DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Good to Great

Written by: on September 9, 2016

One of the most quintessential leadership books that has had a major impact on my ministry and leadership has been Jim Collins’, Good To Great. Collins’ basic premise for his work is that good companies never achieve greatness because they are satisfied with the status quo of being good. Collins, in his monograph Good to Great and the Social Sectors, distills what makes a company great when he says, “A great organization is one that delivers superior performance and makes a distinctive impact over a long period of time.  For a business, financial returns are a perfectly legitimate measure of performance.  For a social sector organization, however, performance must be assessed relative to mission, not financial returns (Good to Great Social Sectors, p. 5). For Collins, relatively few companies ever achieve such greatness.  They simply are good companies, but disappear with time because they have not created a lasting legacy of being great.  He would state it like this:

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

Through a series of stories and examples of great companies and leaders that have stood the test of time, Collins weaves in concepts in order to achieve greatness.  His most impactful concept is to challenge your organization with “BHAGS (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).”  In Collins’ thought, an organization does not achieve great things because the organization does not possess challenging goals that push people to the brink of their personal best.



Good to Great and the accompanying monograph were insightful to me in my current context.  As I have been working hard to revitalize a church culture over the last year, I have come to the realization that the shift I have been making in my context has been moving a church from being good to becoming great.  Simple processes such as creating systems, becoming missional in thought, and caring less about the bottom line and more about the people in our community does not define a good church, but it should, if done right, defines a great church.  After all, my desire to pastor is not to be in a pulpit for 20 years and then retire, but to create an organization that has a lasting impact long after I am gone.

By understanding the principles of a great organization, it will help me think years down the road and not just live in present success.  Master plans for buildings, future hires, and even succession must be thought through if a church is to achieve greatness.  It is my conviction that many want to achieve great things within the ministry, but lack the basic knowledge on how to achieve that and the discipline to see the process through.  Good to Great and Good to Great Social Sectors offers ideas for both.  After all, Collins states, “Mediocre companies rarely display the relentless culture of discipline-disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who take disciplined action- that we find in truly great companies.  A culture of discipline is not a principle of business; it is a principle of greatness (Good to Great Social Sectors, p. 1).”  Because of our mission, the church should be the greatest force in the world, but it will take disciplined labor.

About the Author


Jason Kennedy

I am a pastor of a thriving church in Grapevine, Texas. With two little girls (5,8), and a wife that is a medical doctor (family practice), life is non-stop.

14 responses to “Good to Great”

  1. Pablo Morales says:

    We both connect in a similar way with Collins in light of our passion for the church. I’m glad that you have enjoyed your first year of senior pastoral ministry.

    When I started serving as the Lead Pastor at Ethnos, some experienced friends in pastoral ministry warned me that to revitalize a church from point A to point B required at least 10 years of investment. Collins says that shaping an organization to move from good to great takes between 10 to 20 years before the flywheel gains the desired momentum. I have now served here for 13 years, and can better understand what all of these experts were saying.

    It is a common pattern among pastors to only serve an average of 2 to 5 years before moving to a different church (often seeking bigger and better). What is your projection at your current church? You mentioned a strong desire to make it a great church. Are you willing to invest two decades of your life there?

    • Pablo….thanks. When I interviewed a year ago, I told the board that I want to pastor 1 church for the rest of my life. Part of saying that is recognizing that in order to have a lasting impact, then it takes 10-20 years. So in short, yes….I plan to be here for the rest of my pastoral career.


  2. Hi Jason. Your blog is clear and simple yet profound in the sense that you take the principals from the books and apply them to your own ministry. How has this year of transition been for you and your family? When we met last year you were packing up and moving West. Wow, a year ago! What would you say has been the most important system that you have created that has been the most effective in revitalizing your church? (trust me, I am really curious about this one)

    • AP, can you believe how quick the year has gone? I would say that turning the church from inward focus to outward focus is big. We are slowly becoming missional. In regards to a system, I would say our systematic approach to going and giving. We have the giving down. We have increased our missions giving 75%. This year my emphasis is going. I am hiring a person for this specifically.
      I think a simple system thing you can do is also make your yes’s truly be yes’s and your no’s be no’s/ The church I am at had pastors not follow through. Creating small wins by making your word matter builds trust immediately.
      We have also added visitor retention systems, prayer systems, internal org systems as well.

  3. Aaron Cole says:


    Great blog! I agree with you on using Collins principles to help build a sustainable church. At you present stage of development, which one of Collins principles are you endeavoring to apply?

    See you in London,

  4. mm Phil Goldsberry says:


    I love your thought: “After all, my desire to pastor is not to be in a pulpit for 20 years and then retire, but to create an organization that has a lasting impact long after I am gone.” That is proof text that you are not in this for YOU.

    What are two things that you are doing that is creating a “lasting impact” in Grapevine? I know you have only been there a short time, but you are creating precedent right now.

    See you in a few days.


    • Phil,
      I am developing staff preachers. I am allowing others to carry the ball. I explain it this way. As a executive pastor for 15 years, my role was to close doors. Now, I am a door opener and cannot do both, so I am creating teams that close the door on the vision. Finding my role this year is critical to lasting impact. I do not want people to be codependent on me.

  5. Kevin Norwood says:


    Great to be a part of your church last weekend. The follow up calls this week tell me that you are on the journey to being “great.” The message and what you are endeavouring to do within just a short time of being their speaks to the exact topic that we are reading about.

    People are looking to go forward. The lady who called me said she has been a part of the church for 18 years and is ready to go to the “great” level. How are you developing the team of leaders around you both volunteer and paid staff to get there?

    Looking forward to London.


    • Kevin,
      Great to have you last week. Kids loved hanging out. The development is slow, but it is constant training and re-training with them.
      While this can be shocking, I can be a hermit at times. I am forcing myself to allow people to see part of the process. I am also letting people fail and then teaching them in the process.
      I am also big in allowing people ownership of the process. I can explain better in person some of the things we have done and are doing.

  6. mm Rose Anding says:

    Hi Jason ,
    You have started the semester off with a great blog, one of the statemeng in your blog was, “A culture of discipline is not a principle of business;ciple it is a principle of greatness (Good to Great Social Sectors, p. 1).” Because of our mission, the church should be the greatest force in the world, but it will take disciplined labor.”

    After that statement what are you seeing ” …as the Principle of greatness for you church”?
    It was great sharing with you! If the Lord’s will, we will meet you in London!

  7. mm Marc Andresen says:


    When you interviewed for your current ministry position, did you talk with the interviewers at all about these principles; particularly BHAGs?

    If so, what was that like? Was it insightful for you and/or the church?

  8. mm Garfield Harvey says:

    This was a great read. You stated that your desire was “to create an organization that has a lasting impact long after I am gone.” Sadly, many leaders believe that there’s no end date to their leadership and this is evident in churches where both the leader and congregation are aging. We often feel like creating a plan with an end date might jeopardize our leadership. In reality, it reinforces the idea to foster the next generation while creating a system that’s built to last.


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