How to escape the tyranny of being Everything to Everyone!

Recently I had the privilege of having Dr. David Fletcher, founder of talk with us on a NavXP webinar, “How to grow ministry with less money”. He shared his wisdom, struggles, and stories of how vision clarity has been the guiding light for navigating seasons of shrinking resources.

This is an amazing perspective from a man with a rich history of Executive Pastoral ministry, as well as providing resources and learning to the XP community. David talks about a time of having to reduce the church’s budget by $700,000+ during the recession. He makes an incredibly powerful statement:

Vision is what releases you to focus. If you don’t have a vision on where you want to go, every road seems perfectly acceptable. You pursue a hundred different rabbit trails and none of them are very effective.

David talks about vision leading the way to creativity and focus that narrows the field of ministry for greater impact. One of the principles that Auxano Navigators lead with is that “focus expands”. It seems counter-intuitive that narrowing our focus gives us the opportunity to increase our impact, but time and again I hear stories that illustrate this principle. A quote from Peter Drucker continues to bounce around in my head, “without a concentration of resources, there are no results“. It excites me to help churches uncover that God-given strength – we call it a church’s Kingdom Concept.

As David talked with us about vision and focus, another insightful encouragement that rang particularly true for XP’s was:

“It’s never about money – it’s about vision. When your people are mobilized, there’s going to be enough money to do the right kind of ministry… Most people are trying to do too much. Skinny it down. Do a few things exceedingly well. Most churches think they can do everything well. Focus on the things you can do best, and let go of the other things. Do the things that God has blessed you and given you the resources to do.”

I love David’s commitment to focus and vision. His track record as an XP, and his generous support of the church community illustrate how effective a vision-based leader can be. Vision clarity and focus unlocks the church’s ability to do so much more with less. We can only have that kind of far-reaching impact when we stop trying to be everything to everyone and focus on what God is calling us to do above everything else.

To read more about David’s experiences in how a church’s vision impact resources, check out his articles on

Check out the NavXP video with Dr. Josh Whitehead: Is a Shrinking Budget You Best Blessing?

Is a shrinking budget your best blessing?

In the recent NavXP webinar, Dr Josh Whitehead shared how he has learned to grow ministry with less money. Through the course of our conversation, something amazing occurred to me – his perspective seemed to indicate that every time they faced financial struggles, it was a blessing that expanded the scope of the ministry at Faith Promise.

As Josh spoke about times of shrinking budget and financial downturn he said things like:
“When your resources get limited, you are forced to determine what really matters.”

“If we can’t do anything else, these are the things we are going to do!”

“We don’t really evaluate ministries and determine whether they are really accomplishing what we need them to.”

These are powerful statements about how God used financial struggles to refine the clarity and focus of vision at Faith Promise. And the result is growth and expanded ministry impact!

We can learn a lot from Josh. Typically, we see financial hardship in such a negative light. Josh’s story really turns that on its head. Could God be trying to bless our ministry by restricting our resources? With the right process, reducing available resources could be the catalyst to a healthier, more missionally focused church.

And we all know – we rarely change until the pain is so great we can’t stand to remain where we are.

The role of an XP like Josh can really impact God’s church in amazing ways as he turned a shrinking budget into one of their best blessings.

I am thankful for Josh sharing his wisdom and showing us how God is using the unique role and gifts of XP’s to make church work.

>>see Dr. David Fletcher’s webinar How to escape the tyranny of being everything to everyone.

You can watch the other NavXP webinars here.


Who are you, Tony Bowick: Thought Leadership in Faith and Life Principles

>>So, this is the requisite intro post that tells my readers a little bit about who I am and what I mean by thought leadership. It won’t be funny, I guarantee, because I’m a boring guy. You may ask (and you probably should):

“Why should you read what I write?”

Because I’m boring in such a valuable way! Think back on the care-free days of High School. Do you remember all those things you were forced to learn in school, that you sardonically asked, “When am I ever going to use this?!” It usually happened to me in math classes. For you engineers out there, it probably happened around grammar rules in English class.

Just Recompense

Well, as I moved beyond the caricature of high school melodrama, it turns out that most people who want to do more than wait on tables, need to know a lot of the stuff that just seemed so superflous and boring at the time. All that jazz in high school (no…not the glee kind of jazz) seemed so out of touch and pointless because it didn’t address my felt needs. It had nothing to do with relationships – which is the majority of what the felt needs of school revolve around. So most of those obscure mathematical principles or MLA bibliographical guidelines never showed up on my radar. I’m willing to bet most people share that sentiment.

>>what i learned

The most valuable thing I learned in school (second only to: milk left alone in your locker becomes yogurt) is, if I’m only valuing things that address my felt needs, I’ll always be in a reactive mode, and will rarely be equipped for the future. Think about that for a minute. If the lion’s share of my energy is wrestling with trying to wring clarity and meaning from a challenging present, I’ll always be struggling with the present. It’s like a person who never learns to live beyond paycheck-to-paycheck mode – they never have the economy to prepare for the future. I’ve been exposed to some great thinkers and thought leaders – and I’ve come to realize that I’d much rather struggle with the future and enjoy the present – no matter what it is.

CS Lewis expresses a concept that when we are happy, we are fully in the moment, and that as soon as we begin to examine our happiness, we’re no longer in that happy state, we have shifted to an analytical state of mind – that to recognize our happy state, we must by necessity disconnect from it somewhat in order to examine it. I want to experience my present as fully as possible, and to do that I must be more analytical about the future. This blog will be about thought leadership, about recognizing and discussing principles that just make life work better! I want to discuss some of what I’ve seen others model, some of what I’ve learned, and some of what I hope will become part of my praxis in the future. Because I am a highly spiritual man, and a pastor – a lot of that will revolve around what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and how that plays into the church.

>>what would he do?

For instance, consider Jesus going about his daily ministry. He was often surrounded by crowds of people, some needing healing, some guidance, some provision – all of them needing salvation (from sin, from stifling Jewish legality, from Roman oppression). Jesus’ ministry was on mission – it had crystal clarity, and he exemplifies thought leadership. He did not spend all his time addressing felt needs. It must have broken his heart to walk by people and leave their needs unmet, but he did for the sake of accomplishing his father’s mission. He rejected opportunities because he was addressing the tumultuous present with the future in mind. Mat 8:18-22

So this is the end of the boring introduction, in which I try to excuse my lack of entertainment value by convincing you that there are things worth spending time considering and discussing, that pay big dividends in the future. The problem is, my teachers were never able to convince me of that – I had to wrestle with the troubling and confusing present, lacking clarity for years before I began to think differently.

So…if you’re a thought wrestler – maybe we should get to know each other. Maybe this blog is for you. I know that I want to learn from you. Take a minute and answer this question in the comments below:

What one thing have you wrestled with because you were not equipped when it appeared in your life?

Next up: >>Why PRAXIS?