Play to Your Strengths: Storyline Fellowship

For our From the Front Lines series, we asked several pastors to share the stories of their church plants. These pastors will be checking in online with regular updates on their churches and experiences, allowing readers a front-row seat to the ins and outs of church planting.

Storyline Fellowship: Update No. 1

Becoming a church planter included a battery of tests. The exams were not related to math, physics or biology, but to ME. Through the North American Mission Board assessment process, I was forced to learn more about myself, my wife and what makes the two of us tick. We had so much fun in the process!

I’m not sure why seminary left this piece out. Until the last few years, I had never heard of the StrengthsFinder or the Leading From Your Strengths assessments. And yet, nothing could have helped me more in ministry than to take a searching gaze at the way God made me. Socrates said, “Know thyself.” That is, get to know that person that peers at you from the mirror each morning. Get clear on the gifts God gave you. As Lynley and I stepped out in faith to start Storyline Fellowship in Denver, Colorado, we were challenged to build our strengths and stay away from our weaknesses.

Do you remember the epic David and Goliath battle? How could we forget? As recorded in 1 Samuel, the rookie David is pressured to pile on Saul’s armor, but resists the temptation. Within seconds of wearing the king’s mail, he discovers the danger of trying to be someone else. Slinging stones—that was his ‘A’ game, and he had to stick to it.

The same is true in pastoring. Whether you’re setting out to plant a church, or you simply want to sharpen the saw, I highly recommend joining the strengths movement. Make it your goal to give your best where you have your best to give! There are many entry points to this world of literature, but my fire was most lit by listening to Marcus Buckingham’s awesome English accent on audiobook: Go Put Your Strengths to Work (which includes a free code to the online StrengthsFinder assessment).

In his book, Buckingham challenges the reader to a green card/red card exercise. For 30 days, I carried a stack of green cards in my pocket. Whenever I found myself fully engaged and loving a task, I wrote down what I was doing and who I was working with. After a month had transpired, I laid all my green cards on a table, and took note: Here were my strengths, my passions, the things that made me come alive!

On the other side of the coin, during those 30 days, I recorded every boring, uninspired moment on a red card, and made a note of who I was working with in those moments. It was a catalog of my kryptonite—my weaknesses, and everybody has them. For me, these moments mostly involve filling out detailed forms and creating spreadsheets!

The longer I serve as a church planter, the more I’m convinced that God has wired me to pastor a particular kind of church—a place where my best gifts are brought out of the box. It helps that I get to design it!

Read more from Ben Mandrell and Storyline Fellowship »

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Ben Mandrell
Ben Mandrell

Ben Mandrell is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to joining LifeWay, he pastored churches in Colorado and Tennessee.