Tag Archive - don wilson

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An Interview with 5 Pastors Leading Multisite Churches of 5,000+

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down and interview 5 Sr. Pastors who are all leading multiste churches ranging in attendance from 5,000 to more than 15,000. Among other things we had a very candid conversation about momentum, multisite, developing young leaders, and the courage it takes to lead at a high level. Last week I shared some of the key parts of the conversation we had in a series of posts. In the event that you missed any of them or if you’d like to share them with your team I’ve placed them here in one place your convenience!

Below are the pastors who participated in the conversation:

Part-1 “How do young leaders earn the right to be heard and succeed on your team?”

Part-2 “What are some indicators that momentum is moving the wrong direction and how do you turn the tide?”

Part-3 “What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in going multisite and what are some of the most significant things you’ve learned as a result?”

Part-4 “Bonus Content and Take-Aways”


Posted in Leadership

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My Interview with 5 Sr. Pastors Leading Multisite Churches of 5,000+ Pt-4

I recently sat down with 5 Sr. Pastors who are all leading Multisite Churches ranging from 5,000 to more than 15,000. Here’s some of what they had to say regarding church leadership. If you missed the first three parts of this series you can check them out here:

Part-1 “How do young leaders earn the right to be heard and succeed on your team?”

Part-2 “What are some indicators that momentum is moving the wrong direction and how do you turn the tide?”

Part-3 “What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in going multisite and what are some of the most significant things you’ve learned as a result?”

This is the last of the posts in this series and is and a collection of some final thoughts and take aways from my interview.

Tyler Johnson: I think it’s fundamental to being made in the Image of God and that the Holy Spirit resides in people is that there’s untapped potential like crazy in Christians. And when you restrict them from the ability to exercise their full shape, if you want to use that terminology, I just think you miss a lot. Now it’s far more challenging than that. It’s far more simple or cleaner to say there’s a top chain of command and we’re going to make decisions trickle down. I don’t think you get near the results or keep the leaders if you do that. But if you push decisions down…I think it’s a belief one for us theologically that these people are made in the Image of God and leaders develop…when I say leaders just think discipleship…discipleship happens at its best when people are given the most amount of freedom and they’re resourced to do it, with coaching. So we’ll talk a lot about in leadership development about leading with a retractable roof, like Chase Field. I mean there are times when you’re leading somebody that the roof needs to be closed. I mean its like put your head down and go. But then there are a lot of times that the roof needs to be open and you can say the sky is the limit. And we try to create environments where they get to make decisions and because of that there really is no ceiling for us. If you don’t give them the room to make decisions I don’t think in the end your going to disciple, lead them well, and or keep them.

Scott Ridout: One of the things we’re trying to communicate to our staff is the larger we get the more specialized our staff have to be and that’s a de-satisfier. Especially when you’ve been a generalist in ministry and you’ve had a lot of authority. I think it is Larry Osborne who says any time you take away preference, prestige or power there’s disappointment. So we’re teaching our staff the hedgehog concept that Jim Collins talks about. There are three circles 1) what you’re passionate about 2) what you can be best in the world at 3) this is what we’ll pay you to do. In other words you could be the best on the entire staff at something, but this is the job that we’ll pay you to do. You’re doing what’s best for the team. We need you to play this role…and it can be a de-satisfier, unless your vision and passion is for the mission more than your personal gratification.

Cal Jernigan: I think one of the things that was a huge revelation for me in the move I made from doing Youth Ministry to leading a large church was this issue of courage. I don’t think we have a clue about this whole courage issue. Nobody told me that being the Sr. Pastor of a church was going to be more about courage than anything else. But what I’ve discovered is between these guys up here who are leading successful churches and so many guys out there leading churches is this courage factor. This ability to do what you don’t want to do but you know you need to do. And as I travel around and I talk to other churches it’s not uncommon for me to be in a conversation where I find myself saying, “You know exactly what you need to do, why don’t you do it?” And the reality of it is, the price to pay to do that is a price we’re not willing to pay because it’s going to relationally damage somebody. And you think about how many of us went into the ministry because we had a pastoral heart and we wanted to love on people. And you get into leadership, and the higher level of leadership you get into the more you find yourself saying, “This is going to hurt, but this is the right thing to do.” I think to rise in leadership you have to embrace a heart full of courage.

Don Wilson: There are two sides to this…I know it’s my sickness…and that’s the fact that driven leaders are addicted to growth. Whether we admit it or not, we probably are. And so the struggle at times, is you want your ministry to grow, but you’ve got to be careful that you don’t pray that other ministries don’t grow. Because if we’re not careful, and I’ve been guilty, that we want the Kingdom to grow as long as it’s not too close to our kingdom. And working with the mega-church pastors in the state the last couple of years…if you’re going to be a leading church, you’re going to take a lot of hits. And the problem, if we’re going to reach this city for Jesus Christ, my big term is, “We’re the visiting team, we’re no longer the home team.” 90% don’t go to church anywhere. And we better figure out, all of us, how to work together more or we’re all going to lose.

Scott Ridout: I think the one thing that we’ve done in the last 18 months that has really helped us out…is that we’ve always said we’ve got a culture worth reproducing. We like our staff culture we like our staff culture, we have a culture worth reproducing. But I don’t know that we’d ever defined it…what made our culture what it is. So we took some time last year as an Executive Team and we asked, “In the last 3 months what were the conversations with Staff and leaders that made you say – yes they get it?” Another question we asked was, “What are the conversations and moments with Staff and leaders that made you cringe?” And we took those answers and asked, “What are the underlying values?” And we tried to define what made us…us. Because there’s Christian culture, and that’s what Scripture says about all Christians. But not every Christian goes to your church. And then there’s church culture. And people can be in your church and that’s based on your vision, and values, and maturity pathway and stuff like that. But not everyone in your church can be a leader. And so what is the leadership culture of your church? And so what we came up with is seven statements that define the leadership culture at our church. How we handle ourselves, how we handle each other, how we handle volunteers, how we handle our guests. For example when it comes to challenge and confrontations, “We love first, lead second, but we always do both.”


Posted in Leadership

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My Interview with 5 Sr. Pastors Leading Multisite Churches of 5,000+ Pt-3

I recently sat down with 5 Sr. Pastors who are all leading Multisite Churches ranging from 5,000 to more than 15,000. Here’s some of what they had to say regarding church leadership. If you missed the first two parts of this series you can check them out here:

Part-1 “How do young leaders earn the right to be heard and succeed on your team?”

Part-2 “What are some indicators that momentum is moving the wrong direction and how do you turn the tide?”

Question #3 “What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in going multisite and what are some of the most significant things you’ve learned as a result?”

Tyler Johnson: I think one thing I’ve learned is that ministry really is local. One of the challenges in it, is the more decentralized you get the more difficult communication and clarity become. So the need to simplify and clarify your language becomes huge. Distance really hinders relationship. So intentionally creating environments where relationship really can be established is really important. It’s a lot easier when you’re at a distance from somebody to have a very negative and uniformed view of somebody than it is when you get in a room when somebody. As you decentralize yourself and things get pushed away and somebody says, “I don’t know that person.” It’s a lot easier to say, “That person’s an idiot, why would they do that?” So when you believe that ministry is local, it’s challenging to get people together to where there is enough relationship so you can build the trust necessary to have candor. This is really challenging and you have to work really hard to build that kind of culture.

Cal Jernigan: Two things I would say about Multisite. Number one, I think it’s harder than anyone ever wants to admit. It seems like everyone is talking about it being so good, it’s all growth, it’s just the greatest thing. I think it’s a lot harder than people are talking about. And I think a lot of sideways energy is going in, a lot of wasted money is going into it and I think we just don’t want to call it out and say it’s as hard as it is. And the truth is you have to have a gear that not everyone else has. And you’re going to succeed if you have the gear and you’re not going to succeed if you don’t. The second part I would say is what makes it so hard are things like authority structures, and who makes the call, and how do you retain leaders, and how do you let leaders lead? And how we’re structured is we have 5 campuses and we have a central band that runs across it all. And there are significant points of tension that need to be managed in regards to who gets to lead where and who gets to make a call. And this stuff is really hard, and a single site church never has to deal with this.

Don Wilson: I think a lot of multisite is still faddish. It’s not been proven that long, plus we’ve never seen a real successful multisite church where the Sr. Pastor has left and someone else has taken over. I don’t know a single one of those yet. For us, we’re getting ready to start our fifth campus this week. Lots of people are doing multisite a lot of different ways. Whatever way you do it, you have to do it with your DNA. What we’re finding is until you do four campuses you never really have to intentionally change your central team. When you get to four it forces you to do things differently.

Scott Ridout: I don’t know that Sun Valley’s really gone multisite. We’ve merged and have two campuses there and then we did a parachute drop down in Casa Grande so now we’re at three campuses. We haven’t hived off anything from our original campus yet, so that’s our next experiment. So we’re merging, we’re parachute dropping, and we’re hiving.


Posted in Leadership

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My Interview with 5 Sr. Pastors Leading Multisite Churches of 5,000+ Pt-2

I recently sat down with 5 Sr. Pastors who are all leading Multisite Churches ranging from 5,000 to more than 15,000. Here’s some of what they had to say regarding church leadership. Miss Part-1 of this post? Follow this link to get caught up on what they had to say about what it takes for “Young leaders to earn the right be heard and succeed.”

Question #2 “What are some indicators that momentum is moving the wrong direction and how do you turn the tide?”

Linn Winters: This is that part of leadership that has an awful lot of art to it. This is why you can’t put a diagram in a book and say this is when momentum gets lost. But the best way I can describe it is the church is a dinosaur. It is this big behemoth of a thing and it intuitively wants to sit down, it wants to rest. And the problem is if you ever let it sit down getting it to get up and move again is a horrific challenge. So better to have a tiny bit of momentum headed in a certain direction than to ever let it sit down. Because you guys have seen churches who have let the dinosaur sit down and were never able to recover that moment. But what I would say that as you go back and try and tackle momentum…because all of us have had to do this in a department, in a division of the church, or church wide…is that the thing I think that happens too often as leaders is we see the big problem. We think if we could take that hill 80% of the problem we’re dealing with right now would be solved…by taking that hill. And intuitively as leaders many of us try and take the biggest hill and solve the biggest problem in the room. And the problem is once the dinosaur has slowed down or sat down, the dinosaur no longer has confidence that it can take that hill. It does not believe you, that it can take that big hill. And I think in that moment, you and I are much better served as leaders to ask the dinosaur, “Hey what’s the biggest problem you see?” Because in this moment all you’re trying to do is get the dinosaur to move. You don’t even care what direction the dinosaur moves. And then once you get a little momentum, then you’re going to turn the dinosaur in the right direction. So an example of that would be, I think a lot of guys go into churches, they’re going to be turning that church around, and they can see they need to redo the auditorium or change the whole leadership culture. They can see the big pieces. But if you went to the church, the average person in the church is horrified to take that hill with you. You don’t have the confidence or the clout to do it. And the most powerful thing you can do is to ask that church, that division, that ministry segment what’s the hill you think we can take? And they’re going to come back with something really impressive like paint the nursery. And you’re going to go…that doesn’t even hit my radar! But what great leaders understand is that isn’t the issue. The issue is that I’ve got to get the dinosaur to move. And powerful leaders embrace this, they read the temperature of the room and they paint the nursery. And they go the Elder Board and they get the money to paint the nursery, and they get the men of the church to come down on a Saturday and paint the nursery. And now the nursery is painted, and what do the women of the church say? Oh, our Sr. Pastor is the smartest Sr. Pastor in the whole world. He painted the nursery. And now as they go home, because they have their freshly painted nursery, what are they saying to their husbands…that guy is the man! And what you’re doing is you can now go back and say what’s the next hill? And you’re building confidence and momentum with simple wins until you can go and take that big hill.

Don Wilson: The purpose of a leader is to define reality and the problem is with many of our churches that are growing, we’ll stand up here and tell you how it’s growing, but the truth is we really don’t know. Because there are some God things going on that you can’t put 1-2-3 to in my experience. So the struggle is a lot of times if you don’t know why you’re growing and it stops, you won’t know how to get it growing again. And if your church is growing you’re not as good as you think you are, and if you’re church is declining you’re not as bad as you think you are. We’re all in the size of churches that we’re no longer a canoe we’re a cruise ship. It takes a lot longer to turn a cruise ship around than a canoe. And so the danger with momentum is once you lose it, you can work hard, but you may not see any movement for 12-18 months. And that’s where I think a lot of people get disenchanted because they say your ideas aren’t working. So I think one of the toughest things in leadership and momentum is that you might be growing now, but it might be a false growth.

Continue Reading…


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My Interview with 5 Sr. Pastors Leading Multisite Churches of 5,000+ Pt-1

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with 5 Phoenix Valley Pastors who are leading multiste churches that range in attendance from 5,000 to more than 15,000. In the next couple of days I’m going to be sharing some of their comments about Church Leadership. Here are the pastors who participated in the conversation:

Question #1 “How do young leaders earn the right to be heard and succeed on your team?”

Linn Winters: I think this may one of the biggest challenges in the church today. Older leaders need to learn how to embrace younger leaders and younger leaders need to stop fighting older leaders by trying to make their identity as different than older leaders instead of receiving a hand off from older leaders. Honor in public gives you influence in private. The most powerful thing a young leader can do to earn the right to be heard is they’ve got to learn how to support their leader publicly even if they disagree with them. Every older leader has got to figure out about the younger leaders on their team, are you Aaron or are you Absalom? You hear the story of Moses when Israel is fighting the Amalekites, and the battle goes by whether or not Moses’s arms are up. And if you think about it, that’s a horrible plan. Hey, we’re going to go fight, and the plan for winning is I’ll raise my arms. And I get it as young leaders that you say, “Sometimes I don’t know if I buy the plan of my older leader. I’m not sure if that’s how I would do it if I were king.” But that’s not the issue. The issue is honoring your leader. And Aaron knew this. When Moses’s arms get weak and tired, he helps to lift his arms. Because he knew that at the end of the day as the leader goes, so goes the church. And so they’re invested in the success of the leader, not for his sake, but for the sake of the nation. And young leaders need to learn to be invested in the success of their leader, not for his glory but for the greater glory of the church. And when you do this your leader is much more willing to hear the push-back and allow influence in private. Absalom does just the opposite. Absalom decides to sit at the city gate and criticize one of the greatest men of God ever. And David had his flaws. But Absalom decides to process every decision through the filter of “if I were King.” And the moment he does that he’s dissatisfied with his own father. And he spends his time trying to tear down his fathers Kingdom, to the harm of Israel. And at the end of the day if you’re going to be a young leader of influence you’ve got to decide, are you going to be an Aaron or are you going to be an Absalom? “Aarons” get heard; “Absaloms” get hung from trees by their hair.

Scott Ridout: The thing about leadership that most young leaders miss is that leadership isn’t appointed its acknowledged. When you’re a leader everyone knows it. And great leaders, young or old, play their position they don’t lead through our position.

Tyler Johnson: The reciprocal of this is true as well. As a leader the way you make your staff successful is a fundamental belief that my job is to help make them successful. Because the utmost example of somebody in power, Jesus who is God…Philippians 2 says: doesn’t count His position as something to be grasped but He humbles Himself and becomes obedient for the benefit of those other people. And I think that curve that you see theologically in Scripture, which in your dying for the benefit of somebody else, brings about resurrection. So a culture that is built upon servant leadership. I have a mentor who reminds me that, “Everyone talks about servant leadership but hardly anybody does it.” Because that death being at the center of love, your dying for somebody else’s gain is extraordinarily hard. And I think has application to both younger leaders and older leaders.

Don Wilson: I think the question, “What do young people need to do to be heard?” is the same thing older people need to do to be heard. I don’t think it’s an age issue. I think if you want to be heard first of all you need to have some results so they know you’re doing it. And secondly when you open your mouth to be heard, you’ve got to know what you’re talking about. And if you do that you’ll earn credibility whether you’re young or you’re old. If you get old and you can’t deliver or say the right thing you don’t have any influence either. You earn that by your servant attitude, your results, and then when you do speak you add something to the table. Probably the qualities I would say we look for…is one of the guys on our staff said, “There’s only two things you can control, your attitude and your effort.” And to me one of the greatest examples in business of attitude is Southwest Airlines. They hire for attitude. If we’re not careful, in the church I think sometimes we hire for skill and skill can plateau but if you have the right attitude you can always keep growing.

 


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing