I have been coaching Church Planters full time since 2000. During the first years, I developed Gospel Coaching and the C.R.O.S.S. Coaching conversation so that I could remind each Planter of the importance of the Gospel in planting a Christ-centered, missionally engaged church.
I’ve found that there are about 10 key dimensions to every Church Planter, whether planting in a major urban USA city, a growing suburb, mercy neighborhood, or in a city in Cuba. Every Church Planter can and should be aware of these keys so that they can stay on top of the their game. Ok, I know this is not a game, but you get the idea.
This is your calling, but it is also your craft, and you’d better stay focused. No matter how simple you want church planting to be in your life, it is complex. But, no matter how complex it gets, there is a great degree of simplicity to it.
In the Church Leader Inventory (the assessing tool we operate and use in all our coaching and assessing), the First Dimension, among the ten church planter leadership dimensions, is Integrity.
The folks that did the research said Integrity was the most important because, I think, they knew character makes up for skill deficiency, but powerful skills will never make up for weak character.
First, we focus on inner heart qualities. Not because people will follow you and you will grow a big church. People do follow men with deep inner strength and they will listen to someone who has both feet firmly planted. But we should be leaders with strong inner heart character because that is what the Gospel is doing in and through us.
Team ministry has been written about a lot. Whether in the business community, medical community, start-up companies, large corporations, military or education, teams are the way to go. But it has not always been so in the church. Today, more and more churches see the value of forming ministry teams who work together toward a common outcome. Search for “Team Ministry books” at Amazon.com and you will find over 300 titles. You can find practical help for doing ministry as a team or working with teams in the church through a variety of sources.
Since many of you have been raised in an educational system that thrives on learning groups or work groups, from elementary education on up, you might have experienced a close relative of teams. Work groups are similar, but not the same as teams. You most likely have been part of a small group that studies together. Again, it is similar but not the same.
Most of what is in the marketplace about team ministry is utilitarian in nature. It is as if the whole purpose of team ministry is to get some job done in the best, most efficient way.
The Bible makes it clear that teams did not originate with a business guru, but first in the Trinity. God himself exists and functions as a team (Gen. 1:26). He is The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. God is love because God is a Trinity (team). The Triune God worked together in Creation and it is the Triune God (team) that worked in bringing salvation and renewal. God is generous, creative, serving, and saving because He is a Trinity. We were created to exist and function as a team (Gen. 1:27, 28). Your family is a team.
We also discover that teams are the basic building blocks for the church (Mk. 3:14; Acts 1:15,26). Teams bring together a diversity of gifts and are the best place for disciple-making. Teams were put together for mission in church planting (Acts 13). In the local church, team members should be committed to one another’s relational, personal, missional, and spiritual growth and health. They must see themselves as mutually responsible and accountable for one another.
Teams have the potential to be one of the most powerful drivers of planting and growing a healthy reproducing church. However, teams simply don’t just happen. They take time to mature. They require proper leadership.
Click here to download your FREE ebook "The Trinity Teaches Teamwork" and consider the 3 keys for developing teamwork in your new church.
“What is the one thing all leaders have in common?” was the opening question at a leadership seminar I attended twenty years ago. The main answer he was looking for by the group was “They all have followers.”
There was nothing remarkable about his insight. But other answers that surfaced were just as true: “They also have enemies.”
Someone else announced, “Leadership is disappointing people at a pace they can tolerate.”
At CMM, our mission is to empower leaders to multiply. We work with leaders all the time, so I think about leadership all the time.
Most of the men with whom I went to graduate school, who were preparing to be pastors, seemed mostly concerned with pastoral type studies (i.e. teaching, preaching, exegeting a passage of scripture, pastoral counseling). I don’t think they thought of themselves as leaders. Granted, it was a long time ago, but the emerging leaders I have the joy to work with today are not unlike the men with whom I went to seminary.
When I planted the first church out of seminary I was unaware of the importance of the leadership role God was granting me. Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment. I learned in the school of experience how to lead others.
By my second plant, my aim was on developing myself as a leader of others and, by God’s Spirit working in me, I determined not to define my leadership by the number of followers, nor by the number of leaders I was leading, but by the number of leaders I was able to make.
Many of the Planters today that have a vision to start a new church want it to be a parish type. They carve out a community and become the parish priest in a sense, even to those who don’t attend church. Don’t get me wrong; I love the missional zeal and the idea of a church caring for its immediate ministry sphere. I think that is biblical and wise. But Leadership wasn’t for my peers and doesn’t seem so for the new generation either.
Do we have an aversion to leadership? Have we gotten so burned by bad leaders, by corrupt and self-serving leaders, that we don’t want anything to do with it? I pray it not be so. We desperately need leaders in our churches, in our communities, and in our nation.
Our call is a call to influence others by grace. That means leadership at some level, because the essence of leadership is to have influence on others.
If you are a church planter, no matter what the size is of your congregation, you have influence. That is the nature of the job. You are a leader. Even if you are afraid of leading, you are still a leader. Perhaps it’s time for you to study it and learn it. Leverage it. Jesus can teach you. He will lead you as you lead others.
In the movie Forrest Gump, after Lt. Dan had lost his legs in Vietnam, they were both recovering in a hospital. One night, Lt. Dan yanked Gump off his bed and started yelling at Gump for saving him back in the jungle. He said, “You should have left me out there to die, that was my destiny, but look at me now, I’m nothing but a cripple, a legless freak. I was Lt. Dan Taylor, and I was supposed to die with my men, that was my destiny and you cheated me. I was Lt. Dan Taylor.” Gump says, “You’re still Lt. Dan.”
I’m not sure how you see yourself today…or what you think of as your destiny. But one thing I do know, God’s calling you to be a leader in the church God’s enabling. Read I Thess. 5:24 and download our FREE eBook “Leaders: Attract, Equip, and Employ” today!
Dr. Tom Wood
I've been in the Church Planting business my entire career. I want you to know, you don't have to plant a church alone!