The Power of the IGP System
Pathway Church in Wichita, Kansas has learned a lot about change! It has relocated, changed its name, negotiated a reorganization, celebrated growth, maneuvered downturn, and through it all, has become a multi-site church. Now with three locations plus a strong internet campus, Pathway has grown to over 3,500 weekend attenders. Executive Pastor, Larry Wren, is helping navigate the team through every turn.
Unlike many XPs, Larry Wren has spent most of his ministry life, 35 years, in one church where he currently serves. He began as a Children’s Pastor, has held almost every role, and has been an XP for over 20 years. A person who has been in a role for so long can have that we’ve never done it that way reputation, immovable and unable to make changes. But Larry Wren is not one of those people! He knows the key to more Kingdom impact is helping people process change. Larry says, “The ‘paycheck’ of church leadership is change – seeing life change, people transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.”
Church growth demands change and the passion and ability to lead others through it. There are churches all over the United States that did not have a decision for Christ last year because of their inability to change. With the installation of Intentional Growth Planning (IGP), Pathway Church has learned to embrace change and realize exponential growth through it.
When Intentional Churches began working with Pathway to install an Intentional Growth Plan, the church’s leadership team quickly found alignment and conviction over the most important initiatives helping to streamline decision-making and prioritize resources.
What makes the IGP process different from others? Once the system is installed and the team learns the process, they are able to repeat and update the process again and again, prioritizing and acting on the most important things.
A regular IGP update means the vision is always dynamic, never static, continuing to have maximum Kingdom impact.
We asked Larry Wren why he regularly takes his Pathway team through an IGP update. “Well, it could mean that we aren’t as smart as others and have to go through it again and again (grin). But actually we know we are learning from the best and the brightest. And because of our experience with the IGP, we know it works, and we’re confident we are prioritizing the most important initiatives every time and on a regular basis.”
Although Larry is a trained coach in Intentional Growth Planning, he feels having an outside voice is critical in leading the church team through this process. A leader from inside the team can unwittingly bring emotional baggage into a discussion, making it more difficult, painful and time-consuming to get to the truth. Team members may be hesitant to speak freely in difficult conversations.
“An outside voice has no personal stake in the outcome other than their strong desire to see Kingdom impact. At Intentional Churches, we like to say that an outside voice moves a team into the last 10% of truth.”
Larry first heard about Intentional Churches’ IGP at an XP gathering in Las Vegas a few years ago. “I was challenged by IC’s question, What if your church could double its impact in the next five years? That idea rolled around in my head for a year before I made a move. And now, we do it regularly, over and over.”
Regularly scheduled IGP updates have helped Pathway Church remain focused on the most important things for their local church while keeping the Kingdom front and center. The IGP process has infiltrated their teams and the way they do ministry. “Each time we go through an update, we get better at it.” Learning and using the IGP process again and again helps a church team:
- Maintain Kingdom focus
- Achieve results faster
- Prioritize what’s important
- Spend resources wisely
- Avoid costly mistakes
- Increase trust, credibility & buy-in
- Master the IGP system
Because Pathway has seen significant results, their staff and lay leaders know the process works, and thus, are quicker to get on board and support an initiative. One of their elders was once a senior leader at Koch Industries, one of the top companies in the world. Whenever an update comes around, he asks to be in the room. “I learn so much each time I come,” he says. There’s huge trust and credibility in the actions Pathway takes because they’ve seen the results of the IGP system.
For Pathway, an added benefit of becoming adept in the IGP process is that the entire staff has begun working together leading areas they do not normally lead. For example, last year, the Children’s Leader led the Small Groups initiative. The Worship Arts Leader led the next campus initiative. Training and developing across teams helps limit silos and develops a broader passion for the Kingdom rather than only for their ministry area.
During a Lap One IGP installation, the IC team spends two days with the church team, much of it looking back and gaining perspective. Where are we now and how did we get here? “It is so healthy to do this, better than any other process I’ve used,” Larry says.
Out of perspective comes team alignment, ownership and conviction around what’s most important. It’s not an analysis someone writes for you, but rather a plan the entire team develops, owns and executes.
Lap Two takes place about a year later, when the team spends two days updating the IGP. Perspective takes on a more current focus, celebrating what has happened over the past year, how initiatives were carried out and where we are now. The language has become part of the culture. The tools are familiar. The process is faster and momentum kicks in.
Like a flywheel, there’s increased and continued momentum as the IGP process is repeated again and again.
Pathway’s Lap Two will look closely at the Ministry Drivers of church metrics. As church leaders, we are typically interested in numbers – attendance, # of baptisms, # of first-time guests, or what we call lag measures. But a more important measure is the lead measure, or the Ministry Driver that ‘leads’ to more baptisms, leads to more first-time guests, leads to more small groups, and so on. The Pathway team is excited to gain new perspective around these drivers, to plot a new course for the greatest Kingdom impact, and to follow through with operational action steps.
Pathway’s plans never sit on the shelf.
“For us, in terms of staying focused on the mission, it’s the best two days of the year.”