Here’s the case study in PDF form:
Or, you can read it below (without the pictures of the PDF)
Every Single Problem Is a Leadership Problem
A Short Case Study of Austin Stone—with note pages at the end
Compiled by David Fletcher
Recently, I was talking to Kevin Peck, the Lead Pastor of Austin Stone Church. Way back at our first XP-Seminar in 2005, they were a church of about 800 in worship. Now, when he returns to speak at the 2014 XP-Seminar, they have six campuses with about 7,000 or so in worship. I’m not giving you the numbers to “wow” you but to say that God is showing these guys lots of favor.
Kevin said to me, “Every single problem is a leadership problem.”
At the XP-Seminar in February, I’m going to let Kevin unpack that statement. But, until then, let’s have some fun with it:
First, think of the three largest issues, problems or complaints at your church. Just to make it a good exercise, write them down.
Second, jot down whose “fault” the problem is. Most of us will write who began the problem. Don’t stop there! Explore the ongoing nature of the problem. How has leadership addressed the problem?
|Issue, Problem, Complaint||Whose fault? Leadership response?|
Do I really need to go any further? Well, just to be complete, here is a list of three common problems in churches:
|Issue, Problem, Complaint ….||Whose fault? Leadership response?|
|We don’t have enough money|
|We have a person who is gossiping|
|We are stuck in a rut and not growing|
Each of these seems to be problems in themselves. Perhaps they are caused by others or are self-inflicted. But what is the real problem? As I see it, leadership needs to address each one:
|Issue, Problem, Complaint ….||Whose fault? Leadership response?|
|1. We don’t have enough money||Leadership needs to change its spending plan or teach on generosity|
|2. We have a person who is gossiping||Leadership must gently confront the person who is gossiping|
|3. We are stuck in a rut and not growing||Leadership is required to set a vision that focuses on Jesus and His kingdom|
Hmmmm … maybe Kevin is onto something in his statement.
Background Information on Austin Stone
The following is a compilation of material from an interview with Kevin Peck in the summer of 2013 and from various items provided by Austin Stone.
Centrality of Jesus
For us, everything starts and ends with Jesus. If you are still figuring out who He is and what that means, Sunday services and missional communities are both great places to consider and explore.
From welcoming others at a Sunday service to volunteering with us at a local non-profit, serving at The Austin Stone is a great way to get involved. See our current list of opportunities and try out a few.
The Austin Stone is a network of missional communities—small groups of people, joined by the gospel, pursuing the renewal and redemption of their community together. Missional community is the primary way to connect with others at The Austin Stone and pursue life on mission together. Find out more about missional community at The Austin Stone, or fill out this short form and someone from our Connections Team will contact you to help get you more involved at The Austin Stone.
We know it can be a little bit difficult to navigate our church if you’re new, and so we created a centralized connection hub to make it easier. If you decide to make The Austin Stone your church home, we highly encourage you to join The City. The City is a unique web-based platform that allows you to connect with other people in our church in a secure environment. It is a primary way we encourage and support community, communication, and personal and spiritual development throughout the week. Create an account on The City.
Campuses & Worship Services
- o 9:00 11:15 5:00 7:00
- St. John
- o 9:15 11:15 5:00 7:00
- o 9:15 11:15
- o 10:00
Identify & Beliefs
We love Jesus, God’s Word, and each other. We’re taking Jesus’ revolutionary message of grace, truth, and compassion to Austin and to the world. If you’re new to The Austin Stone, here’s some basic info about who we are and how to get involved. You can find out what we’re passionate about by checking our core values.
The Austin Stone is a Church for the City. We’re much more than a church to attend, but a community centered on the person and mission of Jesus Christ. We’re actively working to build a great Austin, renewed and redeemed by the gospel. To get to know us, you can read more about our vision below. You can also check out one of our Sunday worship services.
To be a New Testament church existing for the supremacy of the name and purpose of Jesus Christ.
To build a great city, renewed and redeemed by a gospel movement, by being a church for the city of Austin that labors to advance the gospel throughout the nations
Affirmation of Faith
- The Bible is the word of God
- There is one true and living God who exists in 3 persons: God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit
- God created all things for His glory
- Men and women were created in the image of God
- God alone is the architect and finisher of our salvation
- The Holy Spirit gives gifts to His children
- The church consists of all who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation
- Heaven and Hell are real places
- Jesus Christ will one day return to establish His Kingdom
The Teaching Pastor & Lead Pastor
Kevin Peck, Lead Pastor
An extended bio on Kevin will help you gain perspective on his life and his leadership style.
What I do as Lead Pastor: my role is to lead and develop our elders, deacons and other leaders so that God’s church would be led toward the vision of making Christ known in our city and throughout the nations. Day to day I plan, write, teach and lead our teams to strive with all of God’s energy to accomplish the mission He has set before us. My life’s focus, and the focus of my role, is for God’s people to be equipped and God’s church to flourish.
I won’t strain your eyes by making you read through the novel of my life, but I will tell you the overriding theme: God is faithful and Jesus Christ saved my life. From the moment I was enabled to trust in His grace, I have known His Name to be worthy of praise. My salvation is a great demonstration of the saving power of Christ. I grew up in textbook California postmodern home. We were not influenced to believe any one theology, only to “find our way.” Upon entering college, I was invited to a small group Bible study by some friends whom I interacted with in intramural sports. I reluctantly agreed but was willing to go based on the trust I had gained for my friends. The leader of the Bible study made a single comment that cut to my heart, as empowered by the Spirit of God. “You can bow down to Christ now, but you will be made to later.” It was the most authoritative statements regarding destiny I had ever heard. It was spoken with a saddened yet firm conviction, driving urgency into my heart. That night, I read through the Gospel of Matthew and, upon reading the final words, I told God that I identified completely with the prideful Jews. I needed His salvation and would believe whatever else was written in the remaining books of His Scriptures, no matter what they said of me or of my life to come.
A year later, one of the most distinct and significant moments in my life was spent looking up at the stars in the middle of the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. I gathered a few students from a college Bible study I was leading at the time and retreated to the mountains for some R&R. While preparing for the message that night, my mind was captivated by a verse I had spent the day reading over. Deuteronomy 3:24, which delivers, “Oh Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show your servant your greatness and strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such mighty works and acts as Thine?” A thought cut through me, all the way to the core of my soul, and in that moment, I was changed by the thought of the Greatness of our Lord. I feasted on the magnitude of the verse, in so much as, Moses, at the end of a long life still cried out for more grace, knowing God had only just begun to reveal His greatness and strong hand.
And, to think of what Moses had already seen by the end of his life; plagues, manna, healing, a burning bush, the Back of the Living God! Just begun to show him! What a hope! My friend, that great Truth, Hope, and Promise caused my very soul to worship. But as quickly as I had begun to worship, the Spirit of God inclined my heart to know an even weightier truth. I was quite certain of two facts in that moment: one, that I really was worshipping God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength, and two, that even as I did, He still deserved so much more. The implications of that truth raced through my mind that night, as they still do to this day. My heart is propelled to confess every time I kneel before the Father that when I worship God with all that I have, He still is worthy of more, and, thus, the only means to increase worship, is to increase the number of worshipers! Well, friend, this is my heart: to know Christ, and to make Him known.
Matt Carter, Pastor of Preaching & Vision
An extended bio on Matt will help you gain perspective on his life and his leadership style.
Matt grew up in Athens, Texas. Like many east Texas families, Matt’s parents faithfully attended their local congregation and made certain that Matt did as well. He prayed to receive Christ at 8 years of age. However, Christ was not the focus of his life on a daily basis. Matt is confident that he was saved at this point because he could no longer enjoy sin—even when he tried—but he had not yet touched the holiness of God.
He attended Texas A&M with plans to go to medical school after graduation. He was in the Corp of Cadets and was a Ross Volunteer. During his freshman year, he achieved the popularity and success he had looked forward to before college. He also began to realize that those things weren’t as fulfilling as he expected them to be.
During Christmas Break that year, he went on a ski trip with his girlfriend’s church group. Although she broke up with him early in the week, he couldn’t be more grateful that he went. As he was feeling awkward hanging out with his now ex-girlfriend’s friends, an upper-classman on the trip had compassion and befriended him. When they returned to College Station, Brett invited him to a Bible study that met on campus. Matt decided to check it out. He experienced a deeper level of worship than he had ever encountered when he did. The students around him sang a song he had never heard before, “Lord, you are more precious than silver/Lord, you are more costly than gold.” As he joined their song, he recognized that the words were truth. He realized that his life and priorities would have to change drastically because of that truth.
He began attending Central Baptist Church and, for the first time, truly made the Lord the focus of his life. Things began to fall into place and have a sense of purpose for him. He had encountered the presence and holiness of God; his life was changed.
Core Values of Austin Stone
All of our ministries at The Austin Stone have been arranged around these four elements of redemptive life. We live out these values personally, locally and globally for the glory of God and edification of the Church.
Our strategy for ministry is to build up New Testament believers who
Above all else, we at The Austin Stone are about Jesus. Everyone worships something. We worship what we treasure, what we value most. As believers, we worship Christ because He is the only One truly worthy of such a high level of devotion and affection. “…In Him, the fullness of God dwells in bodily form.” (Col. 2:9)
Worshipping Christ is the cornerstone of our church. If God is calling you to come on mission with us, He’s calling you first and foremost to be a worshipper of Christ.
Live in Community
Living in community is the biblical model we see throughout Scripture, first in the Trinity and then in the New Testament Church. Living in Community for the glory of God is one of our best arguments for Jesus among our unbelieving friends and family.
God created us to live in community, and we most effectively live out our mission as the family of God, together.
We believe that every saint (believer) is called to be a minister of the Gospel, and so every saint must pursue training and discipline to be an effective minister. It is the call of every believer to participate in God’s work through the church.
We value getting trained for ministry so that we can put what we know about Him into practice for the building up and edification of the Church.
You can read about their training program here: Austin Stone Institute: http://austinstoneinstitute.org
To make disciples literally means, “to make learners.” We see what it means to make disciples from the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18–20 and in Acts 1:8. We must live on mission personally, locally and globally, to make much of Christ and bring Him glory.
We believe Christ deserves worship from everyone on earth, and as long as there are people not yet worshipping Him, we still have work to do. It is our desire to complete the task that God has given the Church, to preach the gospel to all nations, and hasten the return of Christ! We are all called to make disciples, wherever we are.
The Austin Stone is a network of missional communities—small groups of people, joined by the gospel, pursuing the renewal and redemption of their community together. Missional community is the primary way to connect with others at The Austin Stone and pursue life on mission together.
Missional Communities exist for the purpose of making much of Jesus through loving and serving unbelievers, the poor, and the nations.
Missional Community is at the heart of living out the mission and vision that God has given The Austin Stone. We cannot do what God has called us to do alone. Jesus calls His people to live in community, living life together as we seek to share the gospel with our friends, neighbors, coworkers and city.
We want to be a movement: we want to be rapidly growing, dynamic, multiplying disciples—just like the early church. To do this, every believer has to get involved in the mission.
What Is Partnership?
Partnership at The Austin Stone is a commitment to live out our identity and calling as the lead missionaries and lead servants of our church. It is both an invitation and a commitment to fully pursue the joy of Jesus and the abundant life He promises to us together, for our city and for the nations.
Partners are the saints of God who do the work of ministry, and partnership is a commitment to missional living with the local body of believers. We call these men and women “partners” rather than “members” because we think that word more clearly describes the heart of the New Testament (Eph. 4:11–14). We call our partners to a higher level of accountability, service and sacrifice than attenders. We ask a lot of our partners, because we believe that God is using them, and our church, to do amazing things for His Kingdom in our city.
Austin Stone Worship
The vision for Austin Stone Worship came from a desire to write and sing songs focused on the centrality of Jesus Christ and the mission of God in the world. Releasing albums with songs mostly written by pastors and songwriters within The Austin Stone church body, these songs convey our great need to fully surrender to the person of Jesus, to give our lives for the sake of His Gospel, and to worship Him with abandon.
Austin Stone Worship is more than just a group of worship leaders releasing albums. Instead, we hope to resource the Church, worship leaders, and musicians with songs that are rich in theology, mission, and expression. Beyond the actual songs, our website will serve to give a behind-the-scenes look at:
- The songwriting story & process from the songwriters perspective (video interviews).
- The theology behind each song (downloadable pdf).
- Access to free chord charts (downloadable pdf).
- Free teaching videos for each specific instrument for each song.
You can find this information at http://www.austinstoneworship.com.
Austin Stone has many stories of people living out their faith. They average between four and six stories per month.
The featured story for January 31, 2014 is entitled Something Better:
Paul Gonzalez, a cocky high school senior who was convinced he would someday play for the Dallas Cowboys, sat unbuckled in the passenger seat of his friend’s car. Driving on Parmer Lane in Austin at 3:00 a.m. on an October morning, Paul’s friend asked him to toss the Bible sitting on his dashboard into the back seat before they met up with some girls. Paul complied and, turning, also clicked his seatbelt into place. Seconds later he felt it.
When Paul arrived at the hospital, the doctor explained that his small intestine was ripped in half. He would not be able to do any physical contact activity for the rest of his life.
Despite his religious upbringing, this was the first time Paul turned his attention to God. “I started praying to God. I told him I would quit being bad. That lasted about a month or two.”
Read the rest of this story at: http://austinstone.org/stories/written/94–something-better.
Other stories include:
- A Father’s Love—January 27, 2014
- Not Without Honor—January 24, 2014
- An Identity in Christ Alone—January 17, 2014
- What Lies Ahead—January 10, 2014
- He’s Enough—January 3, 2014
The site for these stories is http://austinstone.org/stories/stories-main.
Some Thoughts from Kevin Peck
The church was seeing problems with the evening services. It was like they were getting “night service leftovers, almost a real church.” They found that it was difficult to prove otherwise. The evening services were getting leftovers. The pastoral families came in the morning, so the evening services never saw the leadership families. A major change was to have the leadership families come for the evening too.
“We started The Stone at night. Yet we were losing our edge, what it means to be The Stone, because pastoral families prefer mornings!”
They see that every single problem is a leadership problem. Thus the evening service problem is a leadership problem.
A huge area for them is a “Learning and Leadership Development Pipeline.” They have made every single place one for developing leaders. A core question for them is: “How are we making the next leaders for the next season of life?”
They are dynamically applying this question to many areas. They seek to apply it to compensation and their leadership structures. For example, one month every summer, Kevin packs up and moves out. A 28-year-old becomes the Lead Pastor for the month and Kevin does the 28-year-old’s job.
What about leadership on the campuses?
They have 6 campuses and are transitioning to younger, live preachers. Their goal is to have 100% live preaching. Why? “College students move in herds. It is moving well right now, so change while things are still healthy, so they can remain healthy in the next season.”
They want to raise “kids” into the next generation of leaders. They don’t want a CEO model. A key phrase is “Let’s replace ourselves!” Matt Carter is preaching 40% of the time now. He is also 40 years old. They have two new preachers who are 28 years old.
Their desire is to have a healthy culture over healthy performance. Kevin reports that there has been a nearly zero staff turnover; “We haven’t had but one guy leave for another church in 10 years (and he was from a church merger).
There is a sense of health and a sense of innovation. They don’t want to run people off because they don’t fit the current needs—as they may fit the needs of the future. They want to “fit the church to the people that God has given.”
For growth and connection, they took all 25 elders to Montana for one week to think and grow together. They did the same thing for staff; four days away with no work—just a time for growth and connection.
Notes from Kevin’s Talk at the Seminar
Deliverables for your Church
Thoughts to Consider
- Do I resonate, gel and agree with Kevin’s premise that, “Every single problem is a leadership problem?”
- Austin Stone is intentional and driven in their culture of leadership development. They are training new leaders in their Austin Stone Institute and raising up new worship leaders and songwriters in Austin Stone Worship. Can you list ways that your church is intentionally developing new leaders?
- Austin Stone is living out their Core Values. How is your church living out its Core Values?
- Are the Core Values clearly defined for everyone to see?
- Are the Core Values embedded into the structure and program of your ministries?
- Are the Core Values being reproduced in the next generation?
- Austin Stone is a Church for the City. It is their mantra and being lived out in their missional communities. If your church was to disappear one day, would anyone in your neighborhood miss it?