Closing the Gap Between Your Church’s Vision & Execution with Nick Thompson

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We’re talking with Nick Thompson, the Executive Pastor at The Living Stone Church in Denver, Colorado.

How is your church executing on its vision? If you’re a church leader looking to create a practical framework for decision-making, a Vision Frame might be just what you need. Listen to this week’s podcast as Nick shares how to bridge the gap between vision and execution in your church.

  • The Vision Frame. // The Living Stone has a big vision: to expand the movement of Jesus followers across Denver, the West, & the World. In order to move toward this goal, the church has implemented a Vision Frame. The Vision Frame is a bit like a picture frame with the church’s vision at the top of the frame, values on the right, strategy on the bottom, and measures on the left side. This framework helps the church discern whether to say yes or no to things because everything they consider needs to fit within this frame. If it can’t go through the frame, it needs to be tabled.
  • Values. // Values define and determine a church’s culture. Churches can become too focused on comparing themselves to other churches, or choosing something aspirational for their values. Instead pay attention to who God made your church to be and ask what you really value. At The Living Stone Church they found that the things they valued most were people, prayer, and praise. They believe prayer is the work, people are the mission and praise is the response to God’s moving.
  • Keep it simple. // Nick and his staff try to keep communication simple when they talk about the church’s values. They can operate as a single word as well as a punchy statement that doesn’t need a long explanation. In addition the leaders at The Living Stone are constantly paying attention to where they can talk about one of the values, whether it’s in a sermon or a team meeting.
  • Strategy. // The strategy is always how your church accomplishes your mission and vision. At The Living Stone, their strategy is The 5% Life, which is a starting point that everyone can engage in as they grow in their relationship with God. The strategy is to spend 1% of the day (at least 15 minutes) in God Time, 1% of the month (1.5 hours) in Group Time, 1% of the week (1.5-2 hours) in Gather Time at church, and 2% of the year (7 days) in Go Time, serving locally or globally in missions. The 5% Life focuses the body at The Living Stone strategically towards God and towards the mission of what God’s asked the church to do.
  • Measures. // If we want our churches to grow, we need to be measuring how we are executing on the vision. Otherwise we won’t know if we’re hitting the mark or not, and growth will be slow and painful. The Living Stone uses the actions of abiding, connecting, and sharing as their measures. These measures help the church to examine if they are doing what they say they’re doing to get where they want to go. The church asks, are people growing spiritually? Are they connecting with people? When those two things are happening, sharing Christ with those around you is a byproduct.

You can learn more about The Living Stone Church at www.thelivingstone.church.

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Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Hey, friends welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have decided to tune in. Super excited today for today’s conversation but looking forward to this one. We’ve got Nick Thompson with us. He is the executive pastor at a church in Colorado ah, called The Living Stone Church and they exist to expand the movement of Jesus followers across Denver, the west, and ultimately the world. It’s one of the top reproducing churches in the world and Nick he’s an executive pastor. We love executive pastors here at on unSeminary. Welcome to the show. So glad you’re here.

Nick Thompson — Yeah, great to be here. Appreciate the opportunity to be on.

Rich Birch — Yeah, what don’t you tell us about The Living Stone? Kind of fill in the picture, you know what did I miss there? What what do we, you know, what do we what do we need to to know about the church?

Nick Thompson — Yeah, yeah, so we’re ah we’re still what would we consider a church plant. And the church was planted by our lead pastor Keith Baldridge in 2016 of August. And we’ve been journeying for a while now. We’re we’re now in 2023 so we’re we’re encroaching 7 years, and it’s been a great journey. I’ve seen a lot of activity from the Lord and just just unbelievably grateful to be a part of what God’s doing through this church specifically. Um I came on board a little over 3 years ago now. So I’ve been about halfway through been a part of that and yeah, it’s just super special.

Nick Thompson — We’re in a really unique area because ah for the listeners and for those who don’t know, um, Colorado is as a whole is about 94% unreached as far as faith goes. And so there’s there’s no better time to be planting churches here locally in our our state specifically. I know there’s other areas, the west, is very similar so that’s that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love talking to church leaders like yourself that are in communities that you know people don’t wake up on Sunday morning and say, hey we should go to church today. They just don’t do that in Denver.

Nick Thompson — No!

Rich Birch — And the fact that you you know they’re not like oh what what are the things we should do today? Well after we go to church… That’s just not what they’re saying in Denver. So, which I love. I think this is great. We can we can all learn and that’s my heart. That’s the kind of communities I’ve served in as well. That’s so good.

Rich Birch — Well one of the things that caught my eye my kind of got my attention ah at Living Stone was your mission. And so The Living Stone exists or your vision to expand the movement of Jesus ah, followers across Denver the west in the world. And I just I love that. That’s such a huge vision, massive. How how does that work itself out in reality? What does that look like how, you know, how are you as an executive pastor – we’ve often said in the past that executive pastors live at the intersection of execution and vision. Ah, that’s really the place that we we live at, so what does that look like for you at Living Stone?

Nick Thompson — Yeah, it’s ah it’s a great question. Um, really, that’s been the majority of my time being on staff here at The Living Stone has been to take that vision and really form good strategy systems, practical steps to help our church really start achieving that, because you know as vision goes, it’s it’s the thing from God. And you know we need to accomplish it because we’re we’re doing his his will and his work. And so it’s it’s super imperative that we’re we’re thinking and focusing on that.

Nick Thompson — So one of the things that we implemented just about a year and a half ago that has made um a lot of acceleration a lot of momentum, just a lot of inclusiveness for our people… Sometimes there’s a huge gap between vision, especially a big vision like this and how people get there. Um, what we’ve what we’ve gotten to as far as like a solution for us is we don’t want them filling in those blanks. We need to be the the forerunners of here’s here’s how we’re doing it. Here’s… the why is right there but here’s how we’re doing it. We’re gonna really spend some focus time on on getting that right.

Nick Thompson — So um, the thing that we we actually we we say we adopted because we didn’t steal it. We didn’t borrow it. We’ve used the term we adopted from one of our partner churches, Hope Church, is something that we’re terming as the the vision frame. And so it’s basically like a picture frame. You’ve got vision at the top. You’ve got values on your right. You’ve got strategy on the bottom, and then you got your measures on the left side. And having that vision frame has been super impactful, not just for us as a staff team, but also for our people to really understand, you know, why do we say no to some things? Why do we say yes to some things? Um, how does everything that we’re really going after fit with the overall big vision moment that we’re we’re calling expanding the movement of Jesus followers to Denver, the west, and the world?

Nick Thompson — And so it’s really just a ah simple frame and and the way to think about it is if it can go through that frame, it’s probably something that we should be doing or at least have on our future cast. If it can’t go through that frame, it’s definitely going to have to be tabled for now. Maybe in the future it it does make sense. But right now that’s just a no. And so it’s just really simple analytics practices to help our people um, work through that. And I I could go through that if you want me to like really what those each sections are.

Rich Birch — Yeah I would love that. I’d love to hear that I love this idea of really breaking it down and trying to close the gap between those two, vision and execution. So yeah, so so yeah talk us through maybe we’ll talk through those four and then we can come back and could get a sense of you know what what do you mean by all those words. And then how have you actually implemented and rolled that out at you know at Living Stone. So let’s let’s start start with talking through those pieces.

Nick Thompson — That’s great. Um, three of them are are really interesting to me because I truly believe that most churches are going to do something similar to what we’re doing in in three of these categories. They’re just maybe worded a little bit differently. You know, when I look across America and I’m looking at like what churches are doing as far as their vision to some level they’re they’re pretty much similar. The great commission is there for a reason.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Nick Thompson — We’re just we’re just using different language to to help people motivate and get there. But for us our vision is ah ah making followers of Jesus, so creating a movement of Jesus followers to Denver, west, and the world. And the strategy there just just to give the big blueprint is Samaria, Judea, to the ends of the earth. It’s it’s starting where we are and starting to work externally. The west has never seen a major move um, of God and so we want to be a part of that. We feel the calling in that not just for here in Colorado. And so that’s that’s like the small strategy behind why the vision is played out that way. Um, so that’s our vision. That’s our we call it our “mis-sion”…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Nick Thompson — …because it’s really a mission/vision kind of loaded in one. Um you know, moving from there to the right side of the the frame we we get into our values. Um something that I did when I came on staff was I said hey, they had like I want to say it was like 7 or 8 values and nobody could remember what 1 of them were.

Rich Birch — So true.

Nick Thompson — And I said well they’re not very valuable if we can’t even remember…

Rich Birch — Yes, absolutely.

Nick Thompson — …so let’s put those in the trash can for now, even though you may feel like that’s a wound. It’s it’s not a big enough wound because you don’t even remember what they are. And it was really easy.

Rich Birch — <laughs> That’s a great way to say it. Love it.

Nick Thompson — But I said, you know when we’re defining culture, values determine the culture; they they mark the behaviors of what get us to great healthy culture. And so I said let’s not try to force this. Let’s let’s especially because at the time that would have been three and a half, four years in I said who are we? Like what do we actually value? And let’s lean out of that instead of trying to say, I want to be this. I think sometimes churches get into that hangup of…

Rich Birch — So true.

Nick Thompson — …trying to see something over here, see another church over here, and say I want to be like that. But maybe that’s not who God has made that church to be. It’s a body. It’s an organism. It’s not just an organization. It’s this fluid thing. And so we did that we just took a step back and said what are what are the things that we value? And it was really funny because it surfaced really quickly: people, prayer, and praise. Those are the three values that we lean into and you can’t have one without the other. It’s almost like a three-legged stool. They’re all equal. They’re all just as valuable.

Nick Thompson — Um, but we say prayer is the work. Ah, you know we don’t we don’t work and then pray. We pray and then God does the work. We we give him the glory, which is where praise comes in. We don’t we don’t take that. We just allow God to do what he wants to do. This is really his church. We’re just the part of the vehicle in between. And then people are the mission. You know our our church if I was to supersede and say there is a higher value, that would probably be the one. I wouldn’t dare to actually say it on paper or anything like that. But the reality is like you ask anybody at our church like why do you come here? Why are you here? You know what’s the reason you keep coming back? It’s the same answer from every single person. It’s not the preaching. It’s not the worship, no matter how good or how bad any of that is. It’s not really the operational side of Sundays. It’s the connectivity with our people. That’s something that we have that we actually don’t have a lot of as far as the the global church here in Colorado. S we choose to lean into it and make it a high value. Um does that make sense?

Rich Birch — I love that – let’s this pause there for a second. Absolutely, it makes total sense. So the couple things I want to point out. So I love the whole descriptive versus prescriptive conversation on values, right? Like I think we sometimes are looking for aspirational things things we wish were important to us. Talk us through that a little bit more; pull that apart because you you know you you talked about that there, but pull that apart a little bit more. What what kind of was your instinct around hey you know what? Let’s let’s let’s describe more who we are rather than who we want to become.

Nick Thompson — Yeah, um I think part of that too is you know we we, Pastor Keith and I, we get to spend a lot of time helping young churches or not launched churches just yet, we get to do a lot of leadership in that category which is super fun – one of our our biggest life-giving things that we get to do. And one of the things just through learning through this that we we always teach is you know don’t try to, unless God – that’s a one caveat, right? Like if God says, no this is who I want you to be; like this is who you are. And you already know that going in, holy cow man you have a huge leg up like crazy. So that’s that’s awesome. Um I don’t find that to be very normal I think most of the time people are trying to find the DNA of their church, which is really what we’re talking about is like who who is this church. What is the heartbeat? What is the lifeblood? That really accentuate to gets you to the vision.

Nick Thompson — So as far as like the description behind that the things that we were looking for again and again we had a couple years of of play time to understand it. You know three and a half to four years. So it was just a simple question like who really are we? What are the things that really rise to the service when we say this is what we care about? I think some churches—this is what is kind of unique—I think some churches have different flavors of this. Like I think people are always going to be a part of that in some way however the language gets there.

Nick Thompson — Obviously because of what we do, God is probably going to have some center point in that value system. And so those two are are really primary, I think. I don’t know how a church could operate without valuing those two things to some degree or some level. Um, and the extra is is you know I like I like the rule of threes because it keeps things off of like ah a dual net. So just having at least a third or maybe more as long as it can be remembered, as long as it could be…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Nick Thompson — …and that’s what was super nice is that wasn’t hard for our people to grab; they’re already doing it. That’s. That’s who we are. So it’s like you don’t have to recreate the wheel. You don’t have to try to, man, we’re we’re the 7 steps of excellence like…

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nick Thompson — …but we’re not so you know we shouldn’t be focusing on that.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love that. So good. I also the other thing I love about this the from a communication point of view your your core values is they operate at two levels. And you and it was funny because I was thinking this as I was reading this on your site. Which which to me again friends I think this is like best in class. Um, it can always get there but man if you can push towards it, it’s amazing. That your values operate as both a single word and then a very punchy statement. So prayer, people, praise. And then prayer is the work, people are the mission, praise is the response. Um and and man if you can get if we can push ourselves to that kind of clarity, I I think that just helps us.

Rich Birch — Talk us through maybe in different environments or different ways when you’re communicating, where would you use just the single words where would you use a little bit longer and then obviously expands out from there. There’s the paragraph. There’s the full you know. There’s the sermon. There’s the series. You know like it’s you know it obviously goes you could talk about the stuff for a long time. But talk through the particular difference between when are you using just individual words as opposed to the the you know the the punchy statement the punchy few words together.

Nick Thompson — Yeah, it’s a great question. Um in everything that we do, we try to use the “kiss” method – you know, Keep It Simple Smarty. Um, we try to we try as much as we can, because you know the reality is what’s in my brain, what’s in Pastor Keith’s brain the rest of our staff is so much information…

Rich Birch — Right?

Nick Thompson — …that is not translating at the same rate. And so we do think very um, clearly we do think you know very um, even in private like how what is the best way to get this information across? And so with all of the vision frame, including the values, that’s why we use singular and the long-term expression because there’s moments where we get to teach on it. Um, you know one of the things that Pastor Keith does when he’s preaching is he’ll he’ll throw out his sermon then he’ll send it to either me or or one of our other staff members and we’ll say, hey right here’s a great place to load one of our values in. It’s it’s prime; it’s already there. You’re not, you’re not adding to scripture. You’re you’re you’re using it to accentuate what we’re trying to talk about. So here’s a great place to do that. Maybe we’re having a team meeting in the morning and we’re rallying behind one of our values. You know, if we’re saying people are the mission, you know we get to do a little bit more description with that in that moment. Um, but again we’re throwing it everywhere, especially on the – that’s where I would say would be the difference is if you’re doing a teaching moment, have longer descriptions. if you’re just like putting in the net out constantly so people just feel it, hear it, and start absorbing it, use the use the smaller words.

Rich Birch — Love it. So good. Okay, so you also said strategy. Talk us through what do you mean by that word? This is one of those words that I feel like in in a lot of or in some circles it becomes it’s like it’s like this magical thing. Ah you know but help us understand what what do you mean by strategy? How does that fit into the frame?

Nick Thompson — So yeah, yeah, strategy is is simply it’s the how. How do we get there? Um, the why is is you know the vision that’s that’s holding that. Even to some level the what is you know in our values. Um, the where and the who, I think all of those exist too, within some of the measures some of the values and and are definitely our our vision. But the strategy is always the how. So that’s what we mean by strategy. And this is actually the one area I think churches get to have a lot of fun with because this probably will not look exactly the same between any one church, unless it’s like a campus or something like that. That’s a little different story. But this is how we how we accomplish the mission. This is what we’re saying. When we do these things. This is how the vision over time gets accomplished. So that’s that’s like the simple answer to that.

Rich Birch — And and so how do you define that? What does that look like for you guys? How would you talk about the strategy?

Nick Thompson — Yeah, so our strategy is we call it The 5% Life. Again, it’s part of what we adopted from Hope Church in Las Vegas, and it’s very simple. It’s it’s 1% 1% 1% and then 2%. So that equals your 5%. We always we always throw this out there for the Christians in the room. What we’re not saying is that we want you to have a 5% relationship with Jesus.

Rich Birch — Sure, sure.

Nick Thompson — Ah non-believers never think that but it’s always the Christians that are like well I think that’s practically heresy. We’re we’re not saying that like even remotely. What we’re talking about is hey, this is a starting point and if we can get everybody to engage The 5% Life, we truly believe, and and we have analytics to prove it, ah that we are growing in that vision and going closer and closer towards that goal. So, breaking that apart, it’s really simple. We ask that people spend 1 % of their their day in God time, which is roughly 15 minutes. We ask that they spend 1% of their month in group time, which is basically our small groups. And they they spend basically one night a week for you know an hour and a half—that’s what that equates to—gather time is another one percent, which is coming to church weekly. 1% of their week is is basically an hour and a half to two hours of of time with service, and just getting to gather and be in fellowship. And then the 2% is go time, going locally and going globally we ask that. You know they would spend their year in a 2% fashion, praying and focusing on the global effect which means they go on a missions trip, or they they do something within that, it ends up being about seven days, they end up spending about seven days here locally on mission too. So it focuses them strategically towards God and towards the mission of what God’s asking this specific church plant to do.

Rich Birch — Um I love that. So I that’s I love that articulation. That’s ah, that’s a ah clear example um I think the thing I love about that is you’re focusing on you know, by by focusing on the percentages and talking about the timeline, ah, you’re giving another level of depth to this. You’re saying hey this is this is the kind of time, this is the kind of—and we we live in a time-obsessed culture…

Nick Thompson — Yes.

Rich Birch — …where time is our greatest attention is our greatest you know asset. Um, you know see you know Facebook and Instagram who are monetizing that attention. And so by saying hey, let’s let’s use that attention, you know, for our spiritual growth. I love that. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anybody else talk about it like that. I just think that’s really great.

Nick Thompson — Yeah. Yeah, we’ve we’ve found it to be highly impactful. I mean it’s simple and yet there are so many sub-layers to that that, especially our staff gets to work with. Like you know we break that apart. We we really help people on the serving level. You know if we can get people to serve, they’re really operating in that gather time. The I would say the most important though of all is the first one. If they can spend 15 minutes daily with God um, we will see the trajectory of their spiritual growth like crazy. Because it won’t stay at 15 minutes, one; it will it will get longer. Ah, they’ll also have a relationship with God. We believe that we believe that we’ll we’ll taste and see that that’s good. And so we I don’t know that we shove it down. People’s throats. But we we talk about it an awful lot. Especially that first one just because we know that you know without that we’re we’re operating and working through, you know, fleshly mindsets and that just takes longer to get there. It it doesn’t matter how great your strategy is for your vision without God. It’s it’s just gonna be so much so much work that we just know God could go before us. So.

Rich Birch — Love it. And then I think the I think if I remember correctly the the other part of the frame is measures is what you’re you’re measuring as an organization? Talk talk me through that. What’s that look like?

Nick Thompson — Yeah, this is ah this is actually again, this is another one that I think would be pretty consistent with any church. Those first top three – the the vision the values and then the measures will be pretty consistent, some version of it with any church. And yet I find that the fourth one is the one that most churches don’t do because they either don’t have time for it or they don’t think it’s valuable. And the reality is you can’t you can’t grow into what you don’t measure. So if you’re not measuring it, you’re not even focused on on the vision is the reality and I know that might be hard for some people to hear, but it is the truth. Like if you’re not measuring as you go—Jesus did this in certain ways—I think there’s so much aptitude for that biblically even with the parable of the talents. Like if you’re not aware of what you’re doing with the things that God’s given you, growth is just ah, slow… it’s not just a slow-go. It’s ah painful. And sometimes it’s like that for other reasons, but that’s just something that we can do right from the get-go for sure.

Nick Thompson — Um, so our measures are they they operate within every bit of what we just described. They’re they’re really simple: abide, and connect, and share. That’s how we evaluate are our people, are we doing what we say we’re doing to get to where we’re going? If if we can measure those things in just a simple way abiding in Christ, meaning are people growing spiritually? Are they are they connected to the vine? And and that comes from that God time; that comes from that gather time. Ah, all all of those ingredients grow that one thing.

Nick Thompson — Are they connecting with people? You know if they’re just islands unto themselves, they’re not going to be effective in the ministry that God’s called them to. And so again, all of that touches the strategy. It messes with our values. And it and in the end it actually gets to our vision. If they’re connecting with people, we we know that they’re going to be alive in Christ and continue in healthy relationship with people and with him.

Nick Thompson — And then the sharing part, and this was this is by far—just to give everybody clarity here—this is by far a most challenging part is to get people to share into the mission. And so we believe that when we do all these things well within our staff teams within our volunteers within our groups, we believe that sharing is ah is a byproduct, sharing Christ to those around them. You know if he’s truly renewed you, if he’s truly come into your life, that’s a gift that you want to give other people. And here in Colorado we’re not, we’re not from the south. So it’s not like, hey come in my house. That’s very weird here.

Rich Birch — <laughs> Love it.

Nick Thompson — Um, but that doesn’t mean we don’t share Jesus. And so we’ve had to get calculated on on how we do that.

Rich Birch — So good. Okay, so talk us through. So love that super clear explanation of the frame. Talk us through maybe how you’ve rolled this out. How does this kind of impacted how you’re making decisions at ah at the church?

Nick Thompson — Yeah, yeah, I’d I’d love to just be like super honest with you know, the good and the bad because there’s been some tension for sure.

Rich Birch — You mean it’s not been all perfect? It hasn’t been all like oh it’s amazing.

Nick Thompson — Yeah, yeah, coming you know, we’re we have taught this now, our church is like living through this we would do it again 10 times out of 10 despite the pain and the the frustrations and the tensions that have come. Um but we we started the rollout by by doing two things. We got our groups involved, because they’re they’re really the heartbeat of our church. Like if you’re in a group you’re you’re part, you’re you’re involved at a pretty high level you’re because you’re doing a buy, connect, share. Um and and we also did a Sunday morning series to really launch this. Um and I knew this was gonna happen anytime that you really hyper focus on vision and say this is what we’re doing; this is who we are. You’re gonna have people that are like, this isn’t what I want. And one of the things that I do at our church is I help people get where they need to go. I thoroughly enjoy doing that because it’s really about the kingdom at the end. If if our church is at the best church for you, you need to be in a church that’s going to be, you know, giving you what you need to be successful as a believer. And so I will I will like literally walk you to that church, however that needs to happen so that you could do that. But that’s one of the things that we saw was a tension point is people who were on the fence and were like, well I’m coming for other reasons. We just had to be honest and say, that’s okay, but that’s not who we are.

Nick Thompson — At some, and I’ve seen this, man, over over years if people are there and they’re expecting something else, and we’re like well maybe we could do that, maybe we can’t. You’re hurting them and you’re hurting yourself, I think in the process because they’re probably never going to let go. If those things are really deep in them, they might even be ministry callings or ministry giftings, but if if you as a church are saying, you know, there’s other churches that that’s what they do and they’re really good at it. Like you should definitely go be a part of their ministry. You’re growing the kingdom. Yeah…

Rich Birch — Yeah, totally.

Nick Thompson — …like it’s not about just our church sometimes, and so that’s definitely been a major tension. And at the same time, the people that are that is the vision for them too, they have gravitated and like clung to it in a way that I’ve never seen before. Like especially on our measures side. Our measures have been more successful, specifically this year than any year I’ve seen combined.

Rich Birch — That’s cool.

Nick Thompson — So it’s been major value. Major value.

Rich Birch — And that must be because it’s it’s would you say it’s because it’s gaining momentum internally. It’s like more people know about it. They know what the measures are. They know…so then it becomes you know, shared language, and then there’s a positive reinforcement on that. Is that what’s going on?

Nick Thompson — Yeah, shared language I think is key. It’s huge. It’s also simple. It’s not hard to follow. I mean I think if you’re making things hard to follow, getting to lead well is going to be difficult for you because, you know, people aren’t looking for really really hard follows. They’re looking for…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Nick Thompson — …I mean think how easy it is to follow with our our world, right now. You click a button to some level. So we’re trying to always make that more simple but also highly effective which always comes with tension.

Rich Birch — Yeah, interesting, interesting. So what what coaching would you give, maybe looking back over your roll load over these last couple years. What would you do different, knowing what you know now? How would you coach in other churches that are thinking about you know they’re thinking about the frame, they want to you know, dive deeper ah to to ultimately drive, you know, better execution, life change in people’s lives. What would you what would you coach them to think to do differently than maybe you did?

Nick Thompson — Yeah, I would ah I would say definitely get aggressive with that whole idea. Maybe you want to do something different and it’s not a frame. Maybe it’s something, but similar. Like regardless I think having those four things is is worth more than we could probably equate to. And if you if you do that again what you’re doing is you’re creating a simple pathway for people to get on board and follow, and an onramp off too. I would say that’s even more important. Because if you’re from like the bible belt or, you know, if there’s depending on where this church is that we’re speaking to right now, it’s going to look different culturally. It just is. And so knowing those things, both are so important the off off ramp for people who are like, this isn’t what I want; I want a church that is all about like level 10 worship and all the resources go to that. Okay, that may not be you though. So don’t…

Rich Birch — Right.

Nick Thompson — …pretend like it is. Like and that’s that’s a thing as a church plan I think one of the one of the hardest things is is saying, well we need to grow with people because that’s part of our vision obviously. That’s a major key driver. But grow with the people that are part of the vision is is just as as lucrative because if you’re doing it with people who are just on the there there’s a lot of frustration that comes with that. There’s a lot of pulling away from the vision and so you’re working over yourself. I’ve always said this like ah since I started in leadership is I would rather run with 5 people that are all in than 500 people that are barely got a toe in. Because you can actually do way more with those 5 people by a lot. I mean the amount of resource for a leader that has to go into trying to gather and and group people back in over and over is extreme. So find people that are really in with you and get them to replicate everything that you’re doing and saying, but you got to make it simple which is why we have the vision frame.

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it. This has been so fantastic. I’m sure there’s people that are in their cars that have pull pulled over and are writing stuff out because it’s been so much helpful ah helpful tips here. This has been been fantastic. As we come to close as we kind of come to to wrap up the conversation, any kind of final words of advice or encouragement to leaders who are listening in today?

Nick Thompson — Yeah, yeah, something that I’ve been going through recently I think it has a lot to do with what we’re talking about, but man pray. The bigger the bigger and more leadership anybody gets, I think requires more prayer for.

Rich Birch — Yeah, so true.

Nick Thompson — So like if you want your church to grow, pray more. If if your church is growing, you should already be praying more. Like spend more time with the Lord because you’re going to need his guidance and his direction.

Rich Birch — So good. Well, that’s a great great word to end on. Nick I really appreciate you being here today, and it’s great to connect a little bit. If people want to track with you or with the church where do we want to send them online?

Nick Thompson — Yeah, ah livingstone.church – that’s ah that’s our online resource and you can see all of the things that we have to offer. We’re we’re going to be offering some more resource pages here soon. A new podcast that we’re starting, some really fun stuff. So, man, it’s been a huge privilege. Thank you so much for letting me on here today.

Rich Birch — Love it. So good. So we’ll have links to all that in the show notes but really appreciate you being here today, sir. Thank you for your time.

Nick Thompson — Thank you.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.