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.


Why PRAXIS? You made up this word, right?

>>Praxis is not, in fact, a new word. It comes from Medieval Latin, and originally from Greek. Outside the etymology of the word, it just sounds cool, right? Not the kind of cool that you’d name your car or your dog, but more the kind of cool that you’d name a blog…maybe.

There’s a lot of loaded meaning in praxis. It’s been around for a while, and it’s been associated with the movement of God before as well. Even though, I don’t mean to completely divorce it from that aspect, I am taking some license and using it more in its ancient connotation.  Praxis basically means the practice of a theory, lesson, or skill. I like to think of it as the embodiment of information. Praxis is a word that represents how something as ephemeral and conceptual as informational translates into reality. More specifically in my context, it’s the resulting action of the machine built by our thoughts, biases, beliefs, and heredity. It is the observable action that shows itself in the repetition and daily practice of living life. Wait, maybe I’d better read that again!

>>the praxis engine

In one aspect, Praxis is the expression of true belief. Imagine your life as a machine – some incredibly complex construct built of individual parts. Each part represents an experience, or inclination, or fear, or hope, or motivation. All of these parts interact with one another and connect in ways that impact the others. All these construct the machinery of self. We’re aware of some of them, but they all have an effect. As we crank it up each morning when we awaken – the praxis of this life motor is revealed in our actions, habits, and interactions throughout the day. This complex internal machinery results in some expression of action or movement. That expression of our internal life machinery is our Praxis.

praxis of movement

The natural praxis of this engine is movement!

At its heart, Praxis is a natural expression of what exists, as opposed to a more artificial, forced expression. Just like any machine’s natural action can be countered with enough effort, a Praxis can be overcome with enough effort.

Imagine a 67 Pontiac GTO. The sole purpose of that machine is to get the pedal to the floor and awaken all 368 of the horses under the hood in order to move forward faster! But even the 438 ft·lb force of that engine can be countered with enough chains holding it to a bridge pylon or a battleship or something. The engine stil roars, and the tires spin, but the Praxis of forward movement is countered.

Imagine a more personal example. My Praxis should be to encourage and build up my wife on a daily basis – for her good, for my own good, and for the sake of God’s kingdom. I’ve just stated three good reasons to promote this idea, and there are a hundred more. I can have a perfectly rational understanding of all those reasons, yet if I frequently speak harshly to her, or say things that tear her down, or ignore her needs and desires – my Praxis is something different. Despite all my flawless reasoning and understanding of what I should do, the praxis of my life produces something different.

>>clarity changes everything

Imagine that my life engine is cluttered with so many conflicting experiences, motivations, misunderstanding, and fears that there appears to be no action at all. The motive forces of my life pull me in conflicting directions that cancel out and I become paralyzed, or it’s simply so complex that the simplest actions are predicated on complex mechanisms like a Rube Goldberg Machine (you should watch this YouTube video if you haven’t seen it). These Praxes show massive activity but little end result.

The organization that I work with, Auxano has a mantra, “Clarity isn’t everything, but it changes everything.” And when it comes to Praxis, that must be the starting point. What are you here to do? There are 4 other questions that must follow that one, but for the sake of simplicity I’ll hold them for another conversation. If I am not stunningly clear about my purpose, how can I even begin to evaluate the effectiveness of my life and ministry?

So my goal as an individual (and for this blog) is to learn to adopt healthy, God-designed structures in my life that result in a Praxis that equals effectual success – in all the broad context of that word (healthy spiritual, physical, intellectual, and relational movement). I will posit that to gain a different result, different thinking is needed – and thus again the reason for this blog. I want to share what I have gained through error and good teaching, and learn from you in the same context.

Do you share the same hunger for carnivorous learning? Leave your comments in the section below – and answer the following question for yourself:

What are three significant experiences in my life that I see forming my Praxis?