Last December, Covenant Grove launched a 3rd Sunday morning service. I have wanted to write for a few months about some of the leadership lessons that came out of this special time, and I thought I would do that today. I have made a lot of leadership mistakes over the years, and learned a lot of lessons from them. But for the launch of the 3rd service, I actually think that I did a good job. It is good to learn lessons when we do it right!
So here are some thoughts on what went right. Forgive me for making them all start with the same letter; I am a preacher, you know.
There is no substitute for hard work and preparation. When we launched our 3rd service, it seemed pretty seamless, but there was an incredible amount of work that happened. First, we had to decide when to do the service. The staff talked for months about possibilities and researched what other churches were doing. Second, we had to commit to the work required to do the service. This had a big impact on the staff, the Kids Ministry, the Worship Team, and everyone serving on Sunday morning. Oh yeah, and me. We asked people to step up and new people to step in – and they did.
The 3rd service started in December. I started praying about it in February. The staff and Leadership Council started praying about it in May. We prayed about the service times, about when to start the service, for people to step up, and for strength. We prayed for new people to be reached (this has happened, even at our 8:00am service). We announced the 3rd service in early October, and asked people to be praying EVERY DAY for the 3rd service. Prayer is the plow, and we plant behind the plow. I have learned to get behind God, in prayer, with as many people as possible. One of my leadership lessons is to raise up as much prayer as possible, as publicly as possible. We did this service in dependence on God, and the launch of the service was bigger than any of us expected.
Leaders can’t just work hard and pray, they have to communicate (it is a bad idea to communicate without doing the first two). I had to communicate with the staff (around February), then the Leadership Council (May). The staff started communicating the Vision to their Team Leaders, who committed to the work and to prayer. Godly leaders lead by prayer, not consensus, but there should be buy-in from God’s people as you deliver well. People were excited, and we knew the time was right. By the time we announced it to the church as a whole, the staff and Team Leaders had already been processing and praying for months. When we announced it, someone asked me why we didn’t just start in 2 weeks. I replied, “Because I have made that mistake in the past!” We formed a Launch Team and asked them to make big commitments (consistent attending, giving, serving, inviting). I contacted them multiple times over a 6-week period. We met twice for prayer – at 7:30am. We talked about the launch every Sunday. These were special weeks of delivery about a new chapter in the life of our church family. Then we launched, and it was amazing. We opened up 150 more seats, and our church is already running out of room in one of the services. The 3rd service actually accelerated the growth of our church.
There is one more – really important – lesson here. Because we were leading with prayer, I never made the decision about me. In the past, I have leaned way to much on my intelligence and hard work – and so my delivery has always been, “This is the right decision because I have already thought and prayed about it.” I have learned to communicate with more prayer and humility. I told people that we may have the wrong times – and that was OK. We may switch the times in the future. I acknowledged that the 3rd service may not even work. There was no pride; we just asked people to pray as we figured out – together – what God was leading us to do as a church family. I wasn’t challenged much on the decision, but when I was, I didn’t have to be defensive; I could listen and ask the person to pray with me as we discerned together. This humility also allowed the church to be open to risk together. “This new service may not work, but let’s go for it. If it doesn’t work, we will try something new. Let’s follow Jesus, and if we fall, let’s fall forward. Then we will learn and try something new. This is an adventure.”
Diligence, dependence, delivery. A little leadership lesson. I hope it can help you as lead – at work, in ministry, and at home.