Implement a Three-Rhythm Process for Effective Execution

Is it harder to stay focused and make timely decisions the more people you reach?

Congratulations – your church has just completed its third year in a row of growth! Weekend worship attendance is growing at 20% per year; your offerings are ahead of budget; and participation in small groups has increased steadily toward your goal of 75% of worship attendance.These are only the leading indicators of a successful growth curve.

While your church may not fall exactly into one or more of those growth indicators, success is likely happening in some area of ministry.

But beware – success brings its own new problems everyday. What were once easy decisions in your church four years ago now have now become complicated, cumbersome, and confusing. Your leadership team has likely grown, and chances are, your leadership in terms of group dynamics and interpersonal communication has not kept pace.

It is time to stretch your personal development and lead your church to stay focused and make timely decisions. If you are experiencing success and feeling the resulting complexity, consider implementing a three-rhythm process for effective execution.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Rhythm, by Patrick Thean

All growing companies encounter ceilings of complexity, usually when they hit certain employee or revenue milestones. In order to burst through ceiling after ceiling and innovate with growth, a company must develop a reliable system that prompts leaders to be proactive and pivot when the need arises.

Drawing on his experience as a successful serial entrepreneurial and speaker, Rhythm author Patrick Thean demonstrates how to identify the signs of setbacks before they occur, track those signs, and make adjustments to keep your plan on track and accelerate growth. Thean introduces a simple system to empower everyone in your company to be focused, aligned, and accountable–a three-rhythm process for effective execution.


A church with a successful growth pattern soon realizes how difficult of a task it is to keep everything balanced.

What if the pursuit of “balance” was the wrong choice?

Take a look around you in the natural world – do you see balance? Life is not static, linear,
or uniform. It moves, oscillates, vibrates, and pulsates. From different seasons that seem to come early (or begin late) to weather that is unpredictable to a backyard garden that one year is bountiful and the next sparse, nature doesn’t follow a balanced ow but instead moves in rhythms.

Paul, with the inspired wisdom of our Creator, called the church a “body” – a living organization. A growing, healthy church will find ways to harmonize with created and providential rhythms. Churches, like all organisms and organizations, develop through stages, experience seasons, and live in the cycles of creation.These cycles may last just a few weeks – or may extend into many years.

As pastor Bruce Miller said, “We can learn how to dance church to the God-shaped rhythms of life.”

The right rhythms give you focus, alignment, and accountability.

Rhythms help organizations continually identify the right things to review and discuss in order to stay focused on the future and avoid being blindsided. Once discovered, rhythms can help propel you forward, past ceiling after ceiling of complexity.

Think Rhythm: A rhythm of strategic thinking to create focus for the future of your organization.

Plan Rhythm: A rhythm of execution planning to let all teams and individuals know what they are supposed to be doing.

Do Rhythm: A rhythm of doing the work to keep the plan on track.

The best thing about having Think, Plan, and Do Rhythms is that they make you and your organization continuously ready to deal with ceilings of complexity when you meet them. When you hit a ceiling of complexity, you should not have to start up new processes and new habits to help your teams deal with change. In fact, making smart adjustments in your organization as a part of the three rhythms helps you avoid hitting those ceilings completely. Your rhythms should ensure that your teams are ready to respond, learn, and improve as you grow.

– Patrick Thean, Rhythm


Rhythm is a process, not an event. It takes time to improve in small steps. Utilizing the Think, Plan, and Do Rhythms will help your team become focused, aligned, and accountable.

Apply the concepts of Rhythm to your organization by practicing these following actions:

Think Rhythm Actions

  1. Make “think time” a priority in your personal schedule, and lead your team in monthly, quarterly, and annual “think” sessions.
  2. Be proactive about scheduling time to work on the strategy and continued growth of your organization by scheduling a monthly lunch meeting with your team and focusing only on strategy.
  3. Spend time refining and communicating the core strategy of your organization so ministry teams can make the right execution decisions with purpose.

Plan Rhythm Actions

  1. Separate execution planning from strategic thinking. Execution planning is figuring out how you will get your ministry initiatives accomplished to move your church forward steadily, month after month, year after year. 
  2. Create an annual plan that is both inspiring and practical – one that people connect to with their hearts and their heads.


Do Rhythm Actions

  1. To make sure that planning becomes doing, spend 30 minutes each week reviewing the week that just ended and setting your priorities for the coming week. Model this for the rest of your team.
  2. Use the collective intelligence of your team to encourage members to share when they are stuck or off track early, allowing everyone to contribute possible solutions and adjustments.
  3. Utilize two types of adjustments: corrective actions for goals not met or falling behind; and scaling the bright spots – actions that are working well – across the entire organization.

Don’t be discouraged by your success – as Auxano Founder Will Mancini writes in Church Unique:

Every leader must contend with clarity gaps and complexity factors. Clarity gaps are the logical areas where obscurity and confusion enter the leader’s communication world. Complexity factors literally wage war against the leader’s practice of clarity by making it difficult to maintain focus. When it comes to clarity, new levels bring new devils.The higher the leader goes, the harder the leader must work to stay clear.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 23-3 published September 2015

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

Do You Have the Courage to Leave a Legacy?

Eulogy given at my father’s funeral, March 1, 2012. I usually repost it every day on his birthday, August 9. This year, a Facebook post sent to me by my wife and daughter reminded me of one of my dad’s favorite things to do for kids – so here it is again in his memory.

During the past few days I have been reminded in powerful ways that even though you may go away from a place, it’s always home.

Last night, over 750 guests came by to visit with my family. We saw friends of four years – and of four decades. Multiple generations of “customers” of my dad came by to pay their respects. From four to ninety-four, our family and friends came…

On behalf of my family, I want to thank all of you for your kind words, gestures, and acts of love.  We are humbled by your actions, and thank you for honoring the memory of my father, Doc Adams.

My memories of my father span the 54 years of my life – and each memory has a special significance. A father means one thing to a 3-year-old, another to a 13-year-old, and another to a 33-year-old. They are all special.

But today I remember my father in terms of being a grandfather. I am reminded of times with my grandfather and also how my dad played with his grandchildren.

My paternal grandfather died when I was an infant; my maternal grandfather lived in Missouri. When he moved into the small apartment next to my house during my early teenage years, I remember fishing and hunting with “Pappy.” I think that established in me what grandfathers did.

Later on, after marriage and the start of my own family, since my father was still working during my kids’ early years, trips to Grandpa’s house always included driving the mower; pumping gas at the gas station; feeding the birds; and reading books. Later when he retired and the kids were older those kinds of things expanded, but he was always reflecting a spirit of giving to others.

So here I am in 2012, finding myself a grandfather – actually, a GrandBob – twice (now, 4 times!) and it seems things are the same. The kids probably get more sugar, less sleep, and more attention than they should – but I don’t remember it permanently damaging me or my kids, so who am I to break with tradition?

The point of all this long discourse: A lot has changed in the decades of grandparenting I’ve been a part of: first as a recipient, then as an observer, and now as a practitioner. But one thing remains the same. 

Grandparents love their grandchildren, and through that love, cherish their children in a different way, as parents, and bearers of a legacy to a new generation.

That’s a legacy I cherish.

At my father’s celebration service, we showed a video clip that included him saying “I never made much money, but I made a lot of friends, and that’s what’s important.”

It reminded me of comments made by my dad when he would buy something for himself – which wasn’t very often: “I hope you don’t mind me spending your inheritance.”

When you put those two comments together, I think you have a perfect expression of what my father meant to our family – and to his church, community, and friends.

A huge difference exists between a legacy and an inheritance. Anyone can leave an inheritance. An inheritance is something you leave to your family or loved ones. A legacy is something you leave in your family and loved ones. While it hard work and success may lead to an inheritance, it takes courage through a lifetime to leave a legacy.


  • Something tangible you give to others
  • Temporarily brings them happiness
  • Eventually fades as it is spent
  • Your activity may or not may pay off


  • Something tangible you place in others
  • Permanently transforms them
  • Lives on long after you die
  • Your activity becomes achievement

What would you rather leave: an inheritance or a legacy?

I am reminded me of a quote attributed to Winston Churchill which I think reflects my father’s spirit and actions, and is backed up by the presence of hundreds at his celebration service today:

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.

Giving is very much the legacy of my father, and what I want to leave with you today.

DumDum(Family and friends leaving the celebration service were given a Dum Dum sucker.)

Your smiles in the audience tell me most of you know what this means; for those of you that don’t, it’s very simple.

Kids of all ages who came by my father’s gas station received a Dum Dum sucker from my father. It was just a simple act, but one that reverberates in my spirit to this day.

Serve people with a smile, and then give them a little extra.

Enjoy the Dum Dum or give it away.

Either is okay: keep it for comfort or a memory of Doc, or give it to someone in memory of Doc.

Give away a smile today.

That’s the legacy of Doc Adams that we all can pass on.

To Improve Your Personal Productivity, You’ve Got to Change Your Habits

Does your team need practical help with personal productivity?

You have a pretty good sense that most of your team has too much to handle and not enough time to get it done – you may not have a sense of how much you are contributing to the problem.

In our fast-paced, get-it-done-now culture, the fact is that almost everyone on your team could use some help in increasing their personal productivity. Why not show them how by modeling effectiveness in your leadership?

By its very nature ministry makes the “I’ve gotten something done today” feeling elusive. For many church leaders, there are no edges to their work – it’s not easy to tell when the work is finished, because it really never is. Most of your team have at least half a dozen things they are trying to achieve right now – today! And a pastoral need could arise at any moment to make that to-do list completely irrelevant.

Solution: Change Your Habits

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg

In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.


Following habits is an important part of our personal routine, whether at home, work, or play. When you get up in the morning, you go through a routine to get ready for your day. When you arrive at work, you go through a routine for the day. When you arrive at home after work, you go through a routine for the evening. When tomorrow arrives, you begin it all over again.

Most habits are benign, but even some habits you maintain – at work, for instance – can be ineffective at best and detrimental to your job at worst.

If you desire to be more productive, you need to understand more about habits – and how to change them.

Research has documented that habits are a three-step loop in our brains. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical, mental, or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

Over time, this loop – cue, routine, reward – becomes more and more automatic. You become locked in to the habits to the point that you no longer think about it. When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision-making. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks.

While many of your habits are positive and productive, there are probably a few or more that could be improved. The problem is, habits are hard to change.

Unless you deliberately fight a habit – unless you find new routines – the pattern will unfold automatically.

Changing a habit might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.

Here’s the framework for changing habits:

  • Identify the routine
  • Experiment with rewards
  • Isolate the cue
  • Have a plan

Step One: Identify the Routine

Researchers at MIT discovered a simple, neurological loop at the core of every habit, a loop that consists of three parts: a cue, a routine, and a reward. To understand your own habits, you need to identify the components of your loops. Once you have diagnosed the habit loop of a particular behavior, you can look for ways to supplant old vices with new routines. The first step is to identify the routine – the behavior you want to change.

Step Two – Experiment with Rewards

Rewards are powerful because they satisfy cravings. But we’re often not conscious of the craving that drives our behaviors. Most cravings are obvious in retrospect, but incredibly hard to see when we are under their sway. To figure out which cravings are driving particular habits, it’s useful to experiment with different rewards. By experimenting with different rewards, you can isolate what you are actually craving.

Step Three: Isolate the Cue

To identify a cue, identify categories of behaviors ahead of time to scrutinize in order to see patterns. Experiments have shown that almost all habitual cues fit into one of five categories:

  • Location
  • Time
  • Emotional state
  • Other people
  • Immediately preceding action

Step Four: Have a Plan

Once you’ve figured out your habit loop – you’ve identified the reward driving your behavior, the cue triggering it, and the routine itself – you can begin to shift the behavior. You can change to a better routine by planning for the cue and choosing a behavior that delivers the reward you are craving.

– Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit


Set aside two hours to examine your typical ministry weekday schedule. Identify at least three habits in your schedule that are not effective in helping you be as effective for the gospel as you could be. Of the three, choose the one habit that, if changed, will benefit you the most.

Using Steps Two – Four from the framework above, begin the process of changing that habit. Follow each of the steps, spending time each day for two weeks on building personal effectiveness into this part of your schedule.

After two weeks of your experiment in modifying the change of habit, evaluate your progress with the following questions:

  • How easy was it to first identify habits that needed to be changed and then select just one?
  • How many rewards did you experiment with changing? What was the key to finding the most successful one?
  • How easy was it to isolate the cue among all the noise of your daily activity? Which of the five categories was the clear leader in the cue?
  • How easy was it for you to begin making choices again in changing your behavior?

Make a calendar reminder for three months to determine if you are still following your changed habit. Once you feel some momentum, lead your team to walk through this process.

Becoming effective in your own work habits will serve as both an inspiration and guide for your team. By demonstrating an effective, balanced role model, you are leading your team to effectiveness of vision, not just managing their output of activity.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 16-1, published June 2015

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

Strive for One-Kingdom Living

Is your congregation stuck seeing generosity as what they cannot give rather than why or how they give?

Generosity is a way of living that involves one’s daily activities, values, and goals for life, and the use of all possessions. It begins with recognition of God as Creator of all things, and our position as steward of some things.

As stewards, we are in charge of the possessions God has given us – an authority that is real, but secondary to God’s ultimate ownership.

When we get these two ownerships mixed up, problems follow.

Solution: Strive for One Kingdom Living


THE QUICK SUMMARY – Development 101, by John R. Frank and R. Scott Rodin

In our 60 years of combined experience with faith-based non-profits we have seen a lack of a comprehensive, biblically based, fundamentally sound, development strategy.

We see at least four main reasons for this situation. First, far too few ministries have taken the time to think through and create a theology of development that serves as a rule and guide for all of their work in raising kingdom resources. The result is that the demands for money, rather than Scripture, dictate the techniques used for fundraising. Second, many organizations set unrealistic goals and expectations for their development team. When they are not reached, the ministry makes a change and tries again. Third, we see a serious lack of integration in development work. Ministries take a shotgun approach, trying all sorts of different ways to reach income goals, but far too seldom take a comprehensive, strategic approach that serves the giving partners not just the organization. Finally, we experience consistent misunderstanding and confusion over the board’s role in development work, compounded by an inability by the board to develop metrics for measuring effectiveness and success in raising funds based on kingdom principles.

This book is our attempt to address these concerns and provide development professionals with a tool that can help them build robust, God-honoring development programs.


Generosity success is 100% impossible without embracing this valuable principle: God owns everything. We are stewards of a small few things that God owns. God owns your life, your salvation, your uniqueness, your calling, your job, your body, your car, your bank account, your cash, and your television.

It is God’s responsibility to provide for you, your church and family, not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to release ownership and be an obedient steward.

We were created to be one-kingdom people. That is, God created and redeemed us to be children in His kingdom where He and He alone is Lord.

 As one-kingdom people, we know that everything belongs to God, and we respond by living as faithful stewards. The problem of sin is that it tempts us to build a second kingdom where we play the lord over the things we believe we own and control. It could be said that the entire cosmic battle between good and evil is played out in this arena of two-kingdom living. When we submit to the temptation to believe we are in control of our own kingdom, we treat money as something that we ultimately own. When we do this, we cannot be faithful, generous stewards.

Jesus summed it up with razor precision: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

As we go about our development work, we must realize that every one of our giving partners struggles with this two-kingdom temptation. Our work as Christian development professionals is to be used by God to help our giving partners recommit themselves to being one-kingdom people. This may sound like a huge responsibility, and indeed it is. For this reason we believe strongly that development work is ministry. Let us say that again. Rather than seeing your development work as a means for raising the resources necessary for ministry to happen, we want you to reconsider that your development work is ministry. You have a wonderful opportunity to watch God use you in powerful ways in the lives of your giving partners. Once you make this commitment, it will affect everything you do in this field: your messaging, your planning, your budgeting, your writing, your strategy, your metrics, and your prayer life.

Does your organization operate from a two-kingdom or one-kingdom worldview?

John R. Frank and Scott Rodin, Development 101: Building a Comprehensive Development Program on Biblical Values


Think of yourself as the manager of a trust. You have been given a key role and a great responsibility, so make the most of it. God Himself has trusted you with time, money, material things, and great opportunities. Your objective is to maximize the investment of all that has been put into your hands. Take some time to examine the three gauges of how you are managing God’s investment: your calendar, your bank account, and your spiritual gifts.

In light of the one-kingdom principle, how would you grade yourself in each area? What is one thing you can do in the next few weeks to better your One-Kingdom GPA one point?

In the final analysis, the hallmark of stewardship is administration not acquisition. Only by pursuing the goal of pleasing God do we find true pleasure and satisfaction for ourselves.


Because a giving God expects a giving people, the generous Christian should be a joyous giver. We give as an expression of our new nature and life in Christ.

When our focus strays from this truth, a resentful attitude will not be far behind. You serve a generous God; remember to strive for one-kingdom living.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 30-1 published December 2015

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

It’s Time to Elevate Your Leadership Game

How do you cultivate long-term commitment within your team?

Many teams today are not really teams at all – organizationally, structurally, and motivationally they are not set up to work as individual parts of a larger, unified whole. Often they reflect outdated organizational charts that have little to do with current reality. There are times when a leader realizes their team is actually a collection of individuals who are looking out for themselves. Left in this state, a team can actually become a divisive and damaging cancer to the organization.

Is it little wonder, then, that leaders seek help in cultivating commitment within their teams? The problem isn’t necessarily with the team members or leaders themselves, but what the team is being asked to do: work together without any larger sense of organizational direction or purpose.

Solution: It’s Time to Elevate Your Leadership Game


THE QUICK SUMMARY – Chess, Not Checkers, by Mark Miller

As organizations grow in volume and complexity, the demands on leadership change. The same old moves won’t cut it any more.

The early days of an organization are like checkers: a quickly played game with mostly interchangeable pieces. Everyone, the leader included, does a little bit of everything; the pace is frenetic. But as the organization expands, you can’t just keep jumping from activity to activity. You must think strategically, plan ahead, and leverage every employee’s specific talents—that’s chess. Leaders who continue to play checkers when the name of the game is chess lose.

Chess Not Checkers, by Mark Miller, delivers four essential strategies from the game of chess that will transform leadership and organizations.


In Chess Not Checkers, Mark Miller uses a business fable to demonstrate that leaders who elevate their leadership game will in turn make their teams and organizations stronger.

According to Miller, the game of chess contains four specific parallels that can inform and transform teams and organizations seeking new levels of performance. Miller uses the simplicity, repetitiveness, and reactions found in the game of checkers to set up the game of chess as in instructive lesson for leaders in any organization.

 People want to be valued; they want to be useful; they want to contribute. When you make the right moves, people show up in a whole new way.

Most of us began our leadership journey utilizing an approach with striking similarities to the game of checkers, a fun, highly reactionary game often played at a frantic pace. Any strategies we employed in this style of leadership were limited, if not rudimentary.

The game today for most leaders can be better compared to chess – a game in which strategy matters; a game in which individual pieces have unique abilities that drive unique contributions; a game in which heightened focus and a deeper level of thinking are required to win.

Bet on Leadership – Growing leaders grow organizations

  • Leadership growth precedes organizational growth
  • Capacity to grow determines capacity to lead
  • Identify emerging leaders and invest in them early
  • Strengthen your leadership team to become source of additional leadership capacity

Act as One – Alignment multiplies impact

  • Define your win
  • Get agreement from leadership team
  • Cascade and reinforce the win throughout the organization
  • Keep your organization aligned on what matters most

Win the Heart – Engagement energizes effort

  • Leverage unique capabilities of each person
  • Help people find and fulfill their dreams
  • Give people real responsibility
  • Show people you care

Excel at Execution – Greatness hinges on execution

  • Measure what matters most
  • Build your organization on systems, not personality
  • Communicate performance visually
  • Narrow your focus

Mark Miller, Chess Not Checkers 


You may have begun your leadership path using actions similar to the game of chess – basic, repetitive moves, often carried through at a fast pace with little strategy.

Today you find yourself in a whole new game – one in which strategy matters, individual pieces matter, and intense concentration and focus is required.

At your next team meeting, list the four moves developed by Mark Miller on a white board or flip-chart. For each of the four moves, start where you are – discuss how your organization defines the move. If necessary, modify the definition until your team is in agreement.

Over a period of two weeks, arrange a series of four meetings in which your team will be tackling one of the four moves at each meeting.

Discuss the three biggest challenges facing your team in the area of “Bet on Leadership.” Develop action plans to meet, and overcome each of these challenges. Set a timeline for the action plans, and report on it monthly until it is accomplished.

Discuss your organization’s missional mandate and missional marks of success in this mandate. What are the current gaps between your stated intention and the reality facing your team in the area of “Act as One”?

Ask your team members to define your organization in terms of The Lone Ranger (every man for himself) or The Three Musketeers (all for one and one for all). Brainstorm ideas that could help your team “Win the Heart” and move toward all for one.

Discuss with your team how to “Excel at Execution.” List three action steps your team will take in the next month to accomplish excellence, including who needs to do what to make your vision a reality.

While all too often teams are “teams” in name only, individual commitment to a larger whole is an integral part of the success of any organization.

By elevating their leadership game, leaders can help their teams maintain commitment and accomplish their Great Commission call.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 12-2, published April 2015

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

Plan Your Discipleship Process Sequentially

Do you want to develop basic disciple-making practices, but serve in a weekend-only culture?

Every church should have a clear, simple process for making disciples. Does yours?

Almost every church engages in some form of discipleship. When a pastor uses the Bible in a sermon, or a leader opens the Scriptures to a small group, the church is providing the initial phases, but lasting discipleship must go far beyond that.

If a new Christian who attends weekend worship services only asked for help in becoming more like Christ, what would your answer be? Would everyone in leadership give the same answer? Do you share a clear, simple first step? Followed by a second step?

But this is important for more than just a “new” Christian. How are you intentionally and methodically helping other believers to deepen their walk with Christ? How can you impact a “weekend only” culture and begin to instill basic disciple-making practices into your church’s life?

Solution: Plan Your Discipleship Process Sequentially

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Simple Church, by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger

The simple revolution is here. From the design of Apple products to Google’s uncluttered homepage, simple ideas are changing the world.

Simple Church guides Christians back to the simple gospel-sharing methods of Jesus. No bells or whistles required. With insights based on case studies of 400 American churches, Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger prove the disciple-making process is often too complex. Simple churches thrive by taking four ideas to heart:

Clarity. Movement. Alignment. Focus.

Simple Church examines each idea, clearly showing why it is time to simplify. This updated edition includes a new chapter with further insights the authors have gained through hundreds of conversations with church leaders since this landmark book’s original release.


Congestion on a busy highway is no picnic for commuters wanting to get to their destination. Many times it’s simply a matter of inadequate design of the highway for the number of cars currently occupying it.

Congestion in your head or chest prevents proper airflow to the lungs. Reduced airflow to the lungs means your body is not functioning as it was designed.

Congestion causes pain when traffic makes you late or shallow breaths make even simple tasks complex. Congestion in your church is painful, too. Church congestion occurs when competing programs or ministries result in lots of activity, but little or no movement in a person’s spiritual growth.

According to the Scriptures, believers should become more and more like Christ. Movement and transformation is implied, but church congestion slows or prevents growth.

One step away from a “weekend only” culture may require the decongestant of simplicity.

Simple church leaders have learned the wisdom of sequential programing. By placing the programs in sequence along the process, the programs truly become tools to facilitate the process of transformation.

As you sequentially place programs along your ministry process, here are three essentials to guide your thinking.

Order the sequence of your programs to reflect your process. In other words, the order of the programming must flow from the order of the process. If you place the programs sequentially, people will move through your process simply by moving from one program to the next. As people are progressing through the programming, they will simultaneously move through the process that God has given your church.

Designate a clear entry point to your process. The entry point is the first level of programming in your simple process. Without a clear entry point, there is no beginning to the process. When a process lacks a clear beginning, it is definitely not simple.

The entry point is the program through which people are most likely to enter your church. It is the weekly program that guests are most likely to attend. It is the program you encourage your people to invite friends to attend.

Identify the next levels of programming. Just as you have designated an entry point, identify the next levels of programming in your process. What program do you desire people to attend after they have been to your entry-point program? What is the program you want them to attend after that?

– Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger, Simple Church


Does your church have a simple process designed to move people along a path to maturity in Christ?

At your next team meeting, create a fictional person named Joe Grow whose life your team will use to illustrate your process. Using a whiteboard or chart tablet, create a narrative of how Joe Grow came to Christ at your church, listing programs, activities, or processes. Continue to develop the story of Joe Grow’s faith journey toward full Christian maturity.

After completing Joe Grow’s journey, step back and look at your current church programming. Ask these refining questions:

  • What potential areas of congestion or confusion appear in the gap between what should be and what is?
  • Does Joe Grow’s faith journey follow a clearly defined process?
  • Are there currently multiple processes attempting to achieve the same result?
  • Are next steps clear in each program or process?
  • Are there multiple programs for each process, resulting in divided attention and energy?

After these careful considerations, guide your leadership team to exit the congested highway of church busyness toward a simple, yet effective, pattern of disciple-making.

The real beauty in clarifying, focusing, and strengthening the disciple-making process of your church is this: the people who are growing will, by nature, take other people along with them.

Growing people grow people. Consuming people consume programs.

Without stating and integrating a simpler, intentional disciple-making process, your church will remain stuck in a bottleneck of the status quo and “weekend only” follow-ship.

With a simple but sequential process, your church can develop an effectiveness of growing disciples.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 11-2, published March 2015

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

Visionary Communicators Develop an Authentic Voice

Don’t see yourself as a visionary communicator and instead prioritize the maintenance of week-to-week ministry?

Are you finding yourself on a ministry treadmill, where the busyness of ministry creates a progressively irreversible hurriedness in your life? Today’s demands can choke out needed dialogue for tomorrow. When this occurs, your multiplied activity prevents you from living with a clearer vision of what should be.

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s time to call a timeout and evaluate the obstacles that keep you from focusing on visionary communication about God’s preferred future for your church.

Solution: Develop Your Authentic Voice



THE QUICK SUMMARY – Louder Than Words by Todd Henry

There has never been a better time to build an audience for your idea or product. But with so many people clamoring for attention online and offline, it’s also more challenging than ever do work that deeply resonates and creates a true and lasting effect.

How do you set yourself apart in such a noisy, crowded world? How do you do work that is truly remarkable?

The key is to develop your authentic voice. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a writer, a designer, or a manager building a brand, the more clear and compelling your voice, the more your message will connect with your audience. The result will be more impact and greater personal satisfaction with your work.

Louder Than Words offers a strategy for uncovering, developing, and bravely using your authentic voice to create a body of work you are proud of, that resonates deeply with others, and that ultimately impacts the world.


One role of today’s leaders can be seen as clarifying what is already present and helping people perceive what has gone unnoticed.

What is clarity really about? Clarity means to be free from anything that obscures, blocks, pollutes, or darkens. Being clear as a leader means being simple, understandable, and exact. The leader helps others see and understand reality better.

In order to bring clarity, a leader must first develop their authentic voice.

Your authentic voice is the expression of your compelling “why.” It defines the space that you are wired to occupy, and the unique value you are contributing, which means that if you don’t use it, then that contribution is unlikely to ever be seen.

If you set out to build a bridge between two points on a river, you’d better first determine:

  1. The purpose of the bridge and the kind of vehicles that will be crossing it
  2. Whether you have sufficient resources and materials to complete the project
  3. Whether or not a bridge is even the right solution to the problem of crossing the river

To apply this metaphor to your work, it’s important that you are able to articulate the kind of effect you wish to have, and how you want the world to be different through your efforts. You should at least have a sense of how you wish to connect with your intended audience, and how you plan to impact them. Though you don’t want to become paralyzed with inaction out of fear of getting it wrong, your vision provides you with a set of guiding principles to help you stay aligned and measure your progress.

Even though they may not have all the steps mapped out, most great leaders have some sense of where their work is leading and the ultimate impact they want to have. They have a “north pole” toward which to navigate, even if only in a general sense. This vision is what guides their efforts as they continue to refine and develop their voice.

Todd Henry, Louder Than Words


One aspect of speaking with an authentic voice requires a precise focus on whom you are trying to reach – you have to define your intended audience.

In his book Louder Than Words, author Todd Henry advises leaders to ask the following questions when preparing to discuss vision:

  • Who is my intended audience for this?
  • What impact or outcome am I trying to achieve for them?
  • What expectations will they have of me when I talk with them, and how can I meet and surpass them?
  • How might I surprise and delight them by over-delivering in unexpected ways?

As you are preparing for your next opportunity to communicate vision in front of a team or group, walk through each of the questions above.

In advance of the talk, ask a trusted colleague to sit in on the presentation. Following the presentation, schedule a debrief time with your colleague, covering the four points listed above. Ask your colleague for candid observations on how well you covered the four points. Discuss improvements in the next opportunity you will have to talk about vision.

Repeat this exercise at least once per quarter for the next year.

When you find yourself on a ministry treadmill, constantly in motion but going nowhere, step off and learn how to connect with your team and organization with clarity by developing your authentic voice.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 28-1, published November 2015

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.