Tag Archive - secret


Why Secret Sauce is Better than any X-Factor at your Church

When a church begins to grow people usually start to wonder and ask, “What’s the Secret Sauce?” or “What’s the X-Factor?” Why is this church growing? Now let me preface this article and say we know that God is the one who draws people to Himself and grows His Church. Yet, it would be disingenuous to exclude the human effort or circumstantial situations that contribute to the sustained growth of a church.

I was recently asked by someone, “What’s the secret sauce/X-Factor at Epikos Church?” I wasn’t able to answer the question quickly or clearly. This conversation caused me to ponder why I couldn’t answer quickly and it dawned on me. These phrases are often used interchangeably…but I’d like to suggest there is a difference!


There is a single, overwhelming, identifiable, and powerful element that is the main growth catalyst. For example, this could be a super talented preaching pastor or worship leader. It could be a phenomenal location and building that just draws people in.

Secret Sauce:

There is this perfect mixture of multiple ingredients that adds up to a tasty irresistible experience with God that you have to have more of. For example this could be a combination of core values of a church and a strong staff team. It could be a combination of unique vision, vibrant small group structure, and inspirational worship services.

The great thing about an X-Factor is that it’s easy to identify and so it’s easy to leverage and maximize it for God’s glory. You can gain momentum fast by highlighting and leaning upon the X-Factor. The dangerous downside to an X-Factor is that if the X-Factor is removed it can decimate the church. It’s also easy to begin to rely on the X-Factor for church growth instead of relying on God working through the church. There are plenty of examples of X-Factor communicators when once removed the bottom fell out.

While secret sauce might not be as flashy as an X-Factor, I would argue it has some advantages. Unlike the X-Factor it is much more stable. Take out an ingredient in the secret sauce and it still has the main elements to thrive. Because it’s less identifiable, it’s a little easier to keep people focused on God working through the whole church body instead of a single individual, building, or ministry.

What I love about secret sauce is that it’s not out of reach for any church. An X-Factor is probably going to be expensive and potentially a high-risk proposition for most churches. Secret sauce on the other hand starts with identifying who and what God has given you and stewarding it for His glory. It’s recognizing that God has already given you the ingredients to accomplish the mission of the church (Hebrews 13:20-21). We’re currently going through a process with Unstuck Group to help us work on our secret sauce. They are helping us: identify the ingredients, scale it for larger batches, and simmer it so the gospel can be shared with many!

Final Thought: A church’s secret sauce isn’t meant to be kept a secret. Feel free to follow me on twitter or facebook as we share what we learned in our recipe process.



This is a guest post by Danny Parmelee. Danny founded and Pastors Epikos Church located Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Started in 2005, today Epikos Church has 5 services in two locations and they are getting ready to open their third campus in the near future.

Posted in Leadership, Staffing


Why there is no Leadership without Loss

The leadership secret that no one is telling you about? There is no leadership without loss. It may not be popular, but it is absolutely take it to the bank true. Most people mistakenly believe that gaining leadership is all about gaining more power, gaining a more influential position, and gaining more prestige and popularity. But leaders who lead at the highest levels know there is no going up, without giving up. And the higher you go in leadership, the more you have to be willing to lose. In fact here are 3 big things that leaders lose the higher they go in leadership.

#1 Preference

The best leaders I’ve been around ask what’s best for the organization, not what’s best for themselves. And then they defer their preference for the performance of the organization.

#2 Rights

The best leaders willingly give up their rights in exchange for responsibility.

#3 Control

Great leaders are able to recruit and keep other incredible leaders at the table because they’re willing to give up control. They’re willing to share leadership and allow others to lead in their area of brilliance.

Jesus put it this way: If you want to gain your life, you have to lose itif you want to be first, you have to be last.

What else would you add to the list? Leave a comment!

Want to learn more about the connection between loss and leadership? Check out 10 Things you Lose when your Church Grows

Photo Credit: Jan Tik via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership


4 Leadership Lessons I was Reminded of by the Birth of my 4th Child

A week ago we welcomed Wyatt Grant into the Alexander family! And I’m not biased or anything, but he’s absolutely incredible! While we’ve gone through this a time or three before I’m still surprised by the depth of amazement, excitement, awe, fear, and loss of control that all collide in my heart at the birth of each of my children. And while we’re playing zone defense and filling up the minivan there are four distinct leadership lessons that this experience has reminded me of…

1. Great Leaders grow accustomed to Loss

At the birth of each of my children I’ve been abruptly reminded about how selfish I really am. When a little one crashes the party you quickly realize how much you still have to grow as you’re confronted with completely rearranging your life and putting the needs of that child above your own. Similarly the best leaders I know love the mission of the church more than themselves. So much so that they’re willing to let go of the past or even the present in order to move towards a preferred future. And letting go always means you’re losing something, that’s why you have to let go of it. There is always loss involved in growth and forward movement, and it usually involves a loss of comfort.

2. The Secret to Success is found in doing the little things daily

It’s amazing how quickly my other kids got so big, literally overnight. I went to the hospital with 3 small children one day and came home with a baby and the other three all of the sudden became giants overnight! While I’ve had some great moments as a parent, my parenting is more characterized by the daily grind of trying to point my children in the right direction. The same is true in leadership. It’s more about having the discipline and courage to do the right thing daily than waiting around for a big moment to shine. Do the little things daily and it will surprise you how it eventually compounds and shows up.

3. Control is an Illusion

Simply put, the delivery room scares me to death. Mostly because I’m completely out of control and I’m trusting the woman I love most and my nearly born child into the hands of people that I’m hoping and praying do a good job. The truth is control is a dangerous illusion that church leaders and pastors slowly creep towards through believing their press clippings and overconfidence. We would do well to remember that at the end of the day this is God’s church not ours. We are simply under-shepherd and stewards. He is building His Church and we are simply honored to be joining Him in the process.

4. Even great Leaders can’t accomplish the Vision Alone

Over the past week I’ve been floored by the generosity of the people around me. Meals have been provided, my other three children were farmed out while we were at the hospital, the dog was taken care of, and there was even a late night run by a friend to bring the boppy up to the hospital (if you don’t know what a boppy is then ask your wife). Leaders, even great leaders, if they’re chasing after a God-sized vision can’t do it alone. It takes a team of multifaceted and talented people. After all if you can do it by yourself…it’s probably not big enough.

Posted in Family, Leadership