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Joshua Mauney on Building & Releasing Teams for Ministry



Joshua_Mauney_podcastWelcome back to the unSeminary podcast and thanks for spending your day with us. Today we’re chatting with Joshua Mauney, founding pastor of Turning Point Church in Lexington, Kentucky.

Turning Point Church is a fantastic church whose mission is to be known for the restoration of the family. When you step through its doors, Turning Point should feel like a breath of fresh air in your lungs compared with the rest of the week.

  • Teams don’t matter if you don’t have leaders. // As John Maxwell said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” A team can’t get very far if you don’t have a great leader to guide them in the right direction. In order to find great leaders and build great teams, the people at Turning Point Church looked at the greatest leader of all time—Jesus. How did He build His team and lead them? The number one thing Jesus did was pray.
  • Pray so you can see and then select. // Jesus didn’t ask, “Who wants to be in my twelve?” He prayed and He chose the members of His team. The hardest worker in the room isn’t always the best choice for the team or for the leader. “In our church we say it this way: We celebrate hard work, but we don’t elevate it,” Joshua says. Instead, elevate gatherers and team builders. Watch for the person who always has people standing around him or her because this person is already leading and gathering people to them.
  • Do they fit your culture? // When selecting leaders for your groups, make sure that they reflect your church’s culture. Turning Point Church is an energetic, fun church and so their leaders need to reflect and fit within that culture too. While someone with a more subdued personality may make a great worker within a team or group, they may not be the right kind of leader for that group. Find people who embrace the culture and personality of your church and be a picture of that to the outside world.
  • Know that they’re not a finished work. // Ephesians 4 says that the job of pastors and teachers is to equip the people for the work of God’s ministry. Just because someone has been appointed to a leadership position within your church doesn’t mean that they’re a finished product and are ready to do it on their own. “I see a lot of pastors who put people in position and then spend most of their leadership life upset that people aren’t getting it,” Joshua says. The job of the pastors is to teach the leaders to lead. Write down what the standard is in your church and make it clear so that you can always point back to it. “When you have a written standard, you can always point back to the standard,” Joshua says. “When you don’t, all you can point back to is an opinion.”

You can learn more about Turning Point Church at their website You can also reach Joshua on Twitter @Joshua_Mauney.

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Episode Highlights

00:35 // Rich introduces Joshua and welcomes him to the show.

00:55 // Joshua tells us about Turning Point Church and highlights their focus.

04:13 // Joshua talks about the importance of team leadership.

05:30 // Joshua relates to Jesus’ model of team leaderships.

08:49 // Rich and Joshua discuss the different selection models for spotting leaders.

09:37 // Joshua highlights some of his guidelines and criteria when selecting leaders.

11:37 // Joshua talks about the importance of investing in leadership.

14:34 // Rich and Joshua discuss the use of Standard Operating Procedures.

15:33 // Joshua talks about the steps needed to ensure the right leaders are in the right roles.

20:30 // Rich and Joshua reflect on how Jesus developed his disciples.

Lightning Round

Helpful Tech Tools // Slack

Ministries Following // ARC – Association of Related Churches

Influential Book // Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code by Dr. Samuel Chand

Inspiring Leader // Pastor Chris Hodges

What does he do for fun // Marathons, Triathlons, Ironman

Contact // or @Joshua_Mauney

Episode Transcript

Rich – Well hey everybody, welcome to the podcast, my name’s Rich, the host around these parts. Listen, we’re so glad that you’ve decided to spend some time with us today. We do these podcasts because we’re hoping they’ll encourage you, but also challenge you and I think today’s podcast is really going to do that. We’ve Josh Mauney from Turning Point Church. So glad to have you Josh, welcome to the show.

Joshua – Man, thank you so much, what an honor.

Rich – This is going to be great. For folks that don’t know, Turning Point is a fantastic church. If you don’t know them, you really should lean in and get to know them, in Lexington, Kentucky. Josh, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your church, give us kind of a flavor of Turning Point.

Joshua – Yea, I would say, when we started the church, we said Hillsong Church was going to be known for its music, we got churches like Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge that’s going to be known for their missions and outreach and I just said, “Man let’s let this house be known for the restoration of the family.”

Rich – Very cool.

Joshua – So it’s a real heartbeat of ours and something that we spend a lot of time talking about and focusing on. But the way that I would describe what a weekend would be like with us is, I want it to be like fresh air breathed into your lungs and every Sunday, when you walk out, I want it to be like we took something off you, not put something on you.

Rich – Ah, very cool. No that’s very cool. When you talk about restoration of the family, what does that look like for you? How does that kind of work itself out as a practical focus for your church?

Joshua – Yeah, well the focus of our group life and we’re a very groups heavy church, in fact we would say it in this way, we’re a church of groups, not with groups.

Rich – Right, very cool.

Joshua – So we’re very groups heavy and so we focus heavily on married, child raising, young marrieds, blended family, all of those, we really focus on that. But then marriage events and weekends are really the only kind of extra thing we ever do.

Rich – Right.

Joshua – But we don’t do events just for events sake, we only ever do events to try to get more people in our church into marriage groups. So we’re just really trying to drive that.

Then the byproduct is, we’ve had several families that were like legally divorced, like paper signed, done. They’d paid the bills, done. It’s over with.

Rich – Right.

Joshua – That we have remarried.

Rich – Wow, that’s incredible.

Joshua – Yeah, so it’s been really neat to watch God just fully restoring families from affairs and just, you name it.

Rich – Right.

Joshua – He’s bringing them back together. I came from a mess of a family and so we just said, “Man, I think God can pour life back into that barren place,” that thing that the devil tried to take from me.

It’s funny, I mean every time I stand up in front of a couple that had been ripped apart, that we’re putting back together, it’s just like God says, “I didn’t forget about you and where you came from. I’m redeeming that time,” and it’s just a sweet reminder that he brings us through something, so that we can bring other people through something.

Rich – Ah very cool. That’s great, that’s very cool.

Joshua – Yeah.

Rich – Well if people kind of resonate around your church a little bit, they start to see that it’s not just a one-man show, there’s a lot going on, there’s a lot of teams, a lot of groups of people that are leading. Is that a fair assessment? That’s kind of what I see from the outside, but is that the way you see it?

Joshua – That’s very much the hope. I mean, I have been constantly working, since the day we started the church, to work myself out of a job.

Rich – Very cool. So how do you do that, let’s kind of dig into the team. I think everybody that listens to this podcast probably says, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, I can’t do it all myself. I know that, I know that, I know that,” but how do we actually build teams? What does that actually look like? What are some handles we can give church leaders today, to be thinking about team-based ministry?

Joshua – Yeah it’s great. I think, to use the old John Maxwell, everything rises and falls on leadership. So the problem is, I just don’t think we feel comfortable, or have a good, like you said, good handles on how to get the leaders first. Teams don’t matter if you don’t have leaders.

Rich – Right, teams without leaders are just groups of people standing places.

Joshua – And confused and quite honestly, coming to the wrong conclusions.

Rich – Yes.

Joshua – So we’ve got to have great leaders. The problem is, we don’t, I don’t think, have a great strategy for that a lot of times, in the local church. We kind of go with the, down here in the south, we kind of go with the, “Hey, any you’ll wanna help?”

Rich – Right, right, right.

Joshua – So it’s more volunteer based, like whoever’s standing around, we’re going to get recruited and the only way you can become a leader in a lot of churches is, you just have to outlive someone.

So we just thought, “Okay, let’s get intentional and let’s look at the greatest leader of all time and kind of see what he did, in terms of building a great team.”

Rich – Yeah, what are you pulling out of, kind of, the life of Jesus and applying that to your church? How are you looking at his model of team leadership and using that in your church?

Joshua – Well he didn’t use the volunteer method.

Rich – Okay.

Joshua – He didn’t say like, “Anybody want to run the kids’ ministry? Anybody want to hold a baby?” The bible actually says, when he would go from, kind of looking across the crowd to pick the 12 that would be with him, the bible actually says he went away and he prayed all night long.

So the first thing that I say, and not to over-spiritualize it, but definitely not to minimize it, you’ve got to get away and pray. I think that there are great leaders in your church that God’s going to have to give you eyes to see who that is.

So he went away and prayed and quite honestly, the people that he picked, weren’t finished products. They weren’t finished products, he just felt like God said, “Man, if you spent time with these 12 guys, something great’s going to happen.” So he prayed and I would say the first thing you’ve got to do is you’ve got to seek God.

The second thing he did is he selected.

Rich – Okay, yeah.

Joshua – So he didn’t say, “Who wants to be in my 12?” He prayed all night and then he searched over the crowd and he picked.

Rich – Right, okay.

Joshua – So you’ve got to identify those leaders.

Rich – Now how are you getting in the orbit of people to actually get out and do that selection? Because I think we default to the like, “Hey let’s put a form up on a website, if you’re interested, fill it out and then we’ll kind of sift through that group.” You know, in a church your size, once you get up over a few hundred people, it becomes very difficult to get a sense to how you know people. Tell me how you’re doing that, how are you selecting people?

Joshua – Well it’s funny, what we’re looking for might be a little different. I’m not necessarily always looking for the hardest worker in the room, which is typically what we end up selecting to be leaders in our churches.

Rich – That’s a good word.

Joshua – So in our church we say it in this way, “We celebrate hard work, but we don’t elevate it. We elevate gatherers and team builders.” So when I’m in the crowd on a Sunday morning, people coming and going in between services, I’m just watching for the guy that there is always people standing around him.

Rich – Yes.

Joshua – Because typically what we do is, I’ll give it to you how we normally do it in church. We go through and there’s a guy wiping down the window of the café and you’re like, “Man what a great servant leader, he’s so passionate about…” Then you come back the next week and that same guy is wiping down the window and you go, “Man you’re the leader of everything in the café.”

Rich – Not true.

Joshua – He was super faithful and he was there.

Rich – Yes.

Joshua – But we elevated a hard worker, we didn’t elevate a gatherer and a team builder.

Rich – This is such a good word, I hope that church leaders are listening to what you’re saying. I think we do this all the time in churches. We take people, who are really good at doing things and make them leaders, and then we beat them up when we’re like, “Stop doing things, you need to be leading and multiplying people,” as opposed to, the best way to find a leader, and I live by this all the time, the best way to find leaders is they are people who are already leading. How do you find those people that are out, that are gathering folks, really despite you, they’re gathering people around you, around themselves?

Joshua – Yeah.

Rich – Yeah very good, that’s very good.

Joshua – If you’re having trouble developing a leadership pipeline, have some people that you’re wondering about, have some barbeques at their house. The guy, that it really doesn’t matter what he does, in terms of invitations, it really doesn’t matter what food he’s prepared, 50 people are going to show up because he’s the man. That guy needs to get pulled in and given some place to influence somewhere, because here’s the reality, he’s already influencing, you’re just not dictating, in any way, what that influence looks like.

Rich – Now do you have any kind of, like when you’re out selecting, do you have any kind of guidelines for the kinds of people you’re trying to select, or is that just kind of all gut feel, all kind of the sniff test. I once heard a leader say, “Well I find leaders by the sniff test. I get close and I sniff them and see, what that’s like.” What does that look like for you guys?

Joshua – Yea, I think it’s a little bit of both. I think there’s a little sniff testing going on in our church. We’re looking for some divine flow honestly. Bill Hybels said it years ago, he looks for several things, character, “Are they just people of good character? Do they fit your culture?” and really for us, we’re loud, we laugh, I mean it’s going to be… So, “Do you fit the culture?” If you’re just meek and mild and just kind of scared in a room full of people, you’re probably not going to fit in our staff culture really well, you’re probably going to get run over.” We’re telling jokes, we’re laughing, we’re slapping everybody on the back. “Do you have some competency? I know you’re called. Like if we don’t hire you, if we don’t do anything with you, are you still going to try and help?”

Rich – Right, right, right.

Joshua – When you find those guys, that’s who you really want to start gravitating towards the highest levels of leadership in your organization and the way that I tell people, “I need you to let me treat you like staff before I can pay you like one.”

Rich – Oh that’s good, that’s very good.

Joshua – So, “Let me treat you that way. Let me hold you to that character standard. Let me hold you to that calling standard. Let me hold you to all of those things and then here’s what I’m going to ask you to do, lead so well that if I don’t hire you, I will lose leadership credibility.” Like, “Tie my hands behind my back. Force me.”

Rich – Right.

Joshua – Like if they say, “Josh just obviously isn’t a good leader, if he can’t recognize that this guy over here is killing it.” Like when you put me in that position, you have grown us to a place where I have to hire you to keep moving forward.

Rich – Right, right, very good.

Joshua – Then that puts us in a fun place where we actually get to hire what’s happening.

Rich – Rather than just hoping or hiring potential or it might work out, that sort of thing.

Joshua – Yeah.

Rich – So we’ve prayed, we’ve done some selection, what else do we need to be thinking about?

Joshua – So really, the third thing, so he prayed, he selected and then he invested.

Rich – Okay. What does that look like?

Joshua – Well I think we need to understand that they’re not a finished work. I see a lot of pastors that put people in position and then they spend most of their leadership life actually upset that people aren’t getting it.

Rich – It’s true.

Joshua – If I read Ephesians Chapter 4, that my job is to do the equipping, to equip God’s people for works of ministry, why in the world would I ever wake up made, that I still have a job?

Rich – Right.

Joshua – Once they get it all, once they understand everything that we’re trying to teach them, they don’t need me anymore. So what we’ve got to come to grips with is the idea that our job is to equip, like we’re okay with it not always being okay.

Rich – Right, absolutely. What does that look like for you, kind of practically? How are you equipping, let’s kind of take, maybe a new leader, we’ll start there, so someone who you’ve identified them, you’re like, “Hey this is a person who, they’re killing it in their area,” what are you doing to equip them and invest in them?

Joshua – Yeah well the first thing is, that you have a responsibility to them to come up with, is the standard.

Rich – Okay.

Joshua – Unfortunately, I think we get a lot of guys that we’re bringing in, that we say, “Go and lead this thing.” Then we stay frustrated at them or disappointed in the output but the reality is, they’re only ever chasing an opinion.

Rich – Right.

Joshua – When you write down a standard, when it’s a written standard, that’s why the word of God is so important for the Christian community. We have a written standard. When you have a written standard, you can always point back to the standard. When you don’t have a written standard, all you can ever point back to is an opinion.

Rich – That’s good.

Joshua – So in most cases, in our churches, we have leaders that are just chasing down our opinions, but when you write down a clearly communicated, “This is how you greet in this church,” now it can be, we say clearly written standard, but I would maybe expand that to say, just clearly communicated. We live in the 21st Century, let’s do some videos. Take a two minute video of what it means to actually greet at your door. Put it on a YouTube channel that’s just for your team, so that people can go and see, “Okay, that’s the standard.”

Most of the time we don’t give that, we just stay frustrated that they’re not where they are.

Rich – Right, right.

Joshua – So you’ve got to know the standard first and it starts with you. So if you don’t have it written down, honestly, it’s almost dangerous and a little negligent to be building teams.

Rich – Right.

Joshua – Because you’re just going to frustrate yourself and them.

Rich – That’s very good. Are you doing that across the board, for all of your roles, you’re trying to find basically, “What are the areas that we’re not writing down and we’re not communicating it clearly and making that happen?”

Joshua – Yeah absolutely. I was in the military, so they called them SOPs; Standard Operating Procedures. So we have a standard operating procedure for every role in the church. When that new person is asked to be a part of that thing, what they’re sitting down with first is, “This is what it looks like.”

Rich – Yeah don’t miss this, church leaders that are listening in, a standard operating procedure allows you to scale your leadership, by taking the time to wrestle through with your leaders, what’s the normal way that things should happen at your church, that allows your influence to ripple out and continue. Really for you to lead when you’re not in the room. That’s what it’s all about, it’s allowing you to continue to articulate, “This is what we’re looking for.” Very cool.

Now what happens if somebody, it starts to not work out? There’s a leader who, maybe things aren’t working right. I’m sure it always works right at your church, but what would you theoretically do if it didn’t work out?

Joshua – Yeah, so hypothetically in other people’s churches, this is probably what it would look like.

Rich – Right, right.

Joshua – I think a great leader should always default to, “The reason that it didn’t happen right or they didn’t execute isn’t their fault, it’s mine.”

Rich – That’s good.

Joshua – I start and we train our staff to assume that the reason that they aren’t doing it right is they haven’t heard it enough. We tend to forget, in the church world, that we’re in this seven days a week. You woke up this morning thinking about church and how to lead. They didn’t, they’re just trying to get to work on time.

Rich – Right.

Joshua – They’re thinking about, “Man it’s Friday night. We’re probably going to go and catch a movie.”

Rich – Right.

Joshua – Then come Sunday morning, about 9 in the morning, 15 minutes before they’re scheduled to be there, they start thinking about you again. So we assume, man they just haven’t heard it enough. So we say, “You’ve got to know the standard,” then the next thing a great leader’s going to have to do is communicate that standard. We say, “You’ve communicated it enough when it starts to like make you sick in your stomach when you’re saying it again.”

Rich – Right.

Joshua – I can’t even imagine, like, “How are you not getting this?”

Rich – Right.

Joshua – But then the third thing is you’ve got to enforce that standard. You’ve got to be willing to have the difficult conversations. I would say, as pastors, 95% of what we do, a reasonably educated high school student could do it. Right?

Rich – It’s true.

Joshua – Right?

Rich – Yes.

Joshua – I mean think about it, most of what we do, anybody, but you and I have a job for the 5%, for the 5% of conversations that nobody wants to have.

Rich – Right.

Joshua – So we’ve got to be willing to say, so to use another John Maxwell, he said, “Everybody in your organization needs to be trained,” so we assume that’s 100%. They need to be transferred, they’re just on the wrong seat on the bus and that’s probably not their fault, it’s yours, because you put a window washer all over the entire café. So they just need to be transferred into a better seat or you need to let them go.

Rich – Right.

Joshua – Now the let them go, we just assume, at the end of the day, we never let somebody go because of output, it’s typically back on that end of, it’s character or call.

Rich – Right, yeah definitely. Very cool. Another way I’ve heard it articulated around the kind of ensuring people understand and know the standard is, you know that you’re starting to communicate it enough when people start making fun of it.

Joshua – Right.

Rich – You know, when they’re like, “Ah, well this is how we’re supposed to stand,” or, “This is what a good guest experience is like,” or “Are you doing the right thing as a worship leader today?” But if that’s not happening, you’re probably not communicating it enough.

Joshua – Yeah and I think we typically shy away from these difficult conversations, especially when we’re dealing with volunteers.

Rich – Yes.

Joshua – I would just beg pastors to stop doing that and here’s why we’re doing it. Years ago we got this horrible thought process in the American Church that said, “Discipleship is learning a bunch of bible verses and going to Sunday School every week.” But discipleship isn’t memorizing a bunch of bible verses, the devil of hell quoted scripture to Jesus.

Rich – That’s true, yes.

Joshua – So it’s the application of the information that you have. So when you insist that they’re there on time, when you insist that they dress a certain way, when you insist that they treat people with a certain manner, when you insist that they submit to a healthy authority, when you insist that they honor, all of those things, that’s discipleship.

Rich – So true.

Joshua – It’s not getting them to go to your Sunday School or it’s not getting them to go to your small group, even on a Wednesday night, discipleship is when you give them tools to be better, lead better and have more influence and they do it.

Rich – Yes.

Joshua – Then when they don’t do it, they’re mature enough to have the healthy conversation to give it in. So we never make apologies for having high expectations and we never even, we don’t even think of it as like a volunteer or a staff, we’re all being discipled, so we’re all readily stepping into those standards, because we need to get better every day.

Rich – Man this is fantastic, this has been such a great conversation today. I’m sure it’s been challenging for folks that have been listening in. Is there anything else you want to share, just before we turn the corner, into the next part of our episode?

Joshua – Even Jesus has a guy that didn’t work out. So it’s okay.

Rich – Yes.

Joshua – Have permission to put people in place, and it not work out.

Rich – Right.

Joshua – It’s okay, it doesn’t make you a bad leader and here’s the other thing, it doesn’t make them a bad person.

Rich – Right.

Joshua – There are just some people that don’t need to be on your particular bus.

Rich – Right.

Joshua – Be okay with that. Most of us teach the body of Christ but we just don’t believe it.

Rich – Right.

Joshua – So we think, when somebody leaves our body there must be something wrong with them. No they’re not leaving our body, they’re leaving our part of the overall body of Christ to hopefully get in the part of the body that they were created for.

Rich – That’s a good word. I think sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves and on our people and we forget that, by trying to avoid getting team members like that, where we don’t take the risks and we don’t develop people and we don’t… because we’re looking for fully baked leaders who have it altogether, well that’s just not the case right? Jesus took a risk on, like you were saying, one guy didn’t work out, but that’s just a part of it, that’s a part of the game.

The flip side of it is, if we are only looking for fully baked leaders, we’re never going to develop people, we’re never going to see some advances for sure. I think that’s a really good word.

Joshua – And the reality is, they didn’t become great leaders until he was gone.

Rich – Yes, oh that’s good.

Joshua – So he did such a good job of communicating the standard, that when he left, they were able to step into all that he had for them.



  1. […] Let’s do this together. // No leader photocopies alone. Leaders who are great at multiplying their impact understand that everything they do — no matter how small or large — needs to be done with help from others. The more you hold on to as a leader, the less you are able to multiply. Great leaders work alongside others because they know it’s the best way to start passing responsibility on to them. How often this week have you found yourself doing something alone in your ministry? How could you have added community to those moments to start training others? Listen to this conversation with Joshua Mauney from Turning Point Church to find out how he release… […]

  2. […] • Let’s do this together. No leader photocopies alone. Leaders who are great at multiplying their impact understand that everything they do—no matter how small or large—needs to be done with help from others. The more you hold on to as a leader, the less you are able to multiply. Great leaders work alongside others because they know it’s the best way to start passing responsibility on to them. How often this week have you found yourself doing something alone in your ministry? How could you have added community to those moments to start training others? Listen to this conversation with Joshua Mauney from Turning Point Church to find out how he release… […]

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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.