How to Create Fully Engaged Teams that are Ready for Change

In the life of church leaders, Sunday is always coming. There are sermons to prepare, volunteers to be trained, worship to plan, and dozens of other tasks repeated weekly.

Yet in the midst of it all, life sometimes throws us a curve, and we are faced with a crisis of minor or major proportions. Or, maybe the opposite is true: an unbelievable opportunity for ministry presents itself out of the blue.

What do you need to do to be both resolved in planning yet responsive to changes, as you lead toward vision?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Agile Engagement, by Santiago Jaramillo and Todd Richardson

Many organizations fail to realize and harness the power of their most valuable asset—their employees. Though they can be developed into a true competitive advantage, engagement isn’t attainable if the employee isn’t invested in the company’s overall success.

Agile Engagement offers leaders a concrete strategy for building, maintaining, and utilizing team engagement to achieve the highest level of success. The key? Team members must feel like they are a part of their organization’s culture instead of having it handed down to them.

Stories of failed engagement initiatives abound, and they all have one thing in common: they begin from the premise of “initiative” rather than the person. True engagement occurs when a team member’s heart and mind are activated in a way that leads to their motivation and commitment to positively impact the organization’s goals and vision.

Agile Engagement provides a deeper look into real engagement, helping you foster an environment that’s rewarded with unsurpassed productivity, innovation, and competitive advantage, as well as team members who feel valued, respected, and heard.


In the rapidly changing environment of ministry, it would be easy for team members to have the feeling of being left behind, or becoming less and less engaged with their work.

All people – and therefore the people who make up your team – are extremely complex. Additionally, people can change over time and with circumstances. How can leaders expect to keep their teams engaged in the constant of change?

It takes a focus on people over process, real engagement over cookie-cutter programs, consistent intentionality over passive manipulation, and healthy change over rigid planning.

In other words, your team engagement has to be agile.

We define employee engagement as an employees emotional and intellectual connections with an employer, as demonstrated by his or her motivation and commitment to positively impact the companys vision and goals,

Defining Employment Engagement

Strategic Alignment – Employees can both verbalize and actualize the core business strategies.

Understanding of Success – Employees understand their organizational, departmental, and personal success metrics and tangibly grasp their contribution to the company’s overall success.

Clear Communication – Employees trust the company because of coherent and frequent contact, timely feedback, and clear expectations.

Workplace Vibe – The overall environment fosters effective work in everything from the physical workspace to interactions between employees.

Growth Path – Employees have the opportunity to grow their skills through new work challenges and positions over time, in both managerial and independent contractor roles.

Santiago Jaramillo and Todd Richardson, Agile Engagement


Take an assessment of your organization’s current state of team engagement using the five measures outlined above.

Write each measure above on a separate chart tablet, and draw a horizontal line underneath, with a 1 on the left side and a 5 on the right. Using a scale of 1 (what’s team engagement?) to 5 (our team is fully engaged in our culture), come to a group consensus on a rating for each of the measures.

Under the left side of each chart tablet, list actions or events that define your engagement as poor or low.

Under the right side of each chart tablet, list actions or events that define your engagement as good or great.

Brainstorm a path needed to move those actions and events on the left side of each page to the right side of each page. Assign responsibilities and dates, and evaluate the progress of each on a regular basis.

It’s hard to make decisions about future possibilities when you are overwhelmed with the present, but that is exactly the time when the foresight of being an agile organization can propel you into exciting opportunities that you would otherwise miss out on.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 62-2, issues March 2017.


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. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.


First-Century Believers Intertwined Daily Life with Discipleship. What Happened?

Does your church only see discipleship as a class to be taken or a study to attend?

The story of discipleship in the beginning days of the church was lived out as those early Christians went about their lives – telling family, friends, masters, slaves, soldiers about their new lives in Christ.

In other words, they lived out their faith every day in the relationships they already had with others.

Fast forward to today: Every weekend, untold numbers of Christians leave a church building seeing no connection between their faith and their everyday lives. The next six days between Sundays seem like a spiritual vacuum, with little to no spiritual meaning.

For first-century believers, daily life was intertwined with discipleship. What happened?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Workplace Grace, by Bill Peel and Walt Larimore

You can take your faith to work in appropriate, engaging ways. Workplace Grace offers a simple, non-threatening approach to evangelism. Whether your work takes you to a construction site, a cramped cubical or the corner office, every Christian plays a significant role in the Great Commission. Between Sundays, you can be a pipeline for God’s grace in the most strategic mission field in the world: your workplace.

Workplace Grace is for Christians who are not gifted evangelists, yet they want to make a spiritual difference at work and see their coworkers and friends come to faith in Jesus Christ. After adopting Workplace Grace strategies, Christians who once felt awkward sharing their faith now say, “A load of guilt has been taken off my shoulders.” “I never knew sharing my faith could be so simple.” “I can do this!”


Mention the word “discipleship” to most Christians and the likely response will have something to do with a class they attended at church or something similar. It may even progress to something deeper, like learning how to “witness” to others.

While that’s not wrong, it’s not all the story.

Our job is not so much to bring people to Jesus, as it is to bring Jesus to people.

Spiritual influence is about more than zeal to spread the gospel. People need to see and be attracted to Jesus in us before we try to persuade them to trust Him.

In Acts 1:8 the word “witnesses” is a noun. The emphasis is on being a witness, not on witnessing. In fact, we are never commanded to go witnessing (verb), but to be witnesses (noun). Focusing on doing before being disconnects who we are from what we say.

When we “go witnessing (verb),” we usually know little to nothing about the status of the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of the people we meet. And they know little, to nothing about us that gives them a reason to trust what we say. In the context, we challenge people to take a quantum leap of faith, rather than a small step toward Jesus. This can add more rocks on the hard soil of someone’s heart.

Whether growing acres of wheat or planting a backyard vegetable garden, cultivation is key to a successful harvest. Breaking up the soil, removing rocks, and pulling weeds always comes before planting.

God often uses those whose own heart soil is softened and fruitful to cultivate the hearts of others. People who reflect Christ’s character and demonstrate His love, compassion, integrity, graciousness, and patience.

Cultivation is all about earning the right to be a spiritual influence in someone’s life. The goal of this phase is to break down emotional barriers by earning trust and creating curiosity about our faith.

Trust is not automatic. It is a response to character and actions.

Bill Peel and Walt Larimore, Workplace Grace


As we live out our lives and spend time with other people, being alert to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, we are beginning to understand how God can use us to disciple others, and in the process, grow as disciples ourselves.

Developing relationships with others – especially those with whom we have regular and close contact – can be very difficult. But God didn’t give us a pass on this – the Great Commission is pretty specific that we are to “make disciples” as we are going about our daily lives.

Developing relationships with others in our daily lives requires us to earn the right to be heard, and often that requires understanding and practicing new rules of engagement with others.

Gather your staff or key leaders and brainstorm personal and intentional ways in which each person can earn influence through obedience of these commands of Jesus:

  1. Turn the other cheek. “I tell you, don’t resist and evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Matthew 5:39). The “slaps” of Jesus day today take the form of rolling our eyes at someone, acting too busy to listen, or anything that communicates a condescending attitude toward others. Letting an insult bounce off us without any visible effect may quietly be the first step toward developing a conversation rather than a confrontation.
  2. Give whats asked for – and more. “As for one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well” (Matthew 5:40). The coat referred to here is like an overcoat today. Jesus’ words demonstrated an extraordinary thing to do – seeing if going beyond the initial request would settle the matter. People are more important than the point. We can plant many seeds for developing relationships by treating other people as more valuable than our own appeals for fairness and justice.
  3. Walk a little further. “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (Mathew 5:41). Roman law of the first century required Jewish cooperation in helping soldiers and officials in daily life – a practice that continually reminded the Jewish people of their second-class status. Jesus’ command turned a legalistic requirement into an act of grace, by allowing the needs of others to take precedence over our own.
  4. Show generosity. “Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42). Sharing the generous, open lifestyle of the kingdom with others is as much about the state of your heart as is the size of your wallet. We’re all needy people – we may not have the same needs, but we have many needs. Looking for ways to do more and want less is clearly not seen in much of society, and may help develop a relationship with others.

Actions like the above – when we start deliberately letting God do remarkable, countercultural things through us – are some of the best ways to help others see a difference in you, and lay the groundwork for developing a relationship as the beginning point of sharing Christ with them.

Adapted from Subversive Kingdom, by Ed Stetzer

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 61-1, published March 2017


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. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

Reduce Complexity by Moving from Planning to Preparation

How to be both resolved in planning, yet responsive to changes, as you lead toward vision.

In the life of church leaders, Sunday is always coming. There are sermons to prepare, volunteers to be trained, worship to plan, and dozens of other tasks repeated weekly.

Yet in the midst of it all, life sometimes throws us a curve, and we are faced with a crisis of minor or major proportions. Or, maybe the opposite is true: an unbelievable opportunity for ministry presents itself out of the blue.

What do you do?

Move from planning to preparation.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Agility Shift, Pamela Meyer

As contrary as it sounds, “planning” – as we traditionally understand the term – can be the worst thing a company can do. Consider that volatile weather events disrupt trusted supply chains, markets, and promised delivery schedules. Ever-shifting geo-political tensions, as well as internal political upheaval within U.S. and global governments, derail long-planned new ventures. Technology failures block opportunities.

There are a myriad of ways in the current business environment for a company’s well-considered business plans to go awry.  Most business schools continue to prepare managers to be effective in stable and predictable environments, conditions that, if they ever existed at all, are long gone.

The Agility Shift shows business leaders exactly how to make the radical mindset and strategy shift necessary to create an agile, entrepreneurial organization that can innovate and thrive in complex, ever-changing contexts. As author Pamela Meyer explains, there is much more involved than a reconfiguration of the org chart and job descriptions. It requires relinquishing the illusion of control at the very foundation of most management training and business practice.

Despite most leaders’ approaches, “Agility is not simply accelerated planning.”  Unlike many agility books on the market, The Agility Shift provides specific, actionable strategies and tactics for leaders at all levels of the organization to put into practice immediately to improve agility and achieve results.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Move from planning to preparation

The world is constantly getting more complicated, the lives we lead are gaining complexity at an ever-increasing rate. This rapid cultural change has meddled with the assumption that the near future will resemble the recent past. Change now happens so fast that the planning processes currently in use are obsolete.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Another Einstein quote is closely linked: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

If today’s leaders want to move out of the same cycle of planning and programming to just keep up, they are going to have to make an intentional shift in their thinking and actions.

It’s time to make the shift from planning as an event to developing a focus on preparing as a process.

The Agility Shift is the intentional development of the competence, capacity, and confidence to learn, adapt, and innovate in changing contexts for sustainable success.

Three Cs of the Agility Shift

Agility competence consists of the skills, knowledge, and abilities necessary to respond to the unexpected and unplanned, as well as to find opportunities in new development and emerging trends.

Agility capacity is the degree of uncertainty and volatility in which a person can be effective. For example, a team may have the competence to get a new product to market on a tight deadline, but it may not have the capacity to do so if the deadline changes several times, if the product specifications change, and/or if there is a worker strike at the manufacturing facility.

Agility confidence is the human need to trust in one’s own and others competence and capacity to be effective in changing contexts.

The 3 Shifts Needed for Agility

From Planning to Preparing

The agility shift is a shift from planning – with its focus on a linear process with a beginning, middle, and end resulting in an actual plan – to a focus on preparing, where all aspects of the system continuously develop the competence, capacity, and confidence to perform effectively in changing contexts.

From Events to Processes

Organizations must make both a mind-set shift and a practice shift, in which everything from preparing to learning to innovating is continuous, engaging activity rather than simply moments in time.

From Information to Interactions

We operate under the illusion that if we can gain more information, we will not only understand what is happening, we might just be able to control it. The mind-set necessary to improve agility is a change from an overreliance on information and uncertainty reduction toward intentional interaction.

Pamela Meyer, The Agility Shift


The agility shift is first and foremost a shift in mind-set. This mind-set values interactions within the dynamic present moment. It is also a shift from the false comfort of “a plan” to achieving a state of readiness to find opportunity in the unexpected.

Agile leaders, teams, and organizations maintain creativity under pressure. Awareness of available resources is clearly not enough; agile organizations must have the capacity to use their resources creatively and effectively at a moment’s notice in response to the unexpected. Truly agile organizations have a well-developed ability to make shifts that turn those challenges into opportunities.

Using the following SOAR techniques to lay the foundation for beginning the Agility Shift. On a separate chart tablet for each, list each of the four words:

S – Strengths

O – Opportunities

A – Aspirations

R – Results

As a team, discuss the following questions, listing group answers on each chart.


  • What are we doing really well?
  • What are our greatest assets?
  • What are we most proud of accomplishing?
  • What do our strengths tell about our skills?


  • How do we collectively understand outside threats?
  • How can we reframe to see the opportunity?
  • How can we best partner with others?


  • Considering Strengths and Opportunities, how should we make changes?
  • How do we allow our values to drive our vision?
  • How can we make a difference for our organization and its stakeholders?


  • What are our measurable results?
  • What do we want to be known for?
  • How to we tangibly translate Strengths, Opportunities, and Aspirations?

By identifying and expanding existing strengths and opportunities, your organization identifies what it does well and expands on that, thus giving you more energy to take action when confronted with sudden changes or opportunities.

Adapted from The Thin Book of Soar, by Jacqueline M. Stavros and Gina Hinrichs

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 62-1, released March 2017


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. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

Just Who is My Neighbor, Anyway?

Does your church realize that Jesus really meant that they should love their actual neighbors? Do you?

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest Commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40, NIV)

Do you think that Jesus meant we should love our actual neighbors – those who live next door, behind us, or across the hall?

We may live in the most connected time in world history, but as a society we are as isolated as we have ever been. People drive alone to work, sit alone in an office, eat alone, drive home alone, and watch TV alone, all while our neighbors are doing the same thing.

Implicit in the Great Commandment is the admonition to break out of that isolation and walk across our yard or down the hall and make a connection to our neighbors – those who live closest to us.


THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Art of Neighboring, by Jay Pathak and David Runyon.

When Jesus was asked to sum up everything into one command, He said to love God with everything we have and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Most of us have turned this simple idea of loving our neighbors into a nice saying, putting it on bumper stickers and refrigerator magnets and then going on with our lives without actually putting it into practice.

What would happen if every follower of Jesus took the Great Commandment literally? Is it possible that the solution to our society’s biggest issues has been right under our noses for the past 2,000 years?

The Art of Neighboring is a unique and necessary addition to any serious Christian’s missional library.


If we take the Great Commandment literally, we must open our eyes and our hearts to love the people on the street where we live. The act of loving our actual neighbors is one of the simplest and yet most powerful things that we can do to make an impact in our world.

The solutions to the problems in our neighborhoods can’t be found in governmental programs or getting more people to come to your church. The solutions are with people just like you in your neighborhood.

The solution is to get back to the basics of what Jesus commanded: love God and love your neighbors.

What if we took the time to get to know the people next to us and discovered that they aren’t so menacing after all? Perhaps we would find that the people on our block are normal people just like us. At the end of the day, they long for a place to belong, a place to be accepted and cared for.

The people you don’t know by name are strangers. You might occasionally see them, and they have hopefully seen you, but the level of your interaction with them is minimal; perhaps it’s only a wave from the car on the way to work in the morning. You may even know something about them, but the bottom line is if you don’t know their name, you really don’t know them.

The first step to taking the Great Commandment literally is to move from stranger to acquaintance in your relationships with those who live nearest you. Learning a person’s name is the first and easiest step you can take to become a better neighbor.

Once you have learned and remembered someone’s name, your relationship has moved from stranger to acquaintance. That’s a crucial first step. However, Jesus didn’t tell us to become acquaintances with our neighbors; he called us to love them, and that means we need to have an actual relationship with them.

Moving from acquaintance to relationship is not as clean or as easily defined as the first step. There isn’t a simple tool that can move you into relationship, because it is impossible to program relationships. All of us can, however, create environments where relationship might develop and grow into something significant.

It may sound weird to categorize levels of friendship, but we have found it’s crucial to define where we really stand with our neighbors so we can know what to do next. And understanding the neighboring framework of stranger-acquaintance-relationship can help us accomplish just that. It prompts practical steps that we can take to make real progress.

Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon, The Art of Neighboring


Sketch the image below on a chart tablet.

Imagine that the middle box in the image is your house and the other boxes are the eight houses situated nearest to you – the eight households that God has placed closed to where you live.

You probably don’t live in a community that looks so neat and precise as the image; that’s okay! Whether you live in or on a neighborhood street, a cul-de-sac, a rural lot with five-acre parcels, or in a corner apartment, try to picture the locations of your eight nearest neighbors, however they might be situated.

In the box representing your home, write your address. In the other boxes, fill in the three sub points within each box – A, B, and C – as follows:

  1. Write the names of the people who live in the house represented by the box. If you can give first and last names, that’s great. If it’s only first names, that’s fine too.
  2. Write down some relevant information about each person, some data or facts that you couldn’t see just by standing in your driveway – things you might know if you’ve spoken to the person only once or twice.
  3. Write down some in-depth information you would know after connecting with people. This might include their career plans or family dreams or anything to do with the purpose of their lives. Write down anything meaningful that you’ve learned after interacting with them.

How did you do?

According to the experiences of authors Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon, after leading this exercise with thousands of people, the results are strikingly consistent.

  • About 10% of people can fill out the names of all eight of their neighbors on line A.
  • About 3% can fill out line B for every home.
  • Less than 1% can fill out line C for every home.

Are we fulfilling the Great Commandment with our actual neighbors?

– adapted from The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon

Make a plan, include your family, to get to know more about your neighbors. Ask God to open the door for natural and meaningful interaction. Bottom line: take the time to invest in their lives, who knows, eternity may depend on it.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 63-1, March 2017.


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. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

Success Brings Unintended Consequences

During a recent Auxano All-Staff call, founder Will Mancini brought up a conversation that he, Auxano Managing Officer Jim Randall, and noted church consultant George Bullard had that revolved around a book by Jim Collins – How the Mighty Falland its relevance to church and denominational settings today. This post from 2011 came to mind, so I’m reposting it.

Starbucks’ battle back from mediocrity is well documented in CEO Howard Schultz’s 2011 book Onward. Pairing it with Jim Collins’ 2009 book How the Mighty Fall gives ChurchWorld leaders a sobering lesson in how to handle success.

Collins’ 5 Stages of Decline begin with “Hubris Born of Success.” He describes it in a short paragraph:

Great enterprises can become insulated by success; accumulated momentum can carry an enterprise forward, for a while, even if its leaders make poor decisions or lose discipline. Stage 1 kicks in when people become arrogant, regarding success virtually as an entitlement, and they lose sight of the true underlying factors that created success in the first place. When the rhetoric of success (“We’re successful because we do the specific things”) replaces penetrating understanding and insight (“We’re successful because we understand why we do the specific things and under what condition they would no longer work”), decline will likely follow.

Here’s what Starbucks’ Schultz had to say in looking back to early 2008:

If not checked, success has a way of covering up small failures, and when many of us at Starbucks became swept up in the company’s success, it had unintended effects. We ignored, or maybe we just failed to notice, shortcomings.

We were so intent upon building more stores fast to meet each quarter’s projected sales growth that, too often, we picked bad locations or didn’t adequately train newly hired baristas. Sometimes we transferred a good store manager to oversee a new store, but filled the old post by promoting a barista before he or she was properly trained.



As the years passed, enthusiasm morphed into a sense of entitlement, at least from my perspective. Confidence became arrogance and, as some point, confusion as some of our people stepped back and began to scratch their heads, wondering what Starbucks stood for.

In the early years at Starbucks, I liked to say that a partner’s job at Starbucks was to “deliver on the unexpected” for customers. Now, many partners’ energies seemed to be focused on trying to deliver the expected – mostly for Wall Street.

Great organizations foster a productive tension between continuity and change. On the one hand, they adhere to the principles that produce success in the first place, yet on the other hand, they continually evolve, modifying their approach with creative improvements and intelligent adaptation.

When organizations fail to distinguish between current practices and the enduring principles of their success, and mistakenly fossilize around their practices, they’ve set themselves up for decline.

By confusing what and why, Starbucks found itself at a dangerous crossroads. Which direction would they go?

Questions for ChurchWorld Leaders:

  • Is your organization locked in on your vision, core values, purpose, and culture?
  • Or do you move in first this direction, then that, just to have “success”?

Beware the unintended consequences of success.

an updated post on a series reviewing Onward, by Howard Shultz


preparation for a new series coming soon on Leading the Starbucks Way, by Joseph Michelli


We Are Freed by Our Choices

During a recent Auxano All-Staff call, Auxano founder Will Mancini brought up a conversation that he, Auxano Managing Officer Jim Randall, and noted church consultant George Bullard had that revolved around a book by Jim Collins – How the Mighty Fall – and its relevance to church and denominational settings today. This post from 2011 came to mind, so I’m reposting it today.


Here’s a quiz for you: What does this list of companies have in common? Xerox. Nucor. IBM. Texas Instruments. Pitney Bowes. Nordstrom. Disney. Boeing. HP. Merck.

Every one took at least one tremendous fall at some point in its history and recovered.

In every case, leaders emerged who broke the trajectory of decline and simply refused to give up on the idea of not only survival, but of ultimate triumph despite the most extreme odds.

Churches – and denominations – can go through the same cycle. During a conversation with a pastor today, he asked me what I thought about his church, and by extension, his denomination – in terms of success and failure. The lively discussion that followed reminded me of Jim Collins’ book How the Mighty Fall, ” in which he examines the five stages of decline and comes to a surprising conclusion:

 Circumstances alone do not determine outcomes. We are not imprisoned by our circumstances, our setbacks, our history, our mistakes, or even staggering defeats along the way. We are freed by our choices.

The signature of the truly great versus the merely successful is not the absence of difficulty, but the ability to come back from setbacks, even cataclysmic catastrophes, stronger than before. Great nations can decline and recover. Great companies can fall and recover. Great social institutions can fall and recover. And great individuals can fall and recover. As long as you never get entirely knocked out of the game, there remains always hope.

A major source of Collins’ inspirations has been Winston Churchill, a lesson in life of how the mighty fall – and come back stronger than ever. One of his most famous and inspiring speeches occurred in the darkest days of World War II. Collins adapted and expanded it for his closing remarks in “How the Mighty Fall.” With apologies to both Churchill and Collins, here is a modification of that same speech for the church.

Never give in. Be willing to change tactics, but never give up your vision. Be willing to end failed ministry ideas, even to stop doing things you’ve done for a long time, but never give up on the idea of building a great church to reach people for God. Be willing to change the way you do ministry, even to the point of being almost unrecognizable with what you do today, but never give up on the principles that define your church’s vision. Be willing to embrace the inevitability of creative destruction, but never give up on the discipline to create your own future. Be willing to embrace loss, to endure pain, to temporarily lose freedoms, but never give up faith in the ability to prevail for the cause of Christ. Be willing to work together with other churches, to accept necessary compromise in the areas of non-essentials, but never-ever-give up your core vision and values.

Failure is not so much a physical state as a state of mind; success is falling down, and getting up one more time, without end.





How to Build Trust That Will Bind Your Team Together

How do you help your staff work together as a true team, not just a collection of individuals?

Mention the word “team” and most people think in context of a sports activity. That may be the primary association with a team – a group of people we observe or cheer for, but in some way, everyone works together with others to achieve a goal: families, schools, businesses, non-profits – these are all teams.

Your church staff is a team as well. Are your leaders functioning in unison as a team or operating individually as a collection of individuals?

When you are part of a team, you’re not giving up your individual goals or sacrificing your personal success. Instead, team members set their sights on an even higher goal in order to magnify greater success.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni once again offers a leadership fable that is as enthralling and instructive as his first two best-selling books, The Five Temptations of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. This time, he turns his keen intellect and storytelling power to the fascinating, complex world of teams.

Kathryn Petersen, Decision Tech’s CEO, faces the ultimate leadership crisis: Uniting a team in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company. Will she succeed? Will she be fired? Will the company fail? Lencioni’s utterly gripping tale serves as a timeless reminder that leadership requires as much courage as it does insight.

Throughout the story, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions that go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. Just as with his other books, Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.


As leaders advance in their education and careers, many find it difficult to trust other members of their teams. After all, success often comes soonest to those who are competitors – even with their own teammates. Success also makes individuals protective of their reputations. Having arrived at the “top,” many leaders find it difficult to turn off the very instincts that got them there for the good of the team.

A high level of trust allows people to say what is on their minds and not feel that it will come back to hurt them. A sufficient level of trust ensures that the lines of communication are open and that no one is hiding information or wasting time trying to decide the implications of his or her view.

The costs of failing to do this are great: wasted time and energy, reluctant risk-taking, lack of communication and coordination, and low morale. Trust is necessary if people are to be open and candid about the things that have gone wrong – and accurate about what is going right.

Trust lies at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team. Without it, teamwork is all but impossible.

Trust is the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another.

Trust requires shared experiences over time, multiple instances of follow-through and credibility, and an in-depth understanding of the unique attributes of team members.

As “soft” as all of this might sound, it is only when team members are truly comfortable being exposed to one another that they begin to ac without concern for protecting themselves. As a result, they can focus their energy and attention completely on the job at hand, rather than on being strategically disingenuous or political with one another.

Members of trusting teams:

Admit weaknesses and mistakes

Ask for help

Accept questions and input about their areas of responsibility

Give one another the benefit of the doubt before arriving at a negative conclusion

Take risks in offering feedback and assistance

Appreciate and tap into one another’s skills and experience

Focus time and energy on important issues, not politics

Offer and accept apologies without hesitation

Look forward to meetings and other opportunities to work as a group.

Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team


Some of the most effective and lasting tools of building trust on a team are profiles of team members’ behavioral preferences and personality styles. These help break down barriers by allowing people to better understand and empathize with one another.

Dozens of assessments, profiles, tests, and indicators have been developed to help individuals and teams understand more about their own personality and that of their teammates.

At their simplest, all these different methods consider two things:

  1. How you relate to others.
  2. How you respond to opportunities.

Looking at these two areas will help you gain a better understanding of your personality characteristics.

If your church currently uses some type of personality assessment, when is the last time you discussed your team’s personality mix?

If it has been over six months, or if you have new team members, it’s time for a new assessment.

Here is a brief recap about the type of personality assessment Auxano uses in our consultations with churches, The Insights Discovery Profile.

Though there are variations of each color (based on your secondary color), the tool helps team members know their towering personality when it comes to serving on a team. The tool focuses on the strengths of each personality type, while also giving insight into the potential downsides of each.

A “red” is strong-willed and purposeful, a “yellow” is enthusiastic and persuasive. A “blue” is precise and deliberate, and a “green” is encouraging and sharing.

It would be a mistake to think that only a “red” can lead a team. Successful teams have a diversity of colors indicating a diversity of personality style. Good leaders appreciate the effectiveness of team members who are wired differently. Not all leaders are wired the same way. Here are the leadership personalities of each color.

Red: Directional leadership

Some are wired, and feel most comfortable, providing directional leadership. Clarity is the gift a directional leader gives to an organization. A directional leader is driven by purpose, values bright and helpful ideas, and is determined to push things forward. Without directional leaders on a team, purpose and direction will wane over time.

Yellow: Inspirational leadership

Some are built to inspire others. While a directional leader leads with the strength of the idea or the mission, an inspirational leader leads with relationships. An inspirational leader excels at investing in people and inspiring people for action. Without inspirational leaders on a team, mission can feel mechanical and purpose can feel cold.

Blue: Operational leadership

Some are built to build processes and systems that enable the organization to succeed. An operational leader has the ability to create culture and serve people by wisely implementing structures and systems that help. Without operational leaders on a team, mission will not gain traction, as there will not be systems beneath the surface.

Green: Collaborative leadership

Some are built to build consensus, collaboration, and encourage team members in the midst of exciting or challenging times. A collaborative leader excels at lateral leadership, bringing others together who are not in his or her “reporting line.” A collaborative leader makes everyone better and has the trust of the team. Without collaborative leaders on a team, silos can develop and team unity can suffer.

Hopefully the team you lead and the team you are on is a diverse mix of leadership personalities. If not, something is missing. People who are different than you make you better.

Learn more about the Insights Discovery Profile here. For a more through and guided assessment, contact us for a discussion about the Insights Discovery Profile.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 60-3, February 2017


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. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.