7 Issues that Church Planters Face: Launch Team Development and Mobilizing Volunteers

Launch Team Development and Mobilizing Volunteers

When starting churches such as those we have discussed, core (launch) team size becomes more important in larger, well-funded starts where more defined ministries are provided at the start. Mobilizing volunteers is an issue regardless of size of the launch team. Whether it is the well-funded, full-time planter or the part-time, bi-vocational planter, both expand their ministries' impact through volunteers.

The research project, headed up by Todd Wilson and the Exponential team, that serves as the basis of this series identified five key considerations in launch team development and mobilizing volunteers.

1.     Healthy Launch Teams are Mission Critical When Seeking to Start in the Way We Discussed. -- In his book, Planting Fast-Growing Churches, author Stephen Grey identified 21 differences between fast growing churches and struggling ones. Among these was the importance of healthy launch teams. Grey found that 88% of fast-growing churches had a launch team in place before launch compared with only 12% of struggling churches.

2.     Church Planting is a Team Sport -- When a planter and family moves into a community without team members, the risk factors increase. The difficult becomes even more difficult. For "parachute drop plants" where the planter has few existing relationships, team building and volunteer mobilization can be slow and difficult.

3.     Pre-Launch Tasks vs. Relationships - Most planters are good at relationship building. However, planters report that they spend a disproportionate amount of time in the pre-launch phase focused on administrative details (e.g. facilities, marketing, equipment, legal issues, etc). These administrative issues compete with the time needed to build relationships and teams. The paradox is that strong teams can help with the endless details associated with launching a church. However, unavoidable administrative details limit a planter's time available for relationship and team building.

4.     A Core Group of Believers is not always a Good Thing -- This may sound like a contradiction to # 2 but hear me out on it. When partner churches provide core teams it can be a win. But a planter must be aware of the challenges. Having a team of volunteers in place before the planter arrives has its pitfalls. Often the team expects the planter to adapt his or her vision to fit the team's desires rather than submitting to the planter. The planter needs to provide visionary leadership and the partner churches' volunteers must be prepared to operate differently while helping the plant.

5.     New Church Core Teams Experience Fallout -- A painful reality of the early days of church planting is that core team members leave. Many planters report discouragement resulting from the loss of good friends from their core team. Losing half of the planting launch team within the first years is common. Planting is hard work. Weary volunteers can end up searching out existing, stable churches to call home. The planter should be emotionally and spiritually prepared for relational losses.


Awareness of the issues and intentional strategies are critical for launch team and volunteer mobilization. Planters tend to put too much confidence in their ability to relate to people as the solution to every challenge in church planting. More is needed, specifically a plan and the development of leadership skills.

Developing Leadership Character (Pt. 2)

Originally Posted: http://iveybusinessjournal.com/publication/developing-leadership-character/

Defining Character

There is no consensus on a definition of character.  In fact there seems to be as many definitions as there are scholars whose research and writing focus on character.[4]  In our discussion of character, we focus on personality traits, values and virtues.


Traits are defined as habitual patterns of thought, behavior and emotion that are considered to be relatively stable in individuals across situations and over time.  Traits are not fixed.  For example, introverts may be able to learn how to behave in a less introverted way, while extroverts may learn how to control and moderate their extroverted behaviors when situations require it.

There are, literally, hundreds of personality traits from A (ambition) to Z (zealousness) that have been described in the psychology literature.  However, through statistical techniques such as factor analysis, five broad domains, or dimensions, of personality have emerged, and are now widely used in various forms in employee selection and assessment.[5]  The “Big-Five” traits are:

  • Conscientiousness
  • Openness to experience
  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness, and
  • Neuroticism

These five traits feature prominently in tests or inventories and they have come to be known as the FFM, or the five-factor model, a robust model of personality.  Although the Big Five dominate the personality literature, there are various other traits that warrant consideration and measurement, such as self-confidence, ambition, perfectionism, dominance, rigidity, persistence and impulsivity.

Some personality traits can be inherited.  For example, studies have shown that identical twins that have the same genes show more traits that are similar than non-identical twins.  Traits, of course, also evolve through life experiences and deliberate developmental exercises such as coaching.


Values are beliefs that people have about what is important or worthwhile to them.  Values influence behavior because people seek more of what they value.  If they can get more net value by behaving in certain ways, they will.  Values therefore can be seen as the guideposts for behavior.  Some people value their autonomy very highly, some value social interaction, some value the opportunity to be creative, some value work-life balance, and so on.  Values may change with life stages and according to the extent to which a particular value has already been realized.  For example, a new graduate strapped by student loans may value a high starting salary.  That same person 30 years later may well pass up a high-paying job for one that paid less, but allowed him to live close to his grandchildren or somewhere with greater access to recreational activities.

An individual’s values are in large part derived from the social environment in which he or she lives.[6]  In Western democracies, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are some of the things we value.  Other societies value order, harmony, non-violence and equality.  If we are brought up with strong religious traditions, some of us develop values based on the teachings of those religions.  Similarly, our value frameworks may be influenced by our home life, fraternal societies we join, experiences obtaining an education, the companies we work for, our friends, and many other social influences.

An important sub-set of values consists of those with ethical or social dimensions, such as honesty, integrity, compassion, fairness, charity and social responsibility.  Such moral values may be strongly or weakly held and influence behavior accordingly.

Values may be espoused though they may not necessarily be manifested.  For example, it’s not unusual for people to experience value conflicts in certain situations.  When loyalty conflicts with honesty, when fairness conflicts with pragmatism, or when social responsibility conflicts with obligation to shareholders, people become conflicted.  And when their actions are inconsistent with their values, they either experience guilt, anger and embarrassment.  People try to minimize such cognitive dissonance by rationalizing or even denying their behavior, discounting the consequences of it or simply blaming others.


From the time of the ancient Greeks, philosophers have defined certain clusters of traits, values and behaviors as “good,” and referred to them as virtues.  Virtues are like behavioral habits – something that is exhibited fairly consistently.  For example, Aristotle wrote that: “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Aristotle identified and defined twelve virtues: Courage, Temperance, Generosity, Magnificence, Magnanimity, Right ambition, Good temper, Friendliness, Truthfulness, Wit, and Justice.  The twelfth virtue is Practical Wisdom, which is necessary to live the “good life” and thus achieve happiness or well being.

Consider the virtue of Courage.  Traits such as openness to experience, self-confidence and persistence contribute to individuals acting in distinctive ways – for example, putting themselves on the line and acting in a courageous fashion.  Having values such as integrity, treating individuals with respect and achievement predisposes individuals to demonstrate courageous behavior.  Furthermore, a person with integrity tends to act in a different way than a person who lacks integrity, even if both individuals find themselves in the same situation.  Then there is a set of actual behaviors that individuals engage in – on a fairly consistent basis (meaning across situations and over time) – and that friends, colleagues and observers characterize or describe as courageous.  These behaviors may have become societal expectations.

The ten virtues of a cross-enterprise leader

We propose that cross-enterprise leaders who focus on the long-term performance of their organizations must demonstrate ten virtues (as shown in Figure 2)[7].

  • Humility is essential to learning and becoming a better leader
  • Integrity is essential to building trust and encouraging others to collaborate
  • Collaboration enables teamwork
  • Justice yields decisions that are accepted as legitimate and reasonable by others
  • Courage helps leaders make difficult decisions and challenge the decisions or actions of others
  • Temperance ensures that leaders take reasonable risks
  • Accountability ensures that leaders own and commit to the decisions they make and encourages the same in others
  • Humanity builds empathy and understanding of others
  • Transcendence equips the leader with a sense of optimism and purpose
  • Judgment allows leaders to balance and integrate these virtues in ways that serve the needs of multiple stakeholders in and outside their organizations.



Figure 2: Ten Leadership Virtues

But if you consider what may happen when leaders lack these virtues, the effects become more obvious (see Table 1 below).

  • Without Judgment leaders make flawed decisions, especially when they must act quickly in ambiguous situations, namely when faced with the many paradoxes that confront all leaders from time to time.
  • Without Humanity leaders are unable to relate to others, see situations from their followers’ perspectives or take into account the impact of their decisions on others.  Without humanity leaders will not act in socially responsible ways – they will alienate people.
  • Without a Sense of Justice leaders are unable to understand the issues of social inequality and the challenges associated with fairness.  Such leaders act in unfair ways and reap negative consequences in the form of poor employee relations or reactions by customers, governments and regulators.  People will rebel and find ways to undermine the leader.
  • Without Courage leaders will not stand up to poor decisions made by others and will lack the perseverance and tenacity required to work through difficult issues.  They will also back down in the face of adversity and choose the easy route.  But in doing so they only postpone the inevitable.
  • Without Collaboration leaders will fail to achieve those worthwhile goals that require more than individual effort and skills.  They don’t use the diversity of others’ knowledge, experience, perceptions, judgments and skills to make better decisions and to execute them better.  Friction among different stakeholders results and relations deteriorate.
  • Without Accountability leaders don’t commit to, or own, the decisions they make, and cannot get others to do so.  They blame others for poor outcomes and in doing so create a culture of fear and disengagement.  People stop caring, with potentially disastrous consequences.
  • Without Humility leaders cannot be open-minded, and solicit and consider the views of others.  They can’t learn from others, they can’t reflect critically on their failures and become better leaders as a result of those reflections.  They become caricatures of themselves.  Isolation results.
  • Without Integrity leaders cannot build good relationships with followers, with their organizational superiors, with allies or partners.  Every promise has to be guaranteed and the resulting mistrust slows down decisions and actions.
  • Without Temperance leaders take uncalculated risks, rush to judgment, fail to gather relevant facts, have no sense of proportion, and make frequent and damaging changes or even reverse important decisions.  Their credibility suffers.
  • Without Transcendence leaders’ goals become narrow and they fail to elevate discussions to higher-order goals.  They don’t see the bigger picture and hence their decisions may reflect opportunism only.  They don’t think outside the box or encourage others to do so.

Aristotle was clear in stating that virtues become vices in their excess or deficiency.[8] Courage in its excess is recklessness while in its deficiency it is cowardice.  Collaboration in excess, ungoverned by judgment as to when it will result in benefits, leads to numerous unproductive meetings and organizational inefficiency.  But without it, teamwork is difficult or impossible.  Too much humility may lead followers to question the leader’s toughness, resulting in a lack of confidence.  But without it, leaders make ill-advised decisions and are unable to learn.  Transcendence in excess can result in leaders becoming vacuous visionaries, unable to focus on the here and now and the more mundane decisions that need to be made.  But without transcendence, leaders focus on narrow, short-term goals.



Table 1:  Good and Bad Outcomes of Presence or Absence of Virtues

Temperance or Justice in excess may lead to extreme risk aversion and paralysis in decision-making; without them, reckless or grossly unfair decisions are made.  Even extreme Accountability may subvert required actions when the penalties for failure are unreasonable or extreme; but without it, empowerment and delegation are not possible.  Humanity in excess may lead to the neglect of shareholders’ interests; but in its absence, employee loyalty and commitment will suffer.  Judgment under conditions of uncertainty or ambiguity is the essential requirement of organizational leadership; but excessive judgment may lead to indecisiveness or dithering.  Even an excess of integrity can lead to self-righteousness and total inflexibility; but organizations could not function without rules and regulations that set boundaries.  The challenge for leaders, therefore, is to deepen or strengthen a virtue through reflection, and hence avoid turning a virtue such as Courage into the vice of excess (Recklessness) or a lack of it (Cowardice).

Psychologists, sociologists, organizational theorists and others who study behavior in organizations have been interested in traits, values and virtues associated with good leadership.  Virtuous leaders are influenced by their traits and values but they balance and integrate them in ways that are appropriate to the situations in which they operate.  For example, while leaders may be transparent by nature, they are able to keep a confidence or secret when it is appropriate to do so.  While they may be courageous, they will understand which battles to fight and which to avoid.

[4] This conclusion was reached by Jay Conger and George P. Hollenbeck in a special issue of Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research (2010, 62, 4, 311-316) on defining and measuring character in leadership.

[5] Examples of such tests include the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Test, the 16 Personality Factors, the Personal Style Indicator and many others.

[6] Rokeach, M. (1973). The nature of human values. New York, NY: Free Press.  Schwartz, S. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 25: 1–66.

[7] Our thinking draws heavily on work by Peterson and Seligman “Character strengths and virtues” (2004) who identified six virtues (Wisdom, Transcendence, Humanity, Temperance, Transcendence and Courage) after extensive consideration of traits and behaviors empirically identified among leaders.  We have added four others that we feel reflect virtues considered to be important in cross-enterprise leaders (Collaboration, Confidence, Humility and Accountability) and modified Wisdom to the more commonly used Judgment.

[8] This follows the argument of Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics, Book 3, Chapter 1.   While he was describing a limited number of virtues, we believe that his reasoning applies to our extended set.




Developing Leadership Character (Pt. 1)

Originally Posted:  http://iveybusinessjournal.com/publication/developing-leadership-character/

In assessing leaders at any level in an organization, we must always ask three questions:

  • Do they have the competencies to be a leader?  Do they have the knowledge, the understanding of key concepts, facts, and relationships that they need to do the job effectively?
  • Do they have the commitment to be a leader?  Yes, they aspire to be a leader, but are they prepared to do the hard work of leadership, engage with others in fulfilling the organizational mission, achieve the vision and deliver on the goals?
  • Do they have the character to be a good leader and strive to be an even better one?  Do they have the values, traits and virtues that others – shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, regulators and the broader society within which they operate – will use to determine if they are good leaders?

Figure 1:  Leadership Competencies, Character and Commitment

We have documented previously the types of knowledge, skills, understanding and judgment that leaders need, grouping them into four competencies – strategic, business, organizational and people[1].  Underpinning these competencies is general intellect (see Figure 1).  We have also talked elsewhere about the importance of leaders having the commitment to lead and the problems that are caused when people in leadership roles no longer want to do the hard work of leadership and become disengaged from what is happening in the organization, while they still enjoy the status, privileges and perks of office.  In this article, we want to focus on leadership character, not because it is necessarily more important than competencies and commitment, but because it is the most difficult to define, measure, assess and develop.  Our intent is to define those dimensions of leadership character that are most important in today’s rapidly changing and turbulent business environment, and suggest how character can be developed.


Why Character Matters

In any bookstore you will find dozens of books on leadership style, far fewer on leadership competencies, and fewer still that address leadership character.[2]  For some reason we have lost sight of character.  Perhaps this is because our educational system and organizations are so competency focused; perhaps because we just don’t know what to think about character; perhaps because character seems such an old-fashioned word; perhaps because we are reluctant to discuss examples of poor character with our colleagues in the workplace, or because we believe we cannot assess character objectively.

Yet character is such a central, important element of leadership — particularly for the kind of cross-enterprise leadership that is essential in complex, global business organizations — which it should not and cannot be ignored.  Character fundamentally shapes how we engage the world around us, what we notice, what we reinforce, who we engage in conversation, what we value, what we choose to act on, how we decide…and the list goes on.

Our own research on the failures of leadership points to issues around character as a central theme[3].  Nowhere was this more obvious than in the financial crisis of 2008 – 2009, in which boldness or instant gratification triumphed over temperance.  People who knew that bad risks were being taken did not have the courage and/or confidence to speak up, and people without integrity sold mortgages to those who could not pay them.  They then bundled these mortgages into securities that were fraudulent and sold to others.  People with large egos, lacking in humility, oblivious to the harm they may have been be doing to others or the societies in which they operated, became very rich at the expense of millions who were the victims of the financial crisis and subsequent recession.  Yet, to this day, these same people seem unable or unwilling to accept any degree of responsibility for their actions.  Leaders of large, global companies knew about these types of practices yet did nothing to stop them.  Still others were unable to create the honest, transparent corporate culture that would enable them to be in touch with what was happening deep down in the organization.  All these behaviors and activities were, essentially, failings of character.

[1] For further information on these leadership competencies see “The cross-enterprise leader” by Mary Crossan, Jeffrey Gandz and Gerard Seijts, Ivey Business Journal, July/August 2008.

[2]Titles of books on leadership and character include Questions of character: Illuminating the heart of leadership through literature; The character of leadership: Nine qualities that define great leaders; and Inspiring leadership: Character and ethics matter.

[3] For more information see “Leadership on trial: A manifesto for leadership development” by Jeffrey Gandz, Mary Crossan, Gerard Seijts and Carol Stephenson with Daina Mazutis, 2010. http://www.ivey.uwo.ca/research/leadership/research/books-and-reports.htm.

Choose Your Hills

| Written by Dave Demchuk  |

Good Morning!

I am a dog-lover.  To paraphrase the American humorist Will Rogers, “I’ve never met a dog I didn’t like!”  Well, that isn’t exactly true.  There has been at least one dog that has driven me crazy over the years.  One that comes to mind was a German short-haired pointer owned by some neighbors of ours.  The dog was a beautiful specimen of the breed with attractive coloring.  He had one fatal flaw however—he hated cars.  When off the leash, he would chase every car that passed along our street.  On busy days, it was not unusual to see him madly chase one, then another, and yet another, until he collapsed on the boulevard in a panting, salivating heap.  Senseless dog.

I’ve also encountered leaders who remind me a bit of this dog.  They grab on to every conflict and crisis like it was a hated car, and pursue it with a vengeance.  Often, they are so idealistic in their outlook that they feel the need to correct every little flaw or mistake in their world.  They wear themselves out trying to fix things, and for all their admirable efforts are largely criticized or ostracized by others within the organization.  They need a dose of vitamin CYH to bring their idealism back into check.

CYH– Choose your Hill.  Not every battle is going to be equally worthy of your noble efforts.  You need to choose the hills you are going to die on very carefully – unless of course, you want to die early in your career.  That being said, there are certain hills that are absolutely worth dying on – here are some of mine:

·       Hills where justice is being sacrificed.  There are some things that are just plain wrong, and people are hurt by them.  Leaders must correct injustice – it’s a no-brainer.

·       Hills where the organization’s culture is being defined in a way not in keeping with the stated or desired values of that organization.  Your organization’s culture is like its DNA.  It informs every aspect of who you are.  Guard it.

·       Hills that compromise the ethical stance of the organization – in the case of many of our organization that would be an ethic informed by Biblical truth.

So to end off my earlier analogy—there are some cars that need chasing.  Go for it with a vengeance.  Leave the rest.

And while we’re on the subject of dogs, here’s one of my favorite proverbs from the mouth of Solomon: “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.” (26:17).

Good Advice.  Choose your Hills wisely.

Art of Neighboring

Check out this video the Art of Neighbouring it would be a great resource for your church, small group or sermon analogy, or personal growth relating to what it TRULY means to be a neighbour!

AND: The Gathered AND Scattered Church

CHURCH PLANTING – What is it? What does it look like? What are some of the Questions People are asking? 

Hugh Halter and Matt Smay  give great glimpse into how to live missionally and how Church Planting developed their understanding between the balance of Gathering and Scattering.  This is a great resource ( a must read) for anyone wanting to enter into Church Planting.

Here is  a PDF file with questions to help challenge you and/or your group to better understand what it means to be Gathered and Scattered. The Gathered AND Scattered Church (Small group and Leadership team) Questions

I DON’T HAVE TIME TO READ A BOOK…  check out this link from Hugh Halters blog answering a pastors questions about gathering and scattering and what to do with TIRED PEOPLE!?!?!