3M Leadership

3M Corporation is one of the best-known brands and best-run companies in North America. Founded in 1902 as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, the business almost failed during its first 14 years but it finally became financially stable in 1916. Today, with products that include household names like “Scotch tape” and “Post-It Notes,” 3M worldwide has more than 80,000 employees and $30 billion in revenues and is one of America’s more respected corporations.

3M may be best known for its deeply held value of innovation. Last year, 32 percent of their total revenue came from sales of products developed in the last 5 years. Inge Thulin, recently promoted from COO to CEO, said that they are tracking to have 40% of their profits generated by new products by 2016. (http://www.startribune.com/business/138927874.html)

So how does that apply to leadership in the church? I propose that every church that hopes to flourish should aspire to becoming a 3M church.

No, I’m not proposing that churches should move into mining or manufacturing. However, I am convinced that the greatest source of future growth in the church will come from developing and empowering new leaders. And the secret to multiplying new leaders is mentoring.

The most frequently asked question about leadership is “Are leaders born or made?” The answer of course is that all leaders are born. As John Maxwell jokes “I wouldn’t want to meet an unborn leader.” For leaders to achieve their maximum effectiveness, they must learn to lead. And the best way to learn to lead is by actually leading something with the counsel and coaching of an experienced mentor.

A 3M church is committed to the principle that “Mentoring Multiplies Ministry.”

Whether the church employs a “fractal structure” as advocated for by Wayne Cordeiro (“Doing Church as a Team”) or the “cell-church” strategy modeled by Yyongi Cho at the world’s largest congregation, every healthy church has to figure out a way to multiply leaders.

I was privileged to sit with Mike Hilson (lead pastor for La Plate – New Life Wesleyan Church) last week. Mike talked about the requirement they have for every leader in their church to pick some people to mentor and then teach them to do the same for others.

Pastor Mike used the example of their children’s ministry. Of the 2800 people who call New Life their home church, more than 300 volunteer to serve the children. That high of a ratio of volunteers in children ministry (10% of attendance) wouldn’t be achievable unless the teams of leaders for every department and age group were intentionally investing in others.

I’m note sure if Mike said it or I just heard it, but what I wrote in my notes that day was “Multiplication Matters Most.” Reflecting on that conversation now a week later, I would summarize it this way: “Mentoring Multiplies Ministry.”

There really are only two ways to get more done in the ministry to which Christ has called you: 1) work harder and smarter yourself or 2) invest in other people who will mentor others to serve with you.

There is an African proverb that says, “You can go faster alone, but you can go further together.”

Will it be slower in the beginning to take the time to train and develop other leaders? Yes. A one-time event can be “microwaved” with a crowd of volunteers who simply follow directions. An enduring ministry requires a “crockpot” approach of mentoring toward multiplication that marinades the vision, values, and practices of the culture deeply into the next generation of leaders.

Is it worth it? Yes. Not only will you become a better leader by teaching and mentoring others, you will exponentially increase the capacity of your team for Kingdom impact. If you can accomplish your vision alone, dream bigger!

If you want to go further as a congregation, embed this 3M principle in the DNA of your church or organization: “Mentoring Multiplies Ministry.”


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