Michael Murphy has experienced church growth in two pastorates and now coaches hundreds of pastors and church leaders and want them to grow.

My work takes me to many nations and cities around the globe each year. In fact, I spend about six months of every year travelling outside my own beautiful country of Australia. My goal is my passion—to see churches grow by partnering with pastors.

When I go to a new city, before taking the lazy road to Starbucks, I often try to find the best single-origin organic coffee shop in town. I’m old enough to remember a day when coffee was coffee—instant granules, boiling water, and perhaps a splash of milk or cream. It’s not necessarily a passion, but I admit I’ve joined the “coffee snobs” in a quest to find the best brew.

If you’ve passed a Starbucks on the same quest, the name Luigi Bezzera may mean something to you. He ran a small manufacturing plant in the early 1900s and became frustrated with the amount of time his workers took to brew their coffee at morning break.

As an engineer, Bezzera found a device developed in Turin, Italy, to force boiling water through coffee beans in an espresso kind of way. He improved on it and got his own patent, and voila! A new era of coffee-making was born.

However, the engineer Luigi was no better a marketer or distributor, than the originator in Turin. Discouraged, Bezzera sold the patent for his invention to Desiderio Pavoni, who then made a killing opening La Pavoni coffee shops all across Italy. Luigi had a good idea and good intentions, but without process and planning, his invention couldn’t scale.

As I work with pastors across the globe, I often see those who “die on the hill” of good intentions. We as Christian leaders have the perfect model for our “coffee maker,” and the “patent” (meaning the authority to use it), and we often have great ideas and motivation as well. Yet good, even godly, ideas go nowhere without strategy, systems, and execution. In fact, ideas that die can erode the credibility of the one who promises more than he or she delivers.

Often my work starts with convincing church teams that it is entirely possible to love the Holy Spirit and at the same time embrace the strategies and the systems He gives us. We can honor the presence of Jesus as well as honoring the plans and processes needed to accomplish what He commissioned us to do.

Out of a burden to get churches “un-stuck” and growing, I wrote a book called XLR8, a Prophetic and Practical Guide to Double Your Church. (Yes, there’s a copy for you, just click below.) The book argues for a shift in excellence, to move from one-off encounters to ongoing discipleship engagement.

No pastor launches a ministry with the dream to “babysit“ a small bunch of over-fed Christians. God launches each one of us with a promise. A promise to impact and influence our towns, cities, and regions. A promise to be with us as we preach the gospel of the Kingdom. A promise to help us as we faithfully make disciples. A promise to sustain us as we prioritize His presence in our lives.

Often, the reason we don’t get the promise is because we don’t follow the process!

I used to pray, preach, and present the Gospel, and the result was that people would come to Christ. A year later, we couldn’t find them. The church didn’t grow.

I was like a coffee-making machine, working hard at what I did. But without a process, and a strategic plan to follow, I never saw what I felt God had promised when He called me.

In those early days of pastoring, I felt as though I needed to have all the answers to move the church forward. “I’ve got this” was such a self-deceptive narrative. The narrative was only smashed when the pain of doing it myself exceeded the pain of admitting I needed help.

At that point, when the pain of failure exceeded the pain of admitting I didn’t know it all and couldn’t do it all, I finally reached out to others. That’s when I started to listen and learn. Now, with a bunch of decades of leadership under my belt, I’m so glad I did.

Different mentors imparted different things I needed to know. By way of transparency, I’ll tell you who helped me. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but each of the following leaders helped me in their areas of influence.

On reflection, I have observed and learned…

  • Manhood from Dr Ed Cole
  • Strategy from Sam Chand
  • Systems from Chris Hodges
  • Mission from Rob Ketterling
  • Church building from Brian Houston
  • Care for Pastors from Greg Surratt
  • Generosity from Steve Kelly
  • Authenticity from Wayne Alcorn
  • Big heartedness from Dino Rizzo
  • Faith from Paul DeJong
  • Freedom from Andreas Corson
  • Kingdom from Mark Varaghese
  • Humility from Stephen Fogarty
  • Excellence from Joel Cave

I am certain you don’t recognize all, if any, of those names, and that you have your own growing list of leaders who have influenced you in various ways. Perhaps I could earn the right one day to make your list by helping you with intentional and strategic discipleship-making.

Once I humbled myself enough to ask for help, I learned how to develop converts into disciples. That’s when everything for my wife Valery and I really changed. We developed a private mantra, “Discipleship or Die.”

We knew we were called by God, not just to pastor pew-sitters, but to build a vibrant, growing church filled with people who had experienced the hope, grace, and love of Christ in dramatic ways and were willing to go tell others, “Once I was blind, but now I see.”

Imagine if 40 to 50 percent of your congregation actively invited and brought guests and shared their own “God story” on a regular basis. This is more than a pipe dream. For many pastors we’ve partnered with, it has become a reality.

In the XLR8 book, a Momentum Map gives the “how to” of consistent and predictable discipleship. I’ve taught what I call the “XLR8 Track” and now literally thousands of churches are “dialing in” discipleship plans. I also give clear “how to” instructions for pastors to radically engage every guest and explode a Growth Track (in a good way!) in the process.

Growth Track captivates every guest, newcomers become deeply planted in life-giving small groups, thoroughly trained group leaders move each of the group members one step forward in their spiritual formation, and leaders raise up two more leaders every term. Soon, this disciple-making engine propels significant growth and, even more importantly, honors Jesus’ last command—to make disciples.

The hub of the XLR8 wheel is “prevailing prayer.” Nothing happens of eternal value without our hearts being in sync with God’s heart. Out of this hub, we focus on our spiritual purpose, His supernatural presence, our strategic plans, and this seamless process. It’s all connected.

And then, let’s be honest about the money it takes to grow a church. Money follows ministry. Money flows out of a big-hearted Biblical theology about generosity. This theology starts with a leader who believes God and His Word more than the innuendos flung around by people who have a problem with pastors who talk about finance.

One of the greatest things leaders can do to build financial strength at the heart of a church is to increase the connectedness of community and release people into their God-given purpose.

As opposed to people who say, “that won’t work here,” since launching Leaderscape more than ten years ago, Valery and I have witnessed this truth played out in nations as diverse as Vietnam, Indonesia, United Kingdom, the US, and across Australasia. God’s truth cuts thru cultural distinctives. Truth is truth.

I’ve given you a taste of what intentional disciple-making does for a church. Yet I realize that just having content and curriculum is not all there is to church growth. So, if you are intrigued about following the Momentum Map, and getting some coaching, let me tell you what’s in it for you in this rough outline:

  • Select, recruit, train, and empower an outstanding VIP Team to make far better connections with your guests, build trust, and funnel more of them into a Growth Track.
    Make a few adjustments to any present Growth Track strategy along with the right people leading it, then focus on relationships more than content.
    “Close the deal” by having group leaders come in at the end of the last session to invite people to their groups. You will then see a marked increase in the number of people planted into your groups.
  • Mobilize your people for mission and they will bring more people to church. Then more will receive Christ and be baptized and more will get into groups, which means more of them will be mobilized to become leaders.
  • Have a laser focus on getting people into life-changing groups as the source of God-inspired life change with personal discipleship for every believer, plus an outward focused soul-winning, and you’ll have a disciple-making culture in your church.
  • Comprehensive training of group leaders will change the landscape of your church. Specifically develop them as catalysts for change to move people to their next step of spiritual growth.
  • Create an environment where peoples’ hearts are captured with the vision of making a difference for God and His Kingdom, and His people will exhibit more generosity than you have ever dreamed about!

If you want to take the next step with your team, you may click on the links below and engage in the content, templates, and worksheets from XLR8—many of which are yours FREE, simply by answering a few questions.

In the XLR8 book, I hope you’re amused at some of my crazy car stories and that you’ll engage with the diagnostic questions as a team. Use it as a manual to tweak what needs to be tweaked and shift what needs to be shifted. In the same way that the book transcends philosophy and ideology and extends to the pragmatics of templates, scripts and assessments, the non-profit organization Valery and I founded, Leaderscape, carries this same mantle.

Sure, it’s funny to talk about people’s “Coffee or Die” obsession. And I admit I’m a bit more finicky than the next guy. But it’s eternally serious when we set our hearts on a “Discipleship or Die” obsession.

Valery and I are now obsessed with seeing pastors go beyond the “You could do this” stage to the “You CAN do this” stage, and finally to the place of “YOU DID THIS.”

Let us show you how.

To have true church growth, church leaders must make a plan that goes beyond creating church relevance that gets people going to church, to true discipleship ministry.

Click on this link to receive your copy of XLR8 by paying any amount.

Watch “The 10 Do’s of Momentum” FREE by answering a few simple questions. Just click on this link:

Connect with Michael at: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelLeaderscape

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