Pastor to 5,000+ Joe Wittwer Shares How to Produce Leaders to Grow

Show Notes

Is your organization’s growth stuck, capped and unable to grow beyond a certain level? The lead pastor of a 5,000 + member church shares with us why you must produce leaders to grow and how to go about growing the leaders your organization needs.

Our Mission – Help People Find and Follow Jesus

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Show Introduction –

  1. Ladies and gentlemen on today’s show we are interviewing Pastor Joe Wittwer, welcome onto the Thrivetime Show, how are you sir?!
  2. Pastor Joe, throughout your ministry career you’ve been able to help thousands of people and have been able to achieve much success, but I would like to start by asking you about starting from the bottom and where you believe your career first began?
    1. I started in Eugene Oregon doing youth ministry
    2. 1978 when I was 26 we came to Spokane
    3. Within a few months they had all voted with their feet and we started fresh
    4. I started in ministry when I was 19 in Eugene
    5. I became a Christian when I was 13
    6. I was home one saturday and a friend of mine invited me to church
    7. I went and got ambushed by Jesus
    8. That night I became a Christian
    9. I began going to church and within a few months I knew God was calling me to be a pastor
    10. I did have a praying grandmother who, when I was 7, told me I would be a pastor
    11. I was 26 when we came here and the governments in the church decided the church was due for a change. Everyone left and we were able to start over.
  3. Is there anything in the past that you feel you could’ve done better?
    1. I made many mistakes. I thought I knew more than I did. I could’ve come in with a more coachable attitude. My wife says my love language is being right. This caused needless separation.
  4. When did your church start gaining traction?
    1. It took quite a while. From 0-6 years we restarted and grew to 300 people then stopped
    2. Our problem was our location. It was a tiny building in a bad part of town
    3. As soon as we relocated at the 12 year mark we went from 300-500 then later to 800
    4. We had a good product in a bad package
  5. Why do you feel like your church has been able to grow when most have stayed the same size?
    1. In the early years we experimented.
    2. We decided to reevaluate and realized that we were putting all of our time and money into things that weren’t working like:
      1. Street evangelism
      2. Door to Door evangelism
    3. What did work was something called “Find. Tell. Bring.”
  6. FUN FACT –
    1. Only 8% of churches have over 1,000 members
  7. What is the number one tip you would give someone who is stuck at 600-800 people
    1. I would start with finding the restriction at the top of the leadership
      1. You have to have many leaders and become more team oriented
    2. Churches tend to become inward focused. It becomes pleasing and satisfying the members we have when there are thousands who need the church who are outside
      1. The best way to do this is to give your members an easy way to share their faith with their friends
      2. This doesn’t mean an inch thick notebook on how to share your faith

Joe Wittwer Thrivetime Show Slides

  1. What does your schedule look like?
    1. Wake Up – 6:00 am
    2. Start with working out at home at 6:30 am
      1. Jog
      2. Walk
      3. Stationary Bike
      4. Road Bike
      5. Racquetball
    3. Spend time with God reading scripture and praying at home at 7:30 am
      1. We’re out in the country so we can look out over the fields
    4. I look at my schedule for the whole week. I have 2 primary jobs. Leading and Speaking.
    5. Monday and Tuesday is speaking prep – Writing and editing
      1. I plan out what i’m speaking on over a long period of time. Roughly 6-8 months
      2. We want to come up with a balanced diet for our church
      3. I’ll look up words, looking at commentaries and look at different versions
      4. Then I create an outline and next I create a word for word manuscript
      5. I’m going over it and over it and over it and over it making sure it can hold water
      6. John Wooden once said “You want to practice until you can’t get it wrong”
    6. Wednesday – Thursday
      1. Meetings all day long
      2. These days can be 12-14 hours long
      3. All of the meetings are at set times and are scheduled
      4. These meetings are staff meetings, meetings with people in the community and so forth.
  2. When you get up to speak, what is going through your mind?
    1. I am praying
    2. I am trying to think of how we can make church an enjoyable experience
    3. We try to communicate that church doesn’t have to be boring
    4. Most people believe that if it is a serious subject is has to be boring
  3. NOTABLE QUOTABLE – “Human is to speaking as to what breathing is to swimming” – Joe Wittwer
    1. By opening it up for people to laugh you allow them to experience other emotions that they should be experiencing
  4. Pastor Joe, during your sermon which is available to watch on your Life Center Youtube channel you ask the question, “How many of you would admit that there is someone in your life that you are having a hard time forgiving?”
    1. It is essential but it is not easy
    2. Forgiveness is essential for you
    3. We typically think of forgiveness is something we do for others when it is actually doing something for us
    4. Bitterness is toxic and it poisons you. You need to forgive them for your own sake.
    5. You will be happier and healthier if you let go of grudges
  5. Pastor Joe, I know that you would recommend that all of our leaders should read the Bible. But in addition to recommending that our listeners should read the Bible, what are 1 or 2 books that you would recommend that all of our listeners should read?
    1. Unoffendable – Brant Hansen
    2. Who Is This Man – John Ortberg
    3. Courageous Leadership – Bill Hybels
  6. Pastor Joe, I would love for you to share with the listeners out there about your vision for the next 12 months of your life and what projects you are currently working on?
    1. Sermons –

Action – You have to find the biggest limiting factor. What is holding you back? If you want to grow your church you have to stop focusing on everything inside and get out to where all of the people in need are.

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Audio Transcription

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Thrive nation. I am super excited about tonight’s guest. On today’s show. We are interviewing the incredible pastor Joe wittwer who is the head pastor of the life center church, a church with now more than I believe 5,000 members. Pastor Joe, how are you sir?

I’m doing well. Clay, how are you

sir? I am. I am excited. I think a, you know, a lot of our listeners listen to this show because they’re leaders. They run, they run a business, they own a business. And a leading 5,000 people I think could feel overwhelming for anybody out there. But I’d like to start off it at the bottom or at the beginning of your career. How did your career start? My friend?

Well, I started in Eugene, Oregon Doing Youth Ministry at a small church and uh, had a lot of fun there. It went really, really well. And uh, in 1978, when I was 26, we came here, I was asked to take over a little church here in Spokane are about 40 people. When we came, I was not what they were praying for.


Oh, they voted with their feet. And uh, basically within a few months we essentially started over. Wow. And uh, that’s where we began.

Could you share with us how old were you when you started in ministry?

Well, uh, I was 19 when I started in youth ministry. Uh, and uh, took over a youth group in a, in a, in a little church there in Eugene. And then like I said, did that for about eight years. Seven or eight years and then came up to Spokane

and a nonspiritual sense, eat a lot of entrepreneurs. We would say. We just interviewed the founder of the Ritz Carlton, a hotel chain. Mr Hortz, Horst Schulze. We’ve also just interviewed John Maxwell and a lot of people who have to talk about hearing a calling where they felt called to do something. When did you feel first called to get into ministry?

Oh my. Well, I became a Christian when I was 13, and it was kind of sudden and dramatic conversion. I was just home one Saturday and uh, uh, junior high buddy knocked on my door, invited me to a youth rally. This church, I did not want to go. Uh, I’d been to church a few times. It was boring. I was not interested in doing that.

Uh, but I went and I tell people, I got ambushed by Jesus. There was a young man there who just shared about Jesus, like he knew him, like he was a friend and it was intriguing to me. And that night I walked home and said, okay, I don’t know anything about you, but here I am, God, that seat you want to do with my life. And I woke up the next morning and thought, what do I do now? And I thought, well, the one thing I know Christians do is they go to church. So I walked back down to that little church. My life started changing. And then within a few months, the, this was the unusual part. Within a few months, I just knew that God was calling me to be a pastor. And a, I did not come from a Christian family at that time. Eventually, they all became Christians, but, um, a large family that, uh, was not churched at all. And, uh, but I did have a praying grandmother who told me when I was seven that I would be a pastor and a yeah. And that was bizarre because like I said, we were not a church band. I didn’t even know what a pastor was, but I never forgot that.

So you at the age of 19, uh, got into ministry in Eugene, Oregon. How old were you when you had your first lead pastor job where the people left you, notifying you with their feet?

Yeah, that was, I was 26. Uh, when we, when we came and, uh, uh, the, the governance and our particular church is, uh, we have a district supervisor or a bishop, you know, who appoints us. And uh, so this little church was due for a change and he knew that I would, I would bring some change and so he sent me in there and said, when you go, everyone will leave. I’m a people person. So I said, I’ll win him over. He was right. They left. And uh, and we started over.

Um, you are, you are a man who’s very self aware. If you watch some of your, your sermons online, there you are. Oh, you have some self deprecation on your sermons on from time to time. And, and, uh, as you look back at your younger self, or is there anything in particular that you felt like you could done better in terms of maybe on the stage or in terms of the presentation or in terms of the actual day to day ministry or what do you feel like at that age you could have done better?

Oh, my word. Well, I could probably write a book on it.

I need a lot of mistakes. It’s a miracle. The place is still standing. Uh, uh, let’s see. I’d say for one thing, I was, uh, I thought I knew more than I did. Okay. Uh, I, I certainly could have come in with a more teachable and humble attitude. Um, I, uh, uh, my, my wife says that my love language is being right. And so I, uh, I think sometimes I cared too much about being right and having things done my way and needlessly offended and drove people off. And, uh, and certainly when I was young, um, I, I think I’d become over the years a pretty good collaborative leader when I was young, not so much. It was a, it was more my way or the highway. So a lot of mistakes in those early years.

No. Your church today I believe has about 5,000 people that attend on any given week. I am I correct in that?

Yeah, it’s closer to 4,000,

4,000. Okay.

We like to speak evangelistically so,

yeah. Okay. So let’s, let’s say 4,000 people that are there. Um, can you explain, uh, when your church first began to gain traction? Because I know on a, on a spiritual sense, um, I, I’m a Judeo Christian. I know, I know you are as well. I know God’s going to do some things in the supernatural that week. We can’t see in the natural. A lot of our listeners are Christians and a lot of them aren’t. Um, talk to us about some of the practical things you did when you first started to realize, wow, we’re getting some traction here. I am no longer going to have to start over again.

Well, it took quite a while actually. It’s kind of a long, slow grind, uh, uh, from, from zero to six years. That first six years, you know, we essentially restarted and grew to be about 300 people and then for the next six years, we plateaued right there and, and, and we plateaued. Um, because of our location, we had a tiny little building in a, in a, in a not very welcoming part of town with six parking spots. It just was not a good setup and a, and so for that, most of that six years we were looking for a chance to relocate. And as soon as we relocated that the, which would have been at the 12 year mark, immediately we started growing. In fact, we went from 300 to 500 the first weekend that we centered a month, 700 a month later, 800 a month after that and so on. And, um, yeah, I had a friend who said, you have a good product and allows the package. And uh, and I, and I think he was right. I think that essentially what we were doing was good and people got it. Um, but it was just, we were in a place where not that many people either could or wanted to access it. So, um, so that move was a huge change for us.

I’m not sure how much time you spend looking at Barna research, but I, I personally have worked directly with a lot of churches and pastors not helping him with anything related to the spiritual aspects of the church, but more of just the or the theology, just the marketing aspects, that kind of thing. Um, yeah, the Barna Group of people out there who are listening, who are not into a Christian research, basically, it’s kind of like the leading authority on, on church research and they’re, they’re showing that a lot of churches, you know, they never get over that 500 person range. They just don’t, you know, a lot of churches just to get stuck there. Um, can you talk to me about why you feel like your church has been able to, um, grow when most churches really stay about the same size?

Oh, that’s a great question. Obviously there’s several factors, but one of them is, um, in those early years, uh, we experimented with a lot of different ways. Um, our mission is real simple, help people find and follow Jesus. That’s all we do. And we experiment in those early years with a lot of ways of doing that. And um, at about year nine or 10, we sat down had, this sounds terrible, but we finally sat down and evaluated what we were doing. Uh, you know, I don’t know why churches don’t do that. I think because everything you do is, you know, God’s work, so to speak. And so it’s kind of a sacred cow. You don’t touch it. But the truth is we could really benefit if we would take a look at what we’re doing and say, hey, is it working or are we just spinning our wheels and wasting our time? And in fact, as we looked at what we were doing, most of what we were doing was spinning our wheels and wasting our time. But there was one thing that, uh, was consistently working. And, and here’s kind of the hilarious part of this. We were putting all our time, energy and money into a dozen things that weren’t working. We were putting none of our time, energy and money. And is the one thing that was working, uh, any business person will tell you that that’s just

what kind of things weren’t working. Just give us an example of maybe one thing or a couple of things you said you’re

sure. Yeah. So, um, uh, door to door evangelism three mentalism basically anything that was intrusive in nature, uh, you know, people, people are not real excited about that. What was working, the one thing that did work was, uh, we, we, we have a real simple name for it. We call it fine. Tell bring it’s, find someone you love, tell them what you know and bring them with you. So basically it’s just friendship. That’s all it is. It’s about relationships. And uh, at that 10 year mark, when we realized, you know, we could look at, at our church and say, Hey, we’ve got 300 people in here. Where’d they all come from? Well, they all came from friends, friends who loved him, who shared their faith with them and who brought them along. And uh, so we stopped doing all those other things and we just focused on this one thing. And that’s when our church really begin to get some traction.

I want to give you a little bit, and again, I know you’re a humble guy and I know that you’re not going to take the credit for everything and I realize that you’re going to share this with the team, but I just want to give you, I did some research about your church before to Andrew. You know this, I do a lot of research before I each and every show just to make sure that I’m really in bringing the facts that the thrivers expect. And on the Barner Research, Andrew, I’ll put a link here on the show. Now I get it. Um, right now there are only, only eight of a church of only 8% of the churches in America have more than a thousand members. Wow. 8%. So a pastor, if you’re in a room of a hundred other pastors, you know there’s only eight of you that have a church of more than a thousand people.

Why that matters is because you’re trying to help people with their lives. I mean, you’re trying to help people with their eternal salvation, so it’s not just a metric of, wow, my church is the biggest. It’s more of this is how many people you’re able to help and influence and lives you can touch if you are sitting face to face today with a pastor of about 800 members. Okay. I’m thinking of a couple of listeners I’ve talked to who’ve emailed. They have churches of 600700800 around that range. There’s about a dozen guys like that. I know. What would you tell them would be the number one tip if their church is in a community where it has enough people to grow, there’s a lot of unchurched people, but they’re stuck at six to 800 people. What what? What kind of would be your checklist of questions that you would ask them to help unlock that church growth?

Well, I start with two things to begin with. Um, the first one organizationally is, uh, uh, I think a lot of churches get stuck in that six to 800 mark because, um, there is, um, there’s a restriction at the top of their leadership and, um, for a church to grow past that, you’ve got to be producing and releasing lots of leaders. You’ve got to share leadership. You’ve got to become more collaborative, more team oriented. And um, you know, when churches are smaller, it’s possible for one person to lead up to a certain level and then maybe you can trust one or two other people to help you, you know, but when you get the 6,800, you’ve got to start building a team and releasing lots and lots of leaders if you hope to grow. So organizationally, I’d say that’s a key thing. Uh, the other big thing though is the thing I just talked about and that’s, that churches, almost all churches tend to become inward focused.

It becomes about pleasing and satisfying and keeping the members you have rather than reaching the untold millions that are outside your door. And, uh, I think Archbishop William Temple was the one who said the church is the one organization in the world that exists for the people who are outside of it. And if you don’t have an outside focus is, if that doesn’t beat in your heart as the leader and then get transferred into your people, um, you’re going to get stuck. It’s inevitable. In fact, it’s inevitable that you’ll, you’ll eventually shrivel and die. So I think churches have to have an outside focus. And the, um, the best way to do that is to give your people a really, really simple, highly relational way, uh, to show their face and bring their friends. And just one quick example on that. Yeah. For, for a number of years, um, before we figured this out, uh, I, I taught our people, uh, in evangelism course and uh, I had done bunch of them myself and you know, so I pulled everything I learned and I created this 12 week course with a big notebook, inch thick notebook.

And at the end of the week or at the end of the 12 weeks, what I discovered was I had not equipped my people to share their faith. I had paralyze them. And the reason is 12 weeks worth of info and a big thick notebook. Well, who can master that? Well, the pastor has, he can do it. And uh, when we discovered that, that what we discovered was simple, always better, and instead of giving people a 12 week course, I can tell them in two minutes what to do. Go find someone you love, tell them what you know and bring them with you. It’s just that simple.

Your, your church is, is, is changing lives. And um, it’s, it’s growing and in so many great things are happening within your church right now. And I know a lot of our listeners, we have a lot of listeners that love to listen to, uh, pastures, podcasts, youtube videos, watch youtube videos. Um, could you share with the listeners what kind of content you’re putting out that our listeners all over the world? We have about a half million people a month download the podcast. Is there a certain place you direct our listeners to go to if they want to hear more of, have you actually preaching and sharing your, your, your, your sermons each week?

Yeah, they could go to our website which is life real simple life And uh, everything that we do is on there and it’s all free. Uh, you can, you can watch anything, listen to anything, download anything. Uh, I think we’ve been included manuscripts of the messages, so, um, it’s there in multiple forms and all available for the taking.

I’m going to start to ask you now, uh, it kind of the bonus round here, kind of some more intense questions. And if you, if you don’t like the question, if you hang up, that’ll be my subtle cue that you didn’t like the question. So here we go. Um, there are, there are a lot of pastors, a lot of people out, entrepreneurs listening who don’t know what their schedule should look like. All right, so Monday through Sunday, if you can, I would like for you to share with us what your schedule looks like because John Maxwell said what gets scheduled gets done. We’ve interviewed pastor Craig Rochelle, pastor of the largest evangelical church in America. We’ve had huge pastors on, and you all are very intentional about your schedule. I’d love for you to share what your schedule looks like. Like what, what time do you typically get? What time do you typically wake up?

Well, I get up about six or six 30 in the morning. Got It. And uh, that’s, that’s typical. And uh, I start my day with some exercise and then, uh, I have a time with God where, uh, I read the scripture and a, I’ll write in my journal and I’ll often post that on my blog and take some time to pray. So that’s how I start my day.

What kind of exercising are you doing? You look you will I looking at you, you kind of look like John Stockton. Do you know John Stockton?

Oh yeah.

Have you, this John Stockton ever attended your church?

What’s that?

Has John Stockton ever attended your church out there and spoken?

No. Yes, I have met. John had been at a number of functions with him, but he’s not, he jumped the good Catholic man.

You and John or about the same age, aren’t you any 56, 57.

Uh, he’s about 10 years younger than I am. I’m 67.

Will you look, you look, Hey John Stockton. I’m not hating on here. If you’re out there, I realize you’re one of the best point guards of all time, but you got nothing on pastor Joe wittwer here. I’ll tell you that. You’re looking about the same age. So what? So you do your workout.

That’s okay. I’ll take that right there. Feeling good right now.

So you do your workout. What is your workout look like? What are you doing?

Well, right now, uh, uh, I used to jog all the time and um, but I’ve got a couple of knee surgeries now. So for the last three or four years I haven’t been able to jog. So now I walk or I get on the elliptical or on a stationary bike or in the good weather. I can get on my, on my regular bike. Um, sometimes I’ll play racketball that, uh, those are the kinds of things I’ll do.

So what time are you working out? What time was that?

Um, well generally it’s typically it’s been, you know, one of the first things I do in the day, I’ll either get up and start with my time with God and then go workout or flip it. Um, but I try to get those things done kind of the start of the day.

And then, uh, what time are you spending your time with Christ, your Bible study or prayer time? What time was that?

Uh, well, like that’s also, that’s also a morning time. Got It. So, and like I said, it’ll flip Sundays. That’ll be the first thing I do. Yeah. Some days it would be the second thing I do after I answered,

is this at your house or is it, where are you, where are you at this time?

Yup. Yeah, these are, this is, I do these, both these things either at home, uh, I mean sometimes I’ll go to the gym, but most of the times just here at home, um, get some exercise equipment and, and I live out in the country, so I’ll go and walk.

So you have kind of a workout. Did your wife, your wife’s name is lane, am I correct? Is it Lena? Did she allowed you to build a man cave,

I guess you could call it that, yes. GV and for stationary exercise equipment.

So I knew, I knew, I knew. She seemed like a great lady. Now to bonafide it is verified. Now. Do you have a nice view looking out while you’re working out? Do you to look out over a lake or what’s kind of the terrain?

Although we’re out in the country, so I look out over a field and a, you know, off across the sea about 10 or 12 miles


a hillside. So yes. Beautiful. It’s beautiful. But oftentimes too, what I’m, if I’m up in the morning doing my elliptical is getting in on the elliptical, I’ll stick my Bible on there and read my Bible while I do the elliptical. And then when I get off the elliptical, I’ll go and write in my journal and pray and do some of that. So I’ll, I, but I mix up that, by the way, is one of the keys to some of these things too is is that you wanted to inject a little bit of a diversity, move things around and mix things up. For me, if I do the same thing every single day, pretty soon it starts feeling like I’m in a Rut, gets a little boring. So that’s why I like to mix it up.

And then what time do you go to work?

Well, I do, uh, so here’s my, I, I, I look at my schedule for the whole week and uh, basically I have two primary responsibilities in my job. Uh, I leave and I speak. And uh, so, and the leadership of course takes the form of a lot of different meetings or in the week. And then the speaking, of course it happens primarily on weekends, but also scattered through the week or even a thing. So those are the two things I work on. The way my week looks is Monday and Tuesday are generally set aside for preparation for speaking. So Monday I’m studying and I’m preparing an outline and starting the writing. I write a full manuscript from my message. I try to have that done by the end of the day Tuesday. So that’s what I’ll do on Monday and Tuesday. Other things encroach upon that, you know, tomorrow I’ve got a, I’ve got a three o’clock meeting, um, with uh, with a group of guys that were, were dreaming about planting 400 churches in the next 10 years. Uh, so, uh, you know, things like that will pop up or things like, like this and interview. Um, but I’ll, uh, generally Monday, Tuesday art speaking.


Answer. Go ahead.

I want to ask you about this speaking prep here. Are you familiar with the former Christian Carlton Pearson?

I’ve heard the name

Carlton was mentored by Oral Roberts at Oral Roberts University. It’s where I went to college. And I wasn’t a Christian when I went to Oru at the, at, at the time, by the way, my wife was, but I was not. And uh, Carlton Pearson was the Number One TV evangelists, you know, in the early eighties there and you know, on TV. And um, he brought the Azusa conferences and he later, uh, renounced his faith in his life has been made into a movie. And I disagree with him theologically, but the point is, he was my, I hired him to be my speech coach because he was speaking and you know, thousands of visa, largest church in Tulsa in Tulsa is the Bible belt. And it was a multiracial church. It was probably 80% African American, 20% Caucasian. And I was just going, this guy is good. And I had heard that he had actually coached a bishop TD Jakes. And I thought, well, if he taught TD Jakes and oral Roberts taught him, I gotta have this guy teach me. And I didn’t realize, but when he sat down with me, and again, this is not a religious aspect of this training, he said, clay, I’m going to spend about 15, 15 to 20 times more time preparing for my talk. Then it actually takes to deliver it.


And this was the largest church in Tulsa. And I said, what? He said, well, I’m gonna ride out my manuscript of my talk. Then I’m going to go through the next day and edit it, cite it and research it. And, and he would just put on a laser show of a presentation. And I, and here I thought, and I easily, I thought, now you know my mind, I have my, um, naively thought that this guy must just be really talented. Could you explain your process for writing your actual sermon? Because I am fascinated with your delivery and presentation style. It’s really good.

Well, plan out what I’m speaking on a over a long period of time. So typically I’ll be planned out anywhere from six to 12 months in advance what I’m going to talk about. And, uh, and that’s a process of just getting away and praying. I have a team that I work with, we talk about a kick around ideas and, uh, we, we describe it this way that we want to come up with a healthy balanced diet for our church. And, uh, so that’s how we approach it. So on any given week, on Monday morning, for example, today I got up, I, I know what the sermon is going to be on this next weekend that’s already decided. And, uh, so I, I, I pull up that synopsis and a, I start working through the scriptures and the first thing I’ll do is just do the Bible work on, you know, looking up words, I’m reading commentaries, I’m comparing different translations.

Mean I’m doing all that stuff. So I do my homework, make sure that what I’m going to say, um, holds water. Uh, and then I tried to create an outline and a, and then the next step is to start writing it. And, and, uh, and I write it out, like I said, word for word. I write an entire manuscript and it takes me, especially this process takes about, generally takes two days to do, to do the prep, the study, the outline and the manuscript. And, uh, but in the process, I’ll, I’ll do what you mentioned that Carlton Pearson does is that I’m going over it and over it and over it and over it, uh, constantly refining it, you know, go back to the top and start over, read through, check, check, check, check, check, you know, and then I’m going to the next section and write it and so on.

So by the time I had done right, I had this happen. I had is that point where I, I, uh, my, uh, computer wouldn’t print out the message one Saturday night. And, uh, so I just had to, I had nothing. I walked up there with just a blank outline like everybody else and I just let it fly. When I got home that night and I was able to get it out of the computer and print it, uh, I realized that I had nailed it almost probably 80% word perfect. And that’s not because I have a great photogenic memory. I should because I went over and over and over it. Right. So yeah, just practice it. And so it doesn’t feel like you’re reading it. But I’ve got the manuscript up there with me.

It’s uh, John Wooden, the legendary Ncaa coach who won 10 championships in 12 years as the head basketball coach once said, you want to practice until you can’t get it wrong. Don’t until perfect. I think that’s, uh, something you’re doing now. Now Talk to me about Wednesday and beyond. I didn’t mean to cut you off. I’m just so fascinated with your process Wednesday and beyond. What does that look like for you?

But Wednesday and Thursday you have meetings all day long and sometimes we’ll start early in the morning and go til late in the evening. Old Lesson, common to have the 12 or 14 hour day on a Wednesday or Thursday and Wednesday tends to be, uh, uh, staff and staff meetings. So I’m meeting with our leadership team, with the EXEC team, with our staff, with different members of staff.

You have set times. So there’s meetings are not random, right? Set Times.

Yeah. Yeah. The old there are, uh, there’s a combination of set meetings, weekly meetings that are established and then the rest of the time, the other hours just get filled up with, with scheduled appointments. And so, and those meetings, like I said, Wednesday, most of the time it’s almost the whole day is different staff members. Thursday it’ll be different church members, other pastors in town. There were people in the community, just congregation members. Um, but it’ll be a real variety of things.

Now when you get up there to speak any given Sunday, what’s going through your mind as you are getting prepared to get up there and, and deliver your message?

Hmm. Well, the most basic thing is, uh, I’m praying and I’m praying that it will be beneficial for people. I mean, that’s, that’s what you want is, uh, I, I want people to, I want people to walk away at the end of our time together feeling like they’d had an encounter with God, that they heard something from God, that they’ve gotten something beneficial and it doesn’t hurt. If they have a good time or they’re doing it. And, uh, I kinda grew up with the idea that it’s a, it’s a sin to make the best news in the world, boring. And, uh, that people learn better when they’re having fun doing it. And, uh, so, you know, so we’ve tried to, we’ve tried to make church and enjoyable experience rather than one that is just dreadful.

I think a lot of, uh, people get hung up on this idea that, you know, education has to be boring. Entrepreneurship has to be boring. A leadership has to be boring or talk to me about why it doesn’t have to be boring. There’s somebody out there who’s going, well, if it’s going to be, you know, something we take seriously, it has to be boring.


Well, and that’s true that unfortunately people do do mistake. Uh, the idea that, you know, some, it’s something you have to be taken seriously then yeah, then we have to be completely serious about, we can’t have any fun. And, uh, the reality is that, um, uh, well let me, let me say it this way of what I’m talking with other pastors about preaching style. One of the things we talk about is the use of humor. And a, I tell them that the humor is to speaking, uh, what breathing is to someone who’s swimming. You know, if you’re out in the, in the ocean and you go under for a little while, it doesn’t take very long, you know, a matter of seconds for most of us before we want to come back up and get air. And oftentimes what we do in churches, you know, we’re preaching this serious stuff and which is good, but it’s like we’re holding people underwater and, uh, by injecting a little humor, we let them come up for air to catch their breath. And, um, uh, also I think humor ends up, it can be, it can be, uh, by touching that particular emotion, by making people laugh. You also open people up to other emotions that they might need to experience. It could be grief or sorrow or awareness of repentance or anyone of a number of things. And, uh, so, uh, and then the other thing too is I just think, I think that people learn better when they’re, like I said, when they’re having fun when they’re laughing. So, um,

pastor Joe wittwer I want to respect your time, but I had two quick final questions I want to ask you here. When going through some of your sermons, I was able to watch on your youtube channel, um, one on one of the sermons. You asked the question, how many of you would admit that there is someone in your life that you are having a hard time forgiving? And to me that struck a chord because as a business owner, I don’t expect you to do extensive research on me, but if you do a brief Google search of myself, you’re going to see that my, my partner and I, we have 13, a multimillion dollar brick and mortar companies. You know, there’s a haircut chain, optometry clinic, there’s auto auction, there’s a marketing company, there’s a lot of businesses. And we get, uh, how, what’s the technical term screwed, um, often by people who, um, you know, it’s like a form or I get an employee, you train, you’d coach him up and next thing you know, you did, they violate the noncompete and now they’re working against you. Or you have employees that steal a, the u s chamber did a study recently that reveal the reveal that 75% of us employees are now stealing from the workplace. So when I watched that sermon, it spoke to me and I would like to get your take on forgiveness and why it is essential, but that is certainly not easy.

Oh boy. It is not easy. I tell people that that forgiveness is essential for you because we tend to think of forgiveness as letting the other person off the hook. Right? And justice needs to be served on all that good stuff. But the truth is that if I hang on to an offense and I think, you know, I’m going to make that person pay, the only person who’s paying as me, I’m the one carrying that thing around, you know, that’s, you know, I just rented out space in my mind for free to that person and I could use that space for something a lot more profitable than just being angry and bitter and unforgiving. Bitterness is toxic. It poisons you. And uh, so, you know, I’ll tell people you need to forgive for your own sake. Uh, don’t worry about the other person. And uh, they said, well yeah, but that lets them off the hook.

Well, as I understand it, that’s God’s job to be in charge of the hook isn’t it? And, uh, my life is going to go a whole lot better if I am willing to just let go with him. To forgive literally means to let go over, send away and the opposite that’s hanging on to stuff. And you know, the more stuff you hang on to, I mean pretty soon I got to be a pretty heavy load to carry around. So I think you’re going to be happier. You’re going to be healthier if you just let go of some stuff and uh, you don’t have to be judge and jury. Let God take care of that.

My final question I have for you, as you come across as a very well read person, I’m not assuming that you spend your whole day reading secular books, but it seems like you, you have a grasp of what it takes to be a leader. Now if you have, have you come across as very being very comfortable, um, all when you’re presenting to your congregation and, and, and speaking about leadership and, um, are there certain books that have made a big impact in your life as it relates to leadership? Or is it all from the Bible or I’d love to hear your take on that.

Oh, my word. Yeah. I, uh, I read a lot. I love to read. And my pastor told me when I was a young man, he said, leaders are readers. So he insisted that we, that we read and I have fallen in love with it. Uh, I average about five or six books a month and um, and I read pretty widely all kinds of different subjects. Uh, I love it. Speaking of leadership, I love biographies of great leaders. Yeah. And

I thought you would, and I was just curious because we just interviewed the founder of, of a, a Ritz Carlton and he was talking about buying hot Bonhoeffer, uh, the, the famous Christian Anti Nazi theologian who was German at the time when it was very counterintuitive to be anti Nazi. And that, and again, just our listeners love book recommendations. It could be any book at all that’s influenced you. I just would love for you to share about a book that you say that is a book right there. That was, whew. That was more a couple of books that were magic to you.

Sure. Well I’m going to, I’m going to give you one that I’m reading right now and really enjoying a, it’s a new book for they than doing the last couple of years called on offendable by Brandt Hansen.

Okay. Have you heard of it? No. To educate us. Okay.

Okay. On offendable. So, uh, uh, he, his contention is that our lives are going to be healthier and happier if we give up the right to be angry. If we lay aside our judgment and just forgive people, if we make up our minds to be unaffordable and he makes the point, he says, look, you’re going to get angry. Sometimes you’re going to be offended sometimes, but the question is, are you going to hang onto it or are you going to let it go? And, uh, he makes a great case for letting it go and uh, um, clearly terrific and I think a great concept and it relates to what we were just talking about. Fun, forgiveness. It’s a great book on being forgiven and forgiving. Um, one book that inspired me a couple of years ago. Um, well a couple of others, uh, who is this man by John Ortberg?


Well who is this man by John Ortberg? Again, inspiring book on Jesus and his impact in the world. It’s eyeopening and fascinating in terms of, uh, the impact that Christ has had. Um, Becky quotes, one scholar who says that if we could drop a huge magnet and somehow magnetically removed from the world, every trace of Jesus influenced, there’d be very little left. Uh, it’s just that huge. It’s quite remarkable. Um, so that’s a book I’ve loved. Um, courageous leadership by bill Hybels was a book that really spoke to me and I know the bill Hybels was kind of out of favor right now given what’s going on. But uh, but the book, his book is fabulous, courageous leadership.

So you, you, um, you would consider you, you would give the education, the, the practical step, the wisdom or the encouragement for the listeners out there. Leaders are readers.


absolutely. That is you. You are just, you are, you are blowing my mind. You have way too many knowledge bombs per capita. It must be all that Spokane beauty right there. Your waterfall and Spokane is beautiful by the way. I’ve been to Spokane two times I believe. And I think you have, do you have like a waterfall that runs kind of right to the city?

We do. We do in indeed. And if you come again, are you gonna are you gonna let me know and so I can buy you lunch.

I would love to come visit you. We are. Um, it’s interesting as, as hard, um, audience continues to grow. We’re having just like the founders of Warby Parker, do you have, do you guys have Warby Parker out there and in Spokane or do you know of Warby Parker?


they’re a big disruptive eyewear company. Or we had like the leader or the guy who used to lead a Harley Davidson Kin Schmidt or Michael Jackson’s Pr Guy, Justin Bieber’s manager. All these people are reaching out to us to be on the show. And I know I reached out to you and I just want to tell you I respect what you’re doing and it is just awesome to see somebody with so much joy and so much energy and such a desire to help people that that frankly will probably never repay you for all the love that you put into their life. And I just, I thank you for doing that. I know you’re a very sincere person. Thank you so much.

Well thank you. Thank you very much.

And I will harass you. I’m in Spokane. I will harass you. I will do it. I will come crash your man cave. You’ll find you’ll be working out at five 30 and you’re going to go, what is it? And it’s going to be a knock at your door. Sorry, I forgot to call ahead of time. Right. Well I look forward to connecting with you, my friend. I will definitely text you if I’m in the area and uh, you have a blessed day.

All right, you too. Thanks clay.

Take Care of Boston.

If you are listing today and you’ve yet to attend an in person thrive time show workshop, I would encourage you to go to thrive time today. Uh, because I’m, I’m just telling you these events are life changing and game changing events for so many people. Just go to thrive time Click on the conferences button and when you click on that button you’re going to see testimonials. You can find a youtube testimonials, you can find iTunes reviews, you can find Google reviews, you can find real businesses out there, real people who are using both their first and their last name and the name of their company to testify how their business has experienced real growth this year as a result of really diligently implementing the systems they’ve learned and people don’t leave our conferences with a lot of great feelings. They leave our conference with specific action items that they can take, specific action steps that they can take that can immediately begin to apply to their businesses. The moment they leave our conference. These business conferences are game changing, life changing events, and we would love to see you at our next in person, thrive time show workshop. But we do like in each and every show with a boom. And so if you’re psychologically ready, I know that I am. If you’re physically ready, I know that I am, and if you’re a overall, just ready. Let’s do it. Here we go. Three, two, one, boom.


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