4 Key Leadership Skills for Career Success

4 Key Leadership Skills for Career Success

By: Robert Dickie

I’ve been in the military and the business world in various forms of leadership for the past 19 years. Although senior leaders of organizations share a great deal with their teams, one thing that is rarely – if ever – talked about is the frank behind-the-doors analysis of people that happens in every organization. Those are “make it or break it” conversations for most people’s careers. These conversations come in many forms, but especially during annual performance reviews and budget preparation for the new fiscal year.

Leaders are forced to look at cold, hard facts. Who is performing and who isn’t? Who is achieving results and who is coasting? Who is a rising star we can’t live without versus who is causing drama and problems that are sidetracking the organization? These are tough conversations. From the military to the private sector, I have seen people get promotions and fast-track their careers because of these conversations, while others have had their careers come to an unceremonious end because of them.

If you prepare and are doing the right things, these conversations will propel you to new opportunities. This is not about having nice conversations in the hallway or performing well at the annual Christmas party. You need to be a top performer, getting results, and helping the organization win. In short, you need to be seen as a developing leader who is growing and ready to take on more responsibility. Companies don’t downsize, automate, or offshore leaders getting results!

To be seen as a developing leader in your organization, you need to demonstrate the following four critical characteristics of leadership as you perform your duties.

1. Leaders leverage failure.

One thing is certain… Failure is part of the journey. I don’t know any great leader who has not had multiple failures in their career. However, when discussing these failures, they are quick to talk about what they have learned. Instead of having a fatalistic view of failure, they seek it as part of their journey.

Once they have learned from failure, it is no longer a failure – it is a learning experience. With that outlook, failures can be seen as tuition paid for a real-life education. I have learned that our greatest victories are often given birth through what we perceive as failure.

2. Leaders are problem solvers.

Leaders solve problems that others can’t. Managers are paid to manage processes, systems, and people. There is a big difference between managing and leading something. Managers are easily replaced. Leaders are not. Leaders see the big picture and understand how the entire process works, how value is created, and what is most important. It has been said that the people who know HOW will always work for the people who know WHY. Leaders always know the why and are generally very competent with the how as well.

Become a problem solver for your organization who understands the big picture and the why for your firm, and you will quickly rise to the top and have much greater opportunities.

3. Leaders are lifelong learners.

A Harvard Business School professor in the Executive Education Program recently said, “You CEOs in decades past came to this program to gain an edge. Today you come to this program just so you can stay current and not fall behind in the quickly changing global economy.” Leaders are always seeking an edge, which traditionally has come from education and experiences. Today the best leaders are able to see the world differently from the rest. They see the world at an angle, and thus see opportunities before the rest of the pack.

This vision, which comes from education and real-world experience, is more important than ever. Leaders attend executive education courses and conferences and leverage MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) by websites like,, and to obtain an edge. By definition, leaders are expected to lead the way. A lack of education and skill is the quickest way to fall out of a leadership position you worked hard to earn.

4. Leaders live in their design.

There is no “best type” of leader for every organization. There are different types of leaders that have different skill sets and abilities. The best one for you to be is the leader God designed you to be. No one would put a Corvette in a farm field or a tractor in the Indy 500. Each machine has been uniquely designed for a specific function. We get the best results when we use it as it was designed. So too, God has designed each of us with our own unique skills, values, interests, and passions. If we build our career around those skills, we open up the doors of opportunity to perform at our best.

Finding our design takes time and introspection. Many leaders need a lifetime of trial and error to develop their self-awareness that allows them to achieve peak performance. I recommend taking a career shortcut to discover this by taking a Career Direct assessment ( This report will help you gain the self-awareness you need to operate at your best and live within your God-given design.

Finally, I encourage you to aspire to leadership in your career for the right reasons. Executives who crashed companies like Enron, WorldCom, Bear Stearns, and others, many times aspired to leadership positions for personal reasons like wealth, fame, power, and prestige. When those are your motivators, you are led to taking risk and leading in ways that can cause you to make poor decisions.
I encourage you to aspire to leadership positions in your career to make a positive impact in the world and help those around you. When you lead with that mindset, you will lead with heart and soul. That will help you stay centered and grounded to make the right decisions. In doing so, always remember to seek God’s will for your career. There is a big difference between Him leading the way, and us crafting our own plans and inviting him to join us. The leadership journey is hard and full of obstacles, but the reward of making the world a better place is worth it. Enjoy the process!


About Robert: Robert Dickie is the author of Love Your Work: 4 Practical Ways You Can Pivot to Your Best Career. As president of Crown, he is dedicated to helping people create long-term plans for financial, career, and business success. Bob serves on multiple nonprofit boards, and is an avid Spartan racer and mountain climber. He and his wife, Brandi, have been happily married for 21 years and have been blessed with six children.


Leading Together

Leading Together

By: Heather Snodgrass


Leadership doesn’t always look like what we expect. Sometimes being a leader means leading a team from the top-down, but sometimes it means leading side-to-side, and sometimes it means leading from the bottom-up. I’ve lead well from the top-down and I’ve lead well from the bottom-up, but leading side-to-side is a whole different story. And for me, it’s not a story I’m proud of.

Recently, I co-directed a big event with a co-worker of mine. We started planning for the event six months in advance and everything seemed to be going pretty smoothly, that is until about a month and a half before D-day. Things started heating up, tempers quietly flared, and tensions built. Three days before the event, we had a…conversation about how we’d been feeling toward each other. It was respectful, but it was filled with the frustrations we’d built up toward each other over the past six months.

Hearing the things my co-director had to say about how I’d acted as a partner hurt me. When I heard things like, “You’ve acted like I couldn’t do anything” and “I feel like you haven’t been trusting me,” I instantly thought of every reason why I was right in acting the way that I had. Because I was right. She was wrong.

I allowed myself those few minutes of anger, but then I forced myself to calm down and really think about what she was saying. Were those things true? Had I done them? Is that how I wanted to be known? During our whole journey I kept thinking to myself how much easier it was to lead from the top-down or from the bottom-up, but if I can’t lead side-to-side, am I really a leader?

Instead of wallowing in self-pity and mourning the death of the leader in me, I decided to be proactive about it. Yeah, I failed as a partner this time around, but I’m going to have a thousand more chances to partner with people, and I’m going to learn from my mistakes and do better next time.

Here are three things I learned about how to lead well with others:


1) Learn each other’s strengths up front.

If you’re going to be successful in leading alongside others, you have to know and be honest about your strengths, so you can play to those and have the best possible outcome. I’m organized and good at communication. I’m not very creative without someone giving me a boost, and I can’t visualize spaces well at all. I would be a terrible interior designer. So naturally, I wouldn’t play the role of decorator in planning an event. Next time I co-lead with someone I’ll make sure that we have this conversation up-front so it’s clear what parts of the job I’ll do well, and what parts they’ll do well.


2) Have “last 10%” conversations early and often.

At Cross Point, we have a staff value that says, “Lean into the last 10%”. It’s not hard to be 90% honest in conversations and conveniently leave out the tough parts—the frustrations and tensions, or even the thanks and appreciation. In the above situation, if my co-director and I had had last 10% conversations early on when we started feeling frustrated with each other, instead of saving it until three days before the event, then we would have had a much more enjoyable planning experience than we did. Last 10% conversations are not easy to have, but they’re necessary if you want to be successful as a leader.


3) Trust. Trust. Trust.

If you’re a type-A control freak like me, trusting others to do things well is hard. However, after learning each other’s strengths up front, all you can do is trust that your partner is the best one for that role and can get the job done well. Sneakily taking tasks from him/her isn’t going to do anything except erode trust and burn the bridge between you.


I wish my co-director and I had done these three things at the beginning of and throughout our partnership rather than waiting until the end, but I’m still glad we had the conversation we did. During those final three days before the event, I worked hard to implement the things she had told me I’d failed at. I went out of my way to show her I trusted her, I thanked her often, and I celebrated our success with her. It ended up being an incredible event and, while it definitely wasn’t a smooth process, she made me a better leader.

Leading with others is one of the hardest parts of being a leader, but if you can learn to lead well in those situations, you’ll be combining the best of many people into one team or event, and what ends up happening will be magical.



Heather Snodgrass works at Cross Point Church as the Bellevue Dream Center Coordinator, where she oversees the DCS Safe Room and the adult special needs ministry. She lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, Taylor.


3 Tips for Leading Great Team Meetings

Meaningless Meetings or Intentional Conversations? – 3 Tips for Leading Great Team Meetings

By: Jenni Catron

I was recently talking with a new client in preparation for our first consulting visit. This was a routine call that I typically do with the leader to ask some basic questions about how they interact with their team. It’s a quick way for me to get insight to how the leader leads and how their team operates. Usually it’s a quick peak into their culture which helps me prepare for working with them.


As with most of the clients we serve, this was a young organization that had grown rapidly and found themselves frustrated with the difficulty and complexity they were facing. Not uncommon at all.

But after asking just a few questions, I discovered a significant trouble spot that was incredibly easy to fix.

This leader and his team had no structure or rhythm for meeting together.

“How do you get anything done?” I asked.

“Well, it’s getting more and more difficult.” Mike replied. “When there were just a handful of us on staff we just kind of figured out how to get the information we needed. We were constantly together so it was never a problem. Now, there are dozens of us at different office locations with varying work schedules, and it seems like it’s harder than ever to get even the simplest things done. Let alone actually hold anyone accountable for their work.”


What Mike expressed to me is something I’ve heard from too many leaders. It’s a common reality especially for organizations that start small and grow rapidly. Creating meeting structures feels bureaucratic. We fear we’ll lose the relational culture and spontaneous spirit that helped us get to where we’ve gotten so far. We resist it rather than recognize that without it we could actually begin to lose the very thing we’re clinging to.

Most of us resist creating weekly staff meetings and regular one-on-one meetings with our team because we’re afraid of boring meetings that everyone hates. I get it.

But I believe that we have to reframe our perspective on this, because as a leader you need regular time with your team in order to lead from your extraordinary best.

Personally, I believe you need to establish this rhythm as soon as you have someone else you’re working with to accomplish a shared goal. Whether there are two of you or 2,000, regular gatherings for connecting and communicating are essential for your effectiveness as a team. I like to think of meetings as “intentional conversations around a shared goal.”


1) Determine the Purpose

Why are you meeting? The reason so many of us are resistant to creating regular meetings is because we fear the boredom of monotonous information that doesn’t help us actually get our work done. As a leader, you’ve got to own this and be committed to creating meetings that unite the team and equip each person to do their job better. If a meeting doesn’t move the mission forward, cut it. If the mission isn’t moving forward, start gathering the troops for a regular meeting.

2) Be Prepared

Another reason we have meeting-phobia is that people (including the leader) often show up unprepared. This is why most meetings feel like a waste of time. Set an agenda ahead of time. If you’re leading the meeting, send the agenda as well as any prep work the team needs to do in adequate time for them to be prepared as well. If you’re naturally a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants leader, you will falsely assume that everyone else can do this too. They can’t. Your team will be more prepared and contribute more confidently if they have had time to think about the topic or prepare necessary information for the meeting.

3) Establish a Regular Schedule

Your team needs predictable rhythms of work. Most of us face enough surprises and curve balls in our regular work. Sporadic meeting schedules don’t need to add to the chaos. Determine how frequently you need to meet to effectively accomplish your shared goals and then commit to that schedule.

None of us want to be victims of “death by meetings” but we also don’t want to experience organization death because of not meeting. Gather your team and get stuff done!


Jenni Catron is the Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group.  Her passion is to equip and inspire leaders to lead from their extraordinary best!


Building A Good Creative Culture

Building A Good Creative Culture

By: Stephen Brewster

Leadership can be tricky. Expectations creep in stronger while vision continually leaks. It’s not easy to create engaging, creative, and collaborative environments. Further, leaders are human, which means we’re 100% guaranteed to make mistakes, mess up, and fail from time to time.

But don’t give up hope – great creative cultures can be built. It takes very intentional work and remembering a few important behaviors:

  • The gift of not always being right. – As a leader, we don’t have to know everything. The illusion of control will kill us if that is our goal. We have teammates for a reason – use them. Allow teammates to do what they do and shine and accept that we’re not going to be always right. That is what makes our team strength not a personal weakness.
  • Willingness to admit and own mistakes. – Own that our personal mistakes will happen. It will set a tone for teammates to do the same and not try to hide errors, but be willing to share them so teams can adjust.
  • Grace to coach. – When things go wrong, use the moment to coach, but don’t hold on to the issue personally. Remember to extend grace to the level you would want grace extended to you…all the while holding people accountable for their responsibilities and for getting better.
  • Protection from the haters. – Protect our artists. As a leader, we are responsible to buffer for our teams. Let them create passionately without the fear of haters.
  • Hustle from the top down. – Simply: the pace of the leader is the pace of the team. It’s not about 80-hour workweeks, but about how we approach the hours we do work.
  • Tell the truth. – Leaders have to make hard decisions at times. Be upfront and honest at all times.
  • Set expectations. – Staying on the same page as the rest of your team is crucial. Set the stage for success by being clear on what is expected and what roles are required to be filled. When team members fail to meet these expectations, be willing to coach and create a path to their success.
  • Value people – People are not widgets. Treat them like people. Think about them as people – not spots on an Org chart. Engage them and relationships with them so you know WHO they are not just what they do.
  • Treat everyone fair, but not the same. – People are different and need to be approached differently. Everyone will not be treated the same, but everyone should be treated fair. Make sure to not play favorites.
  • Deflect & Own. – Deflect praise to team members and the teams work. Own blame and error individually as the leader, then coach and correct the team. Throwing people under the bus never builds good culture.

Continue working hard to create amazing creative environments. When we do, we set up our teams to win, create the ability to bring in the best talent, and build cultures where we actually LIKE to do what we love with people we enjoy working with.


Stephen wants to encourage people to be brave enough to be their creative best. He serves as the Creative Pastor at Real Life Church in Orlando, Florida. He has spent the past 15 years in professional creative environments including church, music business, marketing, management, artist development, creative team leading and art directing. He lives in Orlando, FL with his wife Jackie and their four amazing kids.


4 Ways You Can Lead Without the “Leader” Title

You’re here to learn about leadership. You follow this blog to learn ways to become a better leader, read the newest Patrick Lencioni book to become a better leader, and took the StrengthsFinder test for the umpteenth time to become a better leader. And for that I commend you. You should want to lead better.

But I would bet that some of you reading this don’t have the “leader” title. You aren’t the “Director” or “Manager” or whatever that title is at your organization. More of you aren’t what some of my friends and I jokingly call the “boss-boss.” You know, the ultimate boss of your team. The “President” or “Senior Pastor” or whoever is ultimately at the tippy-top of the org chart. Just because you aren’t a “leader” on the org chart doesn’t mean you can’t lead in your role, though.

Being only 24, I have yet to be “boss-boss” or even just “the boss,” but that doesn’t mean I haven’t worked at being a leader. Being a leader in today’s workspace has a lot more to do with the relationships people have with you and the trust you’re given by your superiors and peers alike. Here are four things I’ve learned earn big leadership and trust points as you continue to grow as a leader and continue to be trusted as a leader in your role:

1. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it.

This one seems simple, but you’d be surprised how jarring this is for some people. One of the key elements of leading is being someone that people can trust. Not trust in an “I know something you don’t know” kind of way, but be someone that can be trusted to follow through. If you come through on everything you say you will, people are going to recognize it. It may not be right away, but over time you’ll become a “go-to player” when important projects, decisions, etc. come down the line. If you’re crushing it in the everyday tasks, your peers and leaders will notice and trust that you’re a person who keeps their word.

2. Live the (ideal) culture.

Part of your leader’s role is to set the tone for the organization. They work hard to come up with a mission, values, vision, whatever you want to call it, and then they implement that culture in the organization. If you want to grow as a leader, hop on board. As you lean in to and live the culture that’s being created, you’ll grow into an ambassador for the exemplary employee and teammate. Culture is created for the benefit of the brand and team, so if you lead the way in owning that culture, everyone around you will benefit and follow your lead.

3. Fill the gaps.

Part of leading is finding ways to improve your organization. That doesn’t just need to come from the top, down, though. Save your leader some stress by going ahead and filling those gaps. Don’t go around bragging about how great you are because you went above and beyond to cover a glaring hole, though. Filling gaps for the recognition isn’t leading; it’s sucking up. Lead your team by making it the best it can be. Make yourself an integral and go-to member of the team that leads the way in making the machine go.

4. Ask.

This is one of the easiest and most difficult ways to lead. By simply asking your leader what you can do to lead from your current spot, you show a lot of courage and responsibility that comes with being a leader. However, be prepared that everything you hear may not be what you want to hear. What you hear might require more effort or difficult conversation. But all of that is part of being a leader. Sometimes you’ll ask how you can grow as a leader, and you’ll find out about some blind spots that you didn’t know you had. Sometimes you’ll find out that you aren’t doing as great of a job at following through as you thought. That’s ok, though. Because you asked, you now know and can show your leadership by owning your shortcomings and starting to correct them. Leaders can’t be above reproach, and when you admit that, you begin to truly lead yourself as well as those around you.

There are plenty of other things that you can do to lead when you aren’t in charge, but these are four that I’ve tried really hard to practice in my roles. I’ve also had these things asked of me as I asked ways that I could lead from my seat, and they aren’t always easy things to do. However, if you want to grow as a leader, it’s not always easy. It requires humility, a posture of learning and the willingness to earn your stripes on the bottom of the totem pole before you can become the “boss-boss.”


Taylor Snodgrass is the Associate Programming Director at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, where he lives with his wife, Heather. He is passionate about leading others to excellence in the church and in their every day lives.


Organized for Chaos

Organized for Chaos

By: Jenni Catron


“Most companies organize around personalities rather than around functions. That is, around people rather than accountabilities or responsibilities. The result is almost always chaos.”

-Michael E. Gerber – The E Myth Revisited (p167)


If this statement is true for businesses it seems to be equally true for churches and non-profit organizations. When I’m working with a new client, one of the first things I request is a copy of their organizational chart. I want to get a sense for what people do and how they work. But more often than not, even if they can produce an organizational chart (which often doesn’t exist at all), they have to call me to explain it. The nuances, dotted lines, exceptions and uniqueness to their structure can’t be clearly outlined on paper.

In a word: CHAOS!

There are always good reasons for these messy organizational structures.


“Bob is really passionate about men’s ministry so he oversees the men’s monthly breakfast even though his primary responsibility is I.T.”

“We can’t afford to hire someone for connections, so Suzy oversees it in addition to her role as Kid’s Director.”

“I can’t find a qualified candidate that I trust so I do the bookkeeping in addition to my role as Executive Director.”

“The receptionist quit and we couldn’t find a replacement, so Carrie just moved her office to the front desk and answers phones while also coordinating events.”


These explanations and the challenges they represent are very common for many organizations, particularly if your organization is small and growing fast. It’s quite understandable.

The problem surfaces when you convince yourself there is nothing you can do about it. When your convoluted structure becomes the norm, I guarantee confusion, morale decline and culture erosion are on the horizon.

Confusion hinders momentum.

When your staff do not understand who does what or how to work together to get things done, they will get bogged down and become less effective.

Unclear structure unintentionally creates bureaucracy. When it’s not clear who does what or who to go to for answers, your staff either quit trying to figure it out or they expend an exorbitant amount of energy working it out. Either way, you’re not getting the best from them and they are likely frustrated and less motivated.

Leaders, one of our primary responsibilities is to fight for clarity.

An important part of clarity is providing your team with clearly written job descriptions and an understandable organizational chart.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Does each member of your staff have a written job description?
  • Do you have an updated organizational chart and does every staff member have a copy?
  • Does each staff person know whom he or she report to?
  • Are staff members evaluated regularly according to their job description and key objectives?

If you answered no to any of these questions, I encourage you to begin providing this clarity today.

Remember, clarity is critical to accomplishing extraordinary outcomes!

Need help getting clarity?


Jenni Catron is the Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group.  Her passion is to equip and inspire leaders to lead from their extraordinary best!


Where are you holding back?

Where are you holding back?

By: Cory Lebovitz


There is a story in the book of Acts that has always interested me. I will tell you that every time I read this story it evokes something in me on the topic of excellence. In Acts 5 we see a brief retelling of the story of Ananias and Sapphira. You can read the whole story on your own, but the short version is that people in the church were selling all they had and using those resources to invest in the Kingdom. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to be counted among those who were investing in the Kingdom – but they held something back and it cost them everything. Like drop dead in an instant everything.

The story intrigues me because I think it highlights a big value in the heart of God. What did they do wrong? I would suggest they did one main thing, which violated the heart of God….they acted like they were whole hearted when they were really half-hearted. I am not telling you how to interpret the Scripture – I am just telling you the lesson I pull out of this story each time I read it. We violate the heart of God when we say we are whole-hearted but secretly hold something back.

With Ananias and Sapphira it was money that they held back. Where are you holding back?

A few years ago I started to observe a danger in volunteer environments. When volunteers and paid staff work closely together it is possible for volunteers to express pro-rated effort. Another word for it is mediocre effort. The logic behind it was simple – “I am not paid staff…I just volunteer…so any effort I put in is better than nothing.” This observation set something deep into my heart. It placed a conviction in me for volunteers.

God did not create us to be mediocre; He created us to serve with excellence. 

I need to point out that there is a big difference between excellence and perfection. None of us are perfect. The expectation on Ananias and Sapphira was not to bring enough resources to the table to meet every need. The expectation on them was to do what was within their capacity. Inside each of us we know the difference between putting it all on the line and holding something back. And God created us to invest fully into Kingdom work.

Now when it comes to your specific environment there is likely an expectation of excellence. There is a bar, a standard that leaders want to see reached. So how do you balance an expectation of excellence with the reality of being a volunteer?

First you have to understand that pressure drives excellence. What drives a person to accomplish something of worth or value? It is a pressure that propels them to put in the next step of effort. Some people create that pressure within through their own self-expectations. Others find pressure from outside of themselves. Pressure is a good thing that pushes us towards excellence.

It is important to find a balance of expectations and development. Volunteers are at their best when two things are present in their life:

  • High expectations for excellence 
  • High development for excellence.

Volunteers need to know that their leader believes in them. You only hurt people by lowering the bar of expectation. However high expectations must be matched with high development. The more you expect out of people the more you must invest in them to help them accomplish great things. Never push people for excellence if you are unwilling to develop them for excellence.

Cory writes regularly at


Cory Lebovitz is a pastor and blogger with a heart for strategically
developing teams. Over the last 10 years, his ministry efforts have
focused on recruiting, equipping and empowering volunteers to flourish in
their influence. He serves on the pastoral staff at 12Stone Church. Cory
lives with his wife Cami and their daughter in Flowery Branch, GA.


Lines & Processes

Lines & Processes

By: Danielle Wingate


Disney is excellent at crowd control.  They create the minimal amount of process and lines needed yet seek to create great experiences in the guest experience psychology.  The last time I visited, my team and I eagerly headed towards the new Toy Story ride only to find out that it was down for maintenance but would reopen within the hour.  We returned, as did what seemed like over one hundred other guests.  We squeezed in line with the expectation of a long 45-min wait, hopeful that the experience would be worth the wait.   To our surprise the wait was actually enjoyable. Disney intentionally designs the wait as part of the experience.  The physical wait is impossible to control, but they put their resources into what they can to dramatically impact the experience.  The music that is playing builds the desired emotion and anticipation.  The smells are strategically created and designed to reflect what you would naturally smell if the event was real and lastly, every element of décor or props tells a story.  A guest leaves the ride knowing that their time was well worth it and the experience exceeded every expectation and that is why we each return time after time and again.

For me as a church leader, this looks like being mindful of a guest that is making the decision to come to church, they are choosing not to spend their time at Starbucks or some other place that may be focusing their strategy on the best experience.  The choice is key and it is to our advantage to keep the guest perspective in mind.  I often encourage teams that while we are not Disney or Starbucks, we should always work to look through the lens of the guest and see what the details of our experience are saying.  Regardless of the organization, you may be asking, “How do we create a better experience and create a return “customer”?”

I’m so glad you asked!

Here are things to think through as you design the best process:

  1. What is the demographics of your guest?  You need to know who you are communicating to in order to package the “connection” process well.
  2. What is the current process and what percentage of people do what?  For example, do you have online, mobile and paper forms?  How many are using what?  From those processes, how many are taking the next step that you are desiring them to take?
  3. What is your ideal pathway for a guest to connect and is that in their best interest?  If we are not careful, we can design the best process for our business, but if it isn’t the best for the customer or guest, they won’t come back.
  4. Is it simple and straightforward?
    1. Are guests going to multiple lines if they want to sign up for an event but they also want to buy a t-shirt?  Are customers getting transferred to multiple people through multiple steps of the process?  
  5. You’ve captured their info, now what happens?  Do they get a standard email response with a personal phone call or text?  Do they receive a reminder about a group or event they signed up for?

I want to encourage you a principle from Andy Stanley: “Do for one what you wish you could do for all.” If your staff/ volunteers look to take care of at least one person well, then your culture will begin to shift to take care of everyone well.  


Danielle Wingate is the Dream Team Director at Celebration Church in Austin, TX where she lives with her husband, Chris and daughter, Emmaus.  Her passion is to equip the local church to have a global impact and inspire leaders to continue raising the bar towards excellence.


You Have More Capacity

You Have More Capacity

By: Cory Lebovitz


A few weeks ago I told a friend of mine I would help them move. One of the most common experiences when helping a person move is the Tetris experiment.   If you don’t know what I mean – think about all of the items you have in your house, and then begin to picture how you make all of them fit into a truck in a safe way. It is one big game of Tetris.

One of the things that struck me as we finished packing the truck was how perfect the truck size was for all of my friend’s belongings. The truck was packed to the brim. There was absolutely no room for extra margin in that truck. The reason this stood out to me was that I have helped many friends move…and no matter the amount of stuff they have it always seems to fill the capacity of the truck without any extra margin.

You see the stuff we have always seems to fill the capacity of what we can carry. It is not an optical illusion…it is the natural pull of life. Those of us that were helping my friend move looked and considered the capacity of the truck and then began working to fill it up with all of his belongings.

Many of us lead our spiritual lives, our families, our businesses and our teams in this way. We consider the capacity that we have available and we allow the “stuff” of our life to take up all of that capacity, leaving no margin.

What if God has more for you than what you see?

What if you are settling for less in life because you assume your capacity is set, and you have no need for margin? This question affects us in a number of ways in life:

  • Our work has a way of expanding to fill the time we have to accomplish it
  • The responsibilities of your team expands to the capacity of your current volunteer staff
  • Your current hunger for God is fulfilled by your current pursuit of God.

What if God has more for you? Go back to my story of helping my friend move. What if he had another truck we could also use? What if he had more stuff than I can see?

I believe there are 2 things that are true of you right now:

  1. God wants to entrust you with more responsibility – but is waiting on you to create margin in your life.
  2. God is able to expand your capacity so that you can carry more – but you have to be willing to grow.

Cory writes regularly at


Cory Lebovitz is a pastor and blogger with a heart for strategically
developing teams. Over the last 10 years, his ministry efforts have
focused on recruiting, equipping and empowering volunteers to flourish in
their influence. He serves on the pastoral staff at 12Stone Church. Cory
lives with his wife Cami and their daughter in Flowery Branch, GA.


Unreasonable Churches

 New Leaders & Volunteers Help Unreasonable Church to Launch 5 New Campuses at Once

The first quintuplets known to have survived infancy were born on May 28, 1934 near the village of Corbeil in Ontario, Canada. The five daughters were born in a farmhouse and kept warm in wicker laundry baskets borrowed from neighbors. After a few months with their parents, the five girls were made wards of the government of Ontario, who built a house for the quintuplets that became a tourist attraction.

From 1936 to 1943, around 3,000,000 people visited the observation gallery of the outdoor playground. The tourist trap was called “Quintland” and became the biggest attraction in Ontario, visited even more than the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The Dionne Quintuplets became one of the biggest stories of the Depression Era.

People flock to see the new and different. In the late 1930s, no one had ever heard of quintuplets. As the North American church growth movement has exploded in the last 25 years, many churches have been “birthed.” But who would give birth to “church quintuplets?” It’s the unreasonable church that launches five infant churches at once.

Slow Growth to Staggering Growth

Pastor Kevin Myers and a small core group launched 12Stone Church in Atlanta, Georgia in 1987. It took seven years for the church to grow to 200 members, and 14 more years before it grew to 1,500 attendees. Before their latest launch, the church met at four campuses with around 20,000 members. In 2010, Outreach Magazine named 12Stone the number one fastest growing church in America.

The church’s DNA is centered in three components: Spiritual intensity, creative ideation, and leadership development. They are concerned for the lost (they will do anything to reach them), the least (they want to give themselves away and serve them), and leadership (raising the next generation to be leaders).

Since 2007, 12Stone’s blistering growth has been fueled by the launches of multiple church sites. In each of the first few launches, they aimed for 350 attendees but quickly found that 750 was a better estimate at the number of seats needed for the new church start-ups.

As they evaluated their next move from four campuses toward more growth, they knew that it was time to launch more campuses. They began working out the logistics of new locations. A new location always meant growth from momentum. When a new site was launched, newcomers came in waves. But they also wanted the members at all four campuses to be affected. They didn’t want the new start-ups to be a side event in the church’s life where just a handful of members were active. They wanted investment from the entire church at the various sites, even though all would feel the loss of members at the home site as a result of the launch. Could new launches inspire less active members to step up and volunteer for the responsibilities left vacant because of the launch?

The church learned from the earlier site launches that they could launch multiple campuses for millions of dollars less than starting just one. The new sites each had a three-phase growth plan. Phase one would be a temporary rented facility. Phase two would be to grow the campus and maximize the rented facility. And the third phase would be to seek 24/7 buildings for ministry, whether a long term lease or physically building from the ground up. Working multiple launches together would be good stewardship of church resources.

In a similar way, teamwork was a significant consideration. If the church launched more than one campus at a time, the campus pastors, worship leaders, and staff could train together, encourage each other, and learn together as they launched. This planning and preparation was guided along by Pastor Myers’ vision to launch five church sites in the next five years.

Church Pioneers Step Up

As a result of this planning and preparation, 12Stone prayerfully decided to do the unreasonable: they would launch five new campuses simultaneously, increasing their total number of campuses to nine. They spent nearly two years praying and preparing for the launch. Primarily, the planning involved the mobilization of five sets of pastors and staff for the five launches. Raising leaders was always at the heart of 12Stone’s culture, so they already had three available campus ministers from within the church. Two more campus pastors were sought from a network of churches familiar to 12Stone.

Preparation also meant replacing the many leaders and volunteers who would be moving from existing church sites to the new launches. 1,700 adults were moving to the new campuses, many of who were leaders and high-level volunteers. To replace that many people, 12Stone emphasized that this was a “pioneer” movement for the entire church. Some of the “pioneers” were leaving for the new start-ups, but the “sending pioneers” needed to fill the gaps that were left behind. They encouraged the “senders” to step up and serve.

Having learned many things from 12Stone’s previous campus start-ups, the church knew that being much more involved in the process of the new churches and more centralized in leadership would create healthier campuses. When the church launched the second, third, and fourth campuses, they had more of a hands-off approach. As the team applied what they learned from earlier launches and realized that adding five new sites at once would more than double their locations, 12Stone began the process of establishing better communication, better leadership training, and consistent campus feedback even before the new sites launched.

Quintuplets Are Born

12Stone successfully launched all five campuses on the same Sunday in January 2015. This unique event was covered by local news, providing even more publicity and adding to the numbers of people who came. The long process of replacing church volunteers was also a success. The “sending pioneers” stepped up and have filled in the gaps. Launching five sites at once was an incredible achievement, but many of the new leaders and volunteers may not have risen to the occasion without the new campuses.

To read more about this quintuplet church plant and stories of other UNREASONABLE CHURCHES, visit


Rich Birch has been involved in church leadership for over 20 years. Early on he had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,500 people in 6 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, as well as on the Lead Team at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing communities of New Jersey.


Rich speaks at conferences like Orange, WFX and various regional multisite church events. He’s a featured writer on Auxano’s Vision Room, and MinistryBriefing. He’s honored to blog and podcast weekly at


Rich is married to Christine and together they parent two wonderful teens, Haley and Hunter. Collectively they try to keep their dog, Rory, from chewing everything that lands on the floor.