The IC Story: Our Beginnings & 8 Things We’ve Learned
I am often asked the question, “So how are things going with Intentional Churches?” Well, things are going overwhelmingly well and more importantly, God’s favor and hand continue to guide our efforts to help churches accomplish the Great Commission. I thought I would write a few posts to talk about our story and where we are today.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Our beginning was a God-thing. Doug and I met in college and were independently led to work with churches in Las Vegas, Canyon Ridge Christian Church and Central Christian Church. Two incredible ministries. Years after arriving in Las Vegas, we were reacquainted at a providential dinner where we both expressed the mutual desire to serve His church at-large with purposeful planning, coaching, and training. It was clear that God was leading us in the same direction.
Doug had a background as a successful executive pastor at Canyon Ridge and, years before, a rising star as a Chick-fil-a owner operator and Symbol of Success award winner, the company’s highest honor. God met Doug through the ministry of his youth pastor in southeast Ohio and changed the trajectory of his life including his eventual decision to leave Chick-fil-a to pursue full time ministry. This impact fuels his passion to help churches reach people for Christ.
I am a PK (pastor’s kid) from a great church who fell in love with the idea of serving in a local church. I served on the leadership teams with two growing ministries, Crossroads Christian in Lexington, Kentucky and Central Christian in Las Vegas. Witnessing the life changing power of innovative, Gospel-centered churches fuels my passion to work with churches.
And Doug and I share common convictions. We believe a church is called to grow by accomplishing the The Great Commission and there is urgency in this call for each and every church no matter the size, denomination, or model of ministry. Our spiritual journeys and traditions have led us to think about the local church at large, not just one tribe, region, or type of church.
The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.
We are two practical guys with a similar bent toward pragmatism, so long as the pragmatic solution doesn’t counter our Gospel convictions about Jesus and His mission. We both believe The Great Commission, more and better disciples, is the bullseye or target aim of the local church. All Kingdom impact and victory must flow from this center, and the execution of this mission will lead to different results or “vision outcomes” for each and every local church. My father’s ministry at Jessamine Christian Church in Nicholasville, KY and that of Central Christian or Canyon Ridge in Las Vegas are different in many ways, but the mission of each could not be more aligned.
This is where the IC story intersects that of Tom Paterson, the Paterson Center, and StratOp (short for Strategic Operational Planning).
On the heels of a significant pastoral transition 2003, Tom led Central’s leadership team through a two-day planning retreat that would forever change our church. Tom was a Christ-follower and Fortune 50 planning guru who had only worked with a few ministries. (Doug and I would learn later that he long dreamt his work would impact the world through the local church!!! We capture some of this passion on video here.) I experienced first-hand the power of Tom’s work as Central’s leadership team used Tom’s tools and process to stay clear, focused, and aligned again and again. The team uses his tools to this day, and the “Light to the World” vision burns brightly in Vegas!
Doug was experiencing tremendous Great Commission success at Canyon Ridge by using similar tools and processes he had learned during his time at Chick-fil-a. Canyon had grown again and again over his seventeen years in leadership.
During this time, Doug was growing in his conviction about the usefulness of great thinking and tools to help churches remain clear and focused on the Great Commission.
Doug and I both believe there so many voices and so much noise distracting church leaders! And THERE ARE NO SILVER-BULLET STRATEGIES that apply everywhere. Each local church needs its plan, for its day, to accomplish the Great Commission where God placed it. Our convictions were deepened in the unique city of Las Vegas where we intersected the lives of so many that need the hope of Christ.
[The men who came to David] from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do…
1 Chronicles 12:32
Soon after getting reacquainted and discovering our alignment, both Doug and I committed to getting trained in Tom’s StratOp process and beginning to use it with local churches wherever God would lead us. We attended the training session along with corporate executives (because there was no training available for church leaders) while trying to think through how this could and would work in the local church.
It wasn’t long before we were on a plane together headed to Denver to work with a church who had entrusted us with their team. What an honor! And at the same time, how intimidating to begin the effort of applying Tom’s work to Christ’s mission through the local church. We knew it would be a learning experience but had no idea where God would be leading us over the ensuing years.
We quickly learned some things which remain a foundation for Intentional Churches to this day:
- Intentional GrowthPlanning (IGP), powered by Paterson’s StratOp tools, can develop an incredible vision-driven plan to grow a church’s Great Commission impact, again and again.
- We must develop and add custom tools to keep the church focused on the Great Commission and limit the distracting noise of competing voices and the “silver-bullet” mentality.
- Our experience from the trenches of ministry is a huge asset!!
- We must add coaching and training if leadership teams are going to embrace the tools, process, and best-practices as a method to stay clear and focused on what matters most.
- IGP can be an operating system you can run at the top level, in sub-ministries, and at campuses.
- IGP can and must be learned by ministry leaders down and through the ministry.
- IGP creates a language and common “platform” that can unify ministry leaders within a church and beyond.
- The potential for Kingdom synergy is incredible!! This could be a movement to the ends of the Great Commission.
Doug and I continued to work with more and more churches over the next few years until a game-changer came our way. Doug and I decided we would go through a very personal planning process also built by Tom Paterson. It’s called Intentional LifePlanning and we are now privileged to lead leaders through it.
Through the process, it became clear God was calling us to launch an effort to increase the Kingdom impact of the local church through Intentional GrowthPlanning and Coaching. He was laying on our hearts a big vision and the next step was to form Intentional Churches and see where God would lead.
Fast forward. In 2013, we decided to officially launch Intentional Churches. We called several of our friends together to meet, plan, and pray. We were convinced that if God was leading in this direction He would make our path clear through the wise counsel of our ministry friends and church leaders. He did make it very clear. It was at these initial meetings we set our vision on impacting thousands of churches who would, in turn, impact millions of lives for eternity. The movement was born and He continues to lead to this day.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
Today, Doug and I are full-time with our work at IC and committed to seeing the IC vision realized. We continue to reside in Las Vegas and remain deeply involved in Canyon Ridge and Central. IC has six staff members and 57 trained facilitators and coaches from some of America’s most effective churches. Together, there are over 1,400 years of church leadership gathered on the IC team to help churches accomplish the Great Commission!
Doug and I have been privileged to work with hundreds of churches of sizes and kinds over the past 9 years, helping them to clarify their vision and plan to increase their Kingdom impact. In our next post, I’ll update you on IC’s more recent history and our plans for the future!
God is good!! Like Tom said, “Once you know God’s plan, you must be 100% submitted and committed to it!!”