Resisting Vision Envy

As a church planter, I was constantly seeking to learn from those who had gone ahead of me. But as I listened to these seasoned planters I often found myself filled with “Vision Envy.” Do you know what I mean? You listen to another visionary, and suddenly your vision seems too small, too insignificant or too bland. That’s when we’re tempted to “borrow” part of their vision, or add elements to our vision that God never intended us to include. While it’s a great practice to listen to and learn from other visionaries, we must be aware of the traps of Vision Envy.

Trap #1 – You miss the unique vision God has called you to accomplish in your community. In my friend Will Mancini’s book Church Unique, he provides an exercise you can use with your team to identify the unique calling of your church. He calls this your Kingdom Concept. Your Kingdom Concept consists of Your Local Predicament, Collective Potential, and Apostolic Esprit. These three things working together help you answer the question: What will our church do better than 10,000 others? When you can answer that you are well on your way to discovering God’s unique vision for your church.

Trap #2 – You’re overcome with a sense of inferiority. My friend, Chip Judd says, “Comparison is the root of all inferiority.” Comparing your vision with the vision of another planter will not lead to a healthy perspective. But if you learn transferable principles from their vision its a win.

I was meeting with a visionary leader recently and was blown away by the size of his vision. Immediately “vision envy” crept into my soul, but once I recognized it, I was able to celebrate his vision and learn from his visioning ability. Listening to him lead me to ask myself a new set of questions, challenged me to think deeper about the measures of my vision and refine the way I share my vision.

Trap #3- You stop looking to God as the source of vision. Rather than spending time in solitude seeking the heart of God, we surf the Internet in an attempt to scheme up a bigger and better vision. There is no greater vision than the one God speaks directly into your heart, no matter how big or how small.

It’s a valuable practice to listen to the vision of other church planters. Just make sure you don’t fall to the traps of Vision Envy. There’s nothing more powerful than being given a vision straight from the heart of God. Moses spent hours in the Tent of Meeting face to face with God. This discipline gave him the fortitude to endure the times when the vision of the Promise Land seemed insurmountable. Nehemiah, wept, prayed and fasted as God formulated a vision for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. His time with God generated passion that others saw and longed to follow. Paul had a personal encounter with Christ that not only gave him a vision but put a fire in his soul to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Vision envy will produce a pseudo vision you can chase. But it will not give you the conviction and passion that comes from a personal vision encounter with God.

Seeing a Movement in Your City

On October 6-7 I have the privilege of being a part of a very exciting opportunity.  LAUNCH is sponsoring the City Movement Forum at Exponential West.  Read what my friend Chris Lagerlof has to say about this unique gathering. 

Too often pastors ask the question, “how do I grow my church?” instead of, “how do we transform our city?.” 2 Samuel 10:12 encourages us, “to fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God.” Paul writes letters to the Church in cities, not a specific church–but the Church. Jesus sends out 72 to focus on towns and cities.

Cities matter to God!

As leaders, we have to be intentional and unite on mission. City transformation requires us to shift our focus to impact our cities–which are becoming younger, urban and more ethnic. We have to plant churches that reflect our city’s culture and needs. We need better strategies to plant churches and missional communities that actually reach people and transform geographics.  The only way we will see cities transformed is when the Church is mobilized and multiplied to impact every man, woman and child that call our cities home. Only churches that think this way will grow and have future impact.

In this Forum focusing on City Movements, you’ll gather with other urban + city movement leaders to learn together and share stories, insights and best practices for creating and leading a culture of city movement. We believe you’ll be inspired and challenged, and will come away with a bigger picture of your city and equipped to either launch a collaborative movement in your city or continue to build on what you’ve already started.

Key tensions we’ll be exploring:

  • What’s unique about a city-centric approach? We’ll look at the models and strategy for city-centric movements, and why clarity is critical to accomplish your objectives and goals. Your focus will determine your strategy and impact in your city and geography.
  • What does true Kingdom collaboration look like? How do we connect across denominational and network lines? We’ll explore the difference between networks, partnership and collaboration AND ask the hard questions to understand how they all work together in a Kingdom framework.
  • How do we build intentionally for diversity? What do we need to know about fostering churches and movements that mirror the people in our cities and engages their unique dreams and needs? And why it matters.
  • How do you lead a movement that is financially sustainable? We want to get honest about the need to find strategies and new models that aren’t dollar-driven but rather disciples-driven. We’ll look for, and at, different models of sustainability.
  • What are the essentials and non-negotiables for a real city movement and multiplication? Let’s make sure we understand the keys to launching and building a city movement that thrives. How do we develop ecosystems that last and strategies where real city transformation happens? We want to come away understanding–or asking questions to discover–the “3rd dimension” of our city.

Come hear from practitioners and experts who are facing and navigating these key tensions–leaders who are catalyzing movements and seeing results. These leaders are passionate, their fervor contagious. We want every participant to leave with new and renewed passion as they fight for their cities.

Register at

Monday, October 6, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. through

Tuesday, October 7, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Saddleback Church Campus

Your Church Can Plant Churches

I was at our LAUNCH Las Vegas Hub recently where we assessed 12 new church planting couples.  While there I had the opportunity to sit down with Vance Pitman, Pastor at Hope Church and ask him how LAUNCH has helped Hope Church in their reproduction efforts.  Check out this short video interview.

Want more info on how LAUNCH can help your church become a reproducing church email

Ministry Is Stinking Up My Marriage

Do you ever feel like ministry is having an adverse effect on your marriage?  While it’s easy to blame, the truth is, ministry isn’t responsible for anyone having a bad marriage.  God doesn’t call us to lead in His church to the detriment of our marriage.  But I’ve watched many men sacrifice their marriage on the alter of ministry.  And when we do it’s a clear indication that ministry is no longer a calling it’s an idol. Continue reading “Ministry Is Stinking Up My Marriage”

Don’t Leave Out These Essential Elements of a Vision Cast

Getting an opportunity to cast a God-given vision is a weighty privilege. Having spent time with God, you’ve heard the heart of God and are called to lead toward a preferred future for your church, organization or community.  Before you even speak your first word your audience’s mind is like a canvas. The words you speak can paint a picture of a new reality, move people to action, enthuse commitment and even drive them to make personal sacrifice for the cause.  Continue reading “Don’t Leave Out These Essential Elements of a Vision Cast”

Are We Addicted to Addition?

The addiction to addition can be one of the greatest factors that limit a church’s expanding influence in the community and world. I’ve been reading from Acts lately and it’s challenging me to have a greater mindset for multiplication. One of the things we always marvel at when reading the story of the early church is the rapid addition of more and more people to the church. Consider these passages from Acts 2-19,

  • “and that day 3000 were added to their number”
  • “the Lord added to their number daily”
  • “and believers were increasingly being added to their numbers”
  • “the number of disciples grew greatly in Jerusalem”
  • “They increased in number daily.”

There’s no doubt it’s exciting to be a part of a growing environment. We love it when our small group spills over from the living room into the dining room. It’s thrilling to see the ushers putting out more seats in the auditorium because so many people have arrived for the 11:00 service. We celebrate when our church-wide serve event has 51% of attendees showing up and using their gifts. These are all good things and good signs of addition.

But when you look underneath the surface of Luke’s record of the early church it’s not a book about addition, it’s the story of multiplication.  The disciples could’ve easily become addicted to the rapid addition to their numbers in Jerusalem. They could’ve settled in and made plans for bigger buildings, more seats and increased capacity.  These are all good things. But the disciple’s obsession was not with addition, they recognized it was a movement that called for multiplication. The early church leaders begin to move the Gospel out, reproduce leaders and start a multiplication movement.  Somehow, as tempting as it must’ve been, they avoided the allure of addition.

What are the signs we’ve become addicted to addition?

  • We’re more concerned with expanding seating capacity rather than sending capacity.
  • We’re more concerned with how many people are in groups rather than how many people are leading and multiplying groups.
  • We’re more concerned about how many show up to serve together at one time rather than how many we can empower to serve 24/7
  • We’re more concerned about how many people are “following me” rather than how many people are “leaving me” to go to lead a movement of their own
  • We’re concerned only about our community or our sphere of influence rather than the world and the nations.

One of the biggest temptations in a rapid growing environment is to become addicted to addition. Don’t get me wrong addition is good. But multiplication is better.

Are You Being Honest with Yourself?

Integrity is essential for leadership credibility.  And for many leaders the starting point of losing integrity is when they stop being honest with themselves.  

When you lead an organization, team or church all eyes are on you. The success and progress of your organization is strangely intertwined with your significance and self-esteem. This is what makes it difficult for us to be honest with ourselves. There are times when things are not going as well as we like. The organization is in decline, resources are drying up or people are jumping ship. And instead of looking at the cold hard facts we try to convince ourselves that everything is okay. We find excuses for why things are not going well and worse we even put a spin to make it look like these things are positive.

Continue reading “Are You Being Honest with Yourself?”

LAUNCH Network Celebrates Two Years

To celebrate the 2-year anniversary of the LAUNCH Network we recently hosted a series of Vision Webinars. Here are a few highlights just in case you missed it.

Past Two Years

  • 39 Parent Churches (sending churches) we’ve partnered with to plant a new church.  Our mission is to Partner with churches to inspire and equip next generation planters to lead strong.  So this is the #1 measure on our scoreboard.
  • 110 Church Plant candidates assessed
  • 63 Church planters trained
  • 34 Churches started
  • 29 Churches in pre-launch stage
  • 117 Baptized in 2012
  • $745,000 grants given to new Church plants Continue reading “LAUNCH Network Celebrates Two Years”

5 Questions Potential Planters Need to Ask

I frequently tell young men that church planting is the scariest, riskiest, most challenging, yet rewarding thing you could ever do with your life.  There’s never been a greater time in the history of our nation to see a new movement of church planting. The US Census Bureau is projecting a net gain of 30 million new people in the US by 2020.  With 3500 Churches closing their doors each year and only 4000 churches starting annually there is still a huge gap to meet the evangelistic need in our country.   But while the need is great the church-planting pathway is not for everyone.  So what questions should a young church planter candidate ask to process this potential call?

  • Am I experiencing a strong internal draw to plant a new church?  No one should plant a church simply because they have a good opportunity or a good idea.  Church planting is always a God anointed calling.  Make sure it’s not just an infatuation with church planting but an authentic call to church planting.
  • Am I driven to reach the lost of my community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Another way to ask it is: Am I currently active in sharing my faith with the lost of my community?  Don’t wait until you are a church planter to become evangelistic.  Remember you don’t have to plant a church to live out your calling to reach the lost.
  • Are mature believers and significant leaders around me confirming my calling to plant a church?  In my experience God brings others into the life of the potential planter to confirm his calling.  In an almost mysterious way others will begin to speak into your calling to plant.  But if its just your momma telling you that you’d be a great church planter then I would advise you to slow down.  When spiritually mature believers and leaders who have observed your gifts in action speak words of affirmation regarding planting a new church then you need to pay close attention.
  • Do I have well rounded leadership experience that has naturally prepared me for the next step of leading at a senior level in a church?  Very often young men want to skip next step levels of the leadership pipeline to quickly get to the top. In doing so they miss key developmental opportunities to grow their leadership.  There is a logical, sequential process to developing as a leader:  don’t get in a rush and skip levels. You have to learn to lead yourself before you lead others.  You have to lead others before you can effectively lead leaders.  You must gain experience in leading leaders before you venture out to lead an entire organization.
  • Is there a church that is willing to stand behind me and beside me through my church planting journey?  Ultimately healthy churches are not produced by individuals but reproduced by churches.  Many church planters have ventured out as orphans and fallen to the throws of loneliness, isolation and lack of support.  Having a good church and a good leader behind you makes all the difference in the world.  Make sure you have the backing of a good healthy church.

If you are interested in your church becoming a reproducing church give us a call. LAUNCH’s mission is to partner with churches to inspire and equip next generation planters to lead strong.  Check out the list of the upcoming Assessment retreats at


Are We Relating to the Unreached?

Anytime you start a new business, organization or church it’s important to research and understand the voice of your customer.  Why would anyone design a brand of services without the customer in mind?  That just doesn’t make sense.  However one of the biggest obstacles to truly understanding the voice of our customer is our familiarity with our own industry. 

For example, when a young man decides to plant a church one of his first assignments is to do a demographic study so he can understand the make up and needs of his target area.  The result of that study should be a strategy to reach the lost of his community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That strategy ultimately enables the church plant to accomplish the mission of reaching people who are far from God so they can experience life in Christ.

But in designing our church planting strategies sometimes I think we study the popular “church culture” more than the culture of the unreached. Think about it, we’re obsessive about reading books on church planting, missional methods and outreach strategies. We’re fanatical about attending church conferences, studying trends of growing churches and consulting with church outreach experts.  There’s nothing wrong with these practices and they certainly add value to what we do. However, when they’re a substitute for truly understanding the unreached we fail to   grasp the heart, values and needs of the very people we’re trying to reach. And if we fail in understanding them then we’ll certainly fail in communicating our message to them.

It seems that a lot of planters are developing strategies around excellence, cooI worship and flashy marketing.   But I wonder, is that what unreached people are looking for? Is that what’s keeping them from trying church?  Are these the things that will break down the barriers that are keeping them from considering Jesus?

I don’t think unreached people are sitting at home hoping some young innovative guy is going to move into their neighborhood and start a cool, fresh, excellent worship service. I don’t think church or Jesus is even on their radar. But I do think hope, love, friendship and survival are on the forefront of their minds. And a church planter is at his best in God’s hands when he is a dealer of hope, a giver of love, a builder of friendships and a navigator to survival.

If you really want to design a strategy for your church plant that’s built on the voice of the customer it’s going to take time.  You have to integrate into your community, listen to people’s stories and build relationships with those who are unreached with the Gospel.  You have to be there day by day on a consistent basis so they see you as a part of the community.  You have to first seek to understand the vision of community leaders rather than peddling your own.  You have to serve sacrificially in a way that adds value to your community.  Then, once you’ve done all of this, people will begin to trust you and be honest about their real needs.  Once you’ve earned credibility with your community they will not only share their heart but open their ears to what you have to say.

Slow, I know.  But when you really, really know people that’s when you’ll effectively reach people.  The best strategy is always centered in relationship.