After working with the family ministry team at Browncroft Community Church, I headed into Canada to visit friends at Connexus Community Church, home of Carey Nieuwhof, Jeff Brodie and their amazing staff. I primarily got to tour their new 24/7 space, catch up with Jeff and talk a little bit with Carey. They were incredibly gracious as always and here are 5 things I learned, or was reminded of, from my visit.

Great Leadership Teams Are Always Evaluating and Innovating

Jeff and I talked about some of the conversations the leadership team at Connexus is having and it's obvious they are always looking to the future while evaluating what they currently do. Carey's recent post talked about the importance of downloadable and non-downloadable experiences in church. That's just one example of the type of conversations the team at Connexus has and it has a direct impact on their effectiveness.

What conversations should our teams be having, but we're not? 

Most Healthy, Growing, Vibrant Churches Have Great Second Chair Leaders

I don't know if I can name a single great church I know of that doesn't have an amazing leader sitting in the second chair. It might be an associate pastor, executive pastor, campus pastor, or some other role. The role isn't what is important though, the leader is. Because of the lead pastor's role in teaching/speaking we typically know them, but often times we never know their right-hand person who is critical to the organization's success. Jeff is probably more known than most. Even when the pastor is a great leader, as Carey is, if the church is larger than 500 they simply do not have time to personally handle all the leadership requirements.

Our Buildings Should Be Designed Around Our Strategy

UpstreetConnexus is a North Point Strategic Partner, so they share the mission, vision, values and strategy of North Point. I'm quite familiar with that strategy and I was reminded of it the entire time I toured the facility. Environments were intentionally designed to support the strategy and nothing was wasted. Extra measures were even taken, despite extra costs, to ensure strategy and vision wouldn't be compromised.

If you have a building project in the near future, and especially if you want to make the most of your space, learn from Connexus.

Student Ministry Might Be the Most Contextually-dependent Ministry

Any time I talk with other family ministry pastors or student leaders it's amazing how similar student ministry strategies can yield completely different results. What Connexus does for kids is probably 95% the same as what our church does, and that's true of many churches I know. I'm not saying there are an endless number of student ministry strategies, but of the 10 or so that are common, it surprises me how some can work in one place and not in another, despite very similar contexts. Jeff and I had a good conversation about our student ministries and the challenges and wins we've experienced.

Great Ministry Can Be Done Anywhere

Ministry is harder in some contexts than it is in others. I think most of us know this, but we sometimes want to resist that truth because ministry is hard everywhere and we don't want to cheapen the work of other ministries in seemingly “easier” mission fields. It's just a reality, however, that the more you go north and towards the coasts in our continent the harder ministry becomes. It's not all that different from preaching in Jerusalem or preaching in Athens. The important thing is to not use it as an excuse, as Carey has written, but to use it as a call to innovate and lead.

I was reminded of these 5 things in visiting Connexus.

What stands out to you?
What have you learned from another church recently?