Developing Leaders for Church Planting and Beyond

You have heard of “ABC: Always Be Closing,” but in ministry it needs to be “ABD: Always Be Developing leaders (which includes recruiting leaders).” While recruiting people for your church plant you should consider reaching people far from Christ, finding people who need a church to grow in their faith, but you also have to have other gathers who can help you support the mission of the church.

“If I were running a company today I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could [because] the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”

– Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great

Such a good thought for church planters in the recruiting phase. I believe this also applies to all seasons of any organization. Leaders are the skeleton that supports church growth. You can swell without good leaders. You can gather by taking advantage of seasons and great planning for an event. But sustainable growth requires great leaders and teams of leaders to hold the pieces together. Leaders are the ones who transmit the values and culture into others.

The question is how do we develop leaders while taking care of everyone else in the church? Understanding the 3 phases of pastoring should help.

3 Phases of Pastoring

Reaching New People
If your church plant is not reaching out to those far from God, then you are missing the point. A new church should not just add a new worship service to a community. It should be an outpost of help and rescue. A new church should be actively displaying the love of Christ by helping people meet their spiritual and physical needs.

Caring For Members
This is the group that can be easily overlooked in the mix of starting a new church or growing an existing church. It can also become the total focus of a church that ends up unintentionally ignoring the other two groups. A wise pastor is continuously aware that members need love, encouragement, and correction. We need to cry with them and celebrate them. Our goal with this group is to help them take one step at a time in their faith; patiently caring for them along the way.

Developing Leaders
Leaders require a different type of attention and plan of action. We don’t love anyone more, but to love everyone equally, then we have to love each person differently. As a church planter, you should keep your eyes out for gathers. These are people who carry their own influence and have a desire to share that influence with you to grow the local church. The goal is to let them know they are appreciated, but that they are also carrying the culture. This means they may get more access, but the hope is this will multiply your efforts when you delegate responsibility to them when the time is right.

So to sum things up, we need to always be recruiting three types of people. 1) New People – through serving and outreach 2) New Members – through gatherings and pastoral care 3) New Leaders – through access and individualized plans. This is not just something that is important for church planting but is also a great way to “get and hang on to the right people” to help your ministry achieve its mission of reaching people and growing Christ-followers.

The Best Kept Secret of Church Plant Team Building

Do you have a talent for getting people to quit their job and sale their home at the same time? Neither do I. That shouldn’t discourage you from stepping out to launch a church though. Asking people to leave their family and friends to start a new church is a big ask. Don’t get discouraged if everyone you know isn’t ready to jump on the church planting train and travel across the country with you on the railroad tracks of faith. This may be the best thing for your future church because the team you build is more important than the team you bring. 

Parachuting into a city where you have no relationships to start a church can be one of the scariest things you can do in ministry. There’s no “but” followed by a comforting remark here. It’s just kind of a scary deal! Trying to connect with people in a place you have never lived to start a church with a limited budget and a fixed timeline takes nerves of steel.

Using City Momentum to Build a Launch Team

The solution may appear to be to recruit as many people as possible to move with you from other places. While this is helpful, there is also something called, “city momentum” that you need to consider. 

City momentum is when people in your new community bring awareness and more people to your launch through their network of relationships that existed in the area before you even moved there. It’s the buzz created by the locals. 

Every person you add to your team, gives your team momentum. It does not matter if they move with you or not. When someone from your new city joins your team it gives you “city momentum” as well. Launch team members who already live in the community have built-in equity with existing relationships. They don’t have to earn people’s trust to invite them to your interest meeting or church launch like your other team members will. 

We can see a similar promise of influence for the gospel in John 4:37-38. Here Jesus says, “Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” City momentum is just a practical way we can see this promise play out in church planting.

So how do you create city momentum and what should you avoid that may squash it? 

5 Steps to Creating City Momentum

Leave some key roles open 

You may not know the highest contributors on your launch team yet. When you give away your top leadership roles before you move, you lose the chance to connect with the influential people in your new city who may be a better fit for those positions. Doing this makes it challenging to recruit gatherers who can multiply your city momentum.

Give responsibilities instead of titles

Asking for commitment to specific duties over a particular period gives everyone freedom. The first way is by creating a natural exit ramp for the volunteer to move on to something else if they decide they are not a good fit. The other way, is it frees you up to put someone you already trust into a much-needed position while you figure out who may be the best person to carry the title long-term. 

Know the difference between pioneers and settlers

Pioneers like to start new things. It excites them. They are not intimidated by the hard work and sacrifice it takes. Others are pilgrims who come along once there is already momentum, but end up staying longer. This is why arc church planters start with a “launch team” and don’t transition to a “core team” until after launch. Forcing everyone to be a pilgrim is to not appreciate how God has wired people and may lead to burnout on your team. 

Get out of your relational comfort zone

Familiar relationships can be a safe place for church planters when everything else seems chaotic. Understanding city momentum can be a way for you to grow your friendships outside of your existing circles even when it is uncomfortable.

People in your city are not just looking to be a plug that fills a hole in your team. They are looking for a genuine relationship with you. This means you will need not only new team members to launch your church but also new friends that you have opened up and allowed into your life.

Prepare for the unexpected

What if God has something better for you than you have planned for yourself? That fantastic worship leader you wanted to move with you and ends up taking a full-time job at a mega-church may just be making room for someone better. Maybe the person you meet in your city that becomes your worship leader will one day become an executive pastor whose spouse is also amazingly creative and has a friend who is an amazing photographer whose parents own Pepsi and will start tithing before you even launch? Ok, I maybe took that one a little too far, but you get my point. God can do much more than we expect. This includes providing a team that is much better and bigger than we ever imagined.

A Strong Team = A Strong Launch

We need to have people we trust helping us in the church planting journey. As they say, “your network is your net-worth” in more ways than one. While bringing team members with you is a huge bonus, ultimately it will be continuing to build that team with city momentum that leads to a strong launch.

What do you think? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send me a message!

Creating a Compelling Culture

“Culture is the soul of the organization.” – Dee Ann Turner

You can have an excellent weekend service and efficient systems, but still lose momentum by not being attentive to your church culture. It is crucial to win the battle in the spiritual, but also to remember the influence culture has on your church as well. Culture is not just your best intentions. It is the reality of what you guard, emphasize, and reward. Culture is the air your team breathes as they operate in your ministry and pursue your church’s mission.

Great culture is not always easy to create or maintain. In her book, It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture, Dee Ann Turner offers some great advice to those seeking to create a healthy culture in their organization. Here are four simple steps she gives to create a compelling culture.

4 Steps to a Compelling Culture

  1. “A Clear Purpose for Existing” – This is the why for your church or your vision statement. We have this purpose from the Great Commission, but what language will you use to contextualize this for your specific part in that great work?
  2. “A Challenging Mission” – Your vision is the world you see because of your church exists. Your mission is what you and your team are going to do every day to achieve your vision. This should be simple and easily repeatable by everyone on your team.
  3. “Determine Core Values” – Your church will be and do a lot of things, but if you could only focus on a few repeatable, memorable values, what would they be? Everything else will grow from there. “Businesses [or churches] do not become excellent in the big areas without focusing on the small details too. Excellence in small things leads to excellence in big things.”Dee Ann Turner
  4. “Guiding principles” – These are your culture statements. What phrases are you using to summarize the different aspects of the culture you want to create?

Leaders love seeing external growth. And who can blame them? But we need to also focus on creating cultures in our ministries that will cause us to be internally strong. When we have internal growing up, the external growing out will come and be sustained.

What do you think creates a compelling culture? What are some things that hurt your culture? Anything you would add or take-a-way? Let me know!

Moses CEO Part 2

4 Steps to Lead Your Team Out of Dysfunction

Moses returned from his executive retreat to find his organization in total disarray (Exodus 32:9-10). You can see the four decisions that lead to this disaster in my previous post. The results of Aaron’s passive leadership led to the group getting off mission, internal corruption, and dangling on the edge of total destruction.

How Moses responded to this dysfunctional situation shows us how to problem solve and lead in an organization. I read this story in Exodus while I was also going through the book, The Five Dysfunctions of Team. This caused me to wonder what Moses would do if he was the CEO of a corporation, church, or non-profit. You do not have to be an executive to learn from Moses’s example. You can make difference in any position with these 4 steps,

Take responsibility (Exodus 32:10-11)

Moses was not willing to be promoted at the expense of his team. Instead he took responsibility for something that was out of his control so his team could succeed together. He didn’t blame others. He looked for the best version of his team and refocused on their original vision (the future) instead of focusing on their failure (the past) or current circumstances (the present).

Be proactive instead of reactive (Exodus 32:19-20)

When Moses returned from his leadership retreat and saw that things were in disorder, he immediately took action. Moses did not sweep the situation under the rug and move on. He didn’t take a vote to see who wanted to keep the detestable golden calf. He addressed the root of the issue. He made sure a crack in their foundation would not compromise the integrity of the team, even if it meant a painful immediate adjustment.

Prioritize what is right over what was popular (Exodus 32:25-26)

Moses was willing to step away from what was popular in order to prioritize what was right. Sometimes groups can do more wrong than individuals. When no one speaks up, we all assume everyone else is in agreement. The reality is many times others are just waiting for someone else to speak up. Who is waiting on you to prioritize what is right over what is popular and stand with you?

Be loyal (Exodus 32:30-32)

Behind closed doors Moses was for his team. He was not in denial that they had made a mistake, but was willing to honor them when their behavior could only be seen as a liability to him. Not only that, but Moses also honored up by seeking God in this situation instead of taking matters into his hands.

Moses was not a perfect CEO, and he did not lead a perfect team. However, he did many things right and does have a special place of honor in the hall of faith. Ultimately we look to model Jesus in everything we do, and we can see Christ in how Moses led his team.

What is Your Gold Calf?

The gold calf is present in every team and organization, even the most healthy ones. It represents the one things that obviously needs to change, but we dance around it or are unwilling to admit it. We can make a lot of little adjustments, but until we find our golden calf and are willing to confront the weaknesses in our own leadership, little will change.

What lessons do you see in leadership from the story of the Golden Calf?

What are Jesus style leadership traits that seem to contradict worldly wisdom?

Which of these four traits are a weakness for you.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Be the first to get the next one by subscribing here.

If you are interested in a great leadership fable that talks about pulling together as a team checkout The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Moses CEO Part 1

Aaron COO: 4 Leadership Mistakes

Moses took over a failing corporation that had a brilliant founder, but was plagued by internal discord. After delivering some miraculous results that impacted the world, these people found themselves under dictatorial leadership. Moses comes in to lead them to the Promise Land but not without some resistance and lessons we can all learn from along the way.

What Went Wrong?

Before we look at what Moses did right let’s see what Aaron the COO did wrong. Moses was away at an executive retreat with his assistant, Joshua. Meanwhile Aaron is left to lead the organization, and we see he makes a few common mistakes right of the bat.

He didn’t honor up (Exodus 32:1)

When the people complained against Moses, Aaron didn’t step up to honor his leader with a defense. Instead of guarding Moses’s leadership, Aaron gave room for complaints and tried to be the solution to the void people saw in Moses’s leadership.

He didn’t practice sacrificial leadership (Exodus 32:2-3)

Aaron had the people bring their best to him instead of him giving them his best. Getting to the top is not about having the most people serving you. Filling a leadership role is about being in the best position to serve the most people. The top of the org chart is not for those who want to prop their feet up.

He put a spiritual skin on a selfish ambition (Exodus 32:4)

It is very easy in church environments to mistake grand plans for God’s plan. We must be careful to not call something God that didn’t originate with Him. We shouldn’t dress up a need to be noticed with a good cause. God’s plans always draw people closer to Him, before they lift up the false idols of success, competition, and popularity.

His was reactive instead of proactive (Exodus 32:5)

Aaron waited for the problem to occur, and then chose a solution that would be the most popular over the most effective. We must lead with foresight and learn from hindsight. Reactive leaders display passivity in moments of need, and prioritize stabilizing the boat instead of plugging the hole.

Conclusion

The result of Aaron’s leadership is that his team drifted off mission and began to crumble from the inside out (Exodus 32:7-8). He lost the leadership battle by allowing his position to become about him, and then protecting that position by pleasing people. Reactive leaders see pleasing people as the solution, while proactive leaders know protecting people is the priority. Reactive leaders don’t want to compromise their popularity, while proactive leaders don’t want to compromise the values that protect people and the vision that keeps the mission clear and secure.

This is part 1 of 2 of Moses CEO. Next up are the four things Moses did to turn this situation around. Be the first to get the latest post by subscribing here.

If you are interested in a great leadership fable that talks about pulling together as a team checkout The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Conflict Can Help You Win

5 Reasons You Should Not Avoid Conflict

Are you able to find the win in moments of conflict? In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team we learn conflict is needed for a team to be healthy. As I read this book I wondered how this same principle could be applied in other areas as well.

Where there is no conflict there is dysfunction. This seems counterintuitive, but a closer looks revels something important about disagreements. Conflict requires trust and vulnerability. When relationships don’t trust they don’t feel the security to share their true feelings. Absence of trust is the first dysfunction of a team.

This team building lesson caused me to also think about how grace makes room for healthy conflict in our spiritual lives and family.

Family

Fear of conflict is the second dysfunction of a team. When kids are afraid to bring the truth of what they are dealing with to their parents then they are forced to face these issues on their own. Giving them grace for their mistakes guarantees that you are helping them co-pilot difficult situations. When we don’t have grace for our spouse then issues may fester under the surface because the other person is afraid to bring them up for discussion.

Ministry

When there is an atmosphere of grace in a ministry then the conflict sin creates can be dealt with instead of hidden. Grace doesn’t mean we cover up sin. It means there is permission to deal with the root instead of just the symptoms. When there is grace people can trust the truth your share. When there is no grace there is no door for people to open up to let truth into their life. I believe this leads to avoidance of accountability which is another one of the dysfunctions of a team.

Team

Conflict on a team is destructive when it is motivated by ego, self-interest, and position grabbing. That is toxic. On the other hand, team members that always say yes and never disagree appear to be in agreement but don’t have buy-in. Unanimous buy-in is more important than universal agreement. As long as someone’s opinion is heard then that person can still give buy-in even if the final decision is different from their own. This avoids a lack of commitment, another dysfunction of a team.

The final dysfunction of a team is an inattention to results. Universal agreement without processing through disagreements can mean that apathetic team members are offering platitudes that will lead to passive aggressive actions later. Allowing conflict on the front end avoids even more messy conflict on the back-end. It also gives your most passionate people an avenue to get involved in the process even if they are wrong.

Permission to disagree and for mistakes requires that we extend grace so people can better receive our truth. Conflict, something we sometimes avoid, can be the most efficient way to create buy-in and solve problems.

What do you think about conflict? How have you seen it work? When does it not work? Have you read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team? Would love to hear your thoughts!

You can get The Five Dysfunctions of a Team be clicking below. It is a short leadership parable that is interesting and insightful. I think you will enjoy it!

 

What Motivates You

Managing the tension between justice and mercy

Are you more justice leaning or are you quick to offer mercy? Both can be great attributes of any person. There is also another sometimes hidden factor that if not discovered will cause either to divide a team and cause you to be less productive.

The Justice League

I’ve always been fascinated by the tension between justice and mercy and how it motivates people one way or another. I am a justice oriented person. When I watch a movie where someone is mistreated it causes me to tear up. I want to fight on behalf off the person who is hurting. Justice motivates me to act on another’s behalf. That’s not all though

Some people may say I enjoy conflict because I am not afraid to enter a confrontation to make things right. That’s not really true though. I don’t like confrontation. I just love seeing justice win the day. I am willing to be inconvenienced or uncomfortable for the long-term good of justice.

What it is really about

If I am honest though sometimes my sense of justice is can become more about me then it is about justice.

When others are not as invested in our cause us justice leaguers can become upset. Part of this is about justice, but it can also be about others not doing as much as we have. In other words, justice-oriented people need to make sure their passion for justice is not just about them getting credit for doing more than everyone else.

Where does this leave mercy-oriented people? Are those likable, friendly, and forgiving people who everyone loves off the hook. Not really.

The Merciful and Kind

Godly mercy is a great thing. It is an attribute that reflects the kindness of God. Some would say that we are most like God when we forgive. But being merciful can also be motivated by self-interest as well.

If you are extending mercy because you are avoiding an issue then your mercy has taken a wrong turn. God is patient but He is also just. Being mercy-oriented becomes self-focused when it leads to inaction. Mercy is only mercy when it causes us to act, be intentional, and takes steps to help better someone else’s situation.

Mercy is what we give to those who have made mistakes as they enter the road to recovery. It is not what we hand out to avoid dealing with problems.

What slows down justice and mercy

We need justice and we need mercy. What we don’t need is self-centeredness. Whenever we mix in selfishness to justice and mercy we pollute the parts of us that make us like God. If we are willing to be selfless then justice and mercy can work together to make a healthy leaders and teams.

Have you ever noticed the tension between justice and mercy? What have you learned along the way? I’d love to hear your thoughts!