Funny! But nope.
We’re called Elemental Churches because of our research in the four critical elements all healthy and effective churches have: Integrity, Passion, Servanthood, and Imagination. We’ve found that churches—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 church’s goals.
A church 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 a church 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.
Servanthood means that the church demonstrates an outward focus.
When a church 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 are healthy because people put the needs of others before their own.
Imagination means that the church can change to stay relevant.
Imaginative churches 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. A church 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 a church 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 put the needs of others, especially lost people, first.
Air represents Imagination and capacity for change—the ability of leaders to “blue sky”. The church 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 is likely stronger in some of these areas than others, but all must be active and balanced. Our primary church 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, a university professor, and a marketplace entrepreneur and you get the Elemental Churches 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 of Elemental Churches, a consulting group devoted to helping churches become healthier and more effective. 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 who are both involved in ministry.
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 and congregational classrooms 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 (a former public school teacher, children’s minister, and now intervention aid), have been married since 1987 and have two children.
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.
Randy serves as an Elemental Churches Coach as well as being the founder and Executive Director of Relational Discipleship Ministries. Randy has over 37 years of pastoral ministry experience including serving as Church Planting and Evangelism Ministries Director for the Indiana Church of God for four and half years. Randy received his B.S. from Lee University in 1983 and his M.A. from Trinity International Divinity School in 2000. Passionate about church planting, discipleship, mentoring, and training ministers, Randy has authored seventeen books including the Relational Discipleship Series, a systematic but very practical discipleship curriculum translated into five languages and used internationally by pastors and missionaries. Randy and his wife, Annette, have been married since 1980. They have one son, Gabe, who serves as a Student Ministries Pastor.