Joshua Gagnon

thoughts on Jesus, leadership, and the Church.

Ep 160: Why Organizations Slow Down Pt 2

Welcome to the 160th episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast!

If you enjoy listening to this podcast and it has helped you and your team in any way, please leave us a review on Apple Podcast or Stitcher or take the time to share it on social media.

Do you have a question for Pastor Josh about leadership, ministry, or any other topic we’ve covered on the podcast so far? Submit your questions to or @joshgagnon on Twitter and Pastor Josh might answer it on a future episode!

You and your team are invited to join us in Spring 2019 for our new Joshua Gagnon Leadership Coaching Network! Visit to learn more and to sign up!

You can read the full transcription of this episode below.

Hello this is Joshua Gagnon, thanks so much for listening to the podcast. Man, I am so honored by what God is doing through this podcast. We meet people all across the country who listen to the podcast and I never would have imagined. You know, sometimes I say that and I kind of imagined it. You know there are things in life I am blown away by, kind of, but I kind of expected it. This podcast is one of those things that i just never, ever, ever expected it. And even as much just a year into it, it was doing wonderful, but not phenomenal. And over the last six months, it has just literally blow up to tens of thousands of unique listeners every single month. So thank you so much for listening and hanging out. It is my desperate prayer that God would use this podcast to bless you in some way every single week. I have the honor of hosting a coaching network that we are doing. It’s the first time we have done one, I have fought against doing one for a long time, but I do feel like we can add a lot of value to many people in ministry. So if you are a senior leader, and you listen to this podcast, or if you are a senior leader and you don’t listen to the podcast, I would love to hang out with you for a few months. We are going to invite some of our executive team members, Carey Nieuwhof is going to join us for a week. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I believe God is going to use it in great ways. So you can go to and you can learn all the information there. It would be an honor to hang out, we’re going to be innovative. It’s not going to be a typical coaching network, it’s going to be as authentic as it possibly can be. And I hope that we all, including myself, leave the conversations just feeling better. We’re going to grow together, learn together, love one another, and we’ll see where God takes it. And so, I’d love you to check that out, and if not, I still love you and I hope you enjoy today’s episode.

Joshua Gagnon: Well thank you so much for tuning in to the Roman Archer Leadership Podcast. We are excited to have you with us.

Roman Archer: Our listeners just dropped in half.

J: Like, wait a minute, I didn’t click that...What are you talking… This is the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast, hosted, ran, and directed by Roman A. Archer, which, you have it right folks, he is a comic book hero. How’d you get your name?

R: Roman Gabriel. My parents named me.

J: What do you mean, what?

R: Roman Gabriel. He was a quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams at the time.

J: He did good things, didn’t he? You’re the only one who still knows who he is.

R: Well, of course, I’m his namesake. Roman Gabriel, if you’re listening to this podcast, thank you. I don’t even know if he’s still alive. He played for the Los Angeles Rams, I guess he was decent. I don’t know if he won a Super Bowl or nothing like that.

J: But I don’t understand, your dad doesn’t even like football.

R: No, he likes football. But he liked the name and so the name just kind of stuck with him. I don’t know how big of a fan of him specifically, this was what I was told by my dad anyway, is that there was a football player, his name was Roman Gabriel. I Googled him one time and he had posters back in the day. So he had to have been somewhat decent.

J: I want to get posters made of you

R: You should.

J: Put it on my ceiling.

R: You should. Who are you named after?

J: Oh, this guy, Joshua, that’s pretty much it. the Bible.

R: Kind of a big deal.

J: Kind of a friend of mine. Anyways, we are continuing, if you were with us in our last episode, where Yeski closed us out.

R: Yeski.

J: If you didn’t listen to the last episode, please go back and start there because we’re in the middle of a conversation where we’re talking, what are we talking about? Why organizations slow down.

R: And get stuck.

J: And get stuck.

R: And fall into a rut.

J: They turn fat, slow, and lazy. And they become afraid of making decisions and they lack character. And they lack confidence.

R: What we talked about last week. You do need to go back and listen to it.

J: Yeah, literally we’re not even going to go talk about what we talked about.

R: Cause if you can’t even listen to the last episode then you don’t deserve the podcast.

J: We’re going to just talk about the two left. Let’s not even go any further. Let’s literally start right now.

R: We’re starting right now. So, lack of competence.

J: Lack of competence is why organizations…

R: ...slow down and get stuck.

J: They don’t know what it is they need to do. They’ve grown to a place in the organization where they have become their own lid. Right? What once started as an organization that had a higher lid because of its leadership, they’ve maxed out their lid. I’d like to give a golf illustration here, if I could.

R: You absolutely can.

J: I play golf.

R: Yes.

J: You play golf.

R: Yeah.

J: I teach you golf.

R: Yep, that’s more accurate.

J: And I had a thought that you can walk into Dick’s Sporting Goods.

R: Yep, or even Walmart. KMart.

J: Yeah, they don’t exist anymore, I don’t think. You can walk into anywhere and you can get a set of clubs.

R: Yep.

J: And no matter what clubs you buy, right? No matter what the clubs are, you’re going to be able to use those clubs because they are advanced beyond your current ability.

R: This is my current golfing ability. You took me to go buy clubs, and the clubs I wanted were the blue ones, is what I said.

J: I said, “Roman, which ones do you want?” You said, “I think I want the blue ones more than the red ones. It’s just the box.” And I’m like, “What do you mean?” And so this is what we’re dealing with, people.

R: And so that’s my level, and they served me well.

J: Exactly, because your personal ability does not match the level of the golf club, right? That golf club is still a higher lid than your ability, right? You haven’t lidded it out.

R: Correct.

J: Now, when I buy golf clubs, I have to have them custom made.

R: Yeah. There’s a couple times you’ve used my club to show me something and my clubs limit you.

J: Yes. Alright, so I have to have the right loft, and on and on and on we can go. The right flex, and on and on we could go. Right? Because I am a solid golfer. Okay? So if I went to Walmart and bought your clubs, they would hold me back. Because my potential is beyond what it is they can offer me.

R: Their capacity, yep.

J: Right? However my AP3s that I’ve had, they - Titleist - they are advanced enough to where I can play with them and they are advanced enough where my ability fits within what they offer. I hope I’m making sense. Many organizations have leaders who have become the lid of the organization. And the organization isn’t going to be able to go further until they grow. They are the golf clubs that are holding back the potential of the organization. And the only way the organization is ever going to hit the ball further is if they raise their potential. Right? Or unfortunately the other alternative is we have to bring new people in that have higher potential. And so that’s just something that I’ve been thinking a lot through when it comes to those two scenarios of golf clubs, and we want to make sure that we become leaders that are chasing after competence. We become leaders who are making phone calls to people who are further out. We’re leaders who are listening to podcasts, good job. We’re leaders who are going to conferences. I think conferences are going to die, the way we know them. I do, I think the big conferences are going to be a thing of the old.

R: I think they’re less of learning and more of the…

J: Inspiration.

R: ...inspiration and I think avenues such as podcasts have opened up more opportunities for people to grow, but we get stuck when we have that lack of competence. Something that I want to brag on you for just a second.

J: Come on.

R: We were talking this week with some of our leaders, and…

J: Brag on me.

R: And I was sharing one of the qualities that you have that I’ve seen you grow in over the last ten years is this spirit of curiosity. That you’re a learner. But not just in a few things, in everything.

J: I could deliver a baby.

R: Yes, that’s not a joke, you could probably… You are more, when I was having my kids… I wasn’t having them, that’s going to get me in trouble. When my wife was having my kids you were more knowledgeable than our doctor. You told me what was going on, you kept me…

J: Because every step along the entire way when Malachi was being born and Nehemiah was being born, I asked a hundred questions every single time, just in everything.

R: Just to learn. And I think A, that’s one of the reasons why…

J: I mentioned last podcast I just signed a two book deal with Thomas Nelson, and my agent Alex, we’ve laughed along the whole way because I guarantee he has never had someone ask more questions than I asked in the process. But I keep telling him, I won’t ask one question next time, but I will know everything about this process, and he laughs all the time because that’s just how.. I won’t ask any more questions because I will literally master the art of how to move forward in this process. And so, yeah.

R: Yeah, and I think A, that’s one of the reasons why you’re good with stories and illustrations because you learn a culture, or you learn the context of something and you’re able to then take the principles and apply it in your context and in your world, but the bigger idea beyond that is I think as kids, as we grow, we’re constantly asking the question, “Why? Why? Why?” We’re seeking to learn and understand and somewhere along the way, we learn that we need to already have the answers and if we ask why, we’re letting people know that we don’t have the answers. And so we stop asking why, we stop learning, and our competency in an area slows down.

J: We have to work at our craft. I love when I hear athletes say that. I’m working at my craft, I’m working at my craft, I’m working at my craft. The truth is is we have to work at our craft. We have to continue to figure out musicians, continuing to figure out new rifts, we have to work at our craft. We have to get better, get better, get better. What would you say to a musician who stopped practicing? You’d say, “What in the world are you doing? You’re going to get passed.” What would you say to an athlete? “You’re going to get passed.” What would you say to a lawyer who stopped learning the new laws that are coming out? You’re not going to be relevant. What would you say to a doctor who doesn’t understand the new equipment that’s coming out that’s helping people live longer? Or surgeries … you’d say, “You gotta keep up.” What would you say to your financial investor who isn’t learning any tax laws? Or your accountant who’s not learning… You would say, “You gotta keep up.” What do you say to the church? We just say, “Read the Bible.” Woah, woah, woah. The Bible hasn’t changed, alright? So, yes, know the Word of God, of course. But it’s not like the tax laws. It’s not going to chance. You know the Word of God, now what do you do? You keep allowing the Word of God to settle into your heart, however now you need to go learn practices and principles in relevant ways to reach the culture today. Right? Systems and structures that help reach today’s culture. And we could go on and on, and that’s what our listeners who do in some… I’m definitely proud of who we’re going to right now and I feel like it’s almost teaching to the choir, cause they are curious.

R: Yeah. I think an uncomfortable truth, but it’s a truth.

J: But let me just cut you off one second.

R: Go for it.

J: Make sure those on your team are curious as well. So don’t just be the only curious person, whoever’s listening to this, on your team. Push it throughout the organization, even if you’re not the high-level leader or the senior leader, push it throughout that organization. Send this podcast out to everybody on your team or another podcast, I could care less if you send this one, but my point is don’t just be the only curious one on your team, curiosity should be running wild throughout your team. The curiosity to learn, the curiosity to get better.

R: Yep. I think an uncomfortable truth, and just to play it out in the world of either sports or even music.

J: Do music, because I feel like we do sports too much.

R: Okay, so playing the guitar, for instance. I’ve heard this analogy, that if I want to get better at the guitar, I don’t practice the same chords that I already know. I have to learn something new. That’s how I’m actually going to get better, more competent at my craft. A lot of people think, “Well if I just keep doing what I know I’m doing, that that’s going to get me better.” So as a communicator, for example, I don’t grow teaching the same message every week. I grow as a communicator by getting in different environments, on different stages, in front of different people, it gets me out of my comfort zone and I grow in my competency in that area. And so it’s this idea that... I think we fool ourselves sometimes if we think we’re getting better at something just because we’ve mastered one aspect of it and we can do that one aspect.

J: Yeah, I don’t allow you to go up with the notes you used to go up with.

R: Nope, it’s this constant changing and growing.

J: Now you’re going up with no notes.

R: You’re getting me there. But I would say to our listeners who’s the last church or the last industry leader that you’ve reached out to to learn from? That you’ve actively sought phone call with them.

J: It doesn't have to be a church. Me and Larry Osborne a couple weeks ago with a few other guys, we went to a gentleman who runs all of the...boy, I don’t want to get this wrong. Do you remember what it was?

R: I think so, but I don’t even know if you want to mention it.

J: Okay, yeah, I don’t want to mention it.

R: I would say an industry leader, a billion-dollar industry and he was leading it.

J: Yeah, we went to hang out with him for several hours and he runs this thing you would know of. And we just talked and learned and it was wonderful, but yeah, it’s not just learning from church world. That’s half of our problem, actually. Is we all learn from the same people. It’s like a bunch of cones running around Get outside the walls and go learn from other people who can add value to what it is we do as a church.

R: Exactly. So we get stuck when we have lack of character, lack of confidence, lack of competence,...

J: And lastly…

R: Lastly, lack of…

J: Something you don’t like at all.

R: You don’t think so?

J: Charisma!

R: A people-gatherer.

J: Give me the definition of charisma.

R: This is beautiful, we had asked Siri the day that we were talking about this.

J: She’s so smart.

R: This is what Siri told us. Siri is a girl on my phone.

J: Does your wife know about this?

R: She’s a girl. I left her as a girl.

J: Does your wife know you’re having a lady you talk to on your phone?

R: Yes.

J: Okay.

R: Siri told me that charisma means compelling attractiveness or a charm that inspires devotion in others.

J: Say it again. Wow.

R: It’s a charm that inspires devotion...that’s a big word… in others.

J: So you got, while we stay still we don’t have character. Because character is the greatest accountability a human could ever live to.

R: Yep.

J: We lack confidence. We don’t want to make mistakes, yet mistakes are life’s greatest teachers. We lack competence, we become the lid. We need to become a golf club that can hit the ball further. And then we lack this thing called “charisma”, that’s why we stay slow. And charisma is the charm that inspires devotion in others. Your organization, what it is your leading, is going to slow down if it has a leader that can’t get people revved up.

R: Yeah, cast vision.

J: If you can’t cast vision, if you can’t inspire movement, the organization is going to slow down because it has leaders that lack charisma.

R: Yeah. People perish for lack of vision. And I think there are a lot of leaders that are going around that are trying to inspire tomorrow’s accomplishments on yesterday’s memories. And they have no ability to gather people to push them forward to cast vision.

J: You just did a one-liner! You always say you can’t do those things!

R: I don’t even remember what it was now, though, can we rewind it back? Can I say it again?

J: Good job. Say it again, seriously.

R: I genuinely don’t remember what it was. We’re trying to inspire people on yesterday’s memories.

J: Man, if you want an organization that is going to push forward and not slow down, you have to have leaders that have charisma and the ability to charge up leaders in the organization that feel tired, that feel worn out, that haven’t seen the fruit they hope for. You have to inspire people to believe, to move, to dream, to charge, to dig, to believe that only God can send the rain, but they can dig a ditch. If you can’t inspire people under you to move quick, don’t be surprised when the organization stays slow. Charisma. Character. Competence. Confidence. We have to be living within those worlds in order to not slow down as an organization. I hope this… I’m tired. I’m done. Just so you know. If you have anything else to say you can but I don’t want to say anything else.

R: No, I hope this conversation helped you. Again, this is a two-parter so you have to go back to number one if you haven’t already.

J: Let’s do one where they ask questions.

R: That’s coming up. You’ve been tweeting out about it.

J: I have? I haven’t tweeted in years. I don’t have Instagram, I don’t tweet.

R: No, that’s not true. I can always tell when you tweet.

J: I haven’t tweeted.

R: Oh, you haven’t?

J: I haven’t tweeted in legitimately months. They all tweet for me.

R: Maybe it’s been a while. Yeah. But back in the day I could always tell when it was the people on the team here that do it or when you do it.

J: I don’t do any of that stuff. My publisher’s like, we gotta work at getting on this platform and I just never really promoted myself to do well.

R: Yeah, well, I mean you don’t have to. God can do that.

J: God can promote you in one day to a place that takes men a lifetime to get.

R: Exactly.

J: One-liner. Hey, on a serious note, listeners, thank you so much, you are a blessing to my heart. You really are. I’m so blown away that so many people would listen to this podcast and I do pray and ask God that something that is said in each episode would inspire, trigger, do something in your heart, and if we could be of any help at Next Level Church, that’s why we exist. We’re all one church. So we exist for that reason. Until next week, America.

R: Lead fast.

Ep 159: Why Organizations Slow Down Pt 1

Welcome to the 159th episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast!

If you enjoy listening to this podcast and it has helped you and your team in any way, please leave us a review on Apple Podcast or Stitcher or take the time to share it on social media.

Do you have a question for Pastor Josh about leadership, ministry, or any other topic we’ve covered on the podcast so far? Submit your questions to or @joshgagnon on Twitter and Pastor Josh might answer it on a future episode!

You and your team are invited to join us in Spring 2019 for our new Joshua Gagnon Leadership Coaching Network! Visit to learn more and to sign up!

You can read the full transcription of this episode below.

Hello this is Joshua Gagnon, thanks so much for listening to the podcast. Man, I am so honored by what God is doing through this podcast. We meet people all across the country who listen to the podcast and I never would have imagined. You know, sometimes I say that and I kind of imagined it. You know there are things in life I am blown away by, kind of, but I kind of expected it. This podcast is one of those things that i just never, ever, ever expected it. And even as much just a year into it, it was doing wonderful, but not phenomenal. And over the last six months, it has just literally blow up to tens of thousands of unique listeners every single month. So thank you so much for listening and hanging out. It is my desperate prayer that God would use this podcast to bless you in some way every single week. I have the honor of hosting a coaching network that we are doing. It’s the first time we have done one, I have fought against doing one for a long time, but I do feel like we can add a lot of value to many people in ministry. So if you are a senior leader, and you listen to this podcast, or if you are a senior leader and you don’t listen to the podcast, I would love to hang out with you for a few months. We are going to invite some of our executive team members, Carey Nieuwhof is going to join us for a week. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I believe God is going to use it in great ways. So you can go to and you can learn all the information there. It would be an honor to hang out, we’re going to be innovative. It’s not going to be a typical coaching network, it’s going to be as authentic as it possibly can be. And I hope that we all, including myself, leave the conversations just feeling better. We’re going to grow together, learn together, love one another, and we’ll see where God takes it. And so, I’d love you to check that out, and if not, I still love you and I hope you enjoy today’s episode.

Roman Archer: Well welcome to another episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in today. I’m sitting down with my friend, boss, pastor, leader, Pastor Josh. How you feeling?

Joshua Gagnon: Role model.

R: Role model.

J: Fitness coach.

R: Fitness coach. Listen, if you’re a fitness coach, I want my money back.

J: Hey, I can only do what I can do. I cannot be responsible for your discipline.

R: We’re sitting in these new chairs today and I definitely do not feel fit in the way I’m sitting in this chair. It’s more of like a lounge-y chair so I’m not sitting up straight.

J: You look good.

R: And it’s just like, oh man.

J: And you’re wearing a shirt, “Liberty.”

R: Oh, I’m patriotic today.

J: Liberty and life.

R: Let freedom ring. It’s an Old Navy $5 deal. Well hey, what have you been up to lately?

J: We’re in a busy season. We’re talking to a couple churches about the possibility of adopting them. Well, one of them’s made the decision to be adopted so. And then we’re talking to another church about that possibility. So a lot of conversations about expansion and staffing and a lot going on in Florida, and so I’m just positioning my family to be the most healthy we can be with all the traveling we’re doing. Building a hub in the Southeast now that we’ve seen God do in the Northeast. Signed a two-book deal, yeah with Thomas Nelson. So I’m really excited about that. We’re going to do an entire episode on that process. Talk about my agent and who he is, and talk about, just, I’d always wanted to know what it would look like, and of course, to God be the glory, I have mentors and many friends who have written books, so I was able to tap into some of those resources. However there are many people who don’t really even know what it looks like to write a book, or where do you go, or how does it work, so I really want to get into the trenches and just answer as many questions we can from all our listeners who have a passion to write and so I’m excited about that opportunity.

R: Yeah.

J: I’m excited to see the Lord use it and we’ll see, we’ll of course over the next several months give a lot more information on that.

R: It will be exciting.

J: It’s really exciting. Yeah, it’s a wonderful opportunity, a wonderful gift that God has given me to be able to,... not a gift to have but a gift to be able to put a book out there for people to be able to read. It’s such a wonderful blessing. I feel really honored. So excited about that. Yeah, it’s a good season, I’m excited. I feel like the Lord is maturing our team and maturing our staff and speaking to us in clarity so, it’s fun.

R: Absolutely. One of those seasons where stuff just kind of seems like it pops out of nowhere. It doesn’t, because as we talked before, it’s that idea of being faithful and stewarding the influence that God has given you as a leader and so when things like this happen, it seems like it just happens overnight. These conversations with other churches and the book sand growth.

J: It just seems like every hail Mary pass and catch happened overnight, but we don’t see all the practices that led up to the hail Mary. All the times that the hail Mary was thrown in practice. All the reps that went in and you hear so many stories and it feels like they happened overnight cause you heard them, and it seems like the moment you heard them is the moment the miracle happened. But the reality is is there’s been a lot of digging trenches, a lot of digging ditches, there’s been a lot of faithfulness to every story. There’s no overnight success story. There’s some quicker success stories, however I believe that even in the overnight success stories that appear overnight, there’s been a lot of pain, a lot of faithfulness, a lot of prayer and preparation in the midst of getting to where it is that we now see them.

R: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, along those same lines, if you were to talk with any of our leaders or our staff, you ask them to explain our team or our culture, our church in three words or less, I’m willing to bet that one of those words are going to be “fast”. You know, even in this conversation it seems as if things are happening fast. And to a certain degree, even if things don’t happen overnight, we certainly work and move at a pace that I think compared to other churches and other leaders that I’ve talked to, it’s a pretty fast paced environment. And we were having a conversation with our location pastors a couple weeks ago and we had this conversation about one of our values as a staff, as a leadership about moving fast. You’re constantly saying the older we get, you don’t want to see us get old, and you used the word “sluggish”.

J: Fat, slow.

R: Fat, sluggish. What do you think that looks like for a church or a team?

J: Any organization, not just a church. Any organization has a tendency, as they grow larger, they grow slower. Because there’s so many more moving pieces, there are so many more people that every decision affects, and often there are so many more people that have a say in the decisions that are made.

R: Slows it down.

J: So the larger an organization grows, it has a tendency to grow slow so the very thing that allowed you to see great growth, which is quickness and speed, agility, all of a sudden now, the very thing that allowed you to grow to where you are becomes something you no longer have because you’ve grown. And I don’t want to become fat and sluggish and slow. I don’t want to be a church that at ten years old used to be quick but now we just are nervous to make decisions, we’re nervous to step outside and walk on water, we’re nervous to lose everything. It’s so much easier when there’s nothing to lose. Right? When you’re making decisions and you have nothing to lose, you make crazy decisions full of faith and you don’t sit around and think about them forever cause there’s not much to think about. When you don’t have much to lose, you don’t think about all that you have to lose. But the bigger an organization gets, all of a sudden you have to think a lot more about the decision and it affects so many more people and there’s so much more communication that goes into it and fear can creep in because it just costs a lot more making a bad decision the bigger you are, and so I don’t want to become an organization that loses our quickness, because I really believe that what we’ve lacked in experience, what we’ve lacked in resources, what we’ve lacked in intelligence and competence, we’ve made up for in passion and speed. And, you know, it’s like a sports illustration, which I hate giving them, because I know… By the way, I was going to talk about our listeners, another record last week. Thousands of people listening to this podcast. Yeah, it’s just incredible to think, I don’t even know why, I just keep doing it because I feel like if people are listening then I’ll keep doing it, but I don’t know why people are listening. But, hey, praise God for you. Leave a review, if you don’t mind, that would be kind. But I think a lot of our listeners, what was I talking about?

R: You were going to give a sports analogy.

J: Yeah, I was going to give a sports analogy about speed and quickness. You can have a team that is great and fully competent, fully experienced, but they’ll get beat by the team with more passion and speed. And I want to be that team that continues to live with passion and speed.

R: Yeah, absolutely.

J: Can our listeners hear the…?

R: Maybe, I don’t know. We’ll see what they do in post. We’ve got our staff Christmas party happening tonight.

J: Yeah, so we don’t have like, ducks we’re strangling in the background, those are…

R: Small gunshots. So our office’s podcast room is below our auditorium at one of our locations and evidently, they are either dropping cement blocks on the floor or moving the chairs this morning to get ready for that.

J: Yeah, alright.

R: So you made a declaration to our team. Specifically, this was a talk that you gave to our location pastor team. You kind of made this declaration that we will continue to be agile. We will continue to be quick, to move fast.

J: We’ll quickly lose everything.

R: Yes, there’s that, I think it’s actually a country song, there’s that saying, “We might not be here in ten years, but they’ll know we were here.”

J: Yeah, it is a country song. You know it’s a country song.

R: Well, no, I know it’s a country song.

J: I think it might be a country song I sang this morning.

R: I’m not a closet country fan, I’ll say it.

J: Yeah you are.

R: But I don’t know if I’m saying it right.

J: You are, it says, “We might not be here in ten years, but they’re gonna know we were here.”

R: There’s that idea. And you’ve said that before, it’s kind of that thought that at the end of the day we can’t get slow and safe, we’re going to be quick and risky. And we talked about some of the things that cause people to start slowing down or even stand still. And organizationally, before it every happens organizationally, it happens within the leaders. And so we talked through four different things; we’ll see how far we get in this episode and maybe we’ll only do two, but the first thing we talked about is, when we slow down and we start standing still, a lot of times it’s because of a lack of character. I think it takes a certain kind of leader to be self-disciplined and to keep the pace. You know, famous saying, pace of leader, pace of team, speed of leader, speed of team. But what motivates you as a leader? You don’t necessarily have anyone over you that is dictating to you…

J: I have the Lord over me, Roman.

R: Sure, but I don’t think he’s setting the alarm for you early in the morning to get up and to start writing or to get up and work on the message, or to work through some of the upcoming problems that we have.

J: There’s a level of character that’s needed in order to keep pace. One of the things that we were… We did this talk which was for all of our location pastors and Roman and I meet with our location pastors. I wasn’t doing it, I was only meeting with them once a month, but we just moved to every single week because in this season, I haven’t had a lot of face time with our staff and this gives me that face time, that gives me opportunity to just love on them, and so every Wednesday I’m trying to make that meeting and we talked about in order to stay quick and not slow down, you have to have a level of character because the truth is is leaders that are out front, they’re accountable to their own character. And you can take advantage often in ministry, you can take advantage of the position because sometimes there’s nobody asking you to clock in or clock out. There’s a lot of freedom in our structure and in our system. Our location pastors, some of them are four hours away some of them are twenty-four hours away in Florida and there’s a lot of freedom in there. And so we hire people who are self-starters, we hire people who are leaders who want to think for themselves, who want to change the world, and you could find yourself slowing down and taking advantage of the system for a season, eventually your fruit will find you out. However, you could take advantage for a season and I just believe high-character leaders don’t need alarm clocks to motivate them, their character motivates the. High influential leaders don’t need a boss telling them to work hard and get starter and self-think, high influential leaders, their character continues to be the very thing that they need in order to push them forward. My character is what keeps me pushing forward when I know I can take advantage and I can settle in. My character and also the vision and dream that God’s placed in my heart, I don’t know if they’re separated, but I’m thinking in the moment.

R: Yeah, I think on the flip-side of that lack of character that causes people to slow down or stop is just this idea of working diligently. And we really encourage and challenged them that when we’re not looking over your shoulder, when you’re not clocking in when you don’t have to be at the office at a certain tie that day, are you self-motivated as a leader to continue to work diligently, to have that character?

J: If we’re just keeping it 100, which means keeping it real in today's terminology, if we’re just keeping it 100, Roman, which I really pride this conversation and our podcast on, just being honest, open, and real and relevant, and I don’t want to be a fake conversation, who wants to listen to a bunch of fake people? If we’re just being real, the church, man, we have some lazy people up in this place. Just in general, the church globally. There’s some people who take advantage of the lack of accountability and then they gripe and complain about how they’re not seeing any growth. And you’re like, you work two days a week. You work two days a week. And then on the other hand, we’ve got a group of people in the church world that are really hard workers that are giving it all they have. And I am just convinced that, not hard work unbalanced is blessed, but hard, balanced work ethic is blessed. And I really believe it with everything inside of me, that we will work harder. We always say we will work harder than anybody else in a healthy way. We’ll work harder than anybody else. And so, you’re right. Working diligently pays off. It pays off. If you’re just working a couple days a week, three days a week, taking advantage, spending all your time just at lunch, I mean the reality is is you’re going to get that type of fruit. There’s nobody who frames houses who shows up who just stares at the wood all day long, wondering why the home isn’t being built. There’s nobody that just, you know? That builds homes and stays home Tuesday and Wednesday, you know, just working from home doing nothing.

R: Yeah, or showing up and just studying the blueprints. They study it, and study it, I’m gonna pray over the blueprints.

J: Yeah, I remember before I started Next Level, I was at a church that we would just walk around the auditorium all day, it felt like, and pray for God to bring growth, and I told myself when I started a church I wasn’t going to be someone who just prayed for growth, I was going to be someone that prayed for growth and then worked for growth. Cause I believe our muscle works alongside of our miracle. And I believe it with all my heart. And so we’re going to work diligently and as we grow, we’re not going to slow down because our character is going to hold us accountable more than our supervisor. If you can create a team where you’re accountable to your character, then you’re going to have a great team because at some point, supervisors won’t be able to hold everybody as accountable as character can.

R: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things in there that you talked about was this idea of rhythm and working hard in a balanced way.

J: (singing) Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain. It’s my first single.

R: It’s releasing before Christmas. Go find it on Spotify and iTunes.

J: Tip the waitresses on the way out.

R: He got it in. He got it in. You’ve been saying that as a mic check this week.

J: I preached last night, I said I was gonna say, “Tip the ushers on the way out.”

R: You’ve been talking about this three block idea. Just kind of mention that really quick.

J: What did I talk about?

R: Well in God’s economy I do think that there’s,... it’s the same idea as tithing, that 90% is more blessed than 300%.

J: What’s the three blocks?

R: And so, yes we work hard but there’s three blocks in a day.

J: Oh, yeah.

R: And so during the two blocks…

J: Yeah, I don’t really want to take credit for that. Gordon MacDonald showed me that when we were at lunch one day, who by the way we’re going hiking in Switzerland with Gordon MacDonald, we just talked about it last night that’s why it’s on my mind, in June. How cool is that?

R: It’s freaking awesome.

J: We’re hiking the Swiss Alps with Gordon MacDonald. My gosh, carry him.

R: He’ll be carrying us.

J: He will. Three blocks. Yeah, we’ve got three blocks in everyday. And I told my staff because I was told by a wise man this model, that two out of the three blocks everyday that you use is considered a work day belonging to the church. That third block belongs to you. Two out of three. And then your Sabbath fully belongs to you. And what we typically do is we typically work on our Sabbath cause we don’t handle each block of the day correctly. So let’s call Monday a work day, just for talking’s sake You have three blocks in that day: morning, afternoon, and night. You may be working the night that that Monday, and not in the morning, which means the afternoon block is your block. Right? So, it’s a morning, you’re at work and you’re working diligently. The afternoon, you’re golfing, cause it’s your block. Or you’re doing the lawn. Or you’re hedging, right? And then that night, you work diligently. Two out of three blocks every day are your employer’s. Right? And then you have a day off, right? Your Sabbath. That’s fully yours because you used the blocks during the week to do the yard work so that now you could actually have a day of fun and rest on the Sabbath. So we’re teaching our team that model where two out of three blocks on your work day belong to the church, you choose which two out of three you want to give to the church, but you have to give two out of three and you work diligently in those, and then enjoy that third block.

R: I think in God’s economy that is important. Cause there are some times where, if it’s not balanced and you’re spending all three blocks, it’s out of whack. And so the same idea as tithing, the way we budget our time matters. And so when it comes to this idea of character and working diligently, I think that’s an important thing to mention there.

J: Thank you.

R: Another one that we talked about was reasons why we slow down or stand still.

J: Character.

R: Character, lack of character, number one. And then number two is lack of confidence which just is so big. How often do things stall out? Opportunities get missed because of a lack of confidence of moving forward, of decisions, of mistakes we’ve made in the past that now haunt us and hold us back.

J: Yeah, we have a hard time making decisions and leaders that are not decision-makers lead within organizations that are slowing down. And as we continue to grow we want to make sure that we don’t have a team full of people that lack confidence but a team of people that know that we can be confident in our decisions even if we make a bad decision. You know, someone once said, “We’re all going to make mistakes, the worst part of a mistake is if you don’t use that mistake to learn from it.” But there should never be a wasted mistake. And so we want to create a culture at Next Level Church because you can’t be a fast organization and always get decisions correct. I will say slow organizations will probably get decisions correct more often than fast organizations. However, fast organizations are going to make multiples more decisions, so at the end of a year, let’s just say the slow organization, for speaking’s sake, makes one decision that year that’s correct. The fast organization makes ten decisions that year and gets two wrong. There’s still a large, large outcome of fruit from the decisions that were made, right? I’d rather make ten decisions and get three wrong, rather than make two decisions and get both right.

R: Well, you gotta swing the bat. It’s a swing rate.

J: Yeah, A-Rod, I thought that was a good thing I had heard. A-Rod: Alex Rodriguez, who, a baseball player, and if you don’t watch baseball, you don’t care but you’ll get the point if you know baseball.

R: Well, he was a long time Yankee, so the fact that you bring him up is a little bit...

J: Yeah, it’s a good point. Yeah, he’s fifth all-time in strikeouts in major league baseball but I think he was a 14-time all star and considered one of the best to ever play the game. Yet he’s fifth all time in strikeouts, which tells us you’re gonna strike out a lot of times before you’re ever considered the best ever. Right? You’re going to strike out a lot of times. I want to build a team where we understand that we can confidently strike out because we’re confidently swinging the bat. And when you confidently swing the bat, you’re going to hit more home runs than most ever. You may get more strikeouts than many, but you’ll probably go down as one of the best ever. It’s the person that’s at plate not swinging the bat because they lack confidence as a leader because they lead at an organization where failure is seen as disappointment and failure is seen as a reason to get fired or whatever that looks like. Bad culture. You get a bunch of people standing at plates all across America today and not swinging the bat, calling themselves people who have a job. No, people who have a job get up to the plate and swing the bat.

R: What do you think are some of the things that are confidence-robbers that steal our confidence?

J: Just culture within an organization. I mean, failure in the past, of course, but just, frankly, poor organizational culture is what people step into and they fear that they cannot make decisions because if they make a decision, it’s going to be looked down upon if it doesn’t work. And I just think that from the top down, the bottom up, it has to be an organization where we understand we’re going to make decisions, now we’re not saying we’re trying to make bad decisions, of course we use wisdom and we do the best we can. However, when you’re making a lot of decisions in a fast-paced organization, you’re going to get some wrong.

R: Yeah. Two things that I would say that I’ve seen kind of lived out is…

J: Did you just ask that question so you can give beautiful information? You don’t have to ask the question to.... “What are some things that lead you to believe…” I give an answer and you go, “Yeah, so two things…”

R: I’m glad you asked.

J: “Two things that I’ve seen…”

R: No, you made me think of a meeting that we had this past week. Two things that I would say: Number one, and you’ve said this before…

J: Objection, leading question, your honor.

R: You’ve said this on the podcast, is that we don’t want to make the same mistake over. You love when we make new mistakes.

J: I just told a staff member that yesterday.

R: Exactly. See? You’re proving my point. You reminded me of that meeting is what I’m saying.

J: Yeah, we’re good with failure but you won’t see Next Level making the same mistake too often twice. We learn from our mistakes, which allows mistakes to be beautiful. Cause as long as you learn from the mistake, you’re going to win for the rest of the decisions.

R: Yep, and I’ve seen us celebrate new mistakes. And what I mean by that is we’ll bring it up as an example and just be able to say, “Listen guys, so-and-so tried this and it didn’t work out, but honestly, we celebrate the fact that they stepped out and they tried something new and  they tried something different and it does create this culture where people are not afraid, they’re more confident.

J: What was the second thing?

R: That was the second thing.

J: You only said one.

R: No, the first thing was make new mistakes and the second one is celebrate those mistakes. I think it builds confidence in our team and so in that meeting…

J: Yeski!

R: ...that’s what was reminded. You’re now yelling at staff mid-podcast.

J: Come here. He’s gonna close it out, we’re all done. He doesn’t know the code to get in. Hey, can you do me a favor? Can you just tell our listeners to please leave a review? Come here.

R: You have to do it in the microphone.

J: No, just go with the accent.

R: He’s got a face for radio, ladies and gentlemen.

J: Just say, “Just do us a favor, leave a review and we’ll finish the rest of these points on the next episode.”

Yeski: Okay.

J: Thank you for listening to the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast.

Y: Wow, that’s a lot of pressure. Um, just do us a favor, leave us a review, and then,... what was the rest of it?

R: Yeski, you created so much post-production work!

J: You’re HR! Come on!

Y: We’ll finish these next points on the next week, and thank you for listening to the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast.

J & R: Yeah!

R: Yeski, ladies and gentlemen!

J: That’s HR, HR really keeps us all together.

R: A lot like Toby from “The Office”. Get out of here, Toby!

J: Toby, I hate you!

R: Hey, thanks so much for tuning in and as you heard from Yeski, leave us a review, help us spread the news.

J: Come on, people, leave a review.

R: We’ll finish up this talk, we got two other things we want to talk to you about next week, so we’ll talk soon.

Ep 158: Interview with Mark Clark

Welcome to the 158th episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast!

If you enjoy listening to this podcast and it has helped you and your team in any way, please leave us a review on Apple Podcast or Stitcher or take the time to share it on social media.

Do you have a question for Pastor Josh about leadership, ministry, or any other topic we’ve covered on the podcast so far? Submit your questions to or @joshgagnon on Twitter and Pastor Josh might answer it on a future episode!

You and your team are invited to join us in Spring 2019 for our new Joshua Gagnon Leadership Coaching Network! Visit to learn more and to sign up!

Today's episode features an interview with Mark Clark, the lead pastor of Village Church, a multi-site church in Canada. You can learn more about Mark and his church at

You can read the full transcription of this episode below.

Hello this is Joshua Gagnon, thanks so much for listening to the podcast. Man, I am so honored by what God is doing through this podcast. We meet people all across the country who listen to the podcast and I never would have imagined. You know, sometimes I say that and I kind of imagined it. You know there are things in life I am blown away by, kind of, but I kind of expected it. This podcast is one of those things that i just never, ever, ever expected it. And even as much just a year into it, it was doing wonderful, but not phenomenal. And over the last six months, it has just literally blow up to tens of thousands of unique listeners every single month. So thank you so much for listening and hanging out. It is my desperate prayer that God would use this podcast to bless you in some way every single week. I have the honor of hosting a coaching network that we are doing. It’s the first time we have done one, I have fought against doing one for a long time, but I do feel like we can add a lot of value to many people in ministry. So if you are a senior leader, and you listen to this podcast, or if you are a senior leader and you don’t listen to the podcast, I would love to hang out with you for a few months. We are going to invite some of our executive team members, Carey Nieuwhof is going to join us for a week. It’s going to be a a lot of fun, and I believe God is going to use it in great ways. So you can go to and you can learn all the information there. It would be an honor to hang out, we’re going to be innovative. It’s not going to be a typical coaching network, its going to be as authentic as it possibly can be. And I hope that we all, including my self, leave the conversations just feeling better. We’re gonna grow together, learn together, love one another, and we’ll see where God takes it. And so, I’d love you to check that out, and if not I still love you, and I hope you enjoy today’s episode. 

Joshua Gagnon: Well, welcome to the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast, it is yours truly, Joshua Gagnon. And I don’t get to do a lot of interviews, I get interviewed a lot on my whole podcast, but today I am interviewing the King of Canada..

Mark Clark: I thought you were going to say the King of Kings! What!

J: No, you aren’t the King of Kings…

M: No, no.

J: But you’re the king of Canada. Mark Clark (in a New England accent) is how we would say it from my neck of the woods. Pastoring a movement of God in Canada, now Mark, welcome to your favorite podcast, clearly. 

M: Indeed, indeed, subscribed, listen to every episode.

J: Welcome to the podcast.

M: It’s great.

J: Me and Mark connected about a what, a year ago, two years ago?

M: Yeah, I called you for advice I think. 

J: Yeah, he calls me for advice, and come to find out, he pastors the church twenty times the size of the church I pastor. 

M: Yeah right!

J: He called for some advice and we connected, then we went away together. I had the opportunity to connect in California, and there’s some guys you just connect with, and it just comes easy, they become a quick friend. And I consider you a quick friend and a growing friend and I look forward to many years of friendship, Mark. But today I really want to unplug, unpack, and give our listeners some incredible momentum. I think this is going to motivate a lot of people. Talk a little bit about the church you pastor, where it’s at, how you’re doing. I don’t want to give it all away. Go ahead and unpack it, I know you can talk for at least 20 minutes straight. So just go ahead.

M: One of my staff members said to me, “One day, you open your mouth and ten minutes fall out,” so I don’t know how to take that. So anyways, our church right now, we’re about five sites in Vancouver and Calvary. Those are two different cities in Canada. We started about nine years ago. About sixteen of us in my house, just kind of grown out from there. And we have about sixty staff and God’s just kind of blown the church up and people are meeting Jesus and families are getting changed and lots of lives getting transformed, which was part of our vision to begin with. Full of a bunch of de-chuched, but a lot of un-churched, people. My story, which we’ll get into, is kind of from skeptic to believer to ministry to pastor. So I go after skeptics pretty hard. Week in and week out. So our church tends to be full of skeptics, or you know, maybe people who just didn’t have faith to deal with church, and maybe they were another religion or whatever. They come in and I try to speak to them and try to convince them that Christianity is the best idea in the market place of ideas.

J: Is that just the way you think, has that always been kind of your DNA? Are you argumentative at your core? So do you like a good argument? Is that where that comes in from?

M: No, I don’t think, no I’m not argumentative. I like a debate.

J: So you are argumentative, okay.

M: No, I’m not argumentative, I think because of where I came from, my upbringing, the way that I came to faith. I quickly had to be able to defend Christianity in front of my whole life. My whole network, all family, all friends, overnight. I mean, I was the drugs, I was the partying, you know, a garage full of thirty of us on a Friday night, sitting there smoking weed, you know, doing what you do. And then three weeks later, after I become a Christian…

J: You planted a church.

M: No, but, I’m back having to defend Christianity having to defend it in front of that same garage full of people. And so, I learned, I think early, how important talking to un-churched people about the rational reality, the evidential, the moralistic, you know that things that undergird why Christianity is not only some crutch, but actually makes a ton of sense. 

J: So before we go any further, give me your pitch. I think what we find, Mark, and I know you’ll agree, is that every church in today’s culture, whether your in Canada or America, the United States, wherever you are, most churches today, wouldn’t say, Mark, they are about the un-churched. We’re about un-churched, we’re about un-churched. And I mean, it’s almost like you’re going to hell if that’s not on the front of your building. 

M: Sure.

J: So we get that, most people say they teach to un-churched, we talk to un-churched, but when you say I want to get into the core, what would you say to somebody, how do you prepare your message? How do you think, when you go a little bit deeper too, it’s not just a crutch, just give me a little bit of that. I know you have written a book that you are pretty passionate about, so if you want to bring it up now you can. But give me your pitch in that, because I think it’s important…

M: A cheap marketing ploy! Well the problem with God Josh, I mention ten ways, and number four will blow your mind. So there’s my clickbait, go check it out. No, I think what I do, I try to approach every passage, I preach kind of through Biblical books. Every time I am preaching, I put it through the filter of, agnostic and atheism, Buddhism, Muslim, and Jew and whatever and go, okay how would they actually read this? And then I not only speak to that, but I acknowledge it in the room. When I say, “For God so loved the world..” okay, let’s stop, “For God”, lets’ stop, “God”. You’re here and you’re agnostic, or maybe you’re an atheist, you’re a naturalist, you say your concept of God is a flying spaghetti monster, you know he’s distant and he just wants, you know, whatever. And so, I immediately address, you know, the assumptions in the room of what people think about God. Then I kind of deconstruct it, and I say here’s what Christianity says about God. And here’s why this rationally makes sense, and Biblically why it makes sense. So I am constantly using this conversational partner. And then I say ,“For God,” and we have learned up who God is, done that in ten minutes, “For God so loved,” okay let’s stop. Love. When you think about love, you think of romance movies, you think of butterflies in your stomach, you think of Jennifer Aniston and blah blah blah blah. So here’s the thing, that’s not what God means, that’s not what the Bible means when it says love. So what I’ve found is that if you do that, even if you know that every single person in your church, let’s say you have a church of 150 people, and you baptized every single one of them, you know them all by name, and you know they are all Christians. If you talk like that, people will start to show up like that. Because you have created the culture before, and then they can bring your neighbors. If you never address the worldview issues, and I think that’s probably the best way to summarize it, I do worldview preaching. That I really try to speak to people’s constructs, because now it’s not really about, it’s about how they think. I mean, it’s about them, now you are talking about concepts or ways of approaching things or whatever, and that’s kind of what I go after, over and over and over again. What I try to do is aggressively, in a good way, that their world view is actually not logical. That is has holes all over it. For instance, I’ll say, some of you, you are naturals. This was my family growing up. Still they think I am part of a cult. Literally my brother texted me yesterday, “Tell those cult people to pray for my kid.” So when I look at them, I look at my family, and they go, Mark, this spirituality nonsense, okay fine. So we are people who are just objective. We’re born, we have a white slate, and we just deal with the data of the world, so we don’t come up with crazy theories about metaphysics, about the afterlife. So anyways, fine you don’t believe in the afterlife, okay great. So I go home, my grandma dies, 2 summers ago I go home. And they said something, they were sitting in a room, and my cousin says, “At least she's not suffering anymore.” And I stopped and I said, “Wait a minute. How do you know? How do you know she’s not suffering more than she was when she was on this earth?” Are you making a metaphysical statement about what happens to someone in the afterlife? Where is the evidence for your construct of the afterlife? Because you actually have a faith position. So what is your faith position actually informed by? Is it informed by any kind of historical document, any kind of meta-narrative that has authority over you at all? Or is it constructed around the dinner table, sitting around going I don't know, I feel this, I feel that and I feel this. It’s crazy. I’m constantly trying to show them the weakness of what they built their life on, and show them that Jesus is a way better person to build their life on than whatever they thought up.

J: Yeah, and really just allowing them to ask questions, it seems, too. It’s almost giving them permission to be okay having questions, having doubts, having wonders, and almost empowering them, that questions aren’t the problem. But not finding the answer, the solution is a problem. So do you do that at all funerals? How do you know this person’s okay?

M: No! You don’t know! I know Joe!

J: So here you are, nine years ago, starting a church, you said sixteen people in the living room. And I think that it’s important for our listeners to know, you know starting a church in Canada, you know, we’re talking a post Christian culture. And you know, the way you communicate clearly has been an attraction towards a culture that is looking less for a church to give them goosebumps and more for a church to really prove their point as to who Jesus is. And so, I think if you are kind of teaching un-churched, de-churched, I should say post-Christian cultures, you’re going to want to get seats filled with people who are skeptics, you are going to have to do better than just saying, “Jesus loves you.” You are really going to have to speak to their reality, the one they are living in. And so you start doing that, do you see growth right away? You open the first weekend and here you are, a hail Mary story? It’s unbelievable, biggest church in the history of Canada. 

M: No, it was not that way at all. So at the start of the scene, we started with fifty, we found an elementary school. I drove around to every elementary school, and it was no, no, no, no. Because in Canada, we are probably a generation or two ahead of America in regards to secularization, even from an educational standpoint, we don’t want churches in our buildings. 

But, it ’s a revenue stream for them, so I finally convince one principal, because you have to get the principal in to let us go. We went in there with fifty people. Our home church, that I was a part of, that I planted, gave us thirty-five. We went and found fifteen more random people, neighbors and whatever. We started the church with fifty people in the gym. The first pre-launch Sunday, we turned the lights on, the coffee makers on, figure out if the keyboard works, you know, that kind of stuff. That was fifty people, and then we just started. We launched with one hundred and sixty, and usually you have a lunch day, and then it goes down and settles down. So it went down to about a hundred, for the first year we had about a hundred. 

J: For the whole first year, about a hundred people.

M: A hundred people for the first year. Kinda slugging away at it and doing our best. I think it takes people, especially if you are reaching un-churched people, or de-churched people, time to trust you. And so, they’re not just going to show up with all their neighbors and their friends, you know, week two. They want to figure out, hold on a sec, are you actually legit? Like, what is this? So they come and test it out for a little while. 

J: And you have a big vision in your heart at that point. You saw the church becoming something  that was reaching the masses. How did you deal with it that first year when you looked out, and the vision in your heart was so much larger than what your eyes saw? How did you deal with that?

M: I have always had this, um, I don’t even know how to say this, without it sounding odd. 

J: You’re pretty odd, so go for it.

M: Yeah, I have this sense of patience. I always have the long game in mind. I know the marathon, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Ministry, life, whatever. So I’m like if it happens, it happens. It’s interesting, we were about a hundred and forty people, I did this video, you can probably find it online, it’s funny. And I’m standing infant of the elementary school, hundred and thirty people, and I say on the video, “Our vision is to plant sites and campuses and churches across Canada, to try and change our entire country.” And we’re a hundred and forty people sitting in a gym at this point, you know, it’s pouring rain on me in the middle of Vancouver. I don’t know what I was thinking. And I actually got up and said that to the church, I’m like “We’re going to take care, we’re going to plant churches!”

J: Yeah, that’s funny. That’s cool, that’s funny you say that. Literally the first month of our story, I tell that a lot, I stood up and did the exact same thing. We had nobody coming, maybe a hundred, small, small church, you know what I mean? And I stood up and did the same exact thing. “We are going to launch locations all over!” And I remember just looking at people thinking “That’s so cute, what a big dream,” you know. It’s funny that, I mean, I didn’t tell everybody their loved ones were suffering…

M: But it was my loved one!

J: Alright, yeah, and so. I had that big dream in my heart, too. So, year one passes and hundred, a hundred and twenty, a hundred and thirty people. Take me to year two, when do we start seeing the growth? Everybody listening, all of our church planters listening, they want to know, what’s the secret sauce? You know, when did you start seeing the growth? Did you do a marketing push, to just one Sunday did you just wake up and and “Wow, we doubled!” 

M: Yeah, not to sound crazy, but the secret sauce is the Spirit. You know, Isiah 51: “The Spirit of the Lord..” What started happening about a year, a year and a half in, we had done some skeptic series, but as I said, we preach to skeptics all the time. We had done some series to address them. And non-Christians started to show up, they started getting baptized, they started to hear those stories and their lives started to get changed. Like literally, I was preaching these fifty-minute, Gospel-centered things, but I was hitting their life, I’m like, “Your marriage is a wreck.”  In our culture, where everybody’s perfect, they needed to be told that they aren’t perfect, and that Jesus is perfect for them. But they don’t have a perfect life. Because that’s like psychology, that religious psychology burdens people down, and weighs people down because they think they have to perform and be good and whatever. And so, I grew up, non-Christian home, I got Tourette Syndrome when I was like ten years old. So I was this making weird noises, doing habits kind of kid, you know, swearing randomly. 

J: You still do that, but we’re getting through it!

M: It happens, it’s all the Tourettes. so I would just throw around F-bombs, sitting around a bus stop, you know. So the last job you are ever going to get when you randomly say F-bombs in the middle, is a pastor. Right? It’s just confusing for everyone. So, it’s kind of interesting that this ends up being my job. But, this perfect town, I was scared to kind of plant there, because I’m upfront, I’m kind of twitching my face around, silly noises into the microphone. How is anyone in this perfect town, in their perfect homes and their perfect marriages, perfect cars, how are they ever be able to connect to this? And I remember my mentor at the time, “They are going to connect to it. It is going to work because you are going to give them permission. From the front to be broken and messed up and not normal and whatever.” And I’m like, “I’m a gong show man!” I’m up there twitching my face around, like looking, doing twitches.  And so these perfect people started seeing freedom and liberty in that. And like if he can, if God can use this clown, to do anything, to speak to thirty people, then maybe He can do something with my life. So literally people started coming around that story and bringing friends and getting baptized. We’d go down to the ocean in the middle of February, which we still do, we started baptizing five, ten, twenty, thirty at a time. And then momentum started to happen. So about year two, year one and a half, something along those lines, the room started to get full. And people started standing, and we had to pull all, you know we had these curtains, and the lights it was all kind of standing. It was three hundred people and I was said “Oh man, what are we gonna do?” So some guy, “Well you have to go to two services.” And I said “Oh, I’ve never done that before.” Like the church I belonged to was once service everybody’s together, you preach once, you know, you nail it or you fail it. I just thought that up right now, you nail it or fail it. I like that! Starting to sound like a preacher. So anyways, I was like, “I can’t do two,” he said, “Just do two.” So I remember reading Tim Keller and he said, “The more opportunities the more people opt.” And I was like, okay, we’ll go to two and see what happens. So we went to two services, and I remember a woman came up to us and she said, “This is going to be the nail in our coffin. This is going to be the end of us, you can’t go to two services. Because I got to have lunch with Suzy and have Matt over to my house and we all have to be one community.” So I remember I got up and I preached a sermon, and I said, “Listen, I didn’t start a church so you could get more friends. I started a church because every day, people like my father, who passed away when I was fifteen and didn’t know Jesus, everyday people like my father die and go to hell. We started a church to reach them. So if you want to go to a church down the road, you don’t have to come back here, but we are going to two services and we’re doing it next week. So choose one, 9 or 11, you know, goodbye.” And so, went to 9 and 11, and we grew by fifty people in a week. Well, forty-nine, she left. Fifty people in one week, and I was like, “Wow, this might be a thing.” And I was talking to people at the front door, and they’re like “Well, I have to go to soccer at 9, or I had to do this, or I had to go to work, or whatever, and now there are these options.” And I was like “Wow, okay.” So within about a year of that, both of those services had grown to full. So there were six hundred people, we were like, “Okay what are we gonna do?” They’re standing…you know, all those crazy stories where the doors are open at the back, we wired a television outside to the courtyard and the people are on chairs on Good Friday and all that kind of stuff. And we’re still in this gym and it’s rammed and there’s this energy and I mean, these great, crazy days right? And so I’m doing two of these services, I don’t even need a microphone, they have me miked but I’m just yelling 200 feet from me. And so, then it was like, hey we gotta do three. I’m like, “Oh my goodness, three?” I’m like, this is getting chaotic. So we go to three services. And then that starts to grow. And people are parking like, ten minutes away. I mean it’s a funny, ridiculous. It’s pouring rain, people are parked ten minutes away, they’re walking up, and people have bought these houses, Josh, in these cul-de-sacs for three million dollars because it’s quiet on the weekends. So here we are, right? We got cars parked everywhere, people are walking… It looked like The Walking Dead. It was just like, people walking up the streets. Anyway so we grow to twelve hundred people in this elementary school gym. Okay? Three services rammed, and I’m still working out of a Starbucks by myself. I didn’t hire a second pastor until we were twelve hundred people. And so, yeah, that’s not a good healthy ratio. I was not living a healthy life in regard to work, but that was just the situation we were in. And so we were just making stuff up as we went. But here’s the thing: we were reaching these raw people. Like, one guy parked up on a guy’s lawn with his truck and got out of his car, I remember I got the phone call on Monday and the guy said, “This guy parked on my lawn. What do you guys think you’re doing? And he got out of the car and I said to him, ‘Get your truck off my lawn.’ And the guy walking with his little family turned around, gave me the finger, and said, ‘F you, I’m going to church!’” Right? And I’m just on the phone, I’m like, “Oh, that’s legit!” I’m like, so happy that that guy’s at my church. 

J: The strangest part was that they found out that it was you parking your truck on the lawn.

M: “F you, I gotta preach! I have Tourettes!” So anyways, so dude, it was crazy. And so then we found, by God’s grace, we got given this auditorium, this performing arts center about ten minutes from the school, and it sat fifteen hundred people. And I was like, “Okay, uh.” We went up there, and the guy met with me for coffee, the pastor they were meeting in there. They were probably a church of about a hundred and fifty, and he said, “We’re just going to leave. We just don’t have enough. It doesn’t justify us.” So he said, “But I wanted you to take the first crack at it.” I was like, “Okay.” So we went up there and I was like, “I do not want to do this.” I mean these seats…it’s huge, and there’s a balcony and it’s legit. It’s not like we’re putting up chairs and doing lights anymore. It’s like, it’s in a box now. And I’m like, “Oh man.” It was intimidating. So I was like, okay. And the energy of the small room, and blah blah blah. So I’m like, okay. So we went up there, but I’m like, “It’s one service only,” and everyone’s like, “No, that’s a stupid plan, we need two services so we can reach…” I’m like, “Oh my gosh, two half-full rooms? I don’t know what’s going on.” So they convinced me, they said two services, I said fine. So we go to two services. We launch in the fall, we’re about twelve hundred. We grew by, I think that first year we grew by about six hundred people in a week and I was like, “Uh oh, I don’t know what to do.” So we were like, “Okay, we gotta figure this out.” So we tried to get them in community, and they stayed.”

J: Did you do marketing? Or you just…

M: We used to do a fall, like, hey, put it on the doors and invite people to this skeptic series. We only do one or two of those intentional, topical. We leveraged the fall a ton. That’s the number one time of growth for us, in the fall for sure. And so we tried to do those topical 6, 7 weeks and then get them back into a Biblical series, so we’ve kind of reached them here, and then we go, okay now we’re Bible people. And so we do a couple of those a year. And so that’s what we did. And so we grew by about six hundred and then I was like, well that’s the most we’ll ever grow. And so then we did a marriage series in the fall and we grew by nine hundred people in a week. In a single week we went from two thousand to twenty-eight hundred or something in a week. And I was like, “What do I do? What do we do with all these people?” So we’re trying to hire people we’re trying to get people connected. 

J: How did people know about the marriage series? 

M: Promo, video, you know probably little Facebook video, you know I did some video stuff. I don’t think we were doing door knockers or anything at that point. When we launched the church we did door knockers but I think at this point it was mostly a Facebook thing. Probably a promo video or something like that. And then cards. We always do cards that you can grab and you can take. Hey, take twenty, give them out to family and friends. I think we did a mac thing around the church where we just kind of put it in people’s doors or in the slots or whatever. So a nice card, kind of welcoming them and then labeling the topics in the certain weeks. So if you want to come for the divorce week or the communication week or whatever. So anyway, so they stayed, and so we were like, oh man. So we just kind of started doing church for now twenty-eight hundred people and then three thousand and then thirty-five hundred and then we started planting churches and we were like, okay we gotta get these localized people into… cause we started realizing, oh they’re driving from thirty minutes away. What if we could find a spot near them and then just empty them out of the building and then free up seats here and then they can be more on mission in their own city. And so that’s when we planted our first site. Sixteen hundred people went over there and we launched that site with sixteen hundred, and then we launched one in Calgary and another one locally and then another one after that. 

J: And some of those are full video. We’ve talked a little bit about that with others, but never on this podcast of course. Some of those are full video and full video worship, video teaching. I know video teaching’s very popular, but video worship is something that is different and you’re kind of pushing that forward.

M: Yeah, all the sites are video teaching and then some of the sites are what we call “cinema sites” which are in a movie theater, which you know all about, which includes the worship on video as well. So we have these lead pastors at all the sites and then they preach a number of times a year, say between four to ten or twelve times a year and then the rest is video teaching. And then the video worship in the movie theaters.

J: Yeah we’re actually this weekend coming up doing our first full video experience. We have a location in a movie theater that’s going to be completely packed out. And as you know, time is always an issue inside of a movie theater. And so instead of trying to do a super early one that no one comes to, what we’re doing is we’re doing one, our normal experience and then the overflow is going to be a full video experience from Thursday night.

M: Oh, that’s great.

J: Yeah, excited to push that out. So let me ask you this question: at your broadcast location, have you still seen that type of growth, or are you guys growing now through multi-location more than the broadcast location?

M: Yeah, we’re growing through multi-location. And so for us, so what we had to do is we had to switch to video for even what you’re calling the broadcast location. So now I only preach at the 8:00 service there, and then everything else, even that that location is video from the week before. So what we didn’t want to do was to create a broadcast location culture versus the other sites. And so the only way to do that, to make everybody on the same page was that, okay, I’m doing this 8:00, which you have to be very Christian to get up for, and it’s in front of four hundred people with twenty empty rows in front of me because we didn’t want people in front of the camera to kind of break that fourth wall, so we put everyone behind the camera. So I’m literally preaching that services, and there’s like a warning almost, when you come in, on the screen, and it says, “You’re part of a live video capture” basically, you’re in front of a live studio audience or whatever. So things are going to happen in the service that are just different, but it’s because we’re doing it for all the other services. So we wanted to make it that way, so the broadcast location has the same level of growth trajectory as the other sites as well, which isn’t, now nine years in it’s not a thousand people in a given week, it’s more of a slow, progressive growth now. Which I think is more healthy.

J: I agree. Yeah, I think it’s important - let me just unpack that real quick cause our listeners I’m sure are intrigued right now by this story. Certainly, God has chosen to breathe on it, and clearly, I know you and it’s only Jesus. I think it’s important to understand, so he preaches - just so everyone understands - he teaches 8AM on Sunday morning, and that’s the only time he’ll teach in person that weekend, and everything else will be from the weekend before. So that 8AM that he preaches in person will now play at all locations the weekend after. And it’s similar to what we do. We’re same week - you’re a week delay. I teach Thursday nights and then we go video, even at the broadcast location all weekend long. The only time I teach in person is on Thursday night. And so I think we have a similar model where we believe that, hey listen, if we’re going to go ahead and do video and believe in this model then we want to go ahead and truly believe in it. So I know that a lot of guys, what they’re doing in today’s culture, I’m sure you hear is they’re jumping around and they’re going everywhere to get in person and they feel insecure about showing video at the broadcast, but I know you’re probably passionate, it doesn’t  make it right or wrong, it’s just I’m pretty passionate about the idea that if you’re going to trust video, trust video everywhere. 

M: Yeah, I was doing the jump around live thing at the different sites, I was driving. And so what we had as a model for a while was, so if you could picture at the one location there was four services, at the other location there was two at the time and now there’s three. But what I would do is I would show up and preach and if you showed up, you might come one week and I’m live and then the next week I’m video and then I’d drive out. So it was all just kind of like, hey, don’t worry about it.

J: And then you have people asking, “Is he going to be in person?”

M: Yeah, the groan as the screen comes down.

J: Yep, absolutely. That is true though, it’s what our team faced. My team looked at me, Mark, and they were like, “Listen, stop doing…” Cause I’d say, “I’ll let you know if I’m going to be there.” And finally, the team came to me like, “Can you please stop doing that because we lose so much energy the moment they recognize that you’re not there.” And it’s not necessarily because video’s worse or better, it’s simply just expectation. Expectation is changing. So let people come to what they’re expecting to get and they’re going to experience something great. 

M: One hundred percent. And so that’s a reflection of the audience, but as the communicator, as a pastor I was just burning out, man. I mean, I was just sitting back stage and even during the week I just wasn’t as sharp, I was tired, I’m like, I don’t even know, I’m just a monkey. Like, I’m just walking out from behind a stage, clanging cymbals together and riding a…you know. 

J: The gong show. The gong show, which you love to say. 

M: So I’m like, forget it. We’ll go 8:00 and everything else is video. And I stood up and I said, “Look, if this is the end of the road for you, like if the fact that you’re now being told you will likely never see me live on a stage preaching again and this isn’t the church for you,” then that’s it. But we have to do it for the next twenty… sake of the next ten years so that I’m not done in four years and my marriage is a disaster and I’m completely out of energy and I hate you and I hate my life and I make some stupid mistakes. So that that doesn’t happen, we’re trying to prevent that by making this decision so if it’s not the church for you, I get it, but we gotta think about the bigger picture. 

J: Did you see people leave? Was there a dip?

M: So no, we saw no fall, we got no email, no anything. So that was a positive. I would say the only negative - I was just talking to someone about this just before we jumped on the call. I would say, and this is the constant trade-off that we struggle with. I would say if I preached those four services at the broadcast location, if I preached those live every week, I can pretty well guarantee we’d be up six or seven hundred people. But that’s the trade-off. It’s like, am I willing to give away the long tail of growth and family and energy and all of that for another six hundred people? We’re constantly in that mode of trade-offs, right? And so I really think, cause I constantly hear people, they go, “You know, I would totally come, and I came and it was awesome, but I just can’t get over the video so I’d bring friends and everything it wasn’t video, so anyway, dude, I love it, I’ll listen to it on my walks, on my podcast, but, you know…” It’s just like I know I would love to be live, but I just can’t and so it’s a trade-off.

J: I know, it’s incredible. I feel like I’m talking to my clone. I say this all the time. I say the exact same thing. People ask and I say, “We definitely at the broadcast would be larger if I taught in person. However I do think it would, like you’re saying, it would damage me and not only that, I think that my focus going elsewhere is actually really important as well and so, and what you value from stage I think shows what you ultimately value. And when we value video everywhere it shows that it’s a DNA and a cultural thing within our team and so that’s pretty important as well. As we start to - you and I could talk forever - as we start to kind of just tie a bow on this and ship it away…you liked that, didn’t you? You liked that. I just came up with that like the push and pull or whatever you said. Nail it and send it.

M: (Singing) Tie a bow on it and ship it away…

J: The, uh…

M: The Problem of God.

J: Right, The Problem of God, chapter four. Let me say this and then I’ll go into my question. Larry Osborne is a good friend of both of ours. He’s a good friend of both of ours. He said something: purpose and calling. Talk about that. 

M: Purpose and calling. In life, what do you mean?

J: No, remember how he says, “You can chase after your potential or you can live in your calling.”

M: Oh yeah.

J: That’s powerful. 

M: Very powerful. So yeah, we were down learning from him and he was talking about, you know, you can have all these opportunities but you only have so much time. And you have all this potential of all the great things you could accomplish, but what are you actually called to in regard to your… You gotta limit yourself or you’re never going to be able to accomplish anything strategically. So he gives a story about, he was writing a lot, and people were like, “Hey, write books, write books,” right? He had written some great books, he’s a brilliant guy, and he summarizes in two sentences what takes me two pages to say. It’s just like he’s pure Yoda and it’s ridiculous. So everyone’s like, “Write a book, write a book, write a book.” And his kid, who was like, I don’t know, fourteen or twelve or ten or whatever he was at the time.

J: Younger.

M: Younger, okay, eight…walked to him, he said, “Daddy, you play with me less when you’re writing books.” And Larry said, “Okay, you know what?” And before the Lord he just said, “I’m not going to write another book til my kids are out of college.” And he didn’t, he went on a thirteen, fifteen, whatever it was year hiatus and never wrote another book because he said, you know, we have all the… I mean, Josh, you’re Josh Gagnon, man, you could speak all over the world.”

J: Not my clock.

M: You get requests…How do you like them apples? You get requests all over the world, “Hey, come here, come here, come here, come here, blah blah blah.” You could do all of that, but you gotta go, okay what, I have to recognize my own limitations so I can make an impact in these areas. I could speak other places 52 weeks of the year, but my church is gonna suck and my life’s gonna suck and my family’s gonna hate me.

J: I love what he said: Potential is everything you could do, calling is everything you should do. I thought that was just powerful. I just figured I’d clean that up for you. 

M: Yeah, tie a bow, ship it.

J: There you go. So difficulty. What are you facing right now and then we’ll finish this up, just kind of give us some reality because everybody’s gonna hear this story and here’s what happens, and you know it and I know it: “Nine hundred people in a week??” On and on.

M: Yeah, that doesn’t happen even week and it doesn’t happen every year either, just so we’re clear.

J: But for most people it doesn’t happen in a lifetime. 

M: Right, or with me, or I thought. 

J: Yeah, exactly, I understand. God did it, and that’s still, people looking in on it and think, “Wow,” right? Give us a reality. Do you wake up everyday and think to yourself, “My goodness, this is perfect and wonderful and we have everything we need.”

M: Birds are chirping, skip on into the office.

J: Take away the highlight reel and let our listeners know that there’s a lot of faithfulness in the midst of pain and that’s why God’s probably blessing you like He is.

M: Maybe I can illustrate it by, I’ll give you this picture. So, people, when they look at preaching, for instance, they look at my preaching and they go, “Man, you’re up there, it honestly looks like you’re winging it. You don’t look at your notes, you’re talking about crazy stuff, you’re yelling and screaming, you’re telling stories.” One lady described it as a punch and play system. I punch you and then I play, I play and then I slam… So it looks like I’m just randomly doing stuff. So then I tell them, “Okay, you want to know what that looks like?” So Thursday afternoon, sermon prep, reading. Friday during the day, I’m writing. I transcribe twelve pages word for word of a sermon manuscript. Saturday I play with my family, Saturday 5PM I kiss all my family goodbye, I say, “Bye.” I go back to the office, and I work on a manuscript and I get it down to about six pages by about 8PM. And then I stare at that six pages and I memorize it until midnight. Then I get up at 5AM on Sunday and memorize it more, I preach it out loud to myself so that by the time I’m standing up there, all this prep has gone into my soul and my mind so that I can then stand up in front of people and deliver. My point in telling that story is to say what could look like an easy life or a winging it in the background is actually the hardest, most grueling work of my job. Preaching is the bane of my existence. I actually hate it. It’s the most painful, lonely,…

J: Agree.

M: Right? It destroys my soul…

J: I walk away from the Lord every week.

M: Every week it’s like I’m a Pagan. But then you do it because in that moment, you know there’s nothing like, when I’m back stage I get all the confusion of leadership development and whether the principles of my church are right and staffing, but I’m about to walk out and I got a Bible in my hand and I’m like, okay here’s the freeing thing, I’m coming under this and now I’m not even in charge. And that’s the most freeing moment of my week, to be honest. So biggest challenge for me, point being, is the grueling soul work of life in ministry. It’s how do I stay on track with the Lord, how do I do the grueling psychological, spiritual work that it’s going to take to lead this thing, stay faithful to Jesus, protect my life and doctrine? Friendships: who’s my friend, who isn’t my friend? Marriage: making sure it’s legit, being a good dad, I got three daughters, twelve, ten, and eight, how do I make sure they love Jesus and love the church in the end? How do I do staffing? I got sixty-one staff now. So it’s like, how do I make them flourish? How do I put them on performance improvement programs? How do I take the twenty-four year old who has so much potential and shape them into who they really need to be at thirty-five? How do I get them to give? How do I get the church to give? You know, all of…So underneath all that story, the podcast story is all these weeds that keep me awake at night still, and I stare at the ceiling, and go, “How…”

J: The only thing that’s changed is the zeros on the numbers. The reality is is that same weight, the same questions that you had are pretty similar to what they’ve always been, they just are asked a little bit different now. Giving is still, “How do I get these people to trust God financially?” when you had no one is still the question today. 

M: It’s still the question today. And the interesting thing is I had this approach when we were small where I would just look at people and go, “Give! Stop being cheap!” And then the temptation is to stop doing that when you get big because you’re more professional. And so I forced myself. Like last week I got up and preached and I just said, “Look, we got a million dollars to raise in December, we got a twenty-eight million dollar building we need to build in 2019.” We need to raise twenty-eight million dollars over the course of three years to build a headquarters, a hub out of which to do this ministry. And so I actually looked - in Canadian culture you don’t do this, but I forced myself to do it. I said, “I got my executive pastor to print out  your giving, okay? So I saw a number beside your name, which means when I’m sitting in the foyer and you’re talking to me and complaining to me about something, I see a number over your head. Okay? A little number, a green number of what you gave.”

J: You did not say this.

M: I said, “Listen, some of you have given nothing. It’s pathetic. So here’s the issue: Don’t be a non-contributing zero. Do one of two things: Either start to give or go to the church down the street so that they can drag your bones around and entertain you because we can’t do it.” That is literally a quote from my sermon. 

J: Wow.

M: Because the reality is, and I’m not trying to troll people by guilt, I’m just being honest.

J: Did you tell them their family’s going to hell at the same time?

M: Yes, your family went to hell, and…no. What are you actually doing here, sitting in a seat, taking up space, sucking resources, and not contributing? There’s no free lunch! You think these lights just stay on? And you’re gonna let the single mom giving her fifteen hundred bucks to the twenty million dollar project carry you? I know what you do for a living. I said, some of you I know what you drive, I know what you make, and then I look down the list: zero. What are you doing here? This is insane. 

J: Have you gotten any feedback?

M: There was a couple of people who said they felt uncomfortable, but the reality is…

J: I didn’t see that coming.

M: The reality is what is… I mean, Josh, you know this okay? You and me go out and guys want to be mentored and they want to be discipled through their porn problem. And Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there is your money.” That’s your soul. So what am I gonna do? Shepherd you and not ask questions about your money? I can’t do that. I need to know where your soul actually is. And so part of it is just looking at the church and going, “Look, Jesus is the one who set this up. He told me to look to treasure to figure out where you’re at spiritually. And I can’t shepherd you without looking at…” Anyways, that’s a whole money thing.

J: Yeah well, we’re going to have to make sure, I’m going to go listen to it, I can tell you that much. 

M: Yeah, I’ll send you the link. 

J: Hey listen, we’ve already gone over our time. I always try to keep it to thirty minutes, we’ve gone a little over that. I appreciate you, man. We’ll have you back on once you raise the twenty-eight million dollars this year. 

M: Any of your listeners have any? Tie it up in a bow and ship it. 

J: If any of the listeners want to send Mark your giving statement for the year, that will be what he’ll look over. But I do, in all sincerity, appreciate you. God has a huge calling over your life. I love your story. I love that things that once were seen as weaknesses are now seen as platforms and opportunities and God’s using you in amazing ways.

M: That’s all the Lord.

J: My friend.

M: Thank you. 

J: Deuces. 

M: Okay brother, don’t know what that means. 

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