My Prepared Notes for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast

One of the most popular leadership podcasts anywhere is the weekly Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast. So when Carey extended the invitation to interview me about Hero Maker: 5 Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders, my forthcoming book and the big idea for Exponential 2018 Conference, I was quick to say, “Yes sir!”

When Carey interviews someone he captures the audio while you are interviewed on a video platform; that way you can see each other creating a more dynamic conversation. So, the first thing I noticed when I logged on was that Carey’s shirt perfectly matched his pillows and I quickly mentioned it to him in good fun. Carey countered by taking this pic of himself and accessories and then posting it on his twitter account! I could tell this was going to be a fun interview!

Once the interview started we immediately hit it off and went on for about 90 minutes, much longer than the 45 minutes we planned. We talked about planting churches, movement-making, the “5 levels of churches”, the rapid global expansion of the NewThing network, the rapid growth of the Exponential Conference and the five practices of a Hero Maker. I ended up telling a story I’ve never told before and even gave him a peak into my journal (which I think he took a pic he is going to post when the podcast releases). I thoroughly enjoyed Carey and the interview!

Before the interview Carey sent me about a dozen possible questions that he planned to asked me but also warned me that he will take the conversation wherever it goes. So that I could be ready for both I spent a little more than an hour typing up a few thoughts to all the questions Carey sent me. While the interview will be released on December 5th; attached are the planned questions and my prepared notes for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast in case you want to check it out.

6 Coaching Questions for Developing Leaders

Coaching picNothing is more important than to the mission of Jesus than to disciple and develop leaders. If you are responsible for the care and development of leaders – staff and volunteers, use these six questions as a basic agenda for any one-on-one coaching conversation and you will see them grow and flourish.

Here are six questions in order that you should ask when meeting. Let me briefly explain the brilliance behind each one of these six questions:

1) “How are you?”

Remember at the heart of effecting coaching is a relational investment. It may sound cliché, but it’s still true: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” You should begin every coaching conversation by checking in to see how the person you are coaching is really doing.

2) “What are you celebrating?”

Every meeting at Community begins with some form of this question. Often it’s stated like this: “Where are you/we winning?” Whether it’s a one-on-one meeting, a group meeting, a staff meeting, or a temporary task force, we begin by celebrating how God is at work in our life, ministry, and church.

Moving from “How are you?” to “What are you celebrating?” keeps the tone of the meeting very relational and positive. It’s tempting to quickly focus on what’s not working or what is broken. This question starts the conversation focused on where the leader is feeling successful and then you get to affirm their efforts.

3) What challenges are you facing?

You might be thinking, “Finally we get to something productive.” Yes, the previous questions are very relational, but if it helps any, remember that when it comes to coaching the relationship really is the task. This question gives your leader an opportunity to talk openly about what is not going very well in his group or team.

4) How will you solve those challenges?

Once a leader has disclosed some areas where he or she may be experiencing some challenges with his life, group, or team it is tempting to quickly move into “fix-it” mode and try to solve the problem for them. There are times when a leader will need your insight and wisdom. However, the best way you can serve a leader is to help them tap into the wisdom and insight God has already given them to deal with whatever situation they are facing. Spend the most amount of your time on this question. It is the coach’s role to draw those answers or solutions out of the leader.

5) How can I help you?

Finally, we get to the question we’ve wanted to ask. This is an important question, but if you never get to this question because the leader has already come up with an action plan as you walked through the previous questions, considers yourself an extremely effective coach. But there are times when a coach needs to step in and offer whatever assistance is necessary to help a leader in need. So if the leader doesn’t know how they can solve the challenges they face, offer them wisdom and guidance from your own experience.

6) How can I pray for you?

The best way to wrap up a coaching conversation is to ask the leader how you can be praying for him or her. It is also a great opportunity for the coach to ask the leader for prayer. This is one way a coach can help the leader know that this relationship is mutually beneficial. After the leader has had a chance to express some areas where they are in need of prayer, take a few moments to pray for the leader and reassure them that you will be praying regularly.

The dreamExponential by Dave Ferguson and Jon Ferguson Book of God is not for the church to be led by a one-man show, but that it would be a great team led by great coaches. Use these six questions and you will be a great coach and develop a great team who can accomplish great things for the mission of Jesus.

(These 6 coaching questions appear in chapter 8 of Exponential: How You And Your Friends Can Start A Missional Church Movement.)

Proactively Starting Over

Caleb at CalvinXC camp 2016This story is mine

I just drove back from Grand Rapids after dropping my soon-to-be college freshman son off at Calvin College for cross-country camp. Even though Caleb has no plans to come home till his birthday in October Sue and I agreed to tell ourselves we were just dropping him off for cross-country camp and not really college. Why? I think it is our way pretending he is still at home till we drive back up to Grand Rapids next week to “officially” move him into his dorm. Denial sometimes works.

On the three and half hour drive from the suburbs of Illinois to western Michigan Caleb and I chatted the whole time. Of course we talked about running, cross-country and the exciting prospects of his new team. We also talked about college and how he welcomed the academic challenge. And we spent about thirty minutes admiring and critiquing President Obama’s summer Spotify playlist as we listened to it in the background.

It was somewhere near the Saugatuck exit I asked Caleb, “Since you are starting this new chapter in your life are you planning to do anything different?” He paused and then thoughtfully listed several items that he would start anew. I could tell that he had given it some thought. It wasn’t my question that prompted his response; it was going to college that caused him to think about what he wanted to start over.

Starting-Over_spine-3dIt was on the drive back home that I thought about my conversation with Caleb and hit me, “Hold it, we don’t have to wait till we have a crisis to start over. We don’t have to wait until things fall apart. We can proactively start over at any point in your life!”  My experience is that most of us wait for the disaster: loss of job, a divorce or getting dumped, an unexpected illness, the crisis of faith or a financial collapse before we consider starting over.  But it was seeing college as a new stage of life that prompted Caleb to decide he could start over!

In our new book, Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regrets we help people see that regrets are not a place to get stuck, but a prompt to start over. But it was in this car ride with Caleb that I realized that we don’t have to wait for regrets; we can start over anytime we want. The twelve-step movement cleverly reminds us, “You can pick your bottom.” Your bottom doesn’t have to be a disaster, a crisis or a total melt down. We each have the ability to proactively decide to start over. It was the prophet Jeremiah who graciously points out, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) God mercifully offers us the opportunity every morning to start over!

With this lesson from Caleb, the twelve-step movement and the prophet Jeremiah in mind, here are 20 times we can all use to proactively start over…

Stages for Starting Over: Life is often thought of in chronological stages. Each of these stages is an moment when you can proactively start over.

  • Start of junior high
  • Beginning of high school
  • Freshman year of college
  • Start of your 20’s 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 100!

Celebrations for Starting Over: People love to celebrate marker events in our life. And when we celebrate these significant days it is also an opportunity to proactively start over.

  • A birthday
  • Wedding
  • Birth of a child
  • Anniversaries

Events for Starting Over: There are big events that occur over a lifetime that bring significant adjustments. These big events also bring the occasion to proactively start over.

  • New Job
  • Promotion
  • A new neighborhood
  • Attending a new church

Rhythms for Starting Over: Your life is lived out with certain rhythms. These rhythms are days, weeks, seasons and years. With the start of each rhythm is an excuse to proactively start over.

  • Each morning
  • Every Sunday
  • Every new season
  • The New Year

Quiet Times for Starting Over: It is often during a time of solitude and slowing down that we pause long enough to reflect on what needs to change. These quiet times are a space in time for proactively starting over.

  • Prayer
  • Worship Service
  • Retreat day
  • Vacation

G.K. Chesterton put it best when he said, “Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” Don’t wait for a crisis, for life to fall apart or even to hit bottom! Be proactive! You can start over starting today!!

Leave me a comment and I will put your name into a drawing for a FREE ARC (advance reader copy) of Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regret.  Leave me a comment letting me know which of these 20 you have used as an opportunity to start over and tell me how it worked out?

6 Questions for Discovering Your God-Given Possibilities

possibilitiesFor the last eight years I have used the last week of the year and the first week of the new year to evaluate who I am; who does God want me to be and how I am doing.  The process has continued to evolve over the years, but much of it revolves around prayerfully working through six questions. These six questions help me discern the God-given possibilities for my life.

There is just something powerful about writing down (or typing on your computer) your goals and having an intention about who you want to become!  I can now look back and remember writing down that I wanted to plant a church; write a book and start a church planting network.  Would those things have happened if I had not written them down?  I don’t know for sure.  I do know that writing these down and reviewing them periodically keeps me moving in the direction that I feel God is calling me. I personally think everyone should do it.  So, I would encourage you to get some time alone and prayerfully work through these six questions:

  1. What is my PURPOSE? It starts with a purpose statement.  Just write something down.  Don’t let this question intimidate you.  You can always edit your answer later.  Here is how I answer that question now: “To be a Spirit-led leader at home, church, and in new ventures resulting in  movements of people finding their way back to God.”  It has taken me a few years of revisions to get that down.  It’s a little long, but it includes everything that it is important to me.  So take a shot and write down a purpose statement for your life.
  2. What is my PASSION? Next you should list the things about which you are passionate.  There are four things about which I’m passionate:  Jesus, family, church and new ventures.  So, what are you passionate about?  List them.
  3. What are the POSITIONS I hold? Next I list all the positions I hold in relationship to the things about which I’m passionate.  For example, in relationship to my family I have two positions:  husband and father.  Another example, in relationship to to my church I have at least four positions:  visionary, lead pastor, teacher/motivator and intercessor.  List all the positions you hold in relationship to the things about which you are passionate.  You get the idea.
  4. What are the POSSIBILITIES for my future? This is my favorite part – dreaming with God about who He wants me to be in the positions He has put me in.  This is where I begin to dream about all the possibilities for my life.  This is the long view and it answers the question of who I will have been after I have lived on this planet for 75 years. (I’m planning on living to 75 and if I get more time that will be bonus!)
  5. What is the PATH for making that future possible? Now that you have a list of all the possibilities for your life you need to figure out the path to get you there.  I have a path that I break into 5 years chunks of time.  There are markers that I need to meet every five years if I am going to see those possibilities for my life ever happen.  So take a look at your list of God-given possibilities and create a path with markers along the way that show you are progressing towards those possibilities.
  6. What is my PLAN for this coming year? The last question you will want to answer has to do with 2016.  This year is the next step on the path to your future.  So, write down your plan for this year and make sure that it is taking you towards the next markers on your path to your God-given possibilities.

(This is a revision of a similar post)

9 Behaviors Of A Multiplying Church

Multiplying Church?A church committed to multiplication will demonstrate the following types of behaviors:

1. Multiplying churches have a scorecard that is as focused on starting new churches as it is on adding new members.

2. Multiplying churches give their first fruits to church planting, including at least the first 10 percent of their tithes and offerings.

3. Multiplying church leaders have a specific vision and strategy for multiplication, including accountability measures for monitoring progress.

4. Multiplying churches value raising up and deploying leaders to plant churches. This includes an intern/residency program for developing and deploying church planting leaders and team members.

5. Multiplying churches send church planters on an ongoing and regular basis to plant new churches.

6. Multiplying churches value new churches over mortgage debt. They plant their first church before taking on mortgage debt, and they commit additional financial resources (beyond a tithe) as a percentage of mortgage debt (taking on new mortgage debt is matched by committing a higher percentage of the budget to church planting). Multiplying churches take proactive actions to ensure mortgage debt will not constrain church planting support.

7. Multiplying churches value new churches over new sites. They plant their first church before adding their first site. They commit to plant five or more churches for each new site they add. Multiplying churches understand that multisite is a strategy that can adversely impact multiplication strategies.

8. Multiplying churches value “sending” staff and leaders to plant churches. They send their first planter before accumulating their first three staff members and continue to send a percentage of staff members to plant churches.

9. Multiplying churches inspire, encourage and challenge church members to participate in church planting, both financially and by being part of church planting teams. Multiplying churches continually affirm those who go.

The entire article by Todd Wilson and myself was published in Outreach Magazine as “Are You Planting A Multiplying Church?”  The ebook, “Becoming A Level 5 Multiplying Church” that inspired this article is available for free.  For a complete treatment on how to start a church that is multiplying on all levels, read “Exponential: How You And Your Friends Can Start A Missional Church Movement.”

Exponential – Now Translated Into German!

Exponential (German)Five years ago Jon and I wrote, Exponential: How You And Your Friends Can Start A Missional Church Movement to share in simple, back-of-a-napkin instructions how God had worked through COMMUNITY and NewThing to grow an amazing church and catalyze a movement of reproducing churches!  I’m excited to announce that Zondervan is now publishing Exponential in a German edition!  Thanks to the leadership of Luthar Krauss on January 18-23, 2016 I will be in Schwabisch Gmund and then Dussledorf, Germany for the public release of the German edition of the book and to teach church leaders in two consecutive conferences on Exponential. While this is the first time the book has been officially published in a language other than English, I have had church leaders and church planters send me copies that they have translated on their own into several languages including Russian, Albanian and Spanish. This caused me to reflect and ask, “Why does the interest in a book we wrote five years ago continue to grow both domestically and globally?” A few thoughts came to mind…

Exponential principles are simple. The consistent compliment I get from people who read Exponential is something like this, “Thanks for making challenging topics so simple and for making me believe I could do it.”  Throughout the book we take complex issues like leadership development, artist development, multi-site, church planting and network creation and spell it out in simple and reproducible language.  To make the point, we illustrate each of these ideas by showing how they can be explained literally on the back-of-a-napkin.

Exponential principles translate into any context.  The reason they translate into any context is not a testament to the authors but where the authors got the content. Everything in Exponential is based on Jesus vision for a church that was founded on movemental ideals. Everything in Exponential is based on how Jesus apprenticed his first followers and the example we see in the early church.

Exponential principles are being used around the world. I’ve seen the principles of Exponential used by church leaders in contexts as diverse as South Korea, Kenya, United Kingdom, Belarus, Philippines, South Africa, Australia and more. What we thought was God’s unique work in Chicagoland has proved to be how God works around the world.

If you haven’t read Exponential or you would like a copies for your team, you can get it HERE.

Q & A with “Teams That Thrive” Authors

Teams That ThriveI had the privilege of writing the forward for a great new book by Warren Bird and Ryan Hartwig, Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership. Warren is a brilliant researcher and a gifted writer. Ryan is a scholar and a practitioner. In Teams That Thrive they offer us a rare combination of great research and best practice for leadership teams. I had the opportunity to do the following Q & A with them which gives you a glimpse of why they wrote this book and why it is so important.

What makes Teams That Thrive a unique book for church leaders?

Though nearly every church says they’re led by a team, many of these “teams” aren’t teams at all, much less effective ones. Despite good intentions, many don’t know what it takes to develop a thriving top team. Teams That Thrive shows leaders step by step how to thrive in their teams, especially at the senior leadership team level. As the subtitle—Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership—hints, this timely guide gives church leaders both what they want—practical, straightforward, compelling guidance with real-life examples of successful teams—and what they need—substantial, challenging insights and a fresh model grounded in the latest research on church leadership teams.

What was your inspiration for writing Teams That Thrive

Too many churches don’t thrive in the area of team leadership. Instead they struggle. Or worse, they accept being mediocre-to-good. We believe many would rather excel as a senior leadership team – which they can if they can see “best practice” models of what it can look like, and have practical guidance on how to get there. Our unique angle was to blend our practical experience and research expertise. As a professor and researcher, Ryan observes, studies and teaches about teams in various contexts, bringing a rich theoretical base and knowledge of research on senior leadership teams. As a leading student of church leadership practices and trends, Warren has addressed the issues of senior leadership teams in hundreds of interviews and has been part of a senior leadership team in four different churches of varying size. The result is a book that not only tells church leaders what exemplar churches do to help their teams thrive and why, but goes the extra step to show practical steps of how teams can help their teams grow to a greater level of health and effectiveness.

What makes a great team?

From all our research, we’re convinced that the best teams are distinguished in two ways. First, teams that thrive believe that collaborative leadership is practically and biblically the right way to lead. Second, teams that thrive discipline themselves to practice the fundamentals that make a great team, day in and day out. Because they’re convinced it’s worthwhile to lead collaboratively, they do what it takes to become extraordinary. In short: you can have a healthy, thriving leadership team. It’s both biblical and doable. To develop a team that thrives, you will need to practice the five disciplines we describe.

Teams That Thrive is deeply grounded in research. What can you tell us about your study?

We collected questionnaire data from 1,026 senior leadership team members at 253 churches. The leadership team members of 145 churches completed all aspects of two assessments, offering us an outstanding dataset to work with. From there, we visited many top leadership teams – including Community Christian – and conducted dozens of interviews with members of church senior leadership teams.

What are the most significant challenges church leaders are facing with cultivating great teams?

One challenge is that few pastors who lead teams have been trained in building great teams. In fact, only 18% of the team leaders in our research study have received any special training in how to lead teams. That lack of understanding of team dynamics and effective team building strategies often results in well-intentioned but ineffective efforts. In the book, we explain the pitfalls of many common team-building efforts and offer several strategies that can be used to help a team grow. We speak to new churches and established churches, smaller churches and larger churches, high-structure churches to more organically led churches.

What do you want church leaders to take away from reading Teams That Thrive?

Cultivating and working with a team that thrives is possible, realistic and doable. The hard work of developing the disciplines that result in effective collaborative church leadership is worth it – for the team itself, for the team’s members individually, for the rest of the church staff, for other teams in the church, and for the congregation as a whole. In Teams That Thrive, we tried to provide a roadmap that will enable thousands of church leadership teams to thrive, which will, in turn, result in the thriving of thousands of Christ-centered congregations.

For more information, visit, which includes many extra features.


Community Christian Church in Guatemala?!?

CCC-GuatemalaI got this photo in an e-mail from Tammy Melchein telling me that some COMMUNITY peeps who moved from Chicago to Guatemala have started a house church using our Big Idea teaching videos and curriculum.  And here is the fun part…they are calling it COMMUNITY-Guatemala!  They started using our creative content with the Finding Your Way Back To God series and have been using Big Idea resources ever since!   I followed up with Tammy via e-mail asking her a few questions:

  1. Do you think what happened here is reproducible in other places around the world?  And if it is why?  
  2. And if it is not reproducible, why not?  
  3. Lastly, what tweaks would we need to make in order to see this happen in 100 locations around the world?

Feel free to chime in and leave a comment. Would love your thoughts!

Foreword for Pioneering Movements by Steve Addison

Pioneering MovementsThere are few people in the world that know more about the Christian movement than Steve Addison. And if there are some that know more than him, I can’t be more passionate about the topic. For that reason and more it was a real honor when Steve asked me to write the foreword to his new book, Pioneering Movements: Leadership That Multiplies Disciples and Churches. Below is the foreword that I sent to him today. It is currently available in a digital format, but will be available in paperback on December 6th. If you read my foreword, you will pick on my enthusiasm for Steve’s latest project. It is absolutely terrific!

Foreword for Pioneering Movements by Dave Ferguson

 When I first time stumbled upon Steve Addison’s blog at it was like finding a long lost brother! Albeit a more traveled, more experienced and much smarter brother. From then on I started routinely checking Steve’s latest posts and my kinship with him grew through our mutual passion and interest in movements. Without Steve knowing it, through his writings we became blood brothers as our hearts beat fast to see the church realize it’s forgotten way as a transformative movement.

So, when given the opportunity to write and publish on the topic of movements and I needed some brotherly advice, I called Steve Addison. When I needed someone to challenge the church planters and network leaders within NewThing, the movement I lead, I asked Steve to teach us. As I made plans for the next Exponential conference, where our mission is to “accelerate movements” I read everything that Steve put out for wisdom and guidance. While we live half a world apart, Steve and I share the same spiritual family and I proudly call him a brother in this great cause of Christ.

Like an older brother, he is once again a step ahead schooling us on the topic of movements. As you read Pioneering Movements: Leadership That Multiplies Disciples And Churches you will discover the following truths about movement making:

Movements are led by apostolic leaders.

In Pioneering Movements, Addison does a great job of pointing to Jesus as our pioneering apostle and then helps us immensely by giving both biblical and historical examples of apostolic leadership. In so doing, Steve presents a strong case that the church will not experience accelerated great commission expansion in the absence of this type of leadership. In fact, the greater the missional impact, the more obvious the pioneering apostolic leadership becomes. As a person who feels called to identify, equip and commission apostolic leaders, this will be a book that I will read and re-read. I will also pass along this book to church planters and network leaders within my influence because those with a pioneering gift need to understand the importance of their calling to the mission.

Movement is God’s means for accomplishing the mission of Jesus.

Jesus challenges us in Acts 1:8 with a vision of a church on the move. As Jesus paints a picture of a preferable future we see the church moving from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world. Jesus left us with a vision for how His movement could accomplish the mission. Addison takes that vision and brilliantly gives us both strategy and story to show us the way. I absolutely love chapter six as he explains the five levels of movement leadership. I can’t wait to pass along that piece of developmental strategy to the men and women I am training to start networks and movements. Wisely, Steve goes beyond just strategy, but supports it with real world stories of pioneering leaders God has used around the world. As you read Pioneering Movements, you will be convicted that movement is not just the latest buzz word or trendy phrase, it is how God wants to accomplishing His mission.

Movements are not just a topic to research, but a way to join God in His great redemptive work.

My favorite line in Pioneering Movements is when Steve says, “I was an expert, but I wasn’t living it out.” What you are reading is a rarity because the author refuses to let movement become merely an academic project. It is rare because this book was written by a gentleman who knows as much about the Christian movement as anyone in the world, and at the same time is daring to put each learning into practice. It is my hope and prayer that you will do the same. Do not just read these words, but follow Steve’s example and attempt to live them out. The insights in this book are from a brother of ours who understands how our ever expanding and always including family of God was meant to live and thrive and that we are all meant to be a part of it.

For all those reasons and more, is a great honor for me to recommend to you this great contribution to the mission of Jesus, my brother Steve Addison’s Pioneering Movements: Leadership That Multiplies Disciples And Churches.

Dave Ferguson


Todd Rhoades Interviews Jon & Me About Our Hopes For “Finding Your Way Back To God” Book.

Todd Rhoades of Leadership Network spent a few minutes interviewing Jon and me about our new book ,“Finding Your Way Back To God.” During this engaging conversation we discuss the 5 awakenings, the 30-day wager, how other churches are using the book as a church-wide teaching series and our hopes and dreams for how it could reach thousands and thousands of people. Listen and learn…