Category Archives: Develop Leaders

Stories of Sifting

Ever feel a bit shaken, like you’re being sifted?

You are not alone!

Our friends at Exponential have lauched a very cool 20 day campaign of daily devotionals on the theme of “sifted.” The new Stories of Sifting web site is now live at
The goal:

Encouraging church planting
leaders to focus on their spiritual,
physical and emotional health as they
are sifted in the journey of ministry.

Every day the site posts a new story of a church planting leader’s
journey of sifting.  These stories are intended to inspire and encourage
planting leaders.   The team has spent the past couple of months researching and writing a series of essays on stories of sifting in the lives of 20+ Bible
leaders.   These short daily devotional stories are being written by a
professional writer in the storytelling style of Max Lucado.

Each entry highlights one devotional thought for leaders to think about.   The
collection of about 25 of these stories along with 25 similar essays from
national leaders will be packaged into a free eBook in the next few months.

Leaders can jump in any time!   You can participate by visiting Stories of Sifted, and by getting the word out on this great resource.

Are We Reproducing Mice or Elephants?

It takes 616 days for an elephant to reproduce.  Only 19 days for a mouse.  Which means that in the time it takes for elephants to multiply 1 generation mice can multiply 32 times.  I am not a biologist, but I assume at least part of the the explanation is the smaller the animal the faster it reproduces. Which in turn, begs the question, are you breeding elephants or mice?

Ask just about anyone (in the west) what a church is and they will describe a building where a group of people come each week to attend services which are provided by professionally trained pastors and accompanied by an often dizzying array of programs.

I’m not saying any of that is bad – it just sounds more like an elephant than a mouse and reproducing elephants takes a long time.  What if you focused instead on reproducing the smallest part of the “elephant”?

What if you trained every disciple to make another disciple, every leader to make another leader, ever group another group, every ministry another ministry?

Rapid multiplication of the smallest parts would eventually lead to multiplication of the largest whole.

We still have a lot to learn

Insight #6 –What we’ve Learned from Online Assessment

By Craig Whitney

(Note this is the sixth and final post in a series. See Insight #1 for background on the research project.)

When ELI began our recent research into church planting outcomes our primary goal was to see how the results of the Church Planter Profiles online assessment matched the actual experience of individual church planters. I’ve been sharing the lessons we learned in this series of posts. In the process of looking at individual church planters, we inevitably ended up with data that gave us insight into the effectiveness of church planting as a whole. The results were consistent with the most research of this type conducted by Ed Stetzer in 2007.

It was encouraging to discover that 17% of churches in our research had grown to over 200 people in attendance. Half of these grew past this commonly recognized barrier in 12 months or less. On a strictly numerical basis, these churches represented the fastest growing and largest in our survey. It was discouraging, however, to discover they do not represent the typical church plant. Half of the churches in our study had started with 30 or less people and, at the time of our survey, had 60 or less people attending. The sentiment of our interviews further confirmed that small and struggling is a more typical church planting experience than growing and thriving.
Beyond the number of people attending a new church, we really wanted to know how many people involved in the new church were formerly un-churched. This ratio gives us at least some insight into how effective the new church is at making new disciples. Regardless of the size the church, the average was 20%. On a personal level, I’m grateful for every person who finds new life in Jesus. As a church planting leader I can only conclude we still have a lot to learn. We need to continue to improve our ability to:

  • Discover leaders with the ability, gifts and desire to start new churches.
  • Develop both the character and competence of church planters.
  • Direct vital resources to church planting.

The most critical improvement needed, in order to reach the hundreds of million people in the US alone who do not know Jesus, is our ability to start new churches that are even more effective at making new disciples.

Never stop Learning

By Craig Whitney

Insight #5 – What we’ve Learned from Online Assessment

(Note this is the fourth in a series. See Insight #1 for background on the research project.)

In 1998 the Gallup organization published StrengthsFinder™ – a tool to help people identify their talents. Church Planter Profiles encourages potential church planters to use this assessment and share their results. In our recent research project, one of the questions we asked was which talents were most common among highly effective church planters. The top four are listed below:

My reaction to 3 of the 4 was that makes sense. Strategist create alternative ways to proceed. Communicators are good conversationalists and presenters. Futurists inspire others with their visions of the future. These talents intuitively connect to church planting. Learner surprised me, at first, especially since it was a talent found in almost half of the highly effective planters. Learners are drawn to, and excel at, discovering and absorbing new ideas and new ways of doing things. It’s easy to see how this talent for learning propels a leader forward. Church Planting challenges become just another opportunity to learn something new.

The adage is leaders are readers. Reading is merely one form of learning. What our research reveals is that leaders are learners. The good news is even if you don’t have this talent naturally, you can develop this habit in your life by creating regular time and space for acquiring and testing new ideas.

(If you have never completed a StrengthsFinder assessment, it would be well worth the small investment of time and money. You can learn more about Strengths, and receive a code to complete the assessment by purchasing either StrengthsFinder 2.0 or Strengths Based Leadership.)

Next: It’s Not Enough