It was twelve years ago that Community Christian Church started a new campus for the first time. Since that time we have started a total of twelve campuses and have #13 and #14 in the cue for next year. It was seven years ago that Community planted our first new church and went on to form NewThing. Since that time our networks outreach has grown from one church reaching a couple thousand to twenty networks of churches reaching tens of thousands in three movements. During the last decade our passion has been about starting new things – new campuses, new churches and brand new expressions of God’s ecclesia. And during that time we have learned some lessons about starting new things.
1. VISION LESSON: The “God-Thing” Often Comes before the Vision
If you would’ve asked me a few years back how change is initiated, I would have said it starts with vision! I would have said it starts with a compelling vision from a gifted leader. While that is true, it’s not the whole truth in my experience. I didn’t really have the vision for being a multi-site church. God did! It was a God thing! I often get the credit for being a visionary leader, but what is closer to the truth is this: God did something extraordinary and I share what God has done with the rest of the church as the vision; and people follow. When you are able to share where God is working that is always a compelling vision that people will want to follow!
2. STRATEGY LESSON: Fit It On A Napkin.
If it can’t be explained on a napkin it is too complicated. Make sure everything from your slogan, to your process for disciple-making to how you will create a movement can be explained on a napkin. Just this morning I was meeting with two of my apprentice leaders at Caribou Coffee. I wanted to explain our process for developing leaders and then our leadership path. I simply pulled out a napkin and wrote it out for them. Many leaders never have a following because the vision and strategy cannot be explained simply. If it is simple and reproducible you can mobilize the masses.
3. FINANCE LESSON: Money Always Follows Vision
People give money to a compelling cause with a clear vision. When economic times are hard leaders are tempted to reduce the budget and the shrink their vision. When economic times are hard that is when you need to increase the vision and the money will follow. It was Lyle Schaller who once told me, “Dave, you know who is going to get the money?” Then he answered his own question, “The leaders who ask for it!” Never forget – God is always at work and vision is free!
4. INNOVATION LESSON: Lead With A “Yes” And Ask “How” Later
If you want to lead in bringing about innovation, you must learn to lead with a “yes” and not “how.” When others approach us with new ideas our first reaction is often “no” or “how”? What people need is affirmation of their dreams and space for them to figure out how to make them really work. People are born with dreams from God and they want to make a difference. What they need most is a leader who will say “yes” when they ask for permission to give it a try.
5. REPRODUCING LESSON: Take Risks on Emerging Leaders.
Resist the urge of telling young leaders to wait a few years; they need and deserve opportunities to lead. You will always have young and emerging leaders who will come to you and want to do a new thing. You can dismiss it or you can bless it. Bless it! What we need to do is take risks on young leaders and give them our blessing.
Which one of these lessons encourages you the most and why?