Building a Castle or a Kingdom

Steve McCoy

My Aha Moment at Exponential!

Editor’s Note: Steve McCoy attended a 2016 Exponential Conference where he and the future of his church were profoundly impacted. We asked Steve to share his story below. And we’ll continue the multiplication conversation that impacted Steve with our Dream Big Exponential Conferences this year. Steve and over 150 other national speakers will be part of Exponential East 2017. With 40 tracks, 150+ workshops, and 1,000s of other like-minded leaders, you won’t want to miss it – register here: http://exponential.org/events/


When I registered for the Exponential East 2016 church planting and multiplication conference, I had no idea what a paradigm-shifting experience I was about to have. It’s no exaggeration to say that the changes that were stirred in my heart during the conference are now having seismic shifts in our church. By the time the conference closed, I was convicted to see our local church through a new set of lenses. My scorecard for success and my paradigm for ministry were rocked in just three short days!

The changes that were stirred in my
heart during the conference are now
having seismic shifts in our church

If I could sum up this shift, the most condensed way of expressing it would be a transferal from micro thinking to macro thinking. Initially looking at the 5 Levels introduced by Exponential through the FREE eBook Becoming a Level Five Multiplying Church, I assumed that our local church was a Level 4 reproducing church. My uniformed assessment was formed because of the solid micro reproduction taking place in our church.

Within our local church, we have created a culture of one-to-one discipleship using tools that make this approach possible (Xchange, DiscipleXchange.com). Because one-to-one discipleship is so rare in the current American church culture, I assumed we were a strongly “reproducing” church.

But, again, my thinking was at a micro level. In other words, we reproduce disciples within our local church. But the concept of reproducing at a macro level (planting churches at a Level 5 dimension) dramatically modified my assessment. The light bulb came on (with a heavy dose of conviction) when the question was posed, “Are you building a castle, or a Kingdom?”

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With each additional keynote speaker, the pixels were coming together to paint a more epic picture of multiplication. Paired with this epic-ness were the daunting questions, “How in the world does a church pull this off?” and “Where in the world do we start?

I attended a lunch meeting led by Alan Hirsch and Will Mancini (two of the over 150 speakers at the conference). During this session, I felt like I was in a back room with the founding fathers of America as they mapped out a dangerously untraveled adventure to a much different world. I’m pretty sure I ran into a couple of walls as I walked through the hallways dazed after that incredible 75-minute experience.

This is where the breakout sessions came to the rescue. Because the macro concepts of the main sessions were, in my mind, oceanic, the breakouts became life preservers that a person drowning in intimidation could take hold and begin to see the tangible possibilities of mapping out an actual path to becoming a Level 5 operation.

Here’s the most advantageous outcome of Exponential. I didn’t merely walk away with concepts, I walked away with a plan. Yes, on the conceptual level, my micro lenses had been swapped for a macro set, but I also had been given markers on an untraveled path to advance the concepts to become realities.

I didn’t merely walk away with concepts,
I walked away with a plan.

My personal takeaway was unmistakable: grow from your strength. With game plan in hand, the need to fortify a foundation became the next mark on the trail to becoming a Level 5 church. I took Exponential’s FREE online Becoming Five multiplication assessment (BecomingFive.org). It takes about 20 minutes to complete and gives a score to a church’s past and present multiplication behaviors and their future aspirations. The free online assessment accurately assessed us as a Level 3 addition focused church, with a 3-3-5 pattern (the 3-3-5 means…Level 3 past behaviors, Level 3 present behaviors, and Level 5 future aspirations).

The free online assessment
accurately assessed our church

I’m more committed than ever to seeing our church move from Level 3 additional activities to Level 5 multiplication. Post-conference, our leaders gathered and rolled up our sleeves.

  • We engaged Will Mancini who brilliantly navigated us through the God Dreams process. This was a perfect first step as we laid out a 10-year dream that included planting churches.
  • We then initiated a Leadership Pipeline process with Mac Lake, realizing that we needed a clear passageway through which we could develop leaders for future multiplication.
  • Our leaders took two trips to The Summit Church to download their church planting developing process.
  • To prime the pump of a new mindset, our church began to financially invest in a church plant that was months away from launching (they will launch this coming Sunday!).
  • We are now looking at the church planting developing process from NAMB.

All of these initiatives were ignited as a result of Exponential 2016! The foundation is firming up as we gaining strength from which to grow. We continue the valuable work of one-to-one discipleship within our local church – that passion hasn’t waned. But with a new set of macro lenses, our perspective has dramatically changed. Today a Level 3. The future, all engines are firing towards a Level 5.


Bio – Steve McCoy has been in the ministry for 35 years and is the Lead Pastor of The 360 Church in Sarasota, Florida, a church he planted 10 years ago. Impacted by the Vision Frame, God Dreams, and Leadership Pipeline Development processes of Auxano, 360 has grown from a launch team of 8 to a church of 700 with a laser-focused strategy that centers on building a culture of one-to-one relationships with a vision that is designed to invigorate Christianity in the U.S. by exporting the one-to-one culture.

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