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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