Lessons Learned While Starting New Things

Dave Ferguson

Editor’s Note: Our friend Dave Ferguson has kindly agreed to share some of his insights into the expanding ‘New Thing’ ministry. We know the lessons he has learned will help many of us as we prepare for a new year of ministry. Thanks Dave for the article!

by Dave Ferguson, Lead Pastor – Community Christian Church / Movement Leader – NewThing


It was ten years ago that Community Christian Church started a new campus for the first time. Since that time we have started a total of nine campuses and have seen our weekly outreach has grow from 700 in one location to 5000+ in nine locations. It was five years ago that Community planted our first new church and went on to form the NewThing Network. Since that time our networks outreach has grown from 2500 in one church to more than 13,000 in 21 churches in three networks. During the last decade our passion has been about starting new things – new campuses and new churches. And during the last decade we have learned some lessons about starting new things.

1. VISION LESSON: The “God-Thing” Often Comes before the VISION

If you would’ve asked me a few years back how change is initiated, I would have said it starts with vision! I would have said it starts with a compelling vision from a gifted leader. And while that is true … it’s not the whole truth in my experience. I didn’t really have the vision for being a multi-site church. God did! It was a God thing! I will often get the credit for being a visionary leader, but what is closer to the truth is this: God did something extraordinary and I share what God has done with the rest of the church as the vision … and they follow. And when you are able to share where God is at work … that is always a compelling vision that people want to follow!

2. STRATEGY LESSON: Should Fit On A Napkin.

If it can’t be explained on a napkin it is too complicated. Make sure everything from your slogan, to your process for disciple-making to how you will create a movement can be explained on a napkin. Many leaders never have a following because the vision and strategy can not be explained simply. If it is simple and reproducible you can mobilize the masses.

3. FINANCE LESSON: Money Always Follows Vision

People give money to a compelling cause with a clear vision. When economic times are hard leaders are tempted to reduce the budget and the shrink their vision. When economic times are hard that is when you need to increase the vision and the money will follow. Never forget – God is always at work and vision is free!

4. INNOVATION LESSON: Lead With A “Yes” And Ask “How” Later

If you want to lead in bringing about innovation, you must learn to lead with a “yes” and not a “how”. When others approach us with new ideas our first reaction is often “no” or “how”? What people need is affirmation of their dreams and space for them to figure out how to make them really work. People are born with dreams from God and they want to make a difference. What they need most is a leader who will say “yes” when they ask for permission to give it a try.

5. REPRODUCING LESSON: Take Risks on Emerging Leaders.

Resist the urge of telling young leaders to wait a few years; they need and deserve opportunities to lead. You will always have young and emerging leaders who will come to you and want to do a new thing. You can dismiss it or you can bless it. Bless it. What we need to do is take risks on young leaders and give them our blessing.

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