Thoughts on life, leadership and the movement called the church by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Monday, April 4, 2011

The CORE and Strategy

I loved being able to do a Q & A time last night at the CORE meeting. In case you didn't know, this is the gathering of PCC folks where we share info about where we're headed, what's been going on and update changes, etc. We do this 3 or 4 times a year, and the next one is scheduled for Sunday, September 25, at 6pm.

Anyway, during the Q & A, there were a few questions that warrant a little more clarification.

First, the easy one. The PCC Concert raised $3,724. Every dollar of that will go to helping us pave the parking lot.

Second, I was asked a great question about strategy that was something like 'Given the growth of PCC, what is our strategy as we look out in the 3, 5, or even 10 year range?' I think I fumbled the answer a bit. Let me see if I can clarify.

Part of the culture of PCC, and one of the things that is a signature for us, is that we really do try to stay in tune with the winds of the Spirit of God. I know that sounds churchy and maybe even over-the-top, but it's true. We have, so many times, done things that were counterintuitive, with very little preparation, simply because we had a strong sense that God was moving. When we first went to 2 services, the auditorium at the High School was not even half full, but we sensed it was time. When we moved into the High School. When we bought our land. The launching of Westchester. Recently, I would put our Saturday night service into this list. And there are other decisions, too, but you get the point.

This is not an argument for intentional poor planning that we conveniently blame on God. I think it's smart to have an idea of where we think God is taking us. For PCC, I would say I think God is leading us to more campuses, more venues at our existing campuses (won't it be neat with WC has 2 services, Powhatan has 5 weekend services, etc.). I feel a pretty strong tug to begin doing some preliminary work to the north and to the west on that. And I could easily see a Sunday evening service and another Sunday morning service or two at Powhatan, as well as 2 services at WC. I can see us begin to explore different stylistic choices - a country or bluegrass venue, for instance. Or a cafe style venue.

Yes, there are hundreds of unanswered questions with all of these options. But that's the point of following God. We are on a need to know basis.

My foundation for this kind of thinking is not entirely limited to faith-based thinking. The secular world makes a similar argument, albeit one that does not overtly include God.

Jack Welsh, the legendary former CEO of GE, wrote the best management book I've ever read, and one of the best leadership books I have, called Winning. He has an entire chapter on strategy and here are some notable quotes:

"Forget the arduous, intellectualized number crunching and data grinding that gurus say you have to go through to get strategy right. Forget the scenario planning, yearlong studies, and hundred-plus-page reports. They're time consuming and expensive and you just don't need them.

"In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell."

"The more you think about it, and the more you grind down into the data and the details, the more you tie yourself in knots about what to do. That's not strategy, that's suffering."

"Most managers I know see strategy as I do - an approximate course of action that you frequently revisit and redefine..."

Welch goes on to lay out a very simple, three pronged approach:

1) "Come up with a big aha for your business - a smart, realistic, relatively fast way to gain sustainable competitive advantage."
2) "Put the right people in the right jobs to drive the big aha forward."
3) "Relentlessly seek out the best practices to achieve your big aha, whether inside or out, adapt them, and continually improve them."

All that is to say, our strategy is to be relentlessly focused on our niche: reaching people who don't go to church through innovation, technology, creativity, excellence, and rooted firmly in the Bible. Our strategy is multi-site, multi-venue, and completely following the winds of the Spirit.

That's the best I know about strategy at PCC.

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