Great, influential churches often look like they run on the energy of the charismatic leader who fronts them. Sometimes that is true. But my experience says that it is mainly the leadership team behind the leader who makes these world-changing churches happen. We are devoted to the proposition that God has gifted people to lead whatever church, whatever circle of hope, needs to be created and sustained. If those gifted people aren’t present or are undeployable for some reason, the church will adjust to whatever substance it has.
As we have developed as a church, so has our leadership team. A few years ago we realized that we needed to make some major developmental changes if we wanted to keep following our potential into our destiny. One of the main things we did was create an inventive Leadership Team that reflects our priorities and convictions. Like our church, our leadership team is a collection of small groups that form one team. The pastors form the main team. The Cell Leader Coordinators are a team. The Church Planting Core Team keeps us on the apostolic edge. The Compassion Core Team makes sure compassion is at the heart of us. The Capacity Core Team makes sure we have the infrastructure to do what we are given to do.
We want to put ourselves out there to be part of how Jesus is transforming the world. Each of our five leadership teams represents a whole collection of teams who work out the aspects of our mission they lead. The Leadership Team members who have their pictures on the website are representative of a much larger group of leaders who make up our extensive network — Cell Leaders, Sunday meeting team leaders, compassion team leaders, mission team leaders, capacity team leaders, and children’s team leaders. We are all integral to the whole – we designed it that way. No passion, no leadership, no initiative – no church.
We have been blessed from the beginning of our mission; we found many people who would lead. We found hundreds of risk takers who wanted to change the world, even though they were not the most qualified, richest or put-together people God could find, even though our vision is countercultural and so not that easy to share. In our own relaxed, nonjudgmental, communal way, we have made a big difference in our region. We could not have done it if our leaders had not made significant decisions about how to think about their lives. They decided to be transformational people on a transformational team.
In making the decision to be that kind of person, they had to face at least four typical things that make or break our leaders. When they faced the issues, they had to change their mind and lifestyles to lead.
Their day-to-day job serves their vocation in Christ.
They do their job so the can live their vocation. Who they are is a member of the body of Christ, not an employee of a corporation. If their job is in line with their vocation great! (Mine is, good for me!) But if they go to the job to get the money to fuel their vocation, like their role in the church, they feel that is the right thing to do.
Their family is a part of the tribe.
Their family is not a separate “nation state” competing for scarce resources. They share their resources as part of a common enterprise. This is crucially significant. Individualistic, competitive Americans are always making it seem like any “job” steals from the family, who lives in “leisure time.” That’s a lie. Everything we do has one Lord and the kids need to know that mom and dad are not the Lord, doling out time as if they create the universe. That mentality is the postmodern myth writ small – all choice and no obedience.
They pick mates that match their vocation
They find mates who share their goals or they make deals with the ones they have. Leading takes time. Loving your mate also takes time. If leading the church is always seen as taking time from your mate, leading is hard. If one does not have a supportive mate, they probably can’t lead. Of course, if your mate does not recognize your gifts and calling in Christ, then the marriage is going to be difficult.
They find joy in what they do
You could say that the secret many leaders have learned is how to gamify their duties. They find joy in serving. They don’t feel robbed, they feel energized by the creativity of building a church that can transform the world. They are part of something big and exciting, not stuck in an “institution” that takes a lot of time.
Being changed and changing lives is hard. Love is challenging. Truth telling is demanding. Every time we come up against the powerful forces that dominate the world, it is tempting to return to Egypt. When we face our limitations, it is tempting to return to our vomit like a dog. When our way is unclear or demanding, it is tempting to desert Jesus. The Leadership Team of the church are the people we call out to keep us going when the going is tough. Most every day, for some of us, the going is tough. There are just enough of us who have the combination of faith, prophecy or pastoring to lead us. So we give them the lead and thank God they are brave enough to take it!
It is going to be an exciting year in the world and among us. I hope the winter slowdown has given you some space to recuperate. I hope you have managed to put Trump’s tweets in perspective and realized the antidote we are. And I hope we will, in the Philadelphia region and wherever this is read, deploy and support gifted leaders who will steer our church through difficult times and provide the transformation in Christ so many people are missing.
This week, pray for our Leadership Team. They will all be at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in Aston on January 6-7 for retreat. They are brave, good people, but any one of them might be, like you, facing a tough time. Our prayers and support make them able to give their gifts.
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