Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Beyond 150 - Rookie

I have loved being a father. In fact, I probably would have loved some more kids. However our relocation to the USA, with all that that demanded, let a few years slip us by before we made the call to have T. I love the uniqueness of each personality. Exploring each child's dream expanding their horizons, investing in each with "dates with Dad" . The wonder of dining room table conversations did much to fashion each child theologically, philosophically, relationally, morally. And I can never overstate the weighty, strategic role that M played in our kids lives. Her prophetic accuracy matched with her maternal intuition have been an extraordinary combination with much impact. Then of course, it is impossible to reflect on these things this early in the morning, without musing over the discipline differences each child responded to. For N a firm voice melted her. For D it required a firm hand of instruction on the seat of learning, for T it was a combination of the two. We can certainly not treat each child the same.

At the end of my last blog, I asked the question - 'What kind of leaders do we want to develop?' Here is the first blog in responding to that question.

When I visit the churches around the world, generally I see such a poor administration of leadership development. Rarely is it seen as a family raising kids. More frequently it is absent, or it is seen as a program / activity that the church is expected to have. For some it is a mish mash of bits and pieces whilst for others who have built highly relationally, leadership is a group of mates doing life together. But are they the right folks in the room to bring about change?

I am convinced. The greatest weakness in most churches is systematic, intentional leadership development. There are several reasons that are clearly observable. Here are a few:

1. Most churches do not have a theology for this evolution. It is therefore not a priority,
2. The pressure to pursue education has made that the highest virtue for many when seeking to expand the team,
3. Culturally, the hire - fire approach to leadership selection is so deeply flawed for many reasons but primarily it does not empower the sons in the house to "Eagerly desire the greater gifts"
4. Leadership development is handed from the lead guy to another pastor as a program in the calender.
5. We drift too easily from the biblical ingredients of leadership positions and qualifications to appointing leaders based on criteria that have no biblical requirements,
6. In smaller churches, many leaders are appointed for reasons of faithfulness, loyalty, sentiment or simply because they are mates. They may satisfy a short term desire not to be alone, however they may not be the key folks in the room to have the entrepreneurial conversations for growth,

May I suggest a better way? Leadership development is not a program but a lifestyle. It is not an activity as much as a conviction. It is not to be given away as much as it is to be imparted. It seems like we have to go back, with humility, to the text and rediscover the privilege of this lost art. Whether we look at Jesus or Paul, there are certain realities that are clearly evident that both apply with extraordinary effectiveness. I am persuaded that it is one of the primary weakness that need to be addressed if churches want to go beyond the 150 ceiling.

This blog cannot possibly cover all bases. However it can begin the process of change in your community. For the sake of simplicity allow me to present these thoughts in point form:
  • Jesus chose 12 men to do life with. Paul chose several including Timothy to be as a son to him["To Timothy, my true son in the faith" 1 Tim 1:2] We cannot neglect nor diminish the desire for and the power of investing into "sons", one on one, face to face, bringing them in to our world, discipling them into leadership hereby multiplying ourselves,
  • There is certainly place for group instruction [ "When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority...." Luke 9:1]. There is power in group training, discussion and doctrinal development. Leadership training 101 is absolutely essential. These times should be held regularly in our communities. Teaching through the three great Leadership Development books [poorly called the Pastoral Epistles - 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus], is a very powerful way to keep leadership fashioned around the gospel,
  • May I strongly suggest all churches have a monthly Leaders meeting. A little teaching may be helpful here, but it is a very strategic gathering to process what God is saying and doing in the community and what the response must be. [Acts 13:1 - 3 "In the church at Antioch, there were prophets and teachers:... while they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said...]
  • Over the years I have loved an "All Leaders Gathering". I am persuaded that "all believers are called to be leaders!" From the garden when man and woman were given a clear leadership mandate, to becoming more like Christ who is leadership, we have sought to get all leaders past, present and future into the room. During these gatherings, we endeavor to ensure that there is a weighty theological content, a strong visionary quotient to keep everyone on the same page and good God stories - accounts of what God is doing in the community- splashed with prayer. This is not preparing leadership for the church only but empowering all our folks to be leaders wherever they may be in the marketplace. I remember one of the men who use to attend these gatherings was CEO of his company. He would take notes at these times and present them to his board the next day - loaded with content but without too many texts - they were amazed at his presentations and this fashioned the soul of the company. [Acts 15 is a great example of this kind of gathering.]
  • Lastly, the role of the Ephesians 4 giftings in developing the leaders in our communities cannot be overstated. From the reason for these gifts as stated in Ephesians 4, to the model we see in the book of Acts, what is clear that apostles particularly are there to train the leaders [Acts 20:17 - 38] help equip, select, appoint leaders [Acts 14:21 - 28; Titus 1:5]. Apostles are not the CEO of the church world. They are not "over all" but "first of all" - by example they lead the way in humble service, love and sacrifice. Their role we will discuss later.
I cannot stress the role of Leadership Development enough - especially if you want to go through the 150 mark. Creating a leadership culture inspires the community to be entrepreneurial, believing God for the new and unexpected, it empowers folks to be creative, bold, expansive and not simply repeat yesterday, tomorrow - which is 'death by management'. When we create that leadership culture, people take ownership of the future and buy into a dream worth investing our lives into.

1 comment:

  1. Hi C. Sitting in Singapore reading your blogs. After being i n ministry for the last gzillion years & more in in particular having been on the "road" for the last 12 months; a journey that has afforded me the priviledge of "living" in many churches both large & small I have come to a few conclusions that would influence me very strategically if i were ever to plant or lead a church again. One, leadership development is not a culture in most churches-small or big.I see churches where the days are so very full of activities which looks good but no cultures are being built but rather a feeling of "I'm at the movies with much to choose from" kind of feeling is all around. The leaders that are there are always tired, unmotivated and duty bound! I would plant a church and create cultures by hitting 4 or 5 bulding blocks in diffirent ways all the time. For eg - Marriage, Children, Doctrine, Leadership, Men & maybe one or two more. A once a year marriage seminar does not create culture. Secondly, I'm not convinced a church that is "missional" will grow through the 150 mark. I have not seen this to be proved in practise. The key that either locks the church in too the 150 mark or unlocks it beyond is the leadership taint or leaning. To use three words that I think will become more prevelant in the days ahead - Prophet, Priest, King is part of the solution. In travelling, where the church is led by very priestly type men there is little evidence of the church going beyond the 150 mark. I heard details of a survey/study that the University of Natal did on pastoral (you know, growing sheep etc) groups around the world their conclusion was those groups grew to around the 149.8 mark then had to split, plant etc. Thirdly, my observation reveals that churches that do not put in systems that undergird what they are about but give the other leaders some teeth do not flourish, are not running at mountains so as to take them but are actually in maintenance mode. To be honest, this does not have much to do with the 150 mark but is actually more about going beyond the jundreds into thousands. Even very large churches that look incredibly successful are not really. It is just the numbers tht make it look that way. If those churches restructured and got some new mountains to run at they would be amazing. So, a comment has turned intoa mini-essay. I felt good writing it and hope some is helped through reading it. Blog on frind! Tom T.