We’re continuing our “Difference Makers” blog series and decided to interview our senior ministry strategist, Pete Wilson, about his past success in founding and building one of the largest churches in Nashville: Cross Point Church.
Under Pete’s leadership for 15 years, the church grew from just an idea to one that had 5 campuses and thousands of people in attendance each week.
So what was his secret? Amongst hundreds of other churches, how did he grow Cross Point to have the size and impact that it did? According to Pete, while there is a long list of lessons learned, some luck, and incredible teams and people surrounding the vision, there are a few lessons that stick out when it comes to his success.
- Learn from the best.
“I think I read Rick Warren’s book, Purpose Driven Church 100 times.”
Don’t always try to reinvent the wheel. It’s tempting to try and constantly do things “out of the box” but at the end of the day, studying successful church leaders and their process was extremely helpful. How do they handle assimilation? What was their first-time-guest experience like? Assess their success and see how it can apply to your church.
- Protect your vision fiercely.
At the beginning, vision is all that you have and is the one consistent thing you can lean on through your church growth journey.
Over time, people/staff/leadership will change. Resources will also change. But your decision making should lean on your vision and whether or not that particular decision aligns with your goals. Allowing people to shift and mold your vision into something else (often for selfish desires, convenience or an easier route) can be a slippery slope leading to vanilla outcomes
- Define an “aspirational culture” for your church.
Nine times out of ten, your weakness as a leader will weave its way into the fabric and DNA of your organization.
To combat a known weakness in your organizational culture (primarily internal culture), define aspirational values. As in, values that you want to uphold, but may require some shifts.
“For example, I knew that I did not like confrontation with my staff. I could sit in a meeting and know that a particular idea someone pitched didn’t align with our goals, and instead of saying something in that moment at risk of hurting their feelings, I would wait and later on have to tell this person that we weren’t going to pursue an idea. This often caused delays in timelines and diminished trust.
As we started redefining our values as an organization, I decided to add one called “Last 10%.” This was set in place to invite “the last 10% of what needs to be said.” Where in the past, I felt that my last 10% was unwelcomed, by defining it as part of an aspirational value, it was not only invited, but actively encouraged.
- Don’t be afraid of the “big ask.”
“I had a breakfast and lunch meeting with people almost every single day for the first 3 years of starting Cross Point.”
As you’re starting out as an organization, you have to get comfortable with asking for help. Sometimes you need more volunteers, more resources, or more connections to accomplish your goal. But you can’t shy away from constantly putting yourself and your vision out there, inviting people to play a part in it as often as you can.
It never hurts to ask.
- Treat your core group of volunteers like staff.
Your core volunteers, especially as you’re smaller and starting out, are absolutely crucial for the success of your church. While it’s easy amongst the hustle and bustle to have them simply be “work horses,” it’s important that you pour into them like you would staff.
Take them to lunch or coffee. Send them emails weekly reminding them of the vision and sharing updates that they are a part of. Send them to conferences where they can learn and grow in the area they’re passionate about.
If you can find intentional ways to lean in with these people, they will in turn help become the building blocks for church. You can’t be everywhere. Empower, equip and value the people that can be.
To hear the full interview with Pete Wilson, click here.