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3 Dangers to Avoid for Visionary Leaders

Posted by on Sep 19, 2013 in Church, Featured Articles, Leadership | 1 comment

So you say you are a visionary leader. Every organization needs a visionary. This person sees the future possibility and can begin to construct what that looks like in broad brush strokes. Without this person, an organization will go into maintenance mode, which often is a slow steady decline into mediocrity. As I’ve been coaching and mentoring leaders I’ve found some common problems with visionaries that they often overlook. As a CEO and leader of several organizations, I speak mainly from what I’ve had to learn because I’ve committed all these mistakes to my own detriment. Here are the mistakes with solutions I’ve found to hopefully lead better.

Confusing Vision and Timing

The biggest mistake I’ve committed is confusing vision with the need to execute today. I’ve walked into several organizations that are frantically trying to keep up with a high-level visionary, but they are worn thin. This visionary often is disruptive, coming up with new ideas that everyone else feels compelled to chase. You can just look into the eyes of the team and realize how desperate they are because every time they put their hands to get work down, the visionary changes the game. Nothing will burn the team and organization faster than these constant changes.

Signs: Key leader turnover & burnout and for churches people will tend to leave after 2-5 years as they experience the constant change.

Solution: With the help of executional leaders, a visionary should focus farther out in their strength. At MonkDev, most of my time is spent on ideas/vision that is minimum 3 months but usually in a 6 month to 3 year window. I’ve had to learn discipline to allow the Quarterly plan to be executed upon and realize that if I try to change that plan it is highly destructive. Only make changes under extreme circumstances as needed.

Communicating Every Idea Equally

I can only imagine the stress on my team’s face when I’d walk into meetings with ideas. Rather than being open to new ideas, I felt several were initially resistant to new ideas until I tried to win them over. There was always confusion after I left, “Is he really going to implement that new idea?” or “Were we brainstorming, was he looking for my buy-in or does he think I agreed because we discussed this?” As a visionary you probably have a high-level of ideation of the future and as such you need to know how to use this gift properly.

Signs: A sense of resistance to new ideas, eye-rolling or struggle being free brainstorming with you.

Solutions: A simple solution we’ve implemented is a numerical scale to qualify the idea. This deals with how an idea comes across. This simple scale goes like this:

1 – An idea
2 – A good idea
3 – A good idea that I’m putting details to and considering
4 – An idea I plan to do unless something prevented me
5 – An idea I’m going after no matter what

It’s amazing how something as simple as this has freed us up to discuss ideas without the high stress and resistance.

The second part of this involves the timing of communicating the idea. This deals with the when it comes across. The better you can capture and communicate ideas when it’s ‘idea time’ the better. If they come up in an execution meeting, they are distracting but if captured and discussed during your vision meetings, there is much greater focus and energy in fleshing them out.

Forgetting the Power & Perspective of your Vision

Vision is a powerful thing and with this power as a visionary leader, you have the ability to wreak havoc. This is particularly true because there are so few of us. I recall hearing, that S is the most common result on the disc profile. Here’s the intro on this profile type:

S-style people tend to be more cautious and reflective than fast-paced and outspoken. They are also warm, sincere and accepting personalities. (source)

When you call people a new vision without working through implementation with other perspectives, you are asking for trouble. I can’t recall a time I did this without causing carnage.  A visionary has to recognize their willingness to face into chaos is a rare trait.  You have a unique perspective on the future, but these ideas need to be brought to people who understand how to implement them slowly and steward the idea without damaging people in the change.

Signs: Ideas not taking hold/lack of adoption, people feel hurt or unsafe

Solutions: Sadly, it is the visionary who typically says, “it’s my way or the highway.” They are driven by this future they can taste/touch/feel and are often willing to pursue this at the expense of people. People need time to buy into and belong to a vision. At MonkDev we lead our leaders to build the plan on how a vision is reached. Rather than coming at people top-down, involve them in seeing this future and coming back to you with how they can help get you there.


Leading is a great responsibility and blessing. As I’ve experienced levels of struggle and success, it’s required me often to die-to-myself to better lead others by putting them first. Certainly I’m not perfect but it’s a process I’ve found great reward in. At MonkDev we want to change the world, and that is worth the cost to get better. We have a big vision, but we’ve gotten clear on how the company, each department, each leader and person contributes to this vision being achieved. Putting these solutions into place allows me to better show up in my role and serve the vision we pursue.


Note: Special thanks to James Martin and Etienne de Bruin for their patience with me!

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The Biggest Mistake I made launching Missional Communities

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Church, Ministry Design | 0 comments

It’s been about 7-years since Kaleo Church transitioned to a ‘missional-community’ led model. Back in 2007 I began going public with this transition, posting blog posts such as: (Side Note: I’ve recently moved on from Kaleo when my family moved to Coronado)

  • The Decline of the Western Church and the Call to renew your Church’s Ecclesiology
  • The Church as Movement – Organizing Decentralization
  • Triperspectival Ecclesiology – Being the Church as Corporate, Intimate & Group
  • Such noble sounding posts! A lot of the thoughts and diagrams were summarized in this document (including some great diagrams like the one below): Building a Church Movement of Gospel Centered Communities
    Missional Community Movements

    While I still stand by much of the thinking at the time, I’d commend people who are thinking of making this transition to avoid one of the biggest mistakes I believe I made (and I made many) in this transition: Why is way more important than what/how.

    Recently I was reminded of this when a local church leader asked me to come and present to a small group of people who were excited about creating missional communities and living that way. As part of that exercise I asked each person to write down ‘why’ they wanted to be a part of missional communities. Here’s a few of their answers:

    I feel that I need to make a positive change in my life and to become a missionary would help me invest time and energy into something positive.

    It’s very hard for me to see people going down morally, spiritually and even physically. When you know the truth and the revelation of what God has done and can do, it becomes your reason to live.

    Obedience = Rewards. To be a Godly example to my children and impact future generations to be followers. To save the lost.

    I believe Jesus commissioned us to reach out to the lost. No, I really believe it.


    Because I know how empty and purposeless life is without the Lord. Because that is what Jesus intended for us > to tell others and spread God’s glory.

    In the times when we have lived in community I have felt most fulfilled and close to God.

    In obedience to my savior, Jesus. To show others the love he has shown me.

    What is your reason for doing missional community? I think one of the biggest mistakes I made was overlooking the great variety of reasons why people agreed (or resisted) to living life in Missional Community. This causes problems. Looking at the above answers, some of them I believe the motivation isn’t deep enough. It isn’t tapped into the Father God who made us and loves/transforms us so we ‘get to’ invite others into relationship with him. (Part of the solution I felt lines up in the post I did called: The 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community) Take the time to answer these why’s. I believe in the long run, it’s going to be critical to your ability to be effective missionaries.

    As we continue to live this way in our new home, this reason of ‘why’ is a big part of the onboarding/discipleship process when Christians want to join in what we are doing.

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    2013 State of the Church Online Report

    Posted by on Apr 2, 2013 in Church Technology, Church Websites, Featured Articles, Monk Dev | 1 comment

    Our team at MonkDev released the Q1 White Paper – 2013 State of the Church Online Report. The State of the Church Online Report emerged out of a desire to build a standard for church website best practices and usage. The data included in this report has been cultivated from 2009 to 2012. This is the first report of its kind to include such a robust set of data, gathered from over 50 churches spread across the United States. These churches are both large and small, urban and rural, and every stripe of denomination. The one thing they all
    have in common, of course, is a desire to serve their congregation through their website.

    Every church has different personas that make up the congregational body. Each of these personas— New Visitor, Return Visitor, Engaged Member, and Mature Disciple —all need different things from portions of the church website. Additionally, we believe churches can use their website as a ministry tool. The church website has an active role in moving individuals from one persona to the next. For example, connecting New Visitors to directions on the website will allow them to find the church easily. Doing so reduces “visitor friction,” allowing for more opportunity a New Visitor will return and transition to a Return Attender. This is a very small example, but it illustrates the point: church websites are more important than ever.

    We hope it is useful, download your free copy here: http://www.monkdevelopment.com/free-resource-state-of-the-church-online-report/


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    Best Practices in Church Website Design

    Posted by on Dec 20, 2012 in Church Websites, Featured Articles, Monk Dev | 2 comments

    Increasingly, we run into churches who invested in a website, but realized it did not help them do ministry. The website raised more problems than it solved. Stop Wasting Money on Church Websites by Starting with a Ministry Design Process. Our commitment is to ensure clients at MonkDev never experience this pain.

    What is Your Ministry Design Process?
    One of the ways we feel that we deliver tremendous value, is we approach things from a Ministry Design Process.
    The Ministry Design Process identifies how your church does ministry and then works to translate this to the web. We do this as part of our Strategic Service offering during our Organizational Strategy Session. The image above is a small taste of the process. (If you’re interested, click here to learn about our Church Strategy Process.)

    The goal is to take the mission of the church and walk through a process to discover key ministry initiatives which we help translate to the web environment. Sample ministry challenges we’ve helped churches with include:

    The church has stopped growing or the congregation is aging.
    Communications is not clear or reaching the desired audience.
    People aren’t engaged or participating in community and they don’t know what is the next step for them.
    Leadership development and discipleship paths aren’t clear.
    Giving is down, serving is down and people don’t know how to get involved.

    Learn more about our Church Website Strategy: Ministry Process Design.

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    Church Content Strategies, Websites, Multisite, Mobile and more

    Posted by on Dec 20, 2012 in Church Websites, Featured Articles, Monk Dev | 0 comments

    Over the last month the team at MonkDev has been quietly producing amazingly valuable content for churches.

    Develop a Church Content Strategy to Create a World-Class Website – A great guide to understanding how to deliver content that creates ministry results for your church.

    What is Your Church Online Giving Strategy? – Participate in our research and receive the results to learn how other churches are handling online giving.

    Build Attendance For Your Church Events Using an iPad – Our free iPad give-away for churches that purchase a website.

    Free Ebook: The Ultimate Guide to Ministry Process Design – Examining the home pages of 3 churches and the top content people click on.

    The State of Mobile Church Websites – See the options people are selecting when choosing a mobile strategy.

    Multisite Church Content Problems (and Solutions) – How do you navigate the unique challenges of a multisite church?

    Churches – Designing Your Own Website – Do you plan to design your own website?

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    Father Heart of God – Father Wounds and Our Gospel Identity

    Posted by on Nov 27, 2012 in Church, Featured Articles, Teaching | 2 comments

    I think the church does a poor job connecting people to the Father Heart of God. For how much Jesus talked about the Father, it seems Christians talk about him far less. Re-read the gospels with this view and I think you’ll be surprised. I think about the disciples saying, “If we can just see the Father, that will be enough.”

    Consider that:

    1. Many Christians would view their ‘saving’ as that they are saved from Hell. In fact, this becomes central to so many gospel messages to unbelievers that they need to believe in Jesus to be saved from Hell.
    2. Many Christians view God the Father as displeased with them.
    3. When people talk about heaven, they are more focused on the place and the absence of pain then being in God’s presence.

    We miss a lot when we don’t focus on our relationship and connection to God the Father.

    I imagine part of the problem is the failure of our fathers and the world’s systematic degrading the role of father in our culture. This Thanksgiving we had 23 hours of travel time to see my family. Over the drive my wife and I listed to a series by Found by your Father by Dave Patty. I was surprised to hear a way of thinking about God the Father and how my own childhood experience with my own family has shaped me. My wife and I wept at times as we prayed through parts of our own story and already I’ve found healing as we went through the process. I highly recommend you check these out.

    We see God’s Father heart most clearly when we watch the perfect relationship he has with the Son. At the base, Patty states that Jesus experiences four streams of God’s Father heart and that each of us need that too.
    1. Identity – John 5:16-19 Without identity from the Father you will be defined by the people and circumstances around you. This will be constantly changing and unstable.
    You will be very vulnerable to your environment and not have a clear sense of self. You will constantly need to prove yourself or defend yourself.
    2. Love – John 5:20 Without love, you will be constantly trying to gain love from those near you. Their love will never be enough, and you will be chronically disappointed. You may cope by turning off your emotions and becoming distant and cold.
    3. Pleasure – John 5:30, 41-44 Without pleasure from the Father, you will become addicted to pleasing people and vulnerable to hedonism. You may cope by avoiding all possibility of failure or rejection.
    4. Place – John 5:21-27 Without place, you will be constantly fighting to make a place for yourself. You will fear that your life has no significance and be easily threatened by
    others. You may cope by scaling back your expectations and making a place that is small but defensible – like when people curl up in a ball, hide behind something, or retreat to a corner.

    Use his Father mapping tools and see how you’ve experienced these four streams. Learn how these elements are fundamental to spiritual growth, our understanding the good news, our relationship with the Heavenly Father and how these things release us to bring the Father Heart of God to those around us.

    Listen: Found by your Father by Dave Patty

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    The 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community

    Posted by on Nov 20, 2012 in Church, Featured Articles, Leadership, Ministry Design | 10 comments

    This weekend I was thinking about why missional community life often feels broken. More specifically, why do people resist or fight against the call to be missional in community? As I’ve thought about my own experience and gathering from some of what I’ve learned as part of the GCM Collective, I thought of the idea of The 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community. Agree? Disagree? I would love to hear your take on what I’m saying are the 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community.

    Working theory: Calling people to be missional or in a ‘missional community’, is the absolute wrong place to start. The very name puts the emphasis on the ‘results’ or fruit of the Christian life rather than who they are in Christ. (Aside: If I were to start over, I don’t think I’d call them Missional Communities.) Because, for many, the way of life of the missonal community is so foreign from their Christian/Church experience it ends up being a new law, or way of living they try to perform in their desire to please God. The issue becomes one of needing foundational discipleship for people in order for them to move to a place where living life on mission is a joyful result of a transformed life.

    What common dysfunctions cause the mission to be derailed? Here’s what I’ve been toying with called the 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community. The pyramid on the left represents the corresponding areas of discipleship that would need focus on. The right upside down pyramid represents the ‘right-side’ errors that that need to addressed. (Another set of errors around licentiousness exist).

    the 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community

    So what should we do to address these potential dysfunctions? Go after the 5 truths needed that lead to a life of fruitful mission. I’ll unpack these from the bottom, up.

    Identity: At the foundation, people’s identity needs to change. First and foremost this begins at conversion, but continues where people see the idea of ‘adoption’ into the family of God as Sons is critical. Often believers struggle with one foot in the world (eg. consumers) versus finding their identity as the Kingdom of Priests. Without this identity changing, it is difficult to move upward. (Part of the reason that I wrote Going Deeper: Preaching the Gospel & Your Identity)
    Gospel: After the identity change, people’s motivations come into play. If they are not adopted sons, the legalism/licentiousness errors creep in as people find motivation for acceptance on what they do (orphan mentality) rather than who they are and the grace that changes everything. If the gospel isn’t the motivation, mission will be short-lived.
    Glory: Next, people have to see and behold God’s glory and fear him. This will be the beginning of wisdom and cause them to live as God commands.
    Worship: Next as these come together an attitude of joyful “I get to” takes place. Rather than duty, mission becomes an act of worship because we are loved by God and love Him.
    Spirit: Lastly, we see we cannot do this by our own power. It is only through prayer and seeking the Holy Spirit’s lead can we embark on mission. It is in our resting in God and His Spirit that spiritual fruit is produced.

    So, right now my working theory is that we start at the bottom and work up as follows:

    What foundational discipleship do you see necessary as you lead your people on mission?

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