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Jim Pourteau on Moving Beyond Positional Influence at Your Church



jim_pourteau_podcastThanks for listening in today! I’m honored to have Jim Pourteau from Destination Church joining me on the podcast.

Jim is both an executive pastor and campus pastor at Destination. He started as a volunteer who was looking for a place to worship, but in the process of serving, Jim fell in love with Destination Church and found his home there. Destination Church started in 2011 and is growing fast. It’s a portable church with three (soon to be four) locations and also one of the few churches in the United States that owns it’s own movie theater, which it uses as an outreach to families in the community.

God calls us for influence. // When Jim first got started with Destination Church, his focus and passion was just to help the church. That’s all he wanted out of the experience. But as he reminds us, God calls us for influence, which is why we’re called salt and light. As Jim served more at Destination Church, the gifts of influence God had given him began to show. He has used that influence to serve God and help others where he can in his leadership.

How do you value people? // Jim tells us, “If you value people, they will know their value. If you love people, they will know they’re loved.” Do God’s work and the value and love you have for others will begin to show naturally. Work from influence regardless of your title or position, and you will spread God’s love.

Create a cultural change of what leadership is. // Don’t just delegate tasks or assign titles. You don’t lead by your title, you lead right where you are by your influence. This is something Destination Church has worked hard to spread among their staff. What you do and the influence you have isn’t about your position. You have a voice and you can use that to do God’s work.

Change won’t always be easy. // Changing the mindset among the staff at Destination hasn’t been easy. Sometimes there is the expectation that pastors have all the answers, or need to be the answer to everything. Ephesians 4:11-13 reads, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (ephasis added) Destination wants everyone to focus on “equipping the saints for the work of a ministry”. It isn’t only about the pastors doing the “work”, it’s about empowering the whole body of Christ to serve in their unique positions of influence. Jesus had a team that He used to help spread His message, so we shouldn’t be afraid to use a team to help expand our reach either.

God made you to be a 10 somewhere. // You may not be an expert in every part of ministry, but God created you to be a 10 somewhere. All you need to do is find the place where you belong and where you can help others.

Learn more about Destination Church at or connect with Jim on Facebook.

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Episode Highlights

00:41 // Rich introduces Jim Pourteau and welcomes him to the show.

01:30 // Jim talks about his role at Destination Church.

04:06 // Jim talks about the movie theatre at Destination Church.

04:48 // Jim tells how the movie theatre fits into the church’s vision.

07:43 // Jim talks about his journey within Destination Church.

10:53 // Jim talks about the leadership culture within the church.

12:39 // Jim highlights some of the challenges they encountered when changing the leadership culture within the church.

15:22 // Jim talks about teamwork and the impact on Destination Church.

19:27 // Jim encourages listeners to extend the ability for others to lead.

Lightning Round

Helpful Tech Tools // Google Docs. Evernote. Concur. PCO.

Ministries Following // NewSpring Church. John Maxwell Leadership Teaching

Influential Book // Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer; Positive Personality Profiles by Dr. Rohm

Inspiring Leader // George W. Bush

What does he do for fun // Riding his Harley-Davidson. Basketball.

Contact // [email protected]

Episode Transcript

Rich – Well hey everybody, welcome to the unSeminary podcast, my name’s Rich the host around these parts. So glad that you’ve decided to spend some time with us, I know that you’ve had a busy week as you’re heading into this weekend at your church and we’re just honored that you’d take some time out now, pop us in your earbuds and normally we pray that they’ll be an encouraging time for you as we listen in today.

Today it’s our privilege, our honor really to have Jim Pourteau with us today, from Destination Church. If you don’t know Destination Church you really should get a chance to get to know them. The church only even started in 2011, it’s a fast growing church. Last year they grew I believe, by 34% which is incredible, coming in at about 16 hundred folks or so. They have three campuses, about to be four. Jim is an Executive Coach, he’s a part of the John Maxwell team, he’s a great guy, also a Campus Pastor, he does it all. Jim we’re so glad that you’re with us on the show today. Why don’t you tell us about your role there at Destination Church?

Jim – Hey Rich, thanks so much for letting me be here today and I’ve got to tell you, you guys are doing phenomenal work there, the way you’re just encouraging and loosening up the body and helping Pastors getting a little better and honing their skills. So it really matters, thanks a lot, I appreciate it.

Rich – Oh I really appreciate that Jim, thank you so much.

Jim – Yeah but I started as a volunteer at Destination Church. I came in one day and I wasn’t looking for a position, I was looking for a place to worship and I walked in and I just fell in love with the vision of the church. They were talking about, Pastor Bryan, our Lead Pastor said, just to summarize it he said, “We’re never going to be a cruise ship, we’re going to be a fishing vessel.” He said, “As people come in here I just want you to know that it’s going to stink, because fishing boats stink and everybody on a fishing boat works.”

Rich – Right.

Jim – “Although it may be entertaining at times, it’s not about entertaining and I’ve been a pastor for a long time,” and I said, “Man I can just resound with this.” So I started volunteering by setting up in a kids’ ministry, because we’re a portable church in all of our campuses and I don’t know anything about all of that stuff, but they took me in and I did that. The next thing you know we just began to work together and with my background in leadership development as part of John Maxwell’s team and stuff like that, just met, started talking, he said, “Can you come in and consult?” I started doing some stuff, just helping them and then came on part time and the next thing you know it was like The Borg, I was assimilated into the flanks.

I’ve got to tell you, it’s been the most phenomenal… and I’m coming up on my 28th year of ministry, full time ministry. It has been the most phenomenal place, cultural wise, respect wise, powerful, to be a part of this church and this staff. We’re a very young staff, so I’m the old guy on staff by the way.

Rich – Yes.

Jim – But it’s just been a powerful thing. So I came in, kind of as a consultant. Now as the Executive Pastor I have some typical Executive Pastor roles, which is oversee our organization, making sure we’re standing in the lanes between the vision and the values. I’m part of the Executive Team, so we’re kind of the inner-circle for Bryan, so he can sound off things and have a safe place to test stuff and talk about things. I’m responsible for our staff and hiring and things like that, but one of my key roles is how we develop our leadership culture and that means how our folks are on a path or a process to becoming better leaders so we can actually lead the people that God brings us.

So that takes up quite a bit of what I get to do there in the organization. We’re a strange church in a lot of ways and that is that, I won’t even go into that because we’re being recorded, but we’re probably one of the few churches, if not the only church in the United States that owns its own movie theatre and we actually show regular movies there.

Rich – Oh my goodness.

Jim – Not the real bad ones, but nevertheless we show movies there as an outreach to the community and we’ve seen scores of families come through our movie theatre and I oversee that as well.

Rich – So now do you, in the movie theatre you own, do you then setup, teardown on Sunday?

Jim – We do, so even though we own the movie theatre, we’re still a portable church. So on Sunday we do and this is our Crossings Campus, we have a 9 o’clock, an 11 o’clock and then a 5pm service there. So we’ve negotiated, well we have a connection you know? So we’ve negotiated to have the movies a little bit later.

Rich – Yeah.

Jim – The movies don’t start until 7 there, so we’re able to do our mornings and then our evening service, but we have to all setup and teardown, four band, children, everything, it’s a lot of work, but we’ve pretty much knocked the system out, it happens now.

Rich – Alright, so now this isn’t what we were going to talk about but just help me understand that for a second, that seems like the worst of both worlds; you’re owning a building and then you’re also setting up. Give me the heart behind that, why own a movie theatre?

Jim – Well part of why it started is that we said, “Well we’re already in church, we’re already at church in a movie theatre.”

Rich – Yes.

Jim – Regal… and there’s probably some guys listening that are part of a movie theatre church, so Regal does a great job working with them and I have nothing bad to say about Regal whatsoever, they have amazing relationships there.

Rich – Yeah.

Jim – So we thought about it and our church, in the last four and a half years we’ve seen over 18 hundred people accept Christ.

Rich – Wow.

Jim – We’re extremely evangelical in our outreach although we are focused on discipleship in our small groups.

Rich – Yeah.

Jim – So actually it was Bryan and one of our other Campus Pastors, they were having coffee one day and they said, “Why couldn’t we just start our own movie theatre one day? We’re in there and then the movie theatre would pay for the church, so you wouldn’t have to worry about anything and we could reach the community.” So it just was a dream and one day the local movie theatre was a $1 theatre, it went out of business. I think that the only people attending that were rats and spiders at that point.

Rich – Oh gosh.

Jim – We went in there, it was dilapidated, it was torn down but we were able to negotiate. We spent about $300 thousand going in there, renovating it, bringing it up to modern standards and opened it as a $5 movie theatre. The regular movie theatre is about $14, $13 and we just said, “Well, how can we help a family out to be a part of this as family entertainment?”

So that’s what happened, we started in that arena. Actually the movie studios made us go up to $7.50.

Rich – Oh my goodness.

Jim – But we still kept it down and really what you see is this community of people that come in and go, “What’s going on here? This is a church, that’s the weirdest thing I ever heard.” But you know Rich, let me be clear about this, there’s nothing wrong with… I want to be clear about this, there’s nothing wrong with lateral growth and what I mean by that is someone who goes from one church to another church because they have more fidelity to the vision of the new church or whatever. No problem with that, but our focus 100% is on reaching people that are unchurched. Our mission is to start churches who can help people find their destination in Christ. So we’re pushing that and it’s just part of our vision. It is strange, it is weird, in fact Pastors go, “What are you folks doing?”

Rich – Yeah exactly.

Jim – That’s who we are.

Rich – Absolutely, well I hope, even in this little bit of beginning, you know why, you’ve already heard why you should be listening in to Destination Church. This is an innovative church that’s doing some really cool stuff, you’re going to want to learn about it.

Now I want to talk a little bit about your journey. The thing that’s fascinating to me, you showed up “just as a guy” and I say that in air quotes, just as a guy who was showing up, you start out helping out, you somehow go from a guy helping setup in kids’ ministry to being a consultant with the church, eventually the Executive Pastor. You’ve kind of seen the entire spectrum there of leadership, it seems like you were kind of exerting an amount of influence, but they didn’t give you a title. How does that work out and it seems like that may be an area that you’ve got some passion for? Let’s talk about that.

Jim – Well I truly do and let me be clear, when I got involved in serving at the church my focus and heart was just to serve the church you know?

Rich – Yes.

Jim – I wanted to be a part of the vision, I have fidelity with it, I said, “I can be a part of this.” So I started serving but you know, God calls people, he calls us for influence, that’s why we’re called salt and light right? Salt influences, light influences, it doesn’t necessarily change it, it influences it. So as I got to be a part of that, the gifts that God has given me I guess begin to be evident and in fact all of us know that if you go into a room and you look around a room of a bunch of people at a party or a gathering, if you just pan the room, you’ll eventually begin to see those people who begin to emerge with leadership giftings. Now you can learn those things but there’s some people that have that and I think that God has just blessed me in an area of navigation and leadership.

Don’t get me wrong, I spend… every morning I’m up at about 5, 5:30 and I’m reading something about leadership, I want to be the best I can be, so I do what I can. But in coming into that place and serving I went and met with Bryan, I made an appointment and I just said, “Hey, I want to introduce myself.” I won’t do it in this podcast but I had burnt out in ministry, I was tired of being what ministry or what people expected ministry to be, I just couldn’t live up to folks and I quit for a little while. So this was a time of respite for me. I remember telling Bryan, “I have no desire to be a Pastor, I don’t want to preach, I just want to help you guys.” So with that aspect he said, “Well come on and start talking,” and I had no title, nothing like that, I just walked in.

You know people all the time just say, “Hey Jim, how do you value people?” One of the things I’ll say is if you value people they will know they’re valuable. They say, “How do you love people?” If you love people they will know they’re loved and I guess that, in what I was doing and how I was ministering there and just serving, it began to show and the influence began to happen and so folks began to ask me questions or people would solicit information.

Bryan is a smart guy and what I mean by that is, not by choosing me, he just has a sense of faith and discernment about him, he chooses well, he looks well and one day Bryan just grabbed me and he said, “Can you help us out a little bit?”

So it moves into the area of what’s really important for me and that is, a lot of times folks are waiting to get a position or a title before they actually do something you know? “If I had this, I could do that.”

Rich – Right.

Jim – You know it’s funny, Jesus changed the world and the only people that gave him a title were… was God really, you know, “This is my son,” so to speak, but he didn’t lead from a title or anything like that. So it’s important that as I started doing things I started doing it from influence. If you add value to people and help them follow and discover their dream, they will follow and be a part of what you’re doing.

Rich – Now how are you kind of implementing that? I’m assuming that when you think about your team, you’re hoping people will lead like that right? That it’s not about titles, it’s not necessarily about just this is where the box is on the chart, how are you helping kind of cultivating that in your church?

Jim – Yeah, well one of the things is that we’ve had to bring a culture change of understanding of what leadership is.

Rich – Okay.

Jim – So in going in and starting with our staff of talking about, “Hey guys, let’s not just delegate tasks, let’s not delegate as it were a position or a title, in fact let’s hold those for a minute.”

In fact here’s a funny part, if you look at our business cards of every staff member at Destination, they don’t have our title on it, it just says, ‘Jim Pourteau Destination Church’ and that’s because next week I might be doing Children, you never know. But the truth is that we had to establish a culture within our staff that understands this: you don’t lead by your title, you lead by your influence, as you build relationship, as you help people discover their value and their dream. So as we begin to bring that and our staff begin to grab that vision that made a difference.

Then you have to, you can’t stop there, you have to begin to move it through, for lack of a better word, to rank and file of people, which is kind of contradictory to leading by influence but people think as in hierarchy. So we begin to establish among our dream team members that it’s not about your position, this is a person that’s seeing this area right now but, “We want you as a team to contribute. This isn’t delegating tasks, this isn’t us telling everybody what to do, you have a voice. If you came in here two weeks ago as a café member, we want you to be able to share insight you’ve had just after two weeks of being with us, because we don’t know it all, we don’t see it all, but together we sure see a heck of a lot more.” So we’ve to establish a culture of understanding that we lead by influence, not by title.

Rich – Interesting. Now have there been any times where that’s been kind of maybe bumped up against, “Hey this hasn’t worked very well,” or there’s been some tension in that? Give me a story, or has it all been just rainbows and unicorns?

Jim – Oh yeah, one day we just snapped our fingers and everybody was like, “Let’s play the influence game.” No we ran out that Kool-Aid a long time ago.

Rich – Right.

Jim – Basically what happened was we ran into a couple of minds of thought that came in there. One is that, we had people that had come to our church who had been in previous churches and they had an expectation of pastoral leadership. So whatever church you’re in today, if it works for you it works. For us we just had a different view of pastors and our leadership, we see the pastoral ministry as what Ephesians 4:11 says, that’s ‘equipping the saints for the work of a ministry’. What a lot of people, especially in the south, you will find out come to us and they expect their pastor to be the answer, the person who prays and preaches and does everything like that.

Rich – Right.

Jim – We just don’t have the ability to do that. “How many people can I touch?” So we had people come up and even after we explained to them, “Hey we want to empower you to be what Jesus has helped you to be. We want to empower you to touch lives. You know God wants to use you to pray for people, to minister to people, to give counsel and disciple.” They would say, “Yeah but you’re the pastor.”

Rich – Yeah exactly, exactly.

Jim – And you say, “Yes I am, thank you for that honor but you are the church, you’re the church.” But I’ve got to tell you, you know, if you stay true to your vision, you know vision links so you have to keep reiterating it every month, every few days, you’ve got to talk about it, you’ve got to represent it, you’ve got to demonstrate it. That means we had to do stuff, we couldn’t just be telling people what to do, we had to solicit information. You say, “Well you’re a consensus leader?” No by no means, we’re team leadership, we just don’t believe we know it all.

So as these people resisted, and let me be clear about this too Rich, we had a couple of staff members that struggled with it because they came from a traditional background of saying, “I’m supposed to be the answer,” and you know what, once they grab this, this is cool, once they were able to grab the fact that they didn’t have to be the answer, that they didn’t have to know all the questions, that they didn’t have to meet everyone’s needs but that they could build a team and equip people to do what the Bible and the New Testament talks about doing, they went from being exhausted to exited.

Rich – Absolutely. Now how much would you say this kind of team approach that you’re articulating here, how much of it do you believe that might be a part of what God is using to help grow your church? The part of, when I hear you talking, a part of what I think some church leaders miss is they want to be the answer to everything, so they become a bottleneck. I know I can do that, I kind of subtly force everything to come through me and not empower people, so that will actually slow down the growth of our church. Tell me about how you feel like this kind of team approach, how that relates to the growth you’re seeing at Destination?

Jim – Absolutely and one of the things, when we bring leadership in or if we hire someone, we’re talking to them about who they are.

Rich – Right.

Jim – We want to make sure they understand that they’ve been fearfully, wonderfully created in the image of the Lord and that what they do adds more value to them. I think this is important Rich because a lot, in the society we live in and we’re living in today, a lot of times people equate their value on their ability to do something, on their successes based on a lot of people around them and we want you to know that, no matter who you are, you may not be a ten at everything but you’re a ten somewhere. So we’re going to find the place that you can be a ten at, we’re going to find the place where you can serve and thrive in what God has for you.

Now, we’re not unrealistic in it, the Bible says that God puts over five or ten and I’m paraphrasing, but a hundred or a thousand, God equips people for different ways and we have to be wise about that.

Rich – Right.

Jim – But the first thing we want people to know is that it’s not what you do that’s going to make you any better or any worse, you’re going be just like you are. The second thing that we try to do with people is let them understand this: It’s that together we are better and if you can release that and understand that together we’re better, now you’ve got to say it a lot because here’s what we think: I am better and I’m going to help them be better.

Rich – Right got you.

Jim – When I listen to you, if I jump on your podcast and listen to one of your podcasts, they’ll be something in there that’s going to make me think about what I do, it’s going to give me a different view of it.

Rich – Right.

Jim – So to go back to your original question it’s that we have to really create this culture and we’ve been struggling with it, it’s an intention of saying, “Hey you know what, I can do it better but it doesn’t mean it’s always still the right way,” and then we’re going to model what Jesus did. Jesus constantly… One of the first things that Jesus did, Jesus went out and his mom made him do a miracle, so we’ll get over that for a minute, Jesus had his own parent problems.

Rich – Yes.

Jim – But the first thing he did was he set a team, he went out and he chose a disciple, he did that. When you watch him do ministry and miracles you watch him use the team, you see his demonstration of what he did was powerful, he did the loaves and the fishes, he said, “What do we have?” They gave him information, he made decisions, he brought them decisions and they distributed baskets and they collected baskets and what we get out of that is this: It’s when you use team you get more in return.

Rich – So true.

Jim – Do you know what I mean?

Rich – Absolutely.

Jim – It’s been a challenge to do that but when we bring people up there we say, “Hey it’s about team,” and we evaluate it. One of our five values is, ‘it takes teamwork to make the dream work’. So when we’re sitting and looking if someone’s successful or not we’re saying, “How’s your team?” and it’s in two places and then that way they’re not… we can move along. I’m sorry to take up your time.

Rich – No, no that’s great.

Jim – The first place is, “Are you building it numerically?” and that’s important. The numbers don’t tell the whole story, sometimes what we do is we mold a team but it’s just me telling a bunch of people what to do.

Rich – Right.

Jim – So we build numerically so, is it growing? Number two, are they empowered to lead?

Rich – Right.

Jim –

Jim – Which means, can they make a decision where they are and a lot of pastors today and I was there for many, many years, we’re afraid to give people the ability to make decisions and to lead. I remember looking at my team about eight months ago and saying, “Let me ask you a question. Give me something that you’ll do on a Sunday that will totally screw up a Sunday, just name something, what could you do, what could you do?”

Rich – Right.

Jim – “There’s nothing you could do. You’re not going to mess it up and if it’s a bad decision we’ll talk about it on a Monday or Tuesday.”

Rich – Yeah and there’s always next weekend.

Jim – There really is and if Jesus comes back none of us will care about it.

Rich – Yes, right exactly.

Jim – You know, it’s fine, this [Inaudible 00:19:09] that people need to make decisions, the more they make decisions, the better they’ll get at it, the better they get at it, the wider we can increase our influence and the more people we can reach for Jesus Christ.

Rich – Absolutely, yeah absolutely, fantastic. Anything else you want to share before we move on into the next part of the show?

Jim – You know, you may be listening today and go, “Well Jim thanks that works for you and I appreciate that,” I say that all the time, every time I go to [Inaudible 00:19:33] or go to one of my friend’s conferences or something like that I’ll think that.

Rich – Yeah.

Jim – But here’s the truth, you don’t know until you try. It won’t happen overnight but I want to encourage anybody listening, be willing to share the power that God has entrusted in you. You can do that and look, find faithful people, don’t just throw it away, but when you extend that ability for people to lead I promise you, I promise you, the return will come back like you can’t imagine, it’s a powerful, powerful concept being able to help people be authentic leaders in our arena.

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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.