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Elemental Pathway team-based organizational assessment
Elemental Churches: our story

“Why do you use the name The Elemental Group? Are these resources for third-graders?”

Funny! But nope.


We’re called The Elemental Group because of our research in the four critical elements all healthy and effective churches had: Integrity, Passion, Servanthood, and Imagination. We’ve found that churches and ministries—or any organization for that matter—that infuse these traits into their operating system, tend to create cultures that are more robust with longer-term impact on their communities, both inside and out. We lay this out in the book that forms the basis for who we are and what we doElemental Leaders: Four Essentials Every Leader Needs…And Every Church Must Have.

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Watch short video interviews with author Dave Workman about the book and the Elements... along with a bonus video on “reluctant leaders”!

Click here...


Integrity means that systems and processes are present and functional toward achieving the organization's goals.


A church or ministry with integrity has a clear sense of mission and purpose and maintains systems that leverage resources toward the fulfillment of its mission. What we do is in line with what we say, and what we say expresses our true values.

Passion means that people in the church support and are engaged in the mission.

When an organization has passion, people support the mission not only by saying they support it, but also by investing their personal time, effort, and money toward accomplishing it. When disagreements arise, they arise because people care whether the church succeeds and question whether current methods will ensure success. A widespread sense of shared ownership is evident in a passionate church or ministry.


Servanthood means that the organization demonstrates an outward focus.

When an organization is servant-oriented, energy is invested in meeting the needs of people, not just in running the machine. We want to survive so we can reach more people, not for the sake of surviving. Relationships within the church or ministry are healthy because people put the needs of others before their own.


Imagination means that the organization can change to stay relevant.


Imaginative churches and ministries can envision futures that differ from the way things have always been. They see that the world around them is changing rapidly and adapt to ensure that they are meeting the real needs of today. Individuals are open to new opportunities, and innovation is rewarded.

Elemental Leaders: integrity, passion, servanthood, imagination

For sake of memory, the Elemental Group uses the classical metaphors of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air to represent these four key values.

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Earth symbolizes Integrity, with the image of a firm foundation that also provides materials for building. An organization with integrity is grounded in a clear sense of purpose and maintains solid systems to ensure things are done well.


Fire represents Passion, the energy that drives an organization forward. People understand the vision and are working to achieve it. A widespread sense of ownership is evident. People are excited to be part of what is happening.


Water signifies Servanthood, as illustrated by Christ when he washed the disciples’ feet on the last night of his life (John 13:1-17). People in the church or ministry put the needs of others, especially people who are far from God, first.


Air represents Imagination and capacity for change—the ability of leaders to “blue sky”. The organization takes a creative approach to the future and welcomes new ideas. Leaders encourage creativity rather than stifling it with red tape.

All four of these elements—Integrity, Passion, Servanthood, and Imagination—will be evident in a healthy, growing church or organization. Your organization is likely stronger in some of these areas than others, but all must be active and balanced. Our primary assessment, the Elemental Inventoryis built upon those key traits...and all our tools reflect them in some way.

That is why we’re called The Elemental Group.

And if you’ve read this far, you’re a force of nature yourself! Class dismissed!

Mix together some veteran pastors, university professors, and marketplace entrepreneurs and you get the Elemental Group Engineering Team.
We have one thing in common: a deep love for the local church and faith-based ministries. We take our calling seriously in creating team-based tools that blend interactive reflective learning with challenging (but fun!) elements. This is leadership development in a whole new way.

Dave Workman
dave workman
Dave Workman is president and co-founder of the Elemental Group. He is the author of Elemental Leaders: Four Essentials Every Leader Needs…And Every Church Must Have and The Outward-Focused Life: Becoming a Servant in a Serve-Me World. Dave was instrumental in the growth of the Vineyard Cincinnati megachurch from its inception and then served as senior pastor for thirteen years. He spearheaded such initiatives as the groundbreaking Healing Center—a multimillion-dollar facility offering forty different services to holistically meet the needs of thousands of resource-challenged people every month—and the H2O Nigeria Project, drilling over one hundred water wells in central Nigeria. Dave regularly speaks on leadership development and building outward-focused churches nationally and internationally. He and his wife Anita have been happily married since 1978 and have two married daughters and four spectacularly beautiful grandchildren.  Contact:
Tom Thatcher
tom thatcher
Dr. Tom Thatcher is co-founder and Chief Analyst of the Elemental Group. He has served as Dean of the Russell School of Ministry and Cincinnati Bible Seminary and professor of Biblical Studies. As a teacher, Tom has spent more than 20 years in seminary leading courses and presentations on Biblical Studies and early Christianity. He has served on numerous research committees in the Society of Biblical Literature, has authored or edited 20 books on the New Testament, edits an academic series of books, and regularly writes mass-market adult curriculum materials. As an administrator, Tom has substantial experience in program review, strategic planning, organizational infrastructure, and outcomes assessment. Tom regularly speaks at academic conferences and a variety of congregational settings. Tom and his wife, Becky, have been married since 1987 and have two children.  Contact:
Tom Vollmer
tom vollmer
Dr. Tom Vollmer serves as VP of Sales and Marketing. His wide range of life experience includes being lead pastor of two church revitalization projects, a missionary in Europe, an associate pastor, and a professor of Biblical Studies. With a heart for biblical justice and racial reconciliation, Tom serves on the leadership team of Mosaix Cincinnati and is a member of City Servants. He is an adjunct professor with SUM Bible College & Theological Seminary and Mt. St. Joseph University where he teaches courses in biblical studies, religions, leadership, and theology. Tom has a rich understanding of church health and has published books, articles, and presented research at major conferences in the U.S. and Europe. He and his wife Patricia have been married since 1992 and have one son at The Ohio State University.  
Shawn Barkley
shawn barkley
Shawn is an Elemental Group Consultant and Strategist with 29 years of experience as a senior pastor in the Presbyterian Church USA. He has a B.A. in Political Science from Western Kentucky University, and a Master’s of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary. He has presented at the National PCUSA Evangelism and Church Growth Conference and serves on the Presbytery of Cincinnati Council as well as lead pastor for Crestview Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Shawn regularly consults with other congregations and pastors to help define their mission and develop leadership gifts and strategies for fulfilling that mission. In addition to enjoying his time working with churches, Shawn loves sports, cooking on the grill, and spending time with his wife Amy Jo and son Davis.  Contact:
Judi Odor
judi odor
Dr. Judi Odor is the Director of Operations at the Elemental Group. Judi has been heavily involved in thriving churches in Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Lexington, and Cleves and has a passion for church health and Great Commission work. The daughter of missionaries in South America, Judi completed a PhD in Biblical Studies from Asbury Seminary. She has extensive experience in scientific, academic, and curriculum publishing and works with Elemental Churches to design and manage the systems that keep everything running. Judi and her husband Micah (Dean of The Russell School of Ministry) have three children and a codependent husky.  Contact:
Wes Sebree
wes sebree
Wes is an Elemental Coach and Strategist with over 25 years' combined experience in the non-profit, academic, and business sectors. His roles included pastor, professor, business consultant, and church planter trainer. He holds two Master’s degrees and excels in system and workflow development, staff culture, and organizational alignment. His passion is the development and practice of integrated disciplemaking pathways within the local church. Wes spends as much time outside as possible and enjoys a good fire surrounded by great conversation. He married Sharmon in 1991 and they have four children; three of whom attend the University of Louisville and the fourth recently graduated high school and is preparing to enter the U. S. Navy. They live in Crestwood, Kentucky with their two dogs, Cleo and Millie.  Contact:
Al Buchweitz
al buchweitz

As a Strategist and Consultant, Al's experience is a unique blend of pastoral leadership and church-planting as well as innovative entrepreneurial endeavors in the marketplace. After graduation from Wheaton, Al planted churches in Boston and Chicago and later served on the executive team at Vineyard Cincinnati Church during a time of explosive growth, overseeing the development and management of Assimilation, Communications, Outreach and Celebration Support. In the marketplace, his roles included sales and partnerships for LexisNexis and sales and facilitation for Building Healthy Teams Curriculum, Open Mentoring & Leadership/Innovation Simulations at Triple Creek Associates. Al owns several patents, has created brands and successfully launched three unique product lines. Al and his wife Stephanie enjoy a full life with seven children, three sons-in-law, and Jack the dog.  Contact:
Paul Baldwin wix photo blue.jpg
paul baldwin

Paul is an Elemental Coach and Consultant and has been a pastor and leader for 30 years. His primary work has been investing in leaders who have a deep desire for big kingdom impact in their contexts. Paul holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Organizational Management and a master’s degree in Education and Counseling from Cal Poly State University. He has served as a consultant, coach, and church planter across the United States. For seven years Paul served as an executive pastor leading a staff of 40 in a large multi-ethnic church in Southwest Miami. Additionally, he serves many executive pastors and administrators at a national level. He and his wife, Becky, have four children. Paul splits his time living in Miami & Charleston, South Carolina.  Contact:
Aaron Thatcher Wix pic3.jpg
aaron thatcher

Aaron serves as a Grant Writer on the Elemental Group team. He holds his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Northern Kentucky University (2018) and his Master of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary (2022). Aaron has professional experience in grant writing to private, corporate, and community foundations, as well as content and curriculum development for nonprofits and churches. He presently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Contact:
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karin maney

Karin is a Consultant and Grant Writer with the Elemental Group team. She received her MBA from Southern New Hampshire University in May of 2022 and has spent 11 years as the Executive Director of the Community Building Institute Middletown Ohio. Karin has extensive experience writing both private foundation and government grants as well as grants management expertise. Prior to that, she spent 10 years on staff with Vineyard Cincinnati with her last role being the Pastor of Prayer & Pastoral Care. Karin resides in Sharonville with her husband of 35 years and her fur baby, Poppy. She also has two grown daughters that live locally whom she adores spending time with.  Contact:
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sue antczak

Sue serves as an accountant and financial consultant for The Elemental Group and is passionate about creating and analyzing accounting and financial systems for organizations. She holds a BA in Accounting from Western Michigan University and has over 25 years of experience in various accounting positions as well as leading her company that serves many churches and non-profits. Sue loves traveling and spending time with friends at the family lake house in Michigan.  Sue and her husband Tracy have been married for 27 years and have two amazing sons, Jordan and Ryan.  Contact:
Krista Cardona Wix pic2.jpg
krista cardona

Krista is a Grant Writer with the Elemental Group team. She received her BS in Political Science from Illinois Wesleyan University and her MS from the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Krista has an extensive communications background within the political, corporate, and non-profit sectors. Krista currently resides in the Phoenix, Arizona area with her husband of nearly 20 years and her two school-aged children.  Contact:
audio interviews


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00:00 / 26:25
FOCUS game: strategic planning in a plug-and-play game

FOCUS Strategic Planning Tool featured on the Church Planters Podcast

00:00 / 27:02



Elemental Churches interviewDave Workman
00:00 / 31:06
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