21 Key Lessons From the World’s Fastest-Growing Startup

Become a constant learner who can learn from anyone, including those in the business sector.

One of the qualities of pastors of fast-growing churches is humility. They do not think they know everything. They are constant learners who can learn from anyone … including those in the business sector.

Recently recognized in the December/January edition of Inc. magazine as its 2015 Company of the Year, Slack by many measurements is the world’s fastest growing startup company. Inc. writer Jeff Bercovici profiled Slack and its founder CEO, Stewart Butterfield.

The following are 21 Lessons Fast Growing Churches Can Learn From the World’s Fastest Growing Startup I gleaned from the article:

  1. Fast-Growing Churches Have Clear Purpose and Core Values—They know why they exist and continually communicate it. Butterfield uses “Teachable Principles” to internalize its company values.
  2. Fast-Growing Churches Will Face Complex Problems—Butterfield said, “Data won’t settle anything elaborate.”
  3. The Smallest Details Matter If You Want to Grow—Butterfield became very annoyed during a video conference when one of its participants had a squeaky chair. If you tolerate squeaky chairs, what else are you willing to tolerate?
  4. Fast-Growing Churches Remove Unnecessary Distractions—All the bathrooms in Slack’s corporate offices play French radio. Butterfield wants people listening to something other than standard bathroom noises. Great idea for a church.
  5. Pastors of Fast Growing Churches Own Their Own Message—Butterfield personally wrote the company’s first several thousand tweets.
  6. The Ability to Communicate Is Critical in an Information Economy—All communications (platform, bulletins, PowerPoint slides, emails, social media, etc. …) must be efficient and done with clarity.
  7. Fast-Growing Churches Are Filled With People Who Invite Their Friends—Referrals are vital to Slack’s growth. The company does not have salespeople and has only recently begun to advertise. All their growth has been by word of mouth.
  8. Fast-Growing Churches Focus on Excellence—Modest CEO Harper Reed who was one of Slack’s first customers said, “It was instantly apparent how much better it was than anything we had.”
  9. Fast-Growing Churches Make an Emotional Connection With Their Attendees—Slack’s customers describe the product as “fun, thoughtful, humane, whimsical and erudite.” Is your church?
  10. Fast-Growing Churches Make a Great First Impression—Whenever you open the Slack app, it has a message such as “What a day!” or “You look nice today.” Does your church immediately communicate a similar message during its weekend services?
  11. Fast-Growing Churches Are Willing to Fail—Just fail fast. Butterfield has been part of two previously failed startups.
  12. Great Lessons Can Be Found in Failure—Therefore, failure must be properly evaluated. After closing down a product called Glitch, Butterfield continued working with a skeleton crew across North America. They created a more effective internal communication tool out of necessity. It worked so well he thought other companies would want to purchase it. Thus Slack was created.
  13. Fast-Growing Churches Relieve Stress—People have very complex and difficult lives. They are stressed out. Fast growing churches address those felt needs. Butterfield said, “Communication is one of the things that causes tension in an organization, and we wanted to relax that.”
  14. Fast-Growing Churches Make Serving Easily Accessible—Slack makes it easy for their customers to use their products. It centralizes your communication, makes it easily available and searchable.
  15. Fast-Growing Churches Help Complete Your Life. They Do Not Compete With Your Life—Slack “builds up to the edge” of applications people are already using like PowerPoint and Excel.
  16. Fast-Growing Churches Hire the Best People—Great companies hire people with mental and emotional intelligence. Ali Rayl, Slack’s head of customer support, says, “You need to feel like you’re talking to someone who has read a few books—someone who has a lot of interests outside the office, but right now they’re just hanging out with you, talking about Slack.”
  17. Fast-Growing Churches Cast Vision Over and Over and Over Again—Because vision leaks. As successful as Slack has been, Butterfield knows he must continually remind people of the company’s core values and beliefs.
  18. Fast-Growing Churches Invest Heavily in Staff Development—Butterfield recently hired someone with a doctorate in education to oversee corporate training.
  19. Fast-Growing Churches Offer Their Staff a Healthy Work-Life Balance—One of Slack’s office mottos is “work hard and go home.”
  20. Fast-Growing Churches Manage People’s Time and Energy for More Impact—Butterfield concludes, “Most people have a small number of effective hours to work, and to overlap with other people’s, the net effect will be more impact.”
  21. Fast-Growing Churches Figure Things Out as They Go—Practice and production, not theory, are the best teachers. Bervovici concluded his article by noting Butterfield and his team developed their product while using it. They also are developing their culture while living it.

What is one thing from this list you can use to spur growth at your church?

Brian Dodd
Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See www.briandoddonleadership.com for additional insights.