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My vision

That the next generation will be inspired and prepared to live God's call and meet the challenges of their season.




Daniel Allen 

Resourcing Leadership and Faith Formation 


Getting Traction for Leading

Leadership experts agree: leadership is primarily about influence. Ken Blanchard puts it like this in Lead Like Jesus, coauthored with Phil Hodges: If you’re seeking to shape the development, thinking, or behavior of another person or group of people, you’re seeking to lead. You have in mind a better future for the person or group, and you want to influence (lead) them into that future.

Many of you reading this blog post are leaders – people who influence opinion and practice on a micro (few people), mezzo (organizational) or macro (national/global) level.

Like most leaders you desire to get more from your leadership efforts. Why not try what ministry and leadership coach Steve Ogne calls 4-wheel drive influence? According to Ogne, it will help you get better traction with those you lead.

Ogne observes that followers grant leaders the right to lead based on four main sources of influence: positional, expert, relational, and ethical authority (writing primarily to church leaders, he refers to this last category as spiritual authority). Positional authority is granted to those in charge – the parent, boss, or captain of the team. They lead because they're in charge, but positional authority tends to get the poorest traction, at least at the heart level.

Expert authority is granted to those who are especially proficient at what they do or in what they know about a given topic. Followers listen to the experts because of what the experts know or can do.

Relational authority comes from the time leaders spend connecting with, getting to know, and serving those they lead. Relational authority is especially helpful to leaders who desire to connect with followers at the heart level and influence them more deeply than positional or expert sources are able to do.

Finally, ethical authority grows out of a leader’s character. Followers grant leaders ethical authority when they observe honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness in leaders’ lives. Church leaders may also possess ethical authority, or, as Ogne notes, spiritual authority. Spiritual authority is granted when followers sense something different about the leader’s heart and character. Spiritual authority comes from experiences with God, knowledge of God, and gifted power (see the New Testament letters: Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12-14, 1 Peter 4).

Ogne says if we lead from a couple of these sources, we get 2-wheel drive leadership. Work toward all four, however, and we get 4-wheel drive. If we're leading from all four wheels, our traction increases and we see greater fruit from our efforts.

How much traction are you getting with those you lead? 1-wheel, 2-wheel, or more? Which wheel needs the most work right now?


I Can't, But...

How are you doing with living the Christian life? I struggle with parts of it. At times it seems impossible.

Love my enemies? Do good to those who mistreat me? Love God with my whole being? Crucify my sinful human nature? Forgive those who hurt me? I don't do those things very well.

In fact, I can't.


God can. The good news is that God the Holy Spirit has come to make his home with us. God the Spirit empowers us to follow Jesus, to live the Christ-centered life.

So I'm turning to the Spirit and praying with St. Josemaria Escriva:

“Come, O Holy Spirit:
Enlighten my understanding
To know your commands:
Strengthen my heart against the wiles of the enemy;
Inflame my will…
I have heard your voice
And I don’t want to harden
My heart to resisting,
By saying ‘later…tomorrow.’
Now I begin! Now!
Lest there be no tomorrow for me!
O Spirit of truth and wisdom,
Spirit of understanding and counsel,
Spirit of joy and peace!
I want what you want,
I want it because you want it,
I want it as you want it,
I want it when you want it.”

What in the Christian life are you facing that you can't do? What if you turned that over to the Spirit? 



The Dynamic Nature of Calling

If you're not careful you could get stuck in your calling.

God summons us throughout our lives. God’s call is dynamic and progressive, unfolding over time. With calling we always work with what my friend Terry Walling calls our best understanding to date.

While we may receive an initial summons toward a general objective (reach these people; start this company; work in this industry; alleviate suffering, etc.), the specifics unfold over time through our ongoing relationship with God.

For example, you might first sense a call to use your vocal and instrumental music gifts to help people in your local church worship God. After a few years you may understand it to include resourcing other worship leaders in similar settings. Then it may focus even more specifically to helping worship leaders in South America (for example) create revelatory art, including music, to engage emerging adults in Brazil’s urban centers.

Sometimes what God uses to move us on in our calling are extended seasons of restlessness with where we are, new doors that open unexpectedly before us, and/or the convergence of circumstances, events, and opportunities that point in a new direction.

How are you feeling about your call: settled, groovin' right along, sputtering, stuck? Who can help you process what you're feeling? 



What's the Big Deal With Calling?

The well-being of life on earth starts with God. The possibility of shalom where you live and work and play, starts with God. The extension of the kingdom of God, the restoration of all that has been ravaged by sin and evil, is God’s restoration project. It starts with God and extends to you, then through you. “Calling” is the word that describes this experience and process.

Where you live and serve and play needs you to live God's call. The cubicle, garage, classroom, and hospital. The athletic field, gym, restaurant, kitchen, and design studio. The library, forward operating base, counseling office, store, farm vineyard, campus, and church. The pub, body shop, tool shed, factory, dealership, courtroom, cannery, and studio. The Police Force. Capitol Hill. Wall Street.

You get the picture. Your place needs you to walk and work and lead with Jesus – for the life of that place. Those people. The Jesuit priest and poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, penned in his poem, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”: Christ plays in ten thousand places. That includes your work place. It makes your work place sacred. Makes your work noble. 

We need you to live your call – for the life of the world.

What's the big deal with the calling you're living?


What I Learned About Marketing After 15 Years in a Large Church… 

What do you think about the connection between marketing and church work? Some people scoff at a possible connection, seeing in marketing a catering to the whims of church consumers and a watering down of the gospel. Others see it as an essential tool for helping people understand and connect with churches and their stories.

Today's post is from my friend Micah Voraritskul. I've known Micah and followed his ministry with respect and admiration since the late 1990s. He works with Details Communications (DC). They help lots of churches and .orgs manage their branding, marketing, and online presence. Their work is here.

Micah writes...

I worked for a very large church in Richmond, Virginia for 15 years. While there I rotated through various leadership roles.

My work almost always involved some aspect of marketing and messaging, and I was stunned at how often I would hear comments like, “Marketing in the church world? That isn’t important.”

Then later, I’d hear…

  • “Why was this couples' retreat so lightly attended?”
  • “Why did no guys show up to the men’s breakfast?”
  • “Why was that particular event/initiative/campaign such a C-?”
  • “Why aren’t people who move into our community coming to check our church out? Don't they know we’re here?"

Failing to focus on branding and marketing is equal to spending tons of time and money cleaning and cooking, only to send out invitations for dinner scribbled awkwardly on an old napkin...

But that phenomenon happens in the church world all the time.  After all, every leadership team in every church I know of has a "facilities plan" in place to address failing HVAC units ($20,000 – $40,000 per unit), repair leaky roof membranes ($10,000 – $30,000 per incident), and resurface cracking, tired parking lots (and you know what that costs), but few leaders understand that a real commitment to - and investment in - branding and web presence are just as critical to achieving the mission of the church.


1. Clarify and Strengthen Your Brand. 

Your brand isn’t just your church’s logo or name.  Your brand is your identity, your reputation.  It’s the “feel,” the perception your organization conveys as a whole.  It includes every visual representation of your church: everything on the web, everything in print.  Creating, evaluating, and strengthening your church’s brand will do two amazing things: (1) it will build trust and clarity among insiders, and (2) it will generate confidence and appeal to outsiders.

2. Focus on Your Web Presence.

You NEED to do this.  Your website is far more critical to your church’s mission than you think. It is (to name a few)... 

  • An interactive brochure for newcomers 
  • An expression of your church’s culture 
  • A powerful tool to inspire your members to serve, engage in community, and interact with messages, scripture, and one-another as growing disciples

Your website needs to be beautifully designed, visually compelling, clear, and easy for your staff to maintain.

 3. Be in it for the Long Haul. 

“But what’s wrong with our current website? It looks OK, right?” Unfortunately your church's approach to marketing, especially your website, is not a Ronco rotisserie oven. You can’t just “Set it and forget it.” 

Andy Stanley writes in Deep & Wide“…the longer you live somewhere, the more things tend to disappear in plain sight. Besides, what’s appealing today may not be so appealing tomorrow. Over time every environment begins to look a bit tired. Dated. Someone in your organization needs to see the way your guests see. More to the point, he or she needs to see what your guests will see before they see it.”

If your site was designed more than two years ago, and is not responsive (that is, designed specifically to react to smart devices of various screen sizes), it’s long past time to take a fresh look. Furthermore, if you’re working with a $100 template that’s gotten out of hand, or a bloated, outdated site that’s taken on a life of its own, you should seriously consider outside help.

Even though we were a large church (2000+) with a couple “communications” people on staff, we didn’t have resident designers, nor did we have people who really knew what was current in the industry.  Internet technology changes at light-speed, and we realized we needed to hire a trustworthy team of designers and programmers to get us back on track.  And guess what else?  We realized we needed to evaluate the effectiveness of our web presence every two years just to stay fresh and current.  It’s critical to constantly circle back for re-evaluation and rethinking.  Be in it for the long haul.

I’m not naïve enough to claim a solid brand and a nice website will miraculously fill your seats with lost and hungry souls, but what I’ve learned over the past 15 years is that these are critical tools for reaching further, communicating better, and discipling deeper. And sadly, they're so neglected in the church world.  If we get this right, I’m confident we’ll reach many, many more people with the message of the gospel, and engage them with beautiful life in the community of faith.  You’d be smart to put some real focus there.

What is your church's - or nonprofit's - understanding of marketing and messaging?