People often ask me what I wish I had known when I started pastoring 10 years ago. This list represents 35 different things, ranging from the spiritual to the mundane.

[Update, June 2016]: We had previously called this our list of “plumb lines.” Plumb lines are a series of short, pithy statements that we, at the Summit, use as rallying points–both for our staff and for the entire church. Since I first posted this, we’ve consolidated and changed our list of plumb lines quite a bit (which you can now view here). So consider these a time capsule of our past “plumb lines in training.”


                1. The gospel is not just the diving board, it’s the pool. Christians grow not by going beyond the gospel, but deeper into the gospel.
                2. People are the mission.
                3. Jesus commanded us to make disciples, not converts.
                4. Discipleship happens in relationship.
                5. God’s strategy for completing the Great Commission is planting churches in strategic cities.
                6. The church is God’s demonstration community.
                7. The church is God’s plan A.
                8. Belief unlocks the power for the mission of God.
                9. The church is not an audience; it is an army.
                10. The week is just as important as the weekend.
                11. The best ministry ideas are in the congregation.
                12. The Great Commission is completed through multiplication, not addition.
                13. We measure our success by sending capacity as much as seating capacity.
                14. Stay where you are; serve where you live; let’s be the church in your community (a value we promote in our multi-site strategy).
                15. We multiply congregations, not preaching points (another value for multi-site).
                16. Each small group should function like a small congregation.
                17. People come because of quality and options; they stay because of personalization.
                18. Those who serve are just as important as those you serve.
                19. Live sufficiently, give extravagantly.
                20. Generosity is contagious, and so is stinginess.
                21. The sermon starts in the parking lot.
                22. In light of global lostness, excellence must be balanced by “good enough”.
                23. Word of mouth is the best advertisement.
                24. Just because “we can” doesn’t mean “we should”.
                25. Humility is shown by openness to the ideas of others.
                26. Believe the best about others.
                27. Move with the movers.
                28. Nod to fashion; don’t embrace (especially as you age).
                29. Preach the announcements (announcements are – or ought to be – how our people apply the mission).
                30. Love is the most essential element of leadership.
                31. Pushing out leaders creates more leaders.
                32. You replicate what you celebrate.
                33. It is easier to get 1 volunteer out of 3 than 3000: Make people feel like you are talking to them personally.
                34. One size rarely fits all.
                35. When I’m sick of saying it, the staff has just heard it. When they’re sick of hearing it, the church has just become aware of it.