Andy Wood & Mike Hickerson

The “What” – 5 Decisions To Shape My Church Planting Vision

About The Episode

“…the more it’s clear the kind of culture I’m trying to create, I’ll attract people that also have similar values…so it’s so good before I go to that building phase to start getting some of this stuff super clear in my heart–one, so I can communicate it, but two, so that I can attract the right kind of people and I’m not having to work so hard to get people convinced about my vision.” On today’s episode, Andy Wood and Mike Hickerson share five key decisions to shape and clarify the vision for a church plant. 

Welcome to Episode 011 of The Unfair Advantage Podcast with Mike Hickerson and Andy Wood.

Insights From Mike & Andy


  •  Clarifying why helps articulate your vision. Consider these questions to help determine your why. 
    • Why start the church?
    • Why this city?
    • Why now?
    • Why me?  
  • Always be prepared with a 3-5 minute synopsis of your vision. 
  • Understand who you are speaking to. In a community that was largely unchurched, Andy found sharing he was part of a start-up resonated with many in Silicon Valley. He then could delve deeper into sharing the non-profit, start-up was a church.


  • What are we trying to do as a church?
  • What is it that makes our call unique?
  • Take out a journal and wrestle through what it is you’re trying to create. Ask God to speak, and write down what He says.


  • Learn from somebody. Oftentimes, church planters can get confused when they are picking and choosing and throwing a model together. The result is something that is not cohesive. It’s ok to get inspiration from multiple places, but stick with one general model. 
    • For example, determine what’s the purpose of the weekend service? Is it designed for believers or lost people?
    • What’s the role of small groups?
    • What’s the teaching style?


  • Write out a purpose statement. This should be short, clear, compelling, and memorable. 


  • Be willing to refine your list as you go
  • Developing core values will also ensure you are attracting the right kind of people to serve alongside you

Episode Links

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Who Are Andy Wood & Mike Hickerson?

Andy Wood is the Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church. Andy and his wife Stacie are answering God’s call to serve at Saddleback after over a decade of church planting. The Wood’s started South Bay Church in 2009 with two other families. South Bay Church officially changed their name to Echo.Church in January of 2018. Echo.Church has become one of the fastest growing churches in the most unchurched area of the United States and is now reaching over 2,300 people in regular attendance in three locations across Silicon Valley.

Andy’s passion is to create environments that engage the unchurched people of the Bay Area. Along with leading the church, Andy enjoys investing time in helping church planters and church leaders think more innovatively and strategically to reach people in the most unreached areas of North America. Andy and Stacie have three kids, Caedmon, Sammy, and Karis. 

Mike Hickerson is the Lead Pastor of Mission Church in Ventura, CA. Mike describes himself as a church planter, lucky husband, outnumbered dad of three daughters, Oklahoma Sooner fan, coffee addict, and a struggling surfer.


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Quotes From Episode

“God was working in our city before we got here…and He’ll be working long after we’re dead and gone, so we want to join…where God is working. We want to be people of good news.”

“At the core, we’re about reaching people and making disciples.”

“Culture is carried with our words, with our attitudes, with what we reinforce through praising, what we accept or don’t accept in terms of behavior, but language is the primary carrier of culture.”

Our goal with the Ascent Leader and our church planting cohorts is to help church planters win early and finish strong. We want to resource you so that you can avoid common pitfalls and simple mistakes. Being involved in a community of leaders like our church planting cohorts is one of the best ways to wrestle through these questions. We’re here to help you, if we can be of assistance to you please feel free to reach out.

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