Creating & Sustaining an Empowering Culture at Your Church with Dr. Derry Long

Thanks for joining us here at the unSeminary podcast. We’re talking with Dr. Derry Long, from the Yellowstone Theological Institute. He’s served for 45 years in many church leadership roles and is here to share his knowledge with us.

At churches, it’s not uncommon for 20% of the people to do 80% of the work, but as church leaders, we need to own how we might contribute to a lack of volunteer involvement and empowerment. Listen to today’s podcast as Dr. Long shares how to create and sustain a culture of empowerment at your church.

  • Our part in the issues. // Church leaders need to own that we primarily produce a telling organization. People come, and we tell – most of it one-way communication in our teaching and leadership. That one-way approach often creates passivity and reduces collaboration. Another problem is that we can create a smorgasbord mentality in ministry, putting too much on the menu in the hope that the many options will entice people to serve.
  • Four things that empower people. // The problem isn’t always the telling in our churches, but the execution. How do you empower people and build an on-ramp to service inside and outside the church? Dr. Long found that there are four things that empower people: choice, competence, meaning, and significance.
  • Ask these questions about the leaders. // When looking at someone who is leading in the church, think about these questions: Where are they giving their volunteers choice? How are they building competence into the volunteers’ life? How do they find out if the people serving have a sense of meaning in their service? Are people serving simply because there’s a need, or because it’s what they feel they’re meant to do?
  • Every role has significance and responsibility. // Create a culture where every role has significance, and communicate that significance. Offer both “entry level” serving options and opportunities for growing in leadership. Not every volunteer role has the same level of responsibility, so look for those volunteers who show a level of skill and responsibility beyond the role they are currently in, and give them the next opportunity.
  • What are the economic engines of your church? // To avoid the smorgasbord mentality at your church, you have to know what the organization is about. There may be people who have skills that are valid but don’t fit within your ministry needs at this time. Leaders have to make this call. Every organization must know its economic engines. What are the four or five things that produce disciples, generate donors, bring people in the doors, or connect people to the community?
  • Four traits to an empowering culture. // Dr. Long started studying what characteristics must be present within a culture in order for a person to function in an empowered way. Four traits needed are voice (treating someone like they are present and valued), support (understand the reality of another and addressing it), modeling (when a leader’s behavior is in line with their rhetoric), and trust (because empowerment brings choice, and choice has risk, people can’t be empowered without trust).

If you’d like to learn more about what he talked about today, you can email Dr. Derry Long.

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Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Well hey, everybody, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have decided to tune in. You know every week we try to bring you a leader who will both inspire and equip you and today’s no exception. Super excited to have Dr. Derry Long with us from the Yellowstone Theological Institute. Now I know it’s the unSeminary podcast. But today we have like an actual like academic – someone who has actual bona fide, you know, credentials. I just play an expert on the internet, but Derry actually is one. He has served for over 45 years in many different roles – pastor, church planter, pastoral coach, regional overseer, international teacher. He’s served as a lead pastor in a number of churches, for nearly thirty years, in both metro and rural areas. His PhD is from the University of Birmingham ah in England. He’s and he’s just a great guy.

Rich Birch — He’s currently professor of Christian leadership at Yellowstone, like I said, Theological Institute, and he came to us ah by recommendation of our friend, Vern Streeter. Welcome to the show. So glad you’re here, Derry.

Derry Long — Thank you, Rich. It’s good to be here.

Rich Birch — Yeah, thank you for taking time to be with us. Fill out the picture there. What did I miss on the Derry story? What is it that you want people to make sure they know about you?

Derry Long — Well one of the first things I think is that my ah resume, that you have so eloquently expanded on, really ah displays a commitment to the church. Um I’ve actually been frustrated with the church. I grew up in the church. My mom was a Sunday School superintendent, played piano for worship. The church has been part of my life, but at 55, I stopped being a pastor. I resigned. I thought this is not working right. I don’t I don’t like how it functions.

Derry Long — And I moved to England, got involved in a PhD ah project where I began to study how to create and sustain empowering social environments. And that renewed my vision, and really for me got me back in touch with how the new testament pictures the church um all along. So um I guess I’d just add that. Yeah.

Rich Birch — Hmm, love it. Love it. Well we’re we love the church here at unSeminary. You know I’ve joked in other contexts that like I’m like a church leadership wonk. I’ve we’re 600 episodes in on this thing. I could talk to church leaders all day long. And really want to try to to help them, and so I’m ah you know you’re going to be just such a great addition. I’m so glad you’re here.

Rich Birch — You you have an interesting vantage point because not only because of your background because of your work that your engagement in a lot of different contexts, and so I’m going to throw you like a giant open question. When you look at the church today, as you engage with leaders, what would be a couple of those maybe problems or pain points or things that you see coming up time and again with church leaders, with the leaders you maybe that you engage with, or you hear people, that kind of are are common that you you keep hearing, you know, you keep running into or hearing about?

Derry Long — Well, there’s a there’s a big complaint among church leaders, and that is that the the people in church are too much spectators and too much consumers. Um, but my view is that they are the product of our system. And yeah…

Rich Birch — Ah, you’re putting a mirror back on us. You’re saying hey we we created these people.

Derry Long — Exactly.

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah, yeah.

Derry Long —I I think these these are not people who don’t aspire, but we don’t we have not built on ramps and we live by that 20… 80/20 principle of 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I thought that that cannot be right.

Rich Birch — Right.

Derry Long — That’s not that’s not how that was meant to be. Well is it that everybody’s just lazy, or they don’t care, or they care about other things? And so when we have lower participation then we we criticize the people and we spiritualize it instead of owning that we are not building the on-ramps…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Derry Long — …that get them to the way they were created to be.

Rich Birch — Love it, love it. Doctor, you’re coming in hot here. This is good. I love it. So ah, you know this whole idea of low participation. So this is you are, you know, this is why I’m excited to have you on. Friends, friends that are listening in, you’re going to be really blessed by today’s conversation. I feel like you’ve tapped into a lot of church leaders. A lot of pastors, conversations, they get together and, you know, ah, once they get beyond how big is your church and once they get beyond some of that initial stuff, you know, when you hear them complaining it’s like, oh my people are just so lazy. They’re so lazy. They don’t they don’t want to engage. Um, and I love that you’re challenged here around maybe the low participation is about us. What would before we get to solutions, before we get to on-ramps—I do want to get there though—let’s talk about what would be some of those signs those things that maybe we’ve done that actually is lowering expectations, that’s creating in our people this idea of like “just show up; you don’t need to participate” that’s that’s that we’re then ultimately reaping as we engage with folks.

Derry Long — Well let’s say two things. Number one we we need to own that where we’ve we’ve primarily produced a telling organization. People come and we tell. They come and worship worship in the morning and most of it is one-way communication. Teaching it… often our leadership styles are telling. So there’s this there’s this one way communication that seeps into almost every everything we do. And and that telling, that approach to that that telling approach actually creates passivity. And it it reduces a sense of ah collaboration.

Derry Long — The other is um, we we create almost a smorgasborg mentality – come and pick and choose. And we think the stuff we have on the menu is good enough that if you you pick enough stuff, you’ll just get healthy and you’ll you’ll just serve. And in fact, but that simply does not work.

Rich Birch — Um, wow this is so good.

Derry Long — Um, so for example, people will say we want to be a friendly church. But if you say um, what system do you have for your hospitality ministry? They they don’t have a system. Well we really need leaders. Well, tell me how you’ve designed your leadership pipeline. Well they don’t actually have a leadership pipeline. They’re just hoping that there’s enough good stuff on the menu that if people pick it, they’ll end up getting the outcome they’re hoping for.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s interesting because I you know… so I’ve been in ministry going on three decades and I remember when I started lots of churches would celebrate like we have 112 ministries. Like they literally would say stuff like that.

Derry Long — Yeah, yeah.

Rich Birch — Like we’ve got and it was it was this idea of the smorgasborg. We’ll come back to that. So Let’s talk about, so I get the telling organization issue. I can see that. So um, and I can even understand how that would create people who frankly, just sit around and listen then. So what’s that what should we, rather than being a telling organization, what should we be doing? What would that look like? How should we modify that?

Derry Long — Well I I don’t think the problem is is the telling; the problem is the execution.

Rich Birch — Okay.

Derry Long — Like where where’s our on-ramp? How do we build a bridge? If we’re if we’re telling them on a Sunday morning, or in the class, and we’re we’re inviting them to serve in some way, what’s the bridge? And I began to study how to create, sustain, and sustain empowering social systems. And to my surprise um one of the people I started studying was John Wesley.

Rich Birch — Ok.

Derry Long — In the 1700s he began working with the a totally disenfranchised group, which were the working class of England. England was a very much a caste society. You were paralyzed and stuck wherever you were born. That class was uneducated, irreligious. Ah, they had no time because of their work schedules. They were poor. Ah they they had no mobility. And and yet he created a movement that was so powerful that when he died, other than royalty, he was the most famous person in all of England. And he did it with people who had been called by the church of England “rabble”. And he created a very participatory um ministry model.

Rich Birch — Okay, let’s talk about that. What is so on-ramps, creating a participatory model. What does that look like? We all would love to have the impact of John Wesley, but when we look at our context, how do we what does that look like for us?

Derry Long — Well let’s go back to so when it when I began to study this, what I studied was what empowers people? And empowerment is simply the ability and the opportunity to act to the benefit of something righteous. The ability and the opportunity to act to the benefit of something righteous. God’s purposes, my own well-being, my family. And I found that there are four things that empower people. Two are intrinsic and two are extrinsic.

Derry Long — One is choice.

Rich Birch — Okay.

Derry Long — So God, from the beginning, he tells Adam and Eve, now I want you to name the animals. We don’t have any record of a review system when they did that. I don’t like Zebra. I don’t like Zebra – let’s find something else for that one, you know.

Rich Birch — Right. Yeah yeah.

Derry Long — And so ah, a new manager for a large shopping mall gathered his janitorial staff together and he asked them, um tell me about your job. Like for example, when you’re shampooing all the rugs and stuff here in the mall, who decides how to buy the the detergents for those shampooers. Well he said it’s always been decided in the office and they they just order it. Well the manager says don’t don’t you know better than anybody else which shampoo which shampoo ingredients clog up the machine, require more maintenance? He says, of course we do but nobody ever asks. Well that seems minuscule but within the sphere of their responsibility, that manager began to give them choice. And choice is an empowering, and you find it all through scripture.

Derry Long — The second is competence. And competence is ah, you know, he that’s faithful in a little you’ll become ruler over much. Everybody wants to be good at something, and not not just that, everybody’s actually wired to be good at something.

Rich Birch — Mmm-hmm.

Derry Long — And so those are extrinsic. But the intrinsic ones are meaning, and meaning means if nobody else saw it, when I’m doing this, I know I was meant to do this.

Rich Birch — I love it.

Derry Long — There’s an internal sense of connection between what I’m doing. I mean when my wife goes down and works at base camp in the children’s ministry, she was one of eleven children. She was the oldest daughter. She grew up around kids. She understands kids. When she’s doing that, she knows she’s doing something she was meant to do.

Derry Long — But the fourth is significance: I need to know what I’m doing matters. It has some impact. Then and everybody plays to an audience.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Derry Long — I once visited with an elderly man who is the hardest working man I ever met. And I was a terrific pastor and, but I always wondered at at the level of his work level. And we were driving along one day and he said, you know, my dad told me I’d never amount to anything. And I thought all this all this all this time in his life, he’s still talking to that audience…

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Derry Long — …that audience of one – his father, showing him that he he and he had amounted to something. And so choice, competence, meaning, and significance.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Derry Long — If if I’m empowered, I’m I’m experiencing those four things.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love that love that.

Derry Long — And I’m only empowered if I think I’m empowered.

Rich Birch — Love that. That’s so much here. You’ve just like unloaded so much I want to pick apart there and understand. Help us go over again, kind of pull apart meaning and significance again. I I feel like I ah maybe missing the difference between those two, and it’s probably just me. It’s definitely just me I’m I’m being slow, but work through how how would you differentiate that inside, you know, the the mind of people who are in working with.

Derry Long — So me meaning is an internal sense that what I’m doing fits how I was designed.

Rich Birch — Okay, okay, ok, right. Great. Well said.

Derry Long — Significance is what I am doing is making an impact…

Rich Birch — Okay.

Derry Long — …in my external world. So I get…

Rich Birch — Yeah, love that. Yeah I love that. I remember years ago I was at a church, you know, one of these name brand churches that, you know, lots of people look up to and they ah, you know, ah super charismatic ah, not in the like spiritual gifts category, but just in the attractional kind of you know, lead pastor who you know, you know one of those world famous in our little world and church church world. And I got to spend a week there at just hanging out with people like not with leaders just with normal people and the thing that blew me away, I was in a conversation a couple days in with a guy who was a camera operator. So volunteer camera operator on Sundays, and he said to me he said, you know, the the two hours I get to do this every weekend, I come alive. This is like, man, I just love this. I feel like this is the most alive I’ve ever been.

Derry Long — Yep yep.

Rich Birch — And and we have the opportunity to do that. Now on when we think about the are the churches you run into, when you think about kind of low hanging fruit on these four – the areas that you find that we’re stumbling most on when it comes to engagement, which of these four, or is there a combo of these four, that you feel like we’re that you commonly are seeing where that churches are not doing a great job ah, you know in helping their people be empowered?

Derry Long — Well I I think to start with there we’re not looking at people from this angle.

Rich Birch — Okay, right. Not even thinking about it. Yeah, yeah.

Derry Long — We’re not, we’re not coming to him and thinking, now when I’m relating when I’m trying to recruit for base camp or our our children’s ministry, ah, they’re you know, am I thinking from this angle? If the the person who’s leading base camp when they’re when they’re helping their teachers and their volunteers and where are they giving them choice? How are they building competence into their life? How do they find out if the people that are serving have a sense of meaning?

Rich Birch — That’s so good.

Derry Long — Those people who are doing it simply because there’s a need, and those people who are doing it because they know they were meant to do it. Um, in what ways does that person, when they’re doing it, know that other people know that they’re not not only know that they’re doing but that it’s making a difference in somebody’s life?

Rich Birch — Love it.

Derry Long — How, as a leader, do I make sure that they have that sense of significance? Where’s that communication line?

Rich Birch — Love it. So help me tackle a problem that I see in so many of our churches – maybe using this framework, or helping us kind of wrestle through this. I feel like sometimes even in my own church um, there’s a giant gap in our ah the way we position volunteer roles. We would have like I would call them shallow end of the pool kind of roles. Like you can you know be a um, an usher you can greet people. You know, we used to hand out programs, we don’t do that anymore because Covid and all that. But you know, like there’s there’s like, you know, and they they’re great roles because I love that’s those roles because they’re they’re they are easy on-ramps for people. They’re like, you know, you can show up basically one week and then next week we can say, hey great, stand here at this door and be nice to people.

Rich Birch — But then there seems like there’s a giant gap in, particularly when it comes to meaning and significance, then it’s like either of those—and obviously I’m using hyperbole here—it’s like you either do one of those shallow end of the role. Or it’s like you’re discipling people or you’re like ah, you know, an elder, like you’re like responsible for the entire thing. How do we create roles or opportunities that that are kind of across along the spectrum that kind of ramp up. Do you get the problem I’m I’m describing?

Derry Long — Sure. Ah to start with I’d I’d say one of the we have to create a culture where every role has a significance, and we communicate that significance.

Rich Birch — Right.

Derry Long — Like for example, ah I go to Journey Church here in Bozeman. They run I don’t know they run about 1500, but my volunteer role is ah I so I stand at the Connect Table afterwards and if there are new people and they have questions then, you know, it’s it’s ah it’s it’s it’s down there with the ushers and the hands shakers and…

Rich Birch — Sure.

Derry Long — …and but but those roles help people who are unfamiliar in an unfamiliar place to to find out information in a non-threatening way.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Derry Long — And so you start communicating to the people who work work that every role matters. The second is not every role has the same level of responsibility. But if I’m working with people in hospitality and the Connect Table, I’m also looking for, again he that’s faithful in the little I’ll make ruler over much. Who who seems to exhibit understanding and skill beyond the role they’re presently in. And I look for that.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Derry Long — You know, do I see someone that more they they seem to go the extra mile? They seem to have more understanding about how we’re functioning than would really be required of them. Um, do I and and but I’ve but I’ve got to be looking for it. I have to have eyes for that. I have to see as a leader if I’m head of that department that part of my responsibility is is finding those people, looking for those people, and giving them the next opportunity.

Rich Birch — Mmm, love it. Okay, so one of the earlier one of the things you talked about was this smorgasborg mentality. This idea that one of the things that can hold us back is we is we just have it’s non-connected, a series of things. We basically say, here’s the menu; you figure it out. Um, one one of the things I think can create that or I’ve seen created in the church is um, we say to people like, hey if if you’ve got an interest in an area and you’ve got passion in that area um, we want to empower you to like go and start that ministry. And that’s how I think many of these, one I don’t think, I know that’s how many of these churches ended up with 100 plus ministries because it’s like they people they were they they saw a need, and they just said well let’s start something to to meet that need. How do weh ow do we fit these things together? How do we create an empowering environment where people feel they do feel meaning in what they’re doing because they’re maybe leading in an area that feels like it’s made for them, it has significance and that wow it’s pushing the mission forward, but it doesn’t just add to a, you know, a giant smorgasborg ah buffet of like hey there’s a a gajillion different things to do as a church? How do we how do we reconcile the tension of those, or am I not thinking about that correctly?

Derry Long — No yeah, yeah, that’s a good question. Ah, but first, every organization needs to know what it’s about. So there may be people who have skill a skill base or a passion that is valid but it it doesn’t fit here. Or it doesn’t fit here at this time.

Rich Birch — Right.

Derry Long — And leaders have to make have to make that kind of call of ah…

Rich Birch — Right.

Derry Long — …you know, does it fit here?

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Derry Long — The second is the the an organization, if you use Collins Good to Great, he uses this phrase—ah, he he he means it in a secular sense, but I’m going to use it in a sense for the church—he says every organization must know its economic engines.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yep, yep.

Derry Long — In other words I might do 50 things but there’s only 4 or 5 things that are actually producing disciples.

Rich Birch — Right.

Derry Long — The other things may be good ministries, but I don’t get to do those if I don’t do these 4 or 5 things well. And and a leadership has to know what are the economic engines of this organization.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Derry Long — What produces disciples? What generates donors? What what brings people in the door? What connects people to the community? What are what are the economic engines? So I used to when I was going to college I worked at a grocery store. And grocery stores um, there’s permission to play. Like if you go in to a grocery store, they got to sell some things because they’re a grocery store. They they make no profit up off it. They you know they break even, but that’s permission to play. If you’re going to play in that arena you got to have that product. But they have certain departments where their their profit margins are in those departments, which means they have to make sure they make profit in those departments because that that takes care of all the other departments. And so I have to make sure that as people I’m working with people that I have arenas of ministry connected to the economic engine of the church that are meaningful and that I can’t always meet every need…

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love that.

Derry Long — …for ministry that person has.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love that. You know I know but for sure you know that resonates with and it just even a personal lesson, the longer I’m in leadership I realize it is more about talking about less things, focusing down, saying no to more things. You know, how do we focus? How do we provide more energy to using, sticking with Collins on the flywheel, how do we get more of our energy onto that? Um, it’s amazing how much that book all these years later still you know has huge impact. I literally was just listening to conversation with senior senior leaders like literally guys that report to Jeff Bezos at ah, Amazon that were were talking about their hedgehog concept, and their flywheel. They’re like, hey we keep thinking about that. We keep coming back to and that’s like you know a giant organization, right, that’s that’s asking that question. How do we pare down? How do we stay focused? How do we, you know, add energy?

Rich Birch — When you think about that side of it, kind of the focus side of it, the how do I as a leader um add energy to those areas that are going to ultimately be more empowering, that are going to get more people engaged. Any thoughts on that or things we should be wrestling through as we you know, try to help people define, you know, how they should get engaged?

Derry Long — Well, there’s ah, there’s a interesting thing that often happens in academic research. You start researching something and you find ah somebody’s already found it out. So when I went to England I was researching what empowers people only to find out we already knew what empowered people.

Derry Long — These four things that I just mentioned, they’d already been discovered. Gretchen Spreitzer from University of Michigan, others, they they had already, so then I began to ask, well if we know what empowers people, then why are so few organizations able to do it?

Rich Birch — Right.

Derry Long — So I started studying what what characteristics must be present within a culture in order for a person to function in an empowered way.

Rich Birch — That’s a good question.

Derry Long — And that that research… And my theory was that was based on the Imago Dei, created in the image of God. So that would be true whether it was a church, a nonprofit, or a business because all people are created in God’s image. So I began to actually do case studies on businesses, churches, and nonprofits, and I found that those different arenas used the exact same language…

Rich Birch — Interesting.

Derry Long — …when they talked about being empowered. And there were four traits that were part that were present in a culture where people could function in an empowered way. And the first was voice. In fact that was the single biggest discovery of all the research I did. And voice isn’t just asking, well Rich, what do you think? Voice is treating someone like they’re present. Like if they weren’t at the table they’d be missed.

Rich Birch — Right.

Derry Long — Like they are a key component of the structure of who we are. And the the the the sense of an employee that they’re just treated like they don’t even exist is so devastating that almost no employee can stay in an organization where they’re treated as as someone who doesn’t have voice.

Rich Birch — Yeah, as a cog. Nobody wants that feeling, right?

Derry Long — No, no, no.

Rich Birch — Nobody likes feeling of like, you know… yeah.

Derry Long — The the second is support. And support is not an attaboy, you know, kind of a slap on the back. Support is where I understand your reality, and I’m ah I’m addressing you through your reality. It was amazing to me how many people that what they’re really dealing with, the both the leaders or others simply don’t don’t don’t know what they’re dealing with in in their day-to-day responsibilities.

Derry Long — Um, the third was modeling. And modeling is simply where the leader, the leader’s behavior is in line with the leader’s rhetoric. And I found ah I found an organization that said they had never seen an improvement program work. And and so I I read more about that and here’s what would happen. The leader go to way to some conference, and then they’d come back with a 3-ring binder and hey I got a plan! And then they have a meeting…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Derry Long — …but the people in the organization knew that that was only going to last as long until the leader went to another conference.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Derry Long — And so they had this they had this, they developed this pattern. We’ll hear him out, and then we’ll wait them out.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Derry Long — Because they know we’re just going to change. They’re waiting for leaders who say I’ll die on this hill.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes. I wish that wasn’t I wish I couldn’t think of examples of that. I wish that one was like that one is so common.

Derry Long — Yeah, yeah.

Rich Birch — Like I and I feel that temptation like ah…

Derry Long — Oh yeah.

Rich Birch — …you’re you’re like, man, this is the silver bullet. This is the thing.

Derry Long – Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rich Birch — And scrap everything else we’ve talked about. Let’s run with this. Yeah, that’s that’s…

Derry Long – Yeah and and the and the fourth is trust. Because empowerment brings choice, and choice has risk. And so if there’s not an atmosphere of trust, then people won’t operate in empowered way. But it’s not trust.

Derry Long — a trust attitude. It’s trust behavior. And the difference is Jesus was giving the disciples responsibilities well before they were fully capable of executing those responsibilities. He was showing trust behave he was showing a trust behavior before trust attitudes.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Derry Long — And as voice, support, modeling, and trust exist, then a person can operate in those first four that we talked about: choice, competence, meaning, and significance.

Rich Birch — Love it. This is so good. You know, one of the things you’ve been taught you’ve said multiple times is this idea of create and sustain, so in some ways um like I can see the create side of this maybe easier. That’s probably the not a very precise word. It’s like ah, getting this ball rolling is one thing, sustaining it over the over ah an extended period of time, creating an empowering culture versus sustaining an empowering culture, I could see where there would be some well there’s natural all systems tend to wind down. When when you kind of have thought about that side of it kind of keeping this going, what should we be thinking about on that front, when you think about kind of sustaining an empowering church culture?

Derry Long — Well, the first four are are about how I’m empowered.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Derry Long — But the second four are what sustains it.

Rich Birch — Okay, okay, okay, okay, that makes sense.

Derry Long — So the you go back to the idea of lag and lead measures.

Rich Birch — Yep, yep.

Derry Long — So like instead of measuring attendance, I measure what is producing the attendance. And that becomes the primary measure. So attendance is the is the lag measure. The lead measures what’s producing it. These four traits I just mentioned, these are actually the lead measures…

Rich Birch — Okay.

Derry Long —…and that’s the thing that ah enables me to sustain in the organization. And connected with this are certain are certain um, um, leadership traits that become sustaining issues. For example, ah a leader a leader who wants to have an empowering culture, so he wants to flip the 80/20. Instead of 20% doing 80% of the work, he wants 80% of the people working. Um that leader has got to be a leader with a healthy ego. They can be a fragile, you know…

Rich Birch — Right.

Derry Long — …temperamental, territorial. There’s nothing that builds trust; that that doesn’t build trust.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Derry Long — You got to have so the the leader has to have a healthy ego. They have to have a positive view of people.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Derry Long — You know I’m not I’m not trying to hurt a bunch of people who don’t know know anything. These people aspire. My job is to help them in in that aspiration.

Derry Long — They have to measure their achievement through relational a relational grid. Are they just task-oriented, or did a little relationships matter? Um, they got to see that micromanagement actually is the enemy of an empowered culture. Um so you know I could go on but…

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s so good.

Derry Long — …those those traits in the leader, and then those four traits of the culture, they sustain the the traits within an empowered person.

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it. Well this you know listen I feel like we well it’s like one of those we’ve it’s been both scratching the surface in that, gosh, there’s probably so much more we could talk about, but it’s also been a fire hose. I’ve got pages and notes here of like ooh stuff I’ve got to wrestle with so I I really appreciate this, Dr. Derry. Is there anything else – there’s tons we could talk about but is there anything else, you’d like to kind of for us to cover just as we wrap up today’s episode?

Derry Long — Yeah, one thing. People often think when they think about empowerment to think about delegation. Hey I’m going to empower Rich. Rich, here’s here’s a project. I’d like you to do it. My door’s open. If you need me, come get me. That’s about as far from empowerment as you could get. One of the reasons people fail at empowerment is they don’t own that it is a highly relational construct. It involves more relational connection, not less.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Derry Long — And so the emphasis has to be in relationship.

Rich Birch — Yeah, we got to keep working that side of it, right? We have to. It’s not I think that’s a good caution for sure. Well, Derry, this has been fantastic. Super encouraging conversation, and like I say helpful and lots for us to chew on. Um, where if people want to track with you or track with this thinking if there’s you know is there places we want to send them online? How how can we have them kind of continue to track along with this?

Derry Long — Um I’m not sure the answer, you like like my my email address you mean?

Rich Birch — Sure, yeah, that’s great. If they want to reach out to you, what would that look like.

Derry Long — Sure ah [email protected] (Yellowstone theological incident).

Rich Birch — Perfect, great! Well, Dr. Derry, I appreciate you being here. Thank you so much for that for the help – this has been super enlightening lots for us to to chew on, and yeah, appreciate for your your help for today for our leaders.

Derry Long — Hey, thank you very much, Rich.

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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.