Strategic Influence

A Town on a Hill Cannot be Hidden

A Church of People, Reaching People – Evaluating the Strategic Influence of The House

You are the light of the world. A town build on a hill cannot be hidden
(Matthew 5:14, NIV, emphasis added).

Just as Jesus Christ taught his followers to be light in the world, The House desires to be a light in its community by motivating and encouraging its followers to be influencers and inviters. As observed by Katie Paine (2011), “Influence is no longer held by one large analyst firm or even a single credible individual, but rather resides in whatever community, Facebook page, or Twitter list that is talking about your marketplace (p. 124).” Influencing the community of Kelowna, B.C., is a key component contributing to growth at The House. The church’s four vision values drive the leadership of The House: surrendering, worshiping, listening, and responding (The House, n.d.). The House strategically leverages their four vision values to lead people into authentic relationships with Jesus Christ.

According to Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie (2014), Strategic influence is:

. . . expansive in relationships. Leaders may tend to keep their circle close to those with whom they have trust or those who are most directly affected by the work. But real strategic change is far reaching throughout the organization, and therefore, so is the work of strategic influence . . . strategic leadership happens in the white space on organizational charts—the areas between the formal structural groupings and the areas between the structure and the outside world” (p.150). 

The House recognizes the need to influence its wider community and not merely its paid staff. A strength of The House’s movement is an ability to empower and equip followers for acts of service within its walls (R. deZwaan and O. Parsons, personal communication, November 2018).

The House has an increasing need for discipleship ministry to take place on a larger scale. The church is a highly attractional and has a large following of young families and millennials; however, the church has not identified a clear strategy to assist in the growth and development its followers to become mature believers. It is one thing to have a persuasive message and excellent worship music on Sundays, but it is another thing to influence followers towards growth in a strategic manner. “[Influence] does not happen in one interaction, but instead is built over time, on a solid platform of credibility and relationships” (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, p.150). The House would be wise to utilize a method like Lepsinger’s (2010) project frame to temper its high-level strategic plan for discipleship ministry. By capitalizing on their values and writing a strategic plan, The House will create a method to move followers from being church attendees to fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

As The House cultivates its strategic influence, they will need to address a logistical problem: their current building does not contain a space for staff offices, a kitchen, or dedicated classrooms for the Children’s ministry. A considerable cap to The House’s ministry effectiveness is a lack of space—and plans must be put in place to facilitate further growth. Undertaking a building project, staging a relocation, or developing a novel innovation is necessary as a next step for The House.

A relevant question for The House to answer is, “If The House permanently closed its doors tomorrow, would the surrounding neighbourhood notice?” (Sprinkle, 2015). A church with a high level of strategic influence is one making a significant impact on the community around it. Admittedly, The House is not as well-known in the community as they would prefer (R. deZwaan and O. Parsons, personal communication, November 2018). However, reaching the local university is on the church’s radar—and an effort to reach students (young adults) is built into their core values (The House, n.d.).

When it comes to making necessary changes to accommodate growth and development, the House is well-poised to undertake a change initiative.
Carey Nieuwhof (2012) outlines five strategies to undergoing organizational change:

  1. Do the Math – “Calculate who is actually opposed [to change]” (p.  24).
  2. Choose your focus – “Decide whether you will focus on who you want to reach or who you want to keep” (p. 24).
  3. Find a filter – “Develop the questions that will shape your future . . . without a filter, everything sounds compelling” (p.2 4)
  4. Attack Problems, not people – “Help people see you are for them even if you are not for their ideas” (p. 25).
  5. Don’t quit – “Persevere until your critical breakthrough” (p. 25).

By utilizing their strategic influence within their church community, The House will be able to successfully navigate change and establish greater reach within the community of Kelowna. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden, and The House is making moves to let their light shine brighter so they can reach more people for Jesus Christ.

Newspaper Article

Hidden within Reed’s Corner industrial area in Kelowna is an unlikely community. Though it appears as a warehouse from the outside, The House church offers something completely different than its’ neighbors. Step through the large, sliding warehouse-style garage door on any given Sunday, and you will find a space unlike anything else in Kelowna. Locally roasted espresso is the first smell greeting new guests when they arrive. Go a little further in, and you will find a stage equipped with hanging screens, an array of lights, and a sound system rivaling the local community theatre. What began as a coffee shop and arts venue has now become one of Kelowna’s most influential churches, reaching hundreds of people each week. Nothing about The House looks or feels like a traditional church – one of the reasons it is so effective at reaching people. Close to the university, The House provides adults, youth, and particularly students an opportunity to be part of a church community. Each week, many students get picked up at the university by their shuttle service and experience an engaging worship service, a relevant message, and a life-giving community. To understand how this community came to be we must start at the beginning.

The House began as an idea. The idea was to create a safe space for young adults to encounter Jesus and find Christian community. Lifeway Research estimates about 70 percent of young adult Christians who attend church drop out of church (Stetzer, 2014). The House sought to address this staggering statistic. The church began offering their space in 2007 as a venue for concerts and events while also hosting a Sunday evening service for young adults. By 2011 around 175 young adults were attending and the church shifted its focus to caring for and mentoring those in the community. In 2012, the church began offering a Sunday morning service and sought to become multigenerational. In 2017 the church started offering two morning services. Since then it has continued to evolve.

The House now boasts a multigenerational church with a vibrant kids ministry while maintaining its focus on reaching nearby students and young adults. Outside of Sundays, The House provides a variety of services for students such as grocery runs, study spaces, outreach programs, laundry service, music lessons and of course, great coffee. The church continues to be an anomaly in Kelowna, acting as both a coffee shop and church under the same roof. Through it all, the mission of the church has remained the same.

When you visit The House during the week, the noise of the nearby industrial facilities cannot be missed. Assistant Pastor Ryan de Zwaan says, “It seems like there is always a drill or press going during work hours – sometimes both!” (De Zwaan, 2018). Conversely, on Sundays, The House is making all the noise as the sound of the bass is heard from the parking lot. Located just five minutes from one of British Columbia’s largest universities, The House has made church a desirable thing. One student said recently, “I’m not very churchy, but this place is so cool. I keep inviting the rest of my dorm to come on Sundays now” (Pineo, 2018). It is true; The House has managed to transform an abandoned warehouse into a place where students want to go.

With a growing demographic of kids and families and plans for a youth ministry, The House now seeks to make church exciting for all demographics. Their friendly and passionate staff has positioned the church to continue influencing university students, Kelowna residents, and people everywhere. That’s right, The House streams their Sunday evening service live every week, allowing those unable to attend to remain connected with the church. Whether you are a student, a coffee lover, a Kelowna resident or an attendee from afar, The House has something unique to offer as it continues to create community and help people encounter Jesus.

Strategic Influence Development Plan

From the beginning, The House has created a safe and relevant space for people to grow in their relationship with Jesus. To maximize impact, and broaden its base of leadership, church leaders will empower more people to live out the values of the organization. A strategic influence development plan (SIDP) will assist in accomplishing their goals. “Strategic influence is how leaders engender commitment to the organization’s strategic direction and learning and is essential to sustaining competitive advantage in contemporary organizations” (Hughes, Beatty & Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 145). The SIDP includes three components: 1) the values of a leader, 2) the mindset of a leader, and 3) the skillset of a leader.

The Values of a Leader

An effective SIDP provides leaders with an opportunity to examine their motivations. “People who are clear about their passions and convictions are experienced by others as more authentic because there is clarity about the reasons for their actions. That clarity helps you know—and others understand—why you are choosing to tackle some challenges and not others” (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 157). Before tackling what a leader does at The House, or how they do it, it is helpful to start with why.

Lesson 1: Understanding Your Values

Take some time to consider what motivates you. Don’t limit your answers to your responsibilities as a leader at The House; think about yourself as a whole person. Think about what you are passionate about as you answer the following questions:

  • What is the future you are personally hoping to achieve?
  • What does it look like?
  • What is exciting about that future for you?
  • How does it fit with your personal values and aspirations?
  • What kind of impact are you hoping to make in your lifetime?
  • How do you define success for yourself, personally?
  • What are your personal values for The House? What is important to you regarding how The House succeeds, how people work together, and what roles various people play?
  • What future state are you trying to reach for The House? What will it look like?
  • How does your vision for The House match up with your personal aspirations for yourself? What connections do you see? (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 158)

Lesson 2: Understanding the Values of The House

After debriefing what motivates people, take time to consider the motivations of the church. Comparing the similarities and differences between the two is helpful and necessary as the leadership base is broadened. “Leaders must intentionally look for opportunities to align personal values and organizational values” (Disney Institute, n.d., p. 23).

Review the story of The House.

  • Discuss what motivated a group of people to start another church in Kelowna.
  • Why is The House different from any other church?
  • What is The House trying to accomplish?
  • What distinct phases has the church walked through? (“Our story,” n.d.)

Review the beliefs of The House.

  • Discuss the essential beliefs of The House.
    • There is one true God – Creator and Redeemer.  He revealed Himself as one being in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – co-equal and co-eternal.
    • The Bible is the Word of God – divinely inspired, infallible, and authoritative for faith and life.  (2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 2 Peter 1:20, 21; Matthew 5:18)
    • We are created in the image of God to know and enjoy Him.  Through disobedience, sin entered the world and all humanity experiences the consequences of sickness, death, and judgement.
    • Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, lived a sinless life, was crucified for our sins, was buried, resurrected, and is now seated in the presence of God the Father.  (John 1:1-2, 14; Luke 1:35; Romans 3:24; 1 Peter 2:24; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Acts 1:9, 10; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:24; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2; 1 Peter 4:5; Romans 14:9; 2 Timothy 4:1)
    • We are saved from sin by God’s grace, through repentance and faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  (Ephesians 2:8, 9; Titus 3:16)
    • God the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin  (John 16:8-11) The infilling of the Holy Spirit gives power for witness, with the initial evidence of speaking with other tongues.  (Acts 1:8, 2:4) The sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit enables a believer to live a godly life. (Ephesians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Hebrews 12:14; Galatians 5:22, 23; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Romans 8:9)
    • The Church consists of all followers of Jesus Christ.  We practice believer’s baptism by immersion and communion as a testimony of obedience to Jesus.  (Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 2:41, 42; Acts 18:8; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
    • God answers prayer with present day miracles.  Divine healing is provided by Christ’s death. (Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 8:16-17; James 5:14-16)
    • The return of Jesus for His Church is imminent.  He will subsequently return to earth to reign as King.  Man’s eternal destiny is either heaven or hell. (“Our beliefs,” n.d., p. 1)
  • As the church intends to create a safe place for guests, also take time to discuss the non-essentials.
    • “Though there are many essential beliefs to the Christian faith we also recognize there’s a lot of room to hold different opinions on various issues. The House encourages people to form their own worldview and convictions when it comes to these non-essential beliefs and as such not everyone in our community shares a common theological and political viewpoint. We’re stronger in our diversity” (“Our beliefs,” n.d., Para. 1 ).

Review the values of The House.

  • Discuss the kind of community The House is trying to create.
    • We’re a safe place community.
    • We’re about prodigal ministry.
    • We’re about younger generations.
    • We’re about worship and the arts.
    • We’re highly spiritual and non-religious. (“Our values,” n.d., Para. 1-5 )
  • What four vision values are core to the developing culture and characteristics of The House? How do leaders commit to and live out those values?
    • We surrender
    • We worship
    • We listen
    • We respond (“Our values,” n.d. Para. 7-10)

Review the team at The House

  • Articulate the roles and responsibilities of staff members. Discuss reporting structure and accountability.
  • Articulate the roles and responsibilities of various volunteer positions. Discuss reporting structure and accountability.

The Mindset of a Leader

As The House realizes a preferred future, the vision of the church needs to be embraced and owned by people from every level of the organization. “For anyone working to become a strategic leader, developing and using strategic influence requires forging relationships inside and outside the organization, inviting others into the process, building and sustaining momentum, and purposefully using organizational systems and culture” (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 147). Leaders are invited to live out the values of The House and invite others to do the same. “Influence is actually quite different from persuasion. It does not happen in one interaction, but instead is built over time, on a solid platform of credibility and relationships” (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 150). As leaders embrace the vision and values of The House, they have an opportunity to shape the future of the church and the future of the community.

Lesson 3: Leadership is Influence

“Strategic leadership is not about who knows best. Rather, it involves ongoing, collaborative learning, and that means strategic leaders must create a climate where they not only exert strategic leadership themselves but also encourage strategic leadership from others” (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 154).

  • Draw and discuss the organizational structure of The House.
  • Discuss the perceptions leaders have regarding how influence takes place throughout the organization.
  • Identify organizational gaps in clarity and communication. Utilize brainstorming and brain swarming techniques to create solutions to the challenges identified.
  • Discuss various ways leaders can take an active role in helping to establish the values of The House throughout all levels of the organization.

The Skill-Set of a Leader

“Influencing others strategically is virtually impossible if you don’t have trust in your relationships” (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 163). For The House to broaden its leadership base, it needs leaders who are trustworthy. Often we think trust is gained and lost through major one time events, but typically it is more subtle and built or broken over time based on repeated behaviours (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014).

Lesson 4: Building Trust

“According to Dennis and Michelle Reina (2006), the following behaviours are examples of ways to build three dimensions of transactional trust: contractual, communication, and competence trust. Place a checkmark next to the five behaviours you exhibit most frequently. Place an X next to the five behaviours you exhibit least frequently that may compromise your trustworthiness. Find ways over the next two weeks to display the behaviours you marked with an X more frequently” (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 166).

Contractual Trust

_____ I discuss my expectations with people so that we arrive at clear and explicit understanding of our mutual expectations of each other.

_____ I ensure that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined in my working relationships.

_____ I make sure objectives of a project are clearly defined, and measures of success are understood.

_____ I give as much weight to others’ needs and interests as I do my own.

_____ I keep my agreements or renegotiate when I am unable.

_____ My behaviour matches my words. (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 166)

Communication Trust

_____ I willingly share pertinent job information with others.

_____ I create a climate where people feel safe to tell the truth.

_____ I admit and take responsibility for my mistakes.

_____ I give and receive constructive feedback.

_____ I appropriately maintain confidentiality.

_____ I speak about and to others with respect. (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 166)

Competence Trust

_____ I acknowledge my own strengths and weaknesses.

_____ I delegate to others, even though they may not meet my expectations.

_____ I allow people to make decisions, even if I do not think it is the best decision.

_____ I involve others in matters that have an impact on them.

_____ I actively develop my own skills.

_____ I take action to help others develop their skills. (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 167).

For the vision and values of The House to be lived out throughout the church and surrounding community leaders need to engage multiple stakeholders. “Involving others in that process allows diverse and important perspectives to be represented so that the overall strategy is better than it would be if it were developed in isolation. Involving others has another benefit: it helps generate commitment to the final product when others participate in developing it” (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, pp. 179-180).

Lesson 5: Linking to Organizational Goals

Gather with the ministry team you work with most consistently. Think of a project or initiative you are working on. Review the following set of questions. After answering the questions, craft a one to two-minute speech for use on an ongoing basis with various stakeholders to clearly convey how the work links to the broader goals of The House.

  • What is the overall goal of the project or initiative?
  • How does that goal link to the organization’s goals?
  • In what ways will the organization be in a better place because of this work?
  • What steps are we taking to achieve the goals?
  • What might people expect to see as a result of this work? (Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 187)

Organizational Design for Strategic Influence

The models presented by Galbraith (2014) fit more into a business model geared towards making a profit and creating networks where organizations can leverage one another to gain higher productivity. The church, however, is more interested in investing in things with inherent eternal value—a concept not always understood within the business world.

The House seeks to employ a networking strategy to influence its surrounding community and those who come into contact with the church. The House operates from a flattened horizontal structure designed to allow for streamlined decision-making. White (2013) observes, “new companies are more effective by using less of a hierarchical structure and more of an organic structure.” A flattened hierarchical structure allows for greater emphasis on strategic outcomes (Galbraith, 2014).

The structure is designed using what they consider the “Pastors Council Model.” The council acts similar to a typical “board of elders” but differs in one crucial way. The Lead Pastor, along with the “Pastor’s Council” (at this point consisting of 4 other men) are the only real members of the church. The House does not do membership as most churches do. This allows the Lead Pastor and the Pastor’s Council to make decisions quickly. This model was recommended to the leadership of The House by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC) as the church became its own entity (De Zwaan, 2018). Figure 1 outlines the current model.

Figure 1 – The House’s Current Leadership Organizational Chart

In economics, we study the life-curve of products and business. This process reveals whether a product can reinvent itself. When it is unable to do so, it will eventually lose relevance (Davidson, 2010). As The House grows and matures, it will need new levels of leadership, new channels for communication, and new processes and procedures (Emery, 2013). The leadership will need to reflect on some important statements to ensure it is on the path for growth and development.

Davidson (2010) suggests the following strategies for church growth:

  • “…Be ahead of the growth curve of the church;
  • Simplify structure to enhance growth rather than hinder it
  • Avoid duplication of responsibility and authority;
  • Avoid bottlenecks;
  • Quicken the decision-making process;
  • Trust staff to act without prior approval;
  • Delegate responsibility to the “front lines”;
  • Empower ministry yet maintain appropriate accountability…” (Para 3).

Davidson’s (2010) strategies are similar to objectives held by The House’s leadership team. To ensure The House can achieve its strategic influence and objectives, we suggest the following organizational model (Figure 2).

Figure 2 – Proposed Organizational Chart

The new structure is designed to showcase the organizational hierarchy while providing the lead pastor with authority needed to make the necessary adjustments to see the church’s vision come to life. The level of accountability requires the pastor and the Pastor’s Council to agree on the organization’s mission and who is responsible to carry it out. Figure 3 addresses the proposed accountability structure of The House.

POSITIONS PLAYERS FUNCTIONS
Ministry Volunteers Support the various teams
Management Administrative Asst. Equipping and coordination
Executive Pastor Equipping and coordination
Ministry Pastor Equipping and coordination
Leadership Pastor Vision, Direction, and Teaching
Governance Pastor’s Council/Members Accountability and support

Figure 3 – Proposed Accountability Structure

Volunteers

This model allows The House to continue to leverage their gifted volunteers. These volunteers benefit the organization in numerous ways and provide the foundation of the church. Every position of leadership interacts with volunteers, and their contribution cannot be overstated. The church is not just for professionals but for all people.

The Management Team:

The administrative staff along with the two pastoral roles will provide leadership on a day-to-day basis. This will allow one person to be responsible for internal ministry matters, while the other focuses on the external. Both pastoral roles will intersect in the operation of the coffee shop as it is operational not only on a Sunday but can be a ministry tool for the community engagement portion.

Community Engagement

As the church seeks to influence those who come through its’ doors, it will need to connect with the community of which it is a part. The coffee shop will be crucial for community engagement.  The church operates a coffee shop during working hours to attract students, but we are suggesting it be used as a way to support, influence and connect with the community of Kelowna. Community engagement is critical for the church to influence its’ environment. The church is a public service entity providing all kinds of service to those it serves. Gilford Monrose states, “Making a difference in people’s everyday lives will benefit the believer as well as the community. When the church is rooted deeply in its community, and its membership is operating as public servants, the church will impact the lives of the people, and the believers will fulfill the Messiah’s mission on earth” (2012). Likewise, Jesus states “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). This is the missional mandate of Jesus and is informing the mandate of The House. “Holding true to this mission, Christ looked at the needs of the people, provided it, and then began to preach out the good deeds. The church today must live up to its true billing — meeting the needs of the people.” (Monrose, 2012).

The House can influence the community around them in a number of ways:

  1. Establish partnerships with the universities in the area.
  2. Host a block party.
  3. Connect with surrounding schools.
  4. Conduct special drives to raise resources for these institutions.
  5. Provide childcare service – with after-school focus.

Froot group (2016) in their online article on 5 Ways Your Church Can Influence The Community notes, “the urgency of reaching your community is so your community can personally know Jesus Christ. Providing for social justice and felt needs always should point a person to the cross of Jesus Christ.”

Conclusion

We have observed the potential of The House as a church and as a movement to impact people with the message of Jesus Christ. They are actively leveraging their strategic influence with young adults, and they are well positioned for growth to impact children and families as well. By enacting a strategic influence development plan, The House will reinforce their mission, vision, and values and crystalize their organizational direction. Finally, by utilizing a flattened organizational structure, The House will respond to upcoming challenges with quick decision-making ability while increasing their influence within the community of Kelowna at large. The House is a light in the community, and it will not be hidden if they continue to pursue strong strategic influence.

References

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De Zwaan, R. (2018, December 4). Personal communication.

Froot Group. (2016). 5 ways your church can influence the community. Retrieved from https://ministryjobs.com/5-ways-church-can-influence-community/

Galbraith, J. R. (2014). Designing organizations: Strategy, structure, and process at the business unit and enterprise levels. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Imprint.

House, The. (n.d.). Our values. Retrieved from https://www.thehouseonline.ca/our-values/

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Monrose, G. T. (2012, November 19). The Role and Importance of the Church in the Community. Retrieved December 7, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/pastor-gilford-t-monrose/role-of-the-church_b_1896969.html

Nieuwhof, C. (2012). Leading change without losing it: Five strategies that can revolutionize how you lead change when facing opposition. Cumming, GA: reThink Group.

Non-essentials. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.thehouseonline.ca/our-beliefs/

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Pineo, E. (2018, December 2). Personal communication.

Spark, The. (2005). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.thehouseonline.ca/our-story/

Sprinkle, P. (2015). If your church closed its doors, would the neighborhood care? Retrieved from https://www.patheos.com/blogs/theologyintheraw/2015/09/if-your-church-closed-its-doors-would-the-neighborhood-care/

Stetzer, E. (2014, May 14). Dropouts and Disciples: How many students are really leaving the church? Retrieved from https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/may/dropouts-and-disciples-how-many-students-are-really-leaving.htm

White, J. E. (2013, September 30). Seven Characteristics of an Effective Church Structure. Retrieved December 5, 2018, from https://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-james-emery-white/seven-characteristics-of-an-effective-church-structure.html