simple ideas will help any church or department grow in any location.


6 Principles that Effect Numerical Growth

  1. Pay close attention to the ____________________ of growth.
  2. You cannot manage what you do not  ____________________.
  3.  ____________________ trumps vision every time.
  4. Set your table for ____________________.
  5. Host a  ____________________, don’t work a shift.
  6. The power of  ____________________.


Episode Resources

How to Create a Compelling Service - pt 2

I have noticed a disturbing trend in the Western World Church. We have seemingly lost the art of evangelism. As Victory Churches, our vision is to REACH every available person by every available means at every available time with the Gospel of Jesus Christ; TEACH them to become like Christ; and MOBILIZE them to do the work of the ministry. Somewhere along the way we have drifted away from the REACH portion of our vision. How do we get it back?

At MyVictory Lethbridge we have been asking this question for 5 years and have discovered that the best way to expand our REACH is to create services unchurched people would love to attend without compromising the message. We remember that the Message is sacred, but the methods are not.

Here are three essential ingredients we have discovered that will create an irresistible service for the unchurched, and one that the churched would feel compelled to invite their unchurched friends, family, neighbours and co-workers to.

Three Essential Ingredients to Creating Irresistible Services:

  1. Is the setting ________________ ? Every ministry environment communicates something. There are no neutral environments. Environments are the messages before the message. It’s our responsibility to shape the way people view our church. We can’t leave this to chance.a. Clean & tidy communicates that we are ________________ someone. b. Organized communicates that we take what we do seriously. c. Having ________________ people in the parking lot communicates “we are expecting you and we are on top of things” d. Design, decor, and attention to ________________ communicate that we understand our target audience.
  2. Is the presentation ________________? a. Is it organized around a ________________ vision?

    • Preservice (create mood and welcoming atmosphere)
    • Opener (purpose is to make people smile or laugh).
    • Welcome (purpose is to inform newcomers of what to expect).
    • Music (Get their attention; Get their participation; Get their worship).
    • Transition (purpose is a prophetic leading in worship & greeting time).
    • Special (purpose is to create tension for the message).
    • Message (purpose is to show all that Jesus and the Bible are the answers they are looking for - one point takeaway).
    • Salvation Call (purpose is to introduce people to Jesus).
    • Offering.
    • Close (purpose is to give the 5 steps).
    • Postservice (create mood).

    b. Are we playing to our ________________? c. Are we shouting too ________________ ? d. Are we ________________ too much? e. Are we ________________ it? f. Are we staying ________________?

  3. Is the content ________________? We are trying to accomplish one of three things each service: a. Help people think ________________. b. Help people behave biblically.  (________________) c. Help people ________________ biblical teaching.


Episode Resources

How We Make Disciples

Over the last five years, MyVictory Church in Lethbridge has averaged over 400 salvations per year. While we are ecstatic about those results, for the first few years we were greatly disappointed in our ability to retain these new converts. In short, we were making converts not disciples.

We went to work to discover a way to make disciples as Jesus instructed the church to do in Matthew 28:19-20. We have developed a discipleship strategy that has yielded incredible results. Last year we recorded 540 first time decisions for Christ. (These decisions are recorded when a Connect Card is handed in and a New Believer’s Bible given out.) Of the 540 salvations, we retained well over 300 of them!

In the first 5 months of 2016, we have recorded 495 salvations and again, have retained around 300 of them. We are excited about those results and yet still dissatisfied that we are not doing better.

In this podcast, you we learn about our discipleship system and will discover that it allows the freedom of our ministers to minister as well as a simple process for our people to follow.

Click continue reading below for the podcast notes.

How We Make Disciples: 

____________ > ____________ > ____________ >____________

  1. Mission = to make ____________. (Matt. 28:19-20)We clearly define a disciple from 1 John 2: a. ____________ ____________. b. ____________ ____________. c. ____________ ____________.                                                                         . d. ____________.
  2. Vision - ____________ every available person by every available means at every available time with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  3. Model - It is our ____________ or the framework that houses our mission and vision.Clearly defined… a. ____________. b. ____________. c. ____________. d. ____________. e. ____________.
  4. Programming.






Listener Question:

  •  Obviously the teaching podcast on growing yourself is directly tied to the message with Rex Crain on expanding your thinking and confessing the promises of God. The problem is that it is not uncommon to wait a very long time for those promises to come to pass, regardless of the stand of faith in the agreement of prayer and confession. The reality of those waiting periods creates serious repercussions that do not agree with the abundant life. So how do we wait? How do we deal in the now when the not yet has not come to pass? How do we live in reality without the promise manifested?


Episode Resources

How to Develop an Effective Leadership Team


Dr. John C. Maxwell said “There are no limits to an organization if we put no limits on our people.”

If we intentionally train and equip our people and raise the lid on their leadership, we dramatically increase the growth potential of our organization. We need our people to grow in order for our church or organization to grow.

Click continue reading below for the podcast notes.

Here are three ways you can develop an effective leadership team:

  1. Develop a ______________ _____________  to grow others. The highest function of a leader is not just to lead others. The highest function of a leader is to produce_______________ who can _______________ others.

  2. ___________________ with people. a. Strengthen ______________ . b. Earn______________ . c.______________ properly. d. Create clear______________ . e. Determine ______________ . f. Discover ______________ .

  3. ______________ them. a. Empowerment is about ______________ ______________. b. Empowerment is about ______________ . c. Empowerment is about ______________ .

Listener Question:

  • Let's say your team is tired, drained, you walk into  a staff meeting and you feel like morale is way down. Kinda feels like the vision that was once there is gone. What would you do in that situation? How do you help your team get the vision back? How do you get them pumped up?

Episode Resources

The 30 Books Every Pastor Should Read


I love to read! I try to maintain a 1-book per week pace, and because of that, I am often asked "what's the best book you've read lately?" So here you go! Here's a list of the 30 most influential books I've read to date that have helped me as a pastor and a leader. If you click on the title of the book that interests you it will take you directly to where you can order a copy of your own. Remember, leaders are readers. Enjoy!

My top 30 in alphabetical order:

  1. 7 Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley
  2. 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
  3. Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs by Bill Hybels
  4. Becoming a Coaching Leader: The Proven System for Building Your Own Team of Champions by Daniel Harkavy
  5. Church Planting: God's Plan for Transformation by George Hill
  6. Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication by Andy Stanley
  7. Covenant Relationships by George Hill
  8. Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration by Dr. Sam Chand
  9. Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley
  10. Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want -- Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible by Brian Tracey
  11. Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth by Dr. Sam Chand
  12. Living Your Strengths: Discover Your God-Given Talents and Inspire Your Community by Donald Clifton
  13. No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come-as-You-Are Culture in the Church by John Burke
  14. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller
  15. Passing the Leadership Baton: A Winning Transition Plan for Your Ministry by Tom Mullins
  16. Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren
  17. Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples by Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger
  18. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
  19. Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team And Staff On The Same Page by Larry Osborne
  20. Surprising Insights From The Unchurched And Proven Ways To Reach Them by Thom Rainer
  21. The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential by John Maxwell
  22. The Big Idea: Aligning the Ministries of Your Church through Creative Collaboration by Dave Ferguson
  23. The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life by Robin Sharma
  24. The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently by Tony Dungy
  25. One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey by Ken Blanchard
  26. The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: King Solomon's Secrets to Success, Wealth, and Happiness by Stephen K. Scott
  27. Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrows Success by John Maxwell
  28. Visioneering: God's Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision by Andy Stanley
  29. Volunteer Revolution by Bill Hybels
  30. Winning on Purpose: How to Organize Congregations to Succeed in Their Mission by John Kaiser

Aligning Your Process With Your Purpose

The Olympics are just around the corner and I love watching these dedicated athletes competing on the world stage. An exciting event to watch are the relay races. It's a very precise sport that to the casual viewer may appear to be won or lost by the team with the fastest athletes. But if you were to ask those competing, they would tell you the races are actually won and lost in the hand-offs. This is where the majority of their training focuses. It's a fine-tuned process of one athlete getting up to top speed just in time for their teammate to hand them the baton in one smooth stride. The athlete handing off the baton has to maintain their top speed and match the speed of the receiving athlete until the exchange is complete.

This thought of focusing on the hand-off intrigues me. In my last post I used Acts 19 to define what a disciple is. We learned that a disciple is:

  1. Saved.
  2. Baptized.
  3. Active Members of their Local Church.
  4. Jesus is Lord of their life.

According to Jesus in Matthew 28:19, our purpose is to make disciples. What if the church were to design programs that would lead people through this discipleship process? And what if we redesigned these programs to focus more on the hand-offs in this process than the event? Let me explain.

As pastors, let's evaluate our hand-offs in the discipleship process:

  1. How is our hand-off from the community into our church? What is the entry point to our church for the unchurched in our community? What is our process of leading people to salvation? For us at Victory Church in Lethbridge, we have decided to make Sunday mornings our entry point. If the unchurched are looking to attend a church in our community, they will look first for a Sunday morning service. So the question we must ask is, how's our hand-off? Is our service attracting the unchurched? Is our service one that makes our people feel comfortable to invite their unchurched friends, family, and co-workers?
  2. How is our hand-off from our new converts to baptism? (both in water and in the Holy Spirit) What class / program / small group do we have to teach our new converts the basics about following Christ? Are we teaching them the importance of baptism? Last year at Victory Church we had over 380 people give their hearts to Jesus in our Sunday morning services, but we only baptized 15. So as a staff we began to study our hand-off and looked for ways to improve this process. We decided to turn our Easter services into a spontaneous baptism. In the course of 2 weeks we baptized 95 more! We learned a valuable lesson in discipleship, simply because we focused on our hand-off.
  3. How is our hand-off from those baptized to becoming active in the church? How many volunteers do we have? How many of our recent converts and those baptized are volunteering? According to our records, as of a month ago we have 222 monthly volunteers in the church. You can see that the numbers drop as you progress through the process, and I believe that is normal, however I want to always be focused on improving each part of the discipleship process and this can only happen if we constantly evaluate our hand-off methods.
  4. How is the hand-off from those who volunteer to those who make Jesus Lord of their life? It is much more difficult to measure when someone makes Jesus Lord of their life. It simply means that they are fully surrendered to Christ and to his church. But how do we measure that? At Victory, we have decided to begin measuring this by recording those who are active in a small group.

Questions: Where are you in the discipleship process? Does your church have a clear process of discipleship? Which of your hand-offs need the most work?

Guard Your Heart (Culture)

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23

If culture is the heart of an organization then it would reason that Solomon's plea also applies to leaders in regard to the organizations they lead. It's the leaders responsibility to guard the heart of the organization. Can you clearly define the culture you're called to protect?

This is the question I began asking myself. I was a Senior Pastor and I was settled on my WHY - I wanted to reach the unchurched. Our leadership team and I began to make changes to our Sunday morning services to do just that. And it worked, for a season. However, what we noticed was that while we had a lot of new faces each week, we had a very poor retention rate. Something was missing.

As I began to dig for the missing link, I quickly discovered that our culture was a fog in my own mind and therefore was a cloud in the minds of our people. What was more alarming was the fact that culture trumps our vision. Our lack of clarity in values, our heart, our culture, left an unguarded heart that was acting as a counterweight to our vision. Before we could "guard our heart," we needed to know what to protect and it had to align with our WHY.

As someone who is passionate about the Word of God, I went to the Bible first to find scriptures that would summarize simply what was important to us. We settled on four passages and these became our Four Pillars. They became a guide to our tangible and intangible behaviors. (read Is the Culture of Your Church Inviting to Outsiders for a deeper explanation of these behaviors)

  1. Romans 2:4, "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" It doesn't say God's judgement or even that the fear of God leads to repentance. It says the kindness of God leads people to repentance. This became our guiding scripture to become a grace-based ministry. When in doubt, we would chose to err on the side of grace.
  2. Ephesians 4:11-12, "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ." We took this to mean the organizational flow chart would be flipped upside down - that the staff would seek to serve and equip our people to minister instead of asking them to serve us and our vision.
  3. Mark 16:15-20, "...And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed." We didn't just want to preach the Word, we wanted to show the Word in real and tangible ways. We expected to see real life changed. Real miracles. We didn't want hype and weirdness, but we did desire to see "signs follow."
  4. John 17:20-21, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me." It's interesting to me that when Jesus prayed for His followers, He never asked God to keep them theologically correct, or that they would preach the Word with accuracy. His primary concern was that they remain in unity. And through this unity the world would know about Jesus.

Can you clearly define your culture? Which values do you passionately guard?