Recently several of the leading church pastors and leaders within the Excel Leadership Network spent a day with Larry Osborne, noted author, gifted leader, innovative thinker and long-time pastor of North Coast Church in Vista, California.  Here are some of the insights our leaders gleaned from the time:


“Larry Osborne differentiated tasks vs. roles with eye opening clarity. My common approach with volunteers and staff alike are to create job descriptions and roles for them. But for many high-powered volunteers, Larry simply stated that all they need is a task to accomplish. ‘Be quick to give tasks and slow to create roles,” he added. And in regards to staffing, “Hire to functions, rather than an org chart.’”

—Brian Burman, Gateway Church, Visalia


“One of the parts of his training that hit home for me was when Larry challenged us to ‘Count Who, Not How Many!’  It’s more important to know who you are reaching than how many you are reaching.  It’s more important to know who’s leaving than how many are leaving.  It’s just as important to know who’s connecting in groups than how many are connecting in groups.  Numbers lie.  Stories tell the truth.  If we can know the WHO & WHY behind the HOW MANY, we can more easily make course corrections and adjustments along the way.”—Chris Hall: Catalyst, Santa Paula, CA


“A few general over-arching things I loved: Larry leads this Giga-church and yet still talks like a pastor not some fortune 500 CEO. He loves his people, loves seeing the light go on for Jesus, pushes against high-browed teaching that would serve to make him look smart, instead opting for practical insights about God…In terms of the specific thing I take home…His discussion of our people coming from three basic profession backgrounds and how to relate to them uniquely was wonderful.

Regulatory: bankers, HR, school administrators, lawyers, government // These people think in policy and institute lots of it…for better or worse.

Manufacturing: inventors, contractors, landscapers, etc // These people think in metrics, measurables and clearly defined goals to achieve.

Sales/Marketing: pastors, salespeople, creatives, etc // These people think of how to inspire others to do stuff and work largely on vibe and culture.

“Being reminded that as our churches grow our boards and staff will likely have fewer people wired for Sales/Marketing and need/attract some Regulatory and Manufacturing types means we need to talk and lead a bit differently.”—Stu Streeter:  Disciples Church, Folsom, CA


“We can't outgrow our DNA.  If you're healthy, you grow to the full-size of your DNA… and the way you grow beyond that is either through steroids (which will harm you) or you have to step away and let someone else grow it beyond your talent capacity. Some of us will only ever be x-sized-churches... And that's ok because that's our DNA from God! Let’s celebrate the increase and maximizing that God allowed us to mature to. His Church will keep growing, not necessarily ours. So, what can we do to help grow His Church? Help other churches to reach their max. We care about the churches overseas and out of state, but we don’t show that we care for the church across the street. The way we show unity is not necessarily doing things with other churches and praying together, but by blessing other churches in our area and never speaking ill of them.”—Eric Gamero:  Calvary Lighthouse United, Cooper City, FL


“What I found encouraging and thought provoking was the discussion about discovering your church's DNA and understanding that nothing continues to grow forever.  It is important to not use this as an excuse for not pursing Kingdom growth.  We need to have a Kingdom mindset that seeks to bless the Greater church in our community and rejoice in the Kingdom's growth as much as our individual growth.

Don't opt for using steroids to try and grow because they will kill you.  The application for our ministry is to be praying for and looking at ways we can bless other churches.  There is a church plant in our community I plan on reaching out to see if we can help them in some way.”—David Cooke:  Cold Springs Community Church, Placerville, CA


“Some HITS for me were:

1.  Lead your church in a way that not only do you have margin in your personal life but you also have margin in your church.  Opportunities will come along and unless there’s a cushion of margin, we’ll miss them.  Margin is what will send you to the next level.

2.  Use the language of experimentation but don’t actually experiment.  Use the word “TRY” when rolling out a new initiative.  That way if it fails you’ll look more like a daring scientist and less like a “full of BS” talker.

3.  Lastly, and this one was such a good reminder for me.  Larry said, “People will know what’s important by what the important people do.”  It took that to mean if I want something to be a major focus in my church, I have to put energy behind it.”—Andy Ziegenfuss:  Passion Church Blue Ask, Ohio


“Another emphasis that I needed to hear was: "Don't over-communicate in hopes of getting buy-in. 

You don't need buy-in, you need permission.  Larry and his leaders let people know they were going to TRY (experiment) with a "Video-Cafe" and asked for people to respond if interested. 

73 of 3000 responded. 

That's 73 "yes" votes, and 2,927 "no" votes.

But he emphasized: Don't count NO votes...

73 yes votes was enough votes to "try" the experiment. 

If you over-communicate and it fails - it's a huge loss.  

If you over-communicate and it works - you become a god.

If you get permission from a few and it works - you're a innovative thinker.

If you get permission from a few and it fails - no harm done.”—Brian Becker:  The Hope City Church, Portland, OR


“The most significant thing for me was the discussion on Road Blocks and Rockets. Here are my notes:

What are the Road Blocks?

Churches have 4 tires that are road blocks or cinch points.

  Worship Space

  Children’s Space - is not judged by attenders but by your guests. (crying moms, preschools, etc)

  Parking - no guests know.

  Decision Making Process - leadership

You never want to solve a problem that is bigger than your tightest problem.

What are the rockets?

Rockets are opportunity. They are different in every environment.

Ride the rocket that God has put in your lap.

The opportunities come when God puts them in our lap. We ride those opportunities.

Often your rocket is going to be a person. Who is God bringing us right now? That is a rocket?

People do ministry. Where did God give me a rocket guy?

A lot of us are driven by the voices in our head and not the Spirit of God.

There are too many movement starters that are projecting their gifts on others.”—Paul Taylor:  Rivers Crossing Community Church, Mason, OH


“My biggest take away was the importance of understanding road blocks and the need for multiple opportunities in this day and age. That was huge!”—Joey Furjanic:  The Block Church, Philadelphia, PA


“My take away was in seeing the value of being an ‘P’—Perceiver (Play it by ear) or ‘A’ Adapter on theMeyersBriggs test.  I need to schedule time on my calendar time to take advantage of opportunities that come my way.  I see how this is hurting me/my business and it gave me a softer approach to ‘A's with better understanding.”—David Bennett—Excel Leadership Network


“I appreciated hearing the drip method to create subliminal interest in small groups. Great input.”  (Larry remarked that his church doesn’t tell people to join small groups, they ‘drip’ the idea throughout sermons and all ministries—expecting people to attend groups.)—Ed Kemp:  Gateway Church, Visalia, CA


“I think one of the most valuable things I learned was in the small group session.

Small group leaders need not be great teachers but rather need to lead a discussion where everyone has a chance to talk and the discussion is about Jesus.

It's that simple. In fact having a great teacher lead a small group is difficult because the teacher wants to teach content and can miss opportunities for people to discuss life.”—Tim Pearring:  Journey Church, Elk Grove, CA


“1.  Count Faces not Numbers - To me this is the difference between building an organization vs building a church. I've been challenged to figure out ways to implement this so that we know who is coming for the first, second, third time and who is falling through the cracks.


2.  Get to three services as quickly as possible. - To which he followed it up with we need to offer as many times and styles as possible to reach as many people as possible. I appreciated how he challenged us to have a culture of reproduction of leaders to be able to pull this off well.


3. Tribal by choice = 2 Time Slots - People will give you two time slots a week, leaders will give you 3.  I've really been challenged to look through what we offer our people throughout the week that may be good but is distracting from the mission, vision and values of Crossridge.”—Joel White:  Crossridge Church, Sherwood, OR 


“The top three statements by Larry that hit me were:

  ‘Don’t start anything without an exit strategy in mind.’

  ‘There are two types of people:  Goal-oriented and problem-solvers.’

  ‘Policies are de-motivators, have as few as possible.’”

--JD Pearring, Excel Leadership Network


We had a great time with Larry and are especially grateful for his efforts in building into other leaders.


Do you want to get in on the next event like this?  Become one of Excel’s “Leading” churches”  For more information, contact JD Pearring at JDPearring@gmail.com


Larry Osborne granted Excel Leadership Network permission to post this article