Chris Stephens: ‘The Church Needs to Be the Grace Place’

“Developing leaders takes some serious effort and time. You can’t ‘nuke’ leaders; they must be ‘Crock-Potted!’”

We asked pastors of some of the nation’s largest churches to reflect on the wisdom they’ve gained along their ministry journey. There’s a lot we can glean in the words that follow, regardless of the scope and circumstances of our own ministry.

Faith Promise Church

I believe Faith Promise’s growth can be attributed to our openness—being “raw and real” in dealing with the issues that people are facing daily. We are not afraid to hit the current cultural issues head on, and that has resonated in our community—especially with our young adults. Adding multiple campuses throughout our region has also greatly helped to facilitate growth.

We constantly need to be reminded that God is in control. After much prayer and wrestling with the thought, he recently led me to make a change in the way we receive tithes and offerings. After 25 years of pastoral ministry in which we did not “pass the plate,” God revealed that it was time to return to doing so. He reminded me that we should demonstrate how our giving and our worship are scripturally interwoven. God always seems to surprise us when we think we have things all figured out.

It is important to have guidance and support from others who are faster, smarter and farther down the road in ministry than I am. I am so grateful that God has placed two such men in my life: Pastor Chris Hodges and Pastor Tom Mullins. They have been invaluable in helping me learn to lead more effectively. We all must have someone in our lives to help us see and reach the next level.

If I could start over in ministry, I would put more focus on developing leaders. Looking back, I would have made creating a leadership pipeline a far greater priority. Other issues can be fixed more easily and quickly. Someone could generously write a $10 million check to your church and immediately change your reality. Someone could give you a building and do the same. But developing leaders and your next staff hires takes some serious effort and time. You can’t “nuke” leaders; they must be “Crock-Potted!”

From Outreach Magazine  Experience Speaks: Tim Harlow

To be a lifelong learner, I have crafted a personal growth plan that I recreate every year. I continue to read leadership books and attend leadership events. I set measurable goals in ministry that require me to improve myself both spiritually and personally. And as I shared previously, I also find ways to spend time with leaders who are more experienced than me.

The church needs to be the grace place. It should be the house of love for everyone, not just those who look like us or act like us. At Faith Promise we strive to love both inside and outside the church. Jesus said that love for each other would be the ultimate demarcation of his followers.

Read more candid conversations with Outreach 100 pastors »

Knoxville, Tennessee
Twitter: @DrChrisStephens
Founded: 1995
Affiliation: Nondenominational
Locations: 7
Attendance: 6,793
Largest: 69