Do You Understand Your Conflict Management Style?

How do you handle church conflict?

No matter how you define it, conflict is a serious issue that all church leaders face – all too often. You would think that a church “family” should be able to avoid conflict. But how often does your own biological family go through conflict of various intensities?

Your church family consists of hundreds or thousands of complex human relationships, all brought together under the banner of worshipping and serving God in this particular place and time.

You’ve invested yourself heavily in these relationships – as has everyone else to varying degrees. We all have expectations of each other – and when those are not met, the seeds of conflict are planted. Left unaddressed these small seeds can grow into a garden of weeds that choke out the healthy dialog needed to restore the relationship. The longer the situation goes untended, the greater the issue(s) magnify – until the weeds have taken over the garden and any hope of bearing fruit has been squeezed out entirely.

Is it possible to avoid conflict entirely? In a word, no. We’re too “human” to hope for that.

Can we transform and redeem conflict from a destructive force to one in which all parties come through the other side, better for the experience? In a word, yes. We’re children of a loving Father, and His love can see us through any level of conflict.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Discover Your Conflict Management Style, by Speed B. Leas

Speed B. Leas helps readers to assess their conflict response and discover options appropriate to different levels of conflict.

He draws on years of experience helping conflicted congregations to provide valuable insights on the nature of conflict and its resolution, making this an excellent tool for raising self-awareness and a practical introduction to conflict management.

This new edition contains an improved Conflict Strategy Instrument, revised to reflect new learnings and more accurately describe your conflict management style.


When faced with almost any situation in life, most of us will respond on the basis of how we have handled similar encounters. Our response pattern is also influenced by the issue at hand or the individuals involved. For example, an individual may find controlling the conversation during an argument works best with his spouse. That same pattern will usually be taken in similar conflicts with others.

This “conflict management style” may be intentionally or unintentionally selected. It may also change depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the conflict.

If you accept the principle that conflict is a part of life, and that, over time, we adopt specific conflict management styles, then the natural progression delivers this: Identifying and understanding our conflict management styles will usually help us work through conflicts in a quicker and more satisfactory conclusion for all parties involved.

Understanding your conflict management style will help you become more comfortable with differences and encourage open and confident sharing of differences and concerns with one another.

This instrument identifies six different styles for managing differences: Persuading, Compelling, Avoiding/Accommodating, Collaborating, Negotiating, and Supporting.

Each can be an appropriate style, and none should be thought of as “bad” or inferior. A certain style can cause a problem when it is used inappropriately, but one should not assume that Avoiding is always wrong or that all conflicts must be confronted.

Persuasion strategies are those where a person or group attempts to change another’s point of view, way of thinking, feelings, or ideas. One attempting to persuade another uses rational approaches, deductive and inductive argument, and any other verbal means she thinks will work to convince the other that her opinion is the one that should prevail.

Most of the Compelling we experience in our day-to-day lives is not through the use of physical force but that which comes through the use of authority. Authority is the right we give to a person or group to make certain decisions for us – because it is expedient or because we can’t agree. Authority comes through a tacit or explicit contract we make with others.

When one Avoids a conflict, one evades or stays away from it, attempting to skirt it or keep it from happening. Ignoring a conflict is acting as if it weren’t going on. Fleeing is actively removing yourself from the arena in which conflict might take place. When you accommodate, you go along with the other, with the opposition. Procrastination is a common strategy used to avoid, ignore, or accommodate. Putting off dealing with the conflict may be the most common way that this set of strategies is used.

Collaborative conflict strategies are frequently touted as the best or only strategy to use when dealing with conflict. When one collaborates, one co-labors, works together, with others on the resolution of the difficulties that are being experienced.

Negotiating refers to a strategy that is very similar to Collaboration, except that the expectations of the parties are lower as they enter the conflict arena. People who use Negotiation are trying to get as much as they can, assuming that they will not get everything they want.

Often called communication skills or active listening, Support strategies assume that the other is the one with the problem. It is your task NOT to take responsibility for dealing with it, but to help the other deal with the problem.

Speed B. Leas, Discover Your Conflict Management Style


Use the following team exercise to help everyone understand the different types of conflict management styles.

Create a fictional congregational situation that has the potential for being divisive. Develop a back-story and supporting characters.

Ask each member of your team to undertake one of the six types of conflict management styles listed above. If you have more than six on your team, partner up with others so there are six groups.

With the fictional situation in mind, allow 15 minutes for each group to develop a brief presentation for the rest of their group, based on their assigned conflict management style. The presentation should include highlights or bullet points written on a chart tablet.

When everyone has completed their work, have each group present their work to the entire team.

After each team has made their presentation, enter into a team discussion, working through each of the six conflict management styles. Ask individual team members to share which of the six they are most comfortable using, and which is most uncomfortable.

In closing, challenge the team to review and keep in mind these six conflict management styles as they lead their individual teams.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix Issue 66-2, issued May 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.


Working Remotely Starts With Your Culture

How can we maximize team effectiveness, as well as better steward Church resources, by leveraging cultural shifts in the workplace?

If you ask people where they go when they really need to get work done, very few will respond “the office.” If they do say the office, they’ll include a qualifier such as “super early in the morning before anyone gets in” or “I stay late at night after everyone’s left” or “I sneak in on the weekend.”

What they’re trying to tell you is that it is hard to actually get work done at the office. The average office has become the last place people want to be when they really want to get work done during the day. How many Pastors actually study for Sunday in their office? Most have a home-office or office-within-the-office they retreat into.

That’s because offices have become disruption factories.

Meaningful work, creative work, thoughtful work, and important work – this type of effort takes stretches of uninterrupted time to get into the zone. But in most offices, such long stretches just can’t be found. Instead, it’s just one appointment or distraction after another.

Millions of workers and thousands of companies have already discovered the joys and benefits of working remotely.

Is it time your church considered current remote working options?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Year Without Pants, by Scott Berkun

Fifty million websites, or 20 percent of the entire web, use WordPress software. The force behind is a convention-defying company called Automattic, Inc., whose 120 employees work from anywhere in the world they wish, barely use email, and launch improvements to their products dozens of times a day. With a fraction of the resources of Google, Amazon, or Facebook, they have a similar impact on the future of the Internet. How is this possible? What’s different about how they work, and what can other companies learn from their methods?

To find out, former Microsoft veteran Scott Berkun worked as a manager at, leading a team of young programmers developing new ideas. The Year Without Pants shares the secrets of’s phenomenal success from the inside. Berkun’s story reveals insights on creativity, productivity, and leadership from the kind of workplace that might be in everyone’s future.

  • Offers a fast-paced and entertaining insider’s account of how an amazing, powerful organization achieves impressive results
  • Includes vital lessons about work culture and managing creativity

The Year Without Pants shares what every organization can learn from the world-changing ideas for the future of work at the heart of Automattic’s success.


Culture is incredibly important when it comes to considering moving into the possibility of remote work. The stronger your culture, the less specific training and oversight is needed.

You don’t need everyone to be physically together to create a strong culture. After all, culture really isn’t found in a handbook or in a poster on a wall. Culture is about the actions and values being lived out day by day in your organization.

If your culture is strong, and is centered on your vision, then physical location of work being done toward those ends is – or should be – a minor concern. As a practical matter, most organizations today have blown past the work/personal life boundaries of prior generations.

Isn’t it time to recognize that, and bring a little common sense back into the equation?

Many people assume working remotely is a sham. It violates the bright yellow line that we pretend exists between work and home, a line shattered by laptops and movie e-mail years ago.

The very idea of working remotely seems strange to most people until they consider how much time at traditional workplaces is spent working purely through computers. If 50 percent of your interacting with coworkers is online, perhaps through e-mail and web browsers, you’re practically working remotely.

If remote work allows location to become irrelevant, you can hire the best talent in the world, wherever they are.

Remote work will succeed or fail because of company culture, not because of the feature itself.

Self-motivated people thrive when granted independence

Managers who want better performance must provide what their staff need

Remote work is a kind of trust, and trust works two ways. If someone who works for you wants to work remotely or use a new e-mail tool or brainstorming method, little is lost in letting him or her try it out. If his or her performance stays the same or improves, you win. If it goes poorly, you still win, as you’ve demonstrated your willingness to experiment, encouraging everyone who works for you to continue looking for ways to improve their performance.

Most people doubt online meetings can work, but they somehow overlook that most in-person meetings don’t work either. Being online does mean everyone might be distracted, but plenty of meetings today are filled with people with their laptops open, messaging each other about how bored they are.

Scott Berkun, The Year Without Pants


When considering the move to having remote work as a regular part of your organizational routine, the strength of your present culture is a huge first step. Even with a strong culture, though, you as a leader need to be prepared for comments and criticism from within your organization, from the stakeholders outside the organization, and from the people your organization serves.

To prepare for dealing with these criticisms, write potential excuses for why remote work won’t work for you. Use the ideas below as starters, and add your own unique ones.

  • We can really only work when we’re all in a room
  • If I can’t see my team, how do I know they’re working?
  • Homes, coffee shops, etc. are full of distractions
  • Sensitive information won’t be secure offsite
  • What about when someone needs something NOW?
  • I’ll lose control of my team
  • We have a lot of resources (read, money) tied up in physical spaces

After you have completed the list, review it, and counter as many of the criticisms as possible. Don’t make this a solo exercise; involve your whole team in this process.

Working remotely isn’t without complication or occasional sacrifice. It’s about making things better for more people more of the time.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 67-1, issued May 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.

Developing a Generous Life: Downsize to Maximize

How can you experience the transforming power of a generous life? 

Generosity is a testimony of God’s grace in your life. It affirms your faith and it is how God desires to work around the world. You are declaring your faith again and again every time you give. When you then give extravagantly, you are truly participating at a high level in the advancement of the gospel mission. You perceive in an increasing way, what is important to God, how He works in the world, and desires to partner with you.

But where do you start in developing a generous life?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The More of Less, by Joshua Becker

Most of us know we own too much stuff. We feel the weight and burden of our clutter, and we tire of cleaning and managing and organizing.

While excess consumption leads to bigger houses, faster cars, fancier technology, and cluttered homes, it never brings happiness. Rather, it results in a desire for more. It redirects our greatest passions to things that can never fulfill. And it distracts us from the very life we wish we were living. In The More of Less, Joshua Becker, helps you….

  • recognize the life-giving benefits of owning less
  • realize how all the stuff you own is keeping you from pursuing your dreams
  • craft a personal, practical approach to decluttering your home and life
  • experience the joys of generosity
  • learn why the best part of minimalism isn’t a clean house, it’s a full life

The beauty of minimalism isn’t in what it takes away. It’s in what it gives.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Downsize to Maximize

Contentment is a lifelong pursuit. It truly is hard to be content. As a matter of fact, you have to learn how to be content. Here are two words that can help: process and perspective. Contentment is not an event or experience, it is a trained discipline of the soul. Perspective is the active ingredient that enables contentment in many different trying situations. 

Once we let go of the things that dont matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter.

There is more joy to be found in owning less than can ever be found in pursuing more. In a world that constantly tells us to buy more and more, we often lose sight of that. But consider the life-giving benefits. You can expect a payoff in every one of the following areas if you practice the principles of minimalism taught in The More of Less.

More time and energy – the fewer things we have, the more of our time and energy we’ll have left to devote to other pursuits that matter more to us.

More money – by buying fewer things, we spend less money.

More generosity – there are countless opportunities worth vastly more than material accumulation.

More freedom – every time we remove an unnecessary item, we gain back a little freedom.

Less stress – every added possession increases the worry in our lives.

Less distraction – everything around us competes for our attention.

Less environmental impact – overconsumption accelerates the destruction of natural resources.

Higher-quality belongings – owning more stuff is not better; owning better stuff is better.

A better example for our kids – give your children a framework to counteract the out-of-control lifestyle marketed to them.

Less comparison – purposefully owning less begins to take us out of the unwinnable game of comparison.

More contentment – material possessions will never fully satisfy the desires of our hearts.

Joshua Becker, The More of Less


If we were to be honest with ourselves, many of us could identify with a five-year old when it comes to buying and owning things. We’re captivated by the glamour of things – and we want them now!

Which over time means we end up with a home full of clutter.

So where do you actually start trying to clear out all that stuff you own?

You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 principle. It’s a generality, but it has proven true in many areas of life. How about trying it in the area of your possessions?

It means that you use 20 percent of your stuff 80 percent of the time, and you use the other 80 percent of your stuff only 20 percent of the time. Within that 80 percent of your stuff that mostly just lies around, there should be plenty of choices to start trimming down clutter.

Start with the areas of your home that you use frequently. Living rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms are a great place to start because you will quickly see the benefits of getting rid of stuff.

As you move from room to room, just put things in a box for later sorting. The idea is to start simplifying your life so you will see the benefits. Now it’s time for the fun.
Have a personal garage sale and give your profit back to the church or specific missionary. Alternately, you could donate to a local organization that can resell for ministry funds. Bottom line, keep the big-picture in mind.

Now step back and take a look at the results, and start the peace that comes from living in a home that has enough – but not too much. And the joy of leveraging your excess for Kingdom access.

Even if the benefits in the list above and the short exercise above were the only reasons for practicing contentment and minimalism, they would be enough. But there’s more. There’s also the personalized benefit each of us can get from minimalism. Getting rid of what you don’t need is the first step toward crafting the life you want.

Giving joyfully then regretting painfully is no fun. Giving should be 100% rewarding all the time. How can we discover this? Can we move to an incredible lifestyle of consistency, dependability, and the rewarding life of generosity? A place where the front side and back side of giving are equally meaningful?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 65-1, issued April 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.

Leaders Execute the Vision

Does your lack of organizational focus keep everyone too busy – especially you?

 Do you feel like most days you are running on a ministry treadmill? You know the feeling – it’s when the busyness of ministry creates a progressively irreversible hurriedness in your life as a leader. The sheer immediacy of each next event or ministry demand prevents you from taking the time to look to the future horizon – and sometimes even today’s calendar – until it crashes in on you.

All too often, today’s demands can choke out the needed dialogue for tomorrow. When this occurs, your multiplied activity accomplishes little of value and prevents you from ministry with a clear sense of what God has called you to do.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Escape Velocity by Geoffrey A. More

In Escape Velocity, Geoffrey A. Moore, author of the marketing masterwork Crossing the Chasm, teaches twenty-first century enterprises how to overcome the pull of the past and reorient their organizations to meet a new era of competition. The world’s leading high-tech business strategist, Moore connects the dots between bold strategies and effective execution, with an action plan that elucidates the link between senior executives and every other branch of a company.

For anyone aiming for the pinnacle of success, Escape Velocity is an irreplaceable roadmap to the top.


While forecasting the future should be seen as a necessary action for ministry today, Auxano Founder and Team Leader Will Mancini believes that for every leader who surfs the waves of cultural change there are a hundred who are stuck in a whirlpool vortex – and they feel they can’t keep their heads above the waters.

The world outside us is not stuck. It is changing rapidly even as we find ourselves sinking deeper and deeper into the comfort of yesterday.

It’s time to go back to the drawing board for vision, strategy, and execution.

The larger and more successful the enterprise, the greater the inertial mass, the harder it is to alter course and speed.

What if there is some hidden force that is working against your best efforts? What if this force is operating inside your own company, with the full support of your executive team, your board, and indeed yourself? What if this force is able to mysteriously redirect resource allocation so that it never quite gets deployed against new agendas? That force is the pull of the past.

To move beyond the pull of the past, you must organize and shape your approach to the planning effort of next year with three goals foremost:

Articulate a compelling vision of the future that others will want to support.

Set a strategy consistent with your vision.

Resource your execution so that it can accomplish your highest aspirations.

To free your organization’s future from the pull of the past, to escape the gravitational field of your prior year’s operating plan, you need to apply a force that is greater than the inertial momentum of current operations.

Newton’s first law of motion states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to continue in the direction in which it is currently moving. The same goes for resource allocation.

When organizations begin their strategic planning effort by circulating last year’s operating plan, they reinforce the inertial properties of the resources as currently allocated. This is not a good outcome, but to be frank, there is no help for it.

What you can do, however, is get yourself and your colleagues out in front of it. Execution is acting and reacting in real time to an ever-changing set of circumstances, all the while maintaining your strategic intent. Execution power, by contrast, is created in advance of the real-time moment of truth and focuses on getting the right resources in the right position for maximum impact and efficiency.

Geoffrey A. Moore, Escape Velocity


It’s time to develop a visionary state of mind by practicing two essentials. First, you need to grasp that clarity isn’t everything, but it changes everything. Too many times, church leaders are making decisions and having conversations without the vantage point of clarity first. Is there anything greater that we should be working on? Why would we put our foot on the gas petal before the fog lifts? All activity is not progress. In churches today, it’s all too easy to be busy without intention or direction.

Second, we need to state our vision framework before we frame our vision statement. Leaders must work from a common template to understand and communicate vision, or everyone will stay confused. The story and vision of the church won’t work its way into staff meetings, volunteer training, membership moments, casual conversations or our prayer lives.

Introducing the Vision Frame

No leader should lead, no team should meet, and no initiative should start without understanding the Vision Frame. In short, the Vision Frame reminds us that there are five irreducible questions of clarity. Your church’s vision isn’t totally clear until your leadership team can answer all five questions in a concise and compelling way:

  • MISSION as Missional Mandate: What are we doing?
    The missional mandate is a clear and concise statement describing what your church is ultimately supposed to be doing.
  • VALUES as Missional Motives: Why are we doing it?
    Missional motives are shared convictions that guide the actions and reveal the strengths of your church.
  • STRATEGY as Missional Map: How are we doing it?
    The missional map is the process or picture that demonstrates how your church will accomplish its mandate on the broadest level.
  • MEASURES as Missional Life Marks: When are we successful?
    Missional life marks are a set of attributes in an individual’s life that define or reflect the accomplishment of the church’s missional mandate.
  • VISIONPROPER as Missional Mountaintop + Milestones: Where is God taking us?
    Vision Proper is the living language that anticipates and illustrates God’s better intermediate future.

When you commit to clarity, great things happen. You empower a movement of people to tell the story of what God is doing in and through your church. You can seamlessly share the what, the why, and the how.

Don’t let all the different vision terms and concepts excuse you from being an everyday visionary. It’s time to stop stabbing at the future with a few short phrases. You can guide your church with stunning clarity. Remember Jesus. He walked on Earth with total clarity about His identity, His mission and His destiny. Shouldn’t His body today do the same?

Download a Vision Frame Overview and work through it with your lead team.

Start a conversation with an Auxano Navigator today to learn more about how the Vision Frame can help you execute your vision.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 64-2, released April 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.

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.

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.

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.