Start Something That Matters – Book Review


I first heard the TOMS shoes story from Blake at the Orange Conference in 2007.  I think that this was when TOMS had just become very popular with the general public.  I was struck with how passionate Blake was about shoes for people who didn’t have any.  I thought to myself, “Now this is an organization that is making a big difference in our world.”

Exactly 10 years later, I found myself picking up this book off of my shelf (I’ve had it for a few years) and deciding to read it.  The TOMS story is so inspirational.  In short, Blake was an entrepreneur who had many startups.  On a backpacking trip to Argentina, he discovered that everyone seemed to be wearing these shoes (alpargatas) and that they were SUPER COMFORTABLE.  He then visited Buenos Aires and discovered that many of the children were running around without shoes.  To live without shoes is a rough life.  your feet crack, and then everything that you step on gets into those cracks and you can get very sick because of it.  Blake decided he wanted to make a company that 1) profited off of a redesign of the alpargata and 2) gave a pair of shoes to a child who needed them for every one that was purchased.  And the rest is history…

I loved reading this book, not only because of the TOMS story, but because of Blake sharing his passion about WHY he started the company and the principles that govern how TOMS shoes works.  He gave Six Traits of Starting Something That Matters:

  1. Find Your Story
  2. Face Your Fears
  3. Be Resourceful without Resources
  4. Keep It Simple
  5. Build Trust
  6. Giving is Good Business

Now, I won’t go into detail on those six traits… because I want you to read the book.  It was an awesome read! (It was also a pretty quick read… it only took me a week or so to read)   I highly recommend this book if you are looking to start something that matters and makes a difference in our world.

So go here and grab the book… and then go here and grab yourself a pair of TOMS shoes (you won’t regret that decision… they are SUPER COMFORTABLE and your putting shoes on the feet of a kid who doesn’t have any) and BE THE DIFFERENCE!


Creating a Family Partnered Next Gen Ministry


One of my main responsibilities as a Next Gen Pastor is to champion the partnership of church and family.  The main reason we do this is because we believe that Two influences paired together are GREATER than those influences working by themselves in the life of a kid.  At Hopevale, we have adopted the Orange strategy that dictates our philosophy.  Now… it’s really easy to say that we are all about partnering with the family to create greater influence, but how can you practically begin to do this?  Let me give you a few things that we have done to begin this process:

1. Plan WAY Ahead.

If you are going to partner with families… you need to get ahead of their schedules.  Last minute doesn’t work for families.  How do I know?  I have a family of Elementary aged kids… trust me, last minute is the kiss of death for anything with us.  If it isn’t on the calendar early and often, it usually isn’t happening.

2. Communicate Often & Clearly

Partnering with families means you have to become an excellent communicator.  Any time you work with someone else toward a common goal, communication is the KEY.

3. Find Ways to Get Them Involved

There are plenty of areas where you can involve parents and families in your ministries.  The more you involve them, the more invested they become in the life of the ministry and in the life of their kid.

4. Plan Family-Oriented Events

We decided that we needed a few nights out of our year where we invited the whole family to come experience a ministry event together.  This speaks VOLUMES to our families that we care about them as a whole… not just the kids.

5. Provide Materials for Family Growth

Our kids ministry directors are awesome at this.  They retweet, post, copy, photocopy, handout, and any other way they can do it, material that is great for families to be reading both about how to do family better and how to follow Jesus better.  It has been GOLD for our families.

6. Offer Training Opportunities for Families

This is one of the things that we have been talking about a lot in our Next Gen world at Hopevale.  “How can we help get parents and families some specific training that would help them take the next step together?”  Identify a few things that are “Hot Topics” for your families, and then figure out how you can address them.

Hope these can help your church become more Family oriented!

Learning to Multi-Sensory Listen


Okay.  I’m about to write about something that I struggle with.  It might be because of undiagnosed adult ADHD, or it might be because I’m selfish.  Either way, can I admit something?  I’m not good at listening.  In fact, this post feels to me a lot like that picture above… I talk to you about listening but keep my hand in your face like I don’t want to listen.  So just know, what I am about to write comes from a personal place of learning for me (just ask my wife).

A while back I was reading either a blog post or a book (I can’t remember… I seriously think it’s ADHD) and I came across some valuable information about multi-sensory listening.  This information was SOOOOO good.  It became even more valuable the more I engaged with married couples and soon to be married couples.  Heck, the more I talk with parents and kids… the more this information becomes crucial.  So I want to share with you the gist of what I read.  It was and continues to be so challenging to me and how I relate to others.

The bottom line is that we listen with more than our ears.  That when we learn to Multi-Sensory Listen… we communicate to others 1) I am listening to you & 2) I CARE!


OK.  This one is the no brainer, right?  You cannot listen to what people are saying without hearing them.  But listening with your ears is the most basic form of listening.  The big challenge with listening with your ears is to move from “I heard you and can repeat what you said” to “I am truly LISTENING to you.”  And the way you can communicate that to them is by asking follow up questions.

critical question: “Do they KNOW you care?”


I have to admit, I have been in the middle of conversations with people and “appear” as if I was listening… but I was really looking at something else or paying attention to something else (again… I’m more than positive it is ADHD).  Or even worse… had tuned them out and allowed the “glossed over” look to take place.  People want to see in your eyes that you care about what they are saying and who they are.  Eye contact is a valuable listening tool.

critical question: “Can they SEE you care?”


Expression shows you are listening and that you care.  Panface means your mind is elsewhere and that you couldn’t care less about who is talking to you.  You can say you are listening until you are blue in the face… but the proof is if your face actually turns blue!  The other side of this is to show TOO MUCH expression… It’s just down right creepy.


Show appropriate expression to display you are listening.

critical question: “Do they BELIEVE you care?”


When you use APPROPRIATE touch, it communicates to someone that you care about them.  When it is appropriate to give a hug, high five, pat on the shoulder, etc… we should.  Now, we need to read the situation and show extreme care and caution that we are not overstepping a boundary… but APPROPRIATE touch, when used carefully, can be a powerful way to communicate to someone that you not only heard them but are truly listening to them.

critical question: “Can they SENSE you care?”

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry…”  James 1:19

Training Ministry Volunteers

Volunteers.  They are the backbone of every ministry.  In my experience, my volunteers are just as important to our ministry as I am.  They are the ones on the front lines and in the trenches DOING a lot of the work of ministry with people.  Over the years, I learned a very valuable lesson:  my job as a “pastor” or “ministry leader” should be viewed as a “player/coach” role.  I needed to pour time, energy, and resources into my volunteers.  It’s a leadership thing.  It’s also a stewardship thing. [Luke 19:11-27]  So here are a few ways that pastors and ministry leaders can invest in and train their volunteers:

1. Provide All-Volunteer Training Days

One or two times a year we try to provide a multiple-hour training day for our volunteers.  This is great for several reasons: a) great team building time, b) you can dispense a large amount of information in a limited amount of time to the majority of your team, c) you can use these as a catalyst for team momentum.

2. One-On-One Mentoring Opportunities

These usually take place over lunch for me.  This is a great opportunity to “shepherd” your volunteers/leaders.  You can find out how they are doing individually, what they are concerned about, what is going well, and what specific issues you can help them address.  Dave Ferguson, in his book Exponential, gives a great formula for this: RPM’S – which stands for Relational, Physical, Mental, & Spiritual.  Learning to check in with your leaders in One-On-One moments can also be a great way to cast individual vision.

3. Web Resources

I don’t know about you, but I come across some GREAT content for ministry and leadership via the internet.  It helps me become a better pastor and ministry leader.  Now think about how great your team could be if they got that content too?  Share with your team what you are discovering through the internet about ministry and leadership.  The positive to this is that it doesn’t consume as much time as a meeting would… and they are still getting valuable information.  Use social media as a platform to share this, because most of your team is on it.

4. Model Leadership to your Volunteers

Your volunteers need to see you LIVING what you are teaching.  Remember the old saying: “More is Caught than Taught?”  Andy Stanley calls this on his team “Wear It.”  When you “Wear” what you want to be true in your ministry… your volunteers will start to catch it and wear it too.

5. Find “Teachable Moments”

There are always times when things happen and we can pause with our volunteers “in the moment” to help them lead better.  These are great times to ask questions that help both you and your volunteers learn from experience.

6. Make Resources Available

We read books, magazine articles, scripture that speak to us about ministry and leadership.  Why not build a library of resources that your volunteers can have access to?  A well resourced team is a better equipped team.

** the bottom line is to do whatever it takes to help your volunteers be the absolute BEST volunteers they can be.  It is a part of our job description as a pastor or ministry leader: “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to EQUIP God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:11-12

Strategic and Visionary Planning 2.0

A while back (almost 6 years ago) I wrote this post (click here for post) about strategic planning.  Over the past 6 years, it has been one of the most shared and looked at post on my blog, and I think the reason is that people want a simple way to do strategic planning.  When you google search “strategic planning charts” the image base is a limitless amount of charts… but none of them make any sense to people like me who like things simple and focused.  Well, over the past month or so, I have been refining my own thoughts on the strategic planning process and have come up with a new chart that I believe makes even more sense.  Here it is:

strategic planning process-01

MISSION: every organization has a mission that they are going after.  It is what drives your organization to exist and, at the end of the day, it tells you whether or not you are successful.  It is your GOAL.

VISION: your vision is what propels you toward your goal.  Your vision is the picture of your preferred future that you dream to be true.  It is the thing that keeps pushing you to keep on going after your mission.

VALUES: values are like the guardrails of your organization.  They keep you from driving off the road and going in a direction that is away from your mission.  Your values are what keep you focused on the goal.

INITIATIVES: Initiatives are the things you hope to accomplish in the near future that will make your vision a reality.  Your vision usually can be broken down into statements [“I see…” ].  In order for those statements to become more than vision, though, they need strategies behind them.   vision statement + realistic strategy = strategic initiative.  I would also encourage this:  you may end up with SEVERAL vision statements from your vision.  That’s OK.  In fact, that is AWESOME because that shows you are an organization with BIG VISION.  The reality, though, is that you cannot go after all of them effectively.  So I would suggest trying to tackle 2-3 initiatives in a given year.  1) It will keep you focused, and 2) you will have enough bandwidth to put excellence into them.

My hope is that this will help you and your organization plan more effectively and efficiently.

Exponential’s 5 Reproducing Principles

Jon and Dave Ferguson wrote an AWESOME book a few years back on reproducing your church experience and becoming a missional-based church.  If you are a church leader and are interested in 1) taking your church to the next level or 2) reproducing your church (venue or multisite) this book is a MUST READ!  [you can pick it up here.]

In their first chapter, they outline 5 Reproducing Principles that I have found myself putting into practice in my Student Ministries that I have been over for the past 8 years (at least).  Here is that list:


If you are going to grow as a ministry, and have the ability to reproduce it in a healthy way, you need to have someone who you are growing to take your place.  It is not only a practical idea… it is a thoroughly BIBLICAL idea.  Moses had Joshua, Elijah had Elisha, Jesus had his disciples… especially Peter, James and John.  When you take the step from DOING ministry to TRAINING others to do ministry, you are stepping closer and closer to reproducing health in something like a multisite.


Reproducing leadership should be an ON PURPOSE decision, not one that happens to you.  If the reason you are reproducing leadership is to solve a problem, and not to fulfill a vision, then you should probably go back to the drawing board and figure out WHY you should reproduce.  Multi-site replication is not a fix to overcrowding or to declining attendance… those require different actions.


Some leaders think that they can’t multi-site their church until it reaches a certain size.  That MAY have been the thinking early on, but the statistics show us that there are a lot of churches that aren’t even close to the classical “mega-church” status that are multisite.  Why?  Because it isn’t about how many are attending your church… it’s all about if your leadership is ready to replicate.  It’s all about if there are healthy systems in place, written down, that you can fall back on.  It’s about leader readiness.


Before you replicate anything leadership-wise (multisite or not) you have to do some big soul searching.  I often am searching my own heart for why I want to build into leaders and interns: “Is it because I want to be viewed as a leader among leaders?” “Is it because I want to build something that everyone will be WOWED with?”  or “Is it really because I believe with everything that I am that God has entrusted to me the building and furthering of HIS kingdom here on this earth in this spot… and this is the best way I can find to do it?”  A good, old-fashioned heart check is a great place to start.


Leader replication can’t just be something that you do for multisite… it needs to happen EVERYWHERE!  It needs to be a philosophy of ministry that you buy into whole-heartedly… not just a strategy to get to a multisite campus.

I have loved how this book has challenged me in ministry.  It has helped move me from DOING ministry to EQUIPPING others to do ministry… but my goal is to not stop there… but eventually to have those who I am pouring into to take someone else through the replication process.


3 Key Traits to Replicating Ministries

One of the biggest trends in Churches right now is to make your church a multisite church.  One church, several locations.  There are many reasons for doing this, but the primary reason that a church goes multisite is to reach people beyond the physical influence of their current campus.  Our church (Hopevale) has been diving into the discussions of what it would look like for us to multisite in our area… and they have been great conversations so far.

But before you can pick a location and start putting plans in place, there are three traits that a church must have if they are going to replicate their ministry.  Those traits are:

1) Common VISION

If you are going to replicate your ministry into a new setting, you must make sure that everyone is on board with a common vision.  This is not the same as your church replicating their mission statement.  Mission statements answer the question “Who are we?”  Vision is all about “where are we going?”  If you are not in alignment with where you are going, you’ll never get there.

2) Core VALUES

In order to replicate ministry, you need to replicate it’s DNA.  The DNA of your ministry is found in a few shared VALUES that make you, as a church, unique.  It is these values that will keep you within the guardrails and help your multisite from going rogue.  For a lot of churches that are dreaming of going multisite, they may intrinsically KNOW these values… but in order to replicate them, you must WRITE THEM DOWN… and then keep each other accountable to them.

3) Consistent VOICE

One of the most important things you can do to replicate your ministry is to make sure that you have a consistent voice across the board on any campus that you call your church.  Your marketing, brand, graphics, language, feel… it all needs to be CONSISTENT with who you are as a church.  I bet there is a certain look that makes your church your church.  There is also a way you uniquely say things.  All of these things are important when you multisite.  These are the things you want to replicate.  It is also important that branding and marketing can travel well… meaning this: you can’t have something that is your location specific and then try to replicate it in another location without confusing people.  For example, our middle school ministry at Hopevale is called WIRED.  Now, that might make sense for the kids who come to WIRED or middle schoolers who live in our area and are used to our campus.  But what if we started another campus and had our middle school and high school combined?  That branding wouldn’t travel well for that.  That is why we are going to re brand our ministry to HOPEVALE STUDENTS this summer… and simply call it Middle School and High School.  It is clean and simple and makes complete sense to everyone we communicate to.  plus… Hopevale Students travels well… and it becomes a CONSISTENT VOICE across campuses.

Replicating ministries is not an easy task… but it becomes easier with a common vision, core values, and a consistent voice.