If you aren’t planting a church any time soon, is there anything you can glean from the church-planting movement that will help you transform your established church into an establishing church?
For a series we call The Math of the Kingdom, we reached out to several church-planting networks and posed this question to some of their seasoned, in-the-trenches planters. Their responses revealed six strategic themes that any pastor can implement in any context: know your community; be known by your community; pursue diversity; develop leadership; make disciples; and adopt a planter’s heart.
No matter the age or size of the church you lead, it factors into the math of the kingdom. Explore these strategies, ideas and insights to see how they can contribute to multiplication in your church.
Principle No. 4: Developing Leadership
DAVID PARKER, SummitLIFE in Sedona, Arizona: An effective leadership team is made up of servant leaders who are living in ongoing discipleship relationships with individuals. They have a history and can look back at individuals they’ve lived in community with and see that those individuals have continued the process of becoming more like Jesus and have brought others alongside them that they are now helping. They are not solely a team of decision-makers, but earth-shakers in their manner of love, acceptance and forgiveness—as well as in their manner of helping those around them get from where they are to where God is leading them.
Their identifying marker is servant leadership. They were leaders long before they were given a position of leadership.
JOSEPH VELARDE, Riverbend Community Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania: As a team, we have learned how important it is to seek the kingdom of God first. This is above the agenda of our church. It is so easy to confuse them as being the same thing. Nor is it about seeking our own individual kingdoms, but praying with sincerity, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is heaven,” helps to keep us on track. The team that I work with has this focus. God in his kindness showed us those who had this heartbeat. Part of this came as I started praying to the Lord of the Harvest (Luke 10:2) for them.
The second part is recognizing the unique giftings that make up an effective team. I know that my gifts lie primarily in vision and operator, to use Les McKeown’s language from Predictable Success. With those gifts comes the ability to skip process. Not because I don’t think it is important, but rather I just don’t think like that and I lack the patience. I need to be surrounded by processers, who think in steps.
The team that makes a real kingdom and discipleship impact understands who they are and values the gifts of others. We must be humble enough to learn to speak the language of our teammates. This is what Peter communicates in 1 Peter 5. We can still use our gifts, but we will need to learn to yield to others in order to advance God’s kingdom.
MARK MELLEN, Elevate Life Church in Jacksonville, Florida: We have an executive team that is made up of the lead pastor and his wife and two executive pastors. We have someone over central, who is responsible for systems, policies and procedures across all campus, and someone over campuses, who is responsible for executing those things at the campus level. Our executive team works as a cohesive unit to ensure all our goals are met.
RYAN McCAMMACK, Gospel Hope Church in Atlanta: The indispensable quality of an effective leadership team is godly character. No matter how talented a potential leader may be, if he is not marked by Christlikeness, he is setting a dangerous trajectory for both himself and the church. The Lord does not require perfection from church leaders, but he does demand a measure of maturity.
I also think an ideal leadership team needs to be closely aligned on their vision of the church and philosophy of ministry. If a group of godly leaders share these core convictions, then most of the secondary matters will naturally work themselves out in time.
It’s also helpful to have a team of leaders who are gifted in different ways. Not only does this serve the church by having leaders who are capable in a variety of areas, it also enriches the body by giving a variety of perspectives a voice at the table.
In our case, our team was brought together as I shared the burden that God had placed on my heart. As I talked about my desire to plant Gospel Hope, the vision resonated with others, and God graciously led other leaders to want to be part of our team.