“So why are you called Elemental Churches? Are these churches for third-graders?”
Funny! But nope.
We’re called Elemental Churches because of our research in the four critical elements all healthy and effective churches had: Integrity, Passion, Servanthood, and Imagination. We’ve found that churches and ministries—or any organization for that matter—that infuse these traits into their operating system, tend to create cultures that are more robust with longer-term impact on their communities, both inside and out. We lay this out in the book that forms the basis for who we are and what we do—Elemental Leaders: Four Essentials Every Leader Needs…And Every Church Must Have.
Integrity means that systems and processes are present and functional toward achieving the organization's goals.
A church or ministry with integrity has a clear sense of mission and purpose and maintains systems that leverage resources toward the fulfillment of its mission. What we do is in line with what we say, and what we say expresses our true values.
Passion means that people in the church support and are engaged in the mission.
When an organization has passion, people support the mission not only by saying they support it, but also by investing their personal time, effort, and money toward accomplishing it. When disagreements arise, they arise because people care whether the church succeeds and question whether current methods will ensure success. A widespread sense of shared ownership is evident in a passionate church or ministry.
Servanthood means that the organization demonstrates an outward focus.
When an organization is servant-oriented, energy is invested in meeting the needs of people, not just in running the machine. We want to survive so we can reach more people, not for the sake of surviving. Relationships within the church or ministry are healthy because people put the needs of others before their own.
Imagination means that the organization can change to stay relevant.
Imaginative churches and ministries can envision futures that differ from the way things have always been. They see that the world around them is changing rapidly and adapt to ensure that they are meeting the real needs of today. Individuals are open to new opportunities, and innovation is rewarded.
For sake of memory, Elemental Churches uses the classical metaphors of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air to represent these four key values.
Earth symbolizes Integrity, with the image of a firm foundation that also provides materials for building. An organization with integrity is grounded in a clear sense of purpose and maintains solid systems to ensure things are done well.
Fire represents Passion, the energy that drives an organization forward. People understand the vision and are working to achieve it. A widespread sense of ownership is evident. People are excited to be part of what is happening.
Water signifies Servanthood, as illustrated by Christ when he washed the disciples’ feet on the last night of his life (John 13:1-17). People in the church or ministry put the needs of others, especially people who are far from God, first.
Air represents Imagination and capacity for change—the ability of leaders to “blue sky”. The organization takes a creative approach to the future and welcomes new ideas. Leaders encourage creativity rather than stifling it with red tape.
All four of these elements—Integrity, Passion, Servanthood, and Imagination—will be evident in a healthy, growing church. Your church or ministry is likely stronger in some of these areas than others, but all must be active and balanced. Our primary assessment, the Elemental Churches Inventory, is built upon those key traits...and all our tools reflect them in some way.
That is why we’re called Elemental Churches.
And if you’ve read this far, you’re a force of nature yourself! Class dismissed!
Mix together some veteran pastors, university professors, and marketplace entrepreneurs and you get the Elemental Group Engineering Team.
We have one thing in common: a deep love for the local church. We take our calling seriously in creating team-based tools that blend interactive reflective learning with challenging (but fun!) elements. This is leadership development in a whole new way.
Dave Workman is president and co-founder of Elemental Churches. He is the author of Elemental Leaders: Four Essentials Every Leader Needs…And Every Church Must Have and The Outward-Focused Life: Becoming a Servant in a Serve-Me World. Dave was instrumental in the growth of the Vineyard Cincinnati megachurch from its inception and then served as senior pastor for thirteen years. He spearheaded such initiatives as the groundbreaking Healing Center—a multimillion-dollar facility offering forty different services to holistically meet the needs of thousands of resource-challenged people every month—and the H2O Nigeria Project, drilling over one hundred water wells in central Nigeria. Dave regularly speaks on leadership development and building outward-focused churches nationally and internationally. He and his wife Anita have been happily married since 1978 and have two married daughters and four spectacularly beautiful grandchildren. Contact: email@example.com
Dr. Tom Thatcher is co-founder and Chief Analyst of Elemental Churches. He has served as Dean of the Russell School of Ministry and Cincinnati Bible Seminary and professor of Biblical Studies. As a teacher, Tom has spent more than 20 years in seminary leading courses and presentations on Biblical Studies and early Christianity. He has served on numerous research committees in the Society of Biblical Literature, has authored or edited 20 books on the New Testament, edits an academic series of books, and regularly writes mass-market adult curriculum materials. As an administrator, Tom has substantial experience in program review, strategic planning, organizational infrastructure, and outcomes assessment. Tom regularly speaks at academic conferences and a variety of congregational settings. Tom and his wife, Becky, have been married since 1987 and have two children. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Al is VP of Growth at Elemental Churches. His experience is a unique blend of pastoral leadership and church-planting as well as innovative entrepreneurial endeavors in the marketplace. After graduation from Wheaton, Al planted churches in Boston and Chicago and later served on the executive team at Vineyard Cincinnati Church during a time of explosive growth, overseeing the development and management of Assimilation, Communications, Outreach and Celebration Support. In the marketplace, his roles included sales and partnerships for LexisNexis and sales and facilitation for Building Healthy Teams Curriculum, Open Mentoring & Leadership/Innovation Simulations at Triple Creek Associates. Al owns several patents, has created brands and successfully launched three unique product lines. Al's catalytic role with Elemental Churches is shaping the organization's growth through networking, product messaging, and marketing strategies. Al and his wife Stephanie enjoy a full life with seven children, three sons-in-law, and Jack the dog. Contact: email@example.com
Dr. Tom Vollmer serves as the Grants Program Director as well as an EC Coach. His wide range of life experience includes being lead pastor of two church revitalization projects, a missionary in Europe, an associate pastor, and a professor of Biblical Studies. With a heart for biblical justice and racial reconciliation, Tom serves on the leadership team of Mosaix Cincinnati and is a member of City Servants. He is an adjunct professor with SUM Bible College & Theological Seminary and Mt. St. Joseph University where he teaches courses in biblical studies, religions, leadership, and theology. Tom has a rich understanding of church health and has published books, articles, and presented research at major conferences in the U.S. and Europe. He and his wife Patricia have been married since 1992 and have one son at The Ohio State University. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shawn is an Elemental Churches Consultant and Strategist with 29 years of experience as a senior pastor in the Presbyterian Church USA. He has a B.A. in Political Science from Western Kentucky University, and a Master’s of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary. He has presented at the National PCUSA Evangelism and Church Growth Conference and serves on the Presbytery of Cincinnati Council as well as lead pastor for Crestview Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Shawn regularly consults with other congregations and pastors to help define their mission and develop leadership gifts and strategies for fulfilling that mission. In addition to enjoying his time working with churches, Shawn loves sports, cooking on the grill, and spending time with his wife Amy Jo and son Davis. Contact: email@example.com
Dr. Judi Odor is the Director of Operations at Elemental Churches. Judi has been heavily involved in thriving churches in Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Lexington, and Cleves and has a passion for church health and Great Commission work. The daughter of missionaries in South America, Judi completed a PhD in Biblical Studies from Asbury Seminary. She has extensive experience in scientific, academic, and curriculum publishing and works with Elemental Churches to design and manage the systems that keep everything running. Judi and her husband Micah (a pastor in greater Cincinnati) have three children and a codependent husky. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wes is an Elemental Coach and Strategist with over 25 years' combined experience in the non-profit, academic, and business sectors. His roles included pastor, professor, business consultant, and church planter trainer. He holds two Master’s degrees and excels in system and workflow development, staff culture, and organizational alignment. His passion is the development and practice of integrated disciplemaking pathways within the local church. Wes spends as much time outside as possible and enjoys a good fire surrounded by great conversation. He married Sharmon in 1991 and they have four children; three of whom attend the University of Louisville and the fourth recently graduated high school and is preparing to enter the U. S. Navy. They live in Crestwood, Kentucky with their two dogs, Cleo and Millie. Contact: email@example.com