Alright, so I am going to put aside the porn talk one more time because there is something I really want to tell you about before it’s too late. For the past couple years, I have been a part of something that has profoundly shaped the way that I live, the way that I lead, and the way that I pastor. It is called RHYTHMinTWENTY. Continue Reading…
This past week I
was made aware of a college pastor job that was recently posted by a very well
known and influential church that I greatly admire. Apparently this quite large,
emerging-type church is looking to hire someone from outside of their
community, which quite honestly, surprises me. In fact, I have to admit that I am surprised every
time a church of three, four, or even five thousand people still feels the need
to look outside of their community to find leadership. A big part of this has
to do with my paradigm of leadership promotion -a topic that I think deserves
some attention. There are essentially two different paradigms when it comes to
finding and promoting leaders.
The old way: Hiring
from the outside.
A lot of churches
still operate with this paradigm. The goal is typically to hire a pastor from
another church who they feel can take their church or a particular ministry to
the next level. In the good scenarios, the pastor sticks around as long as the
average pastor sticks around (less than 5 yrs according to most sources), and
does his job well until he is “called” to a better opportunity (i.e. bigger
church, higher pay). Those are the good
In most cases,
however, things don’t really work out. This can happen for a number of
different reasons: as an outsider coming in, the pastor is never fully embraced
by the congregation, early mistakes cause people to question his ability to
lead, he just isn’t a good fit for the community and/or the church, or the
aforementioned “calling” comes a whole lot sooner than anyone expected.
imported leader and those who hired him or her are faced with the harsh truth
that effective leadership is not always transferable. Leaders that are
effective in one environment will not necessarily be effective in other
environments. This is a basic truth of leadership. A great example of this can
be seen in Willow Creek’s hiring of Randy Frazee. Randy was a proven leader
that seemed to be a sure bet as he was hired to serve in the same type of
capacity he had thrived in elsewhere. But as often happens, what worked
elsewhere didn’t work in South Barrington and Randy’s stay was short and his
departure (along with Gene Appel’s) painful. Unfortunately, theirs are a common
story. Rarely does a leader hired from the outside stick.
The new way: Empowering
from the inside.
Many churches are
moving away from models that look to hire leadership from the outside and are
choosing instead to raise up and promote leaders from within. This is what one
might call “home grown leadership.”
Mosaic is one of
many churches that have chosen to adopt this paradigm. Mars Hill (Seattle) has
also gone this route. I mention these two churches because they are both highly
influential and very different from one another. Both have opted to empower
from within and both are reaping the rewards, a few of which include:
- Vision: homegrown
leaders are more likely to get it, own it and live it
- Tested: homegrown
leaders are known by those they lead and by those they answer to long before
they are ever given authority
- Fit: homegrown leaders are already acclimated to and serving in your local context, meaning whether or not they "fit" is never a question
- Loyalty: homegrown
leaders are more likely to be committed to you and the vision of your church for the long haul
occasionally situations arise that require looking for leadership outside of an
organization. Some churches have simply done such a poor job of developing
leaders (or such a good job of running them off) that there are few, if any,
leaders ready or willing to take the reins. And as I have mentioned, sometimes
promoting leaders from the outside works. But I would recommend this only as a
last resort. Leaders grown and empowered from within are simply more committed,
more dependable, and more likely to champion and embody the vision. So, the
question then is…
Who are your home grown leaders/influencers? These are people that have come to know and
follow Christ as a part of your church and/or have been a part of your faith
community for some time, where they served faithfully with integrity. Are there
any? If not, what does this say about your faith community? What needs to
change? How can you begin investing in and raising up leaders in your church?
Secondly, who are your potentials? Who has the potential to be a homegrown
leader two years from now? Three years from now? Now, what can you do to help these
men and women develop into power players in God’s Kingdom work? What are their strengths, their gifts, their passions, their talents, their dreams? Where do they need encouragement and where do they need some guidance? How can you help them discover and grow into their God-given potential?!
This past week a good friend shared with me that her and her family are now members of a satellite site of Andy Stanley’s very popular and increasingly influential North Point Community Church. They consider Andy Stanley to be their teaching pastor and then they have a couple local staff guys who are responsible for "pastoring the flock." Here’s the kicker though: Andy Stanley and North Point are in Atlanta. Our friends and their church are in Colorado Springs. They are separated by nearly 1500 miles! I have to admit that when she told me that, my heart sunk. I mean, I understand the reasoning behind it. And I don’t think that I could give a strong biblical case for not doing it. But I have to agree with Paul on this one, as he points out in 1 Corinthians, just because something is permissible does not necessarily mean it is beneficial.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Andy Stanley is a great teacher, a great leader, with a great vision, and a man of great character to boot. There have been seasons of ministry where I have found myself listening in on his NPCC and leadership podcasts quite regularly, and Next Generation Leader is a quality leadership read. But broadcasting our favorite teaching personality onto a screen half way across the country and calling him "our Teaching Pastor," seems to be much more than just inauthentic (although it is certainly that). It robs young leaders of the opportunity to grow and develop. It eliminates the opportunity for local leaders to teach about things specifically relevant to what is happening in their local body. It completely separates the Teaching Pastor from the local leadership. By broadcasting in the finished product, you get your money’s worth in quality teaching at the cost of creative collaboration. Even worse, it further exacerbates the serious problem of "Consumer Christianity."
Think about it: When it comes to the things we really care about, like bible teaching and gourmet coffee, we want the best. So, we choose our favorite product. Don’t like the burnt flavor of Starbucks? Try the milder roasts of Caribou or Scooters. Looking for a little more spice to reach your city’s untapped twenty somethings? You’ll find a dash of Craig Groeschel will go a long way. Or if that doesn’t work, a Mark Driscoll franchise could be the new craze you’re looking for. Now if only Rob Bell would start distributing…
You see what I’m talking about? It sounds ridiculous to put it that way, but in many ways, isn’t that exactly what we’re doing? Whether its the style, scholarly study, entertainment value, or the vision itself that draws us to a particular teacher or church, I just don’t think that franchising is a good move for the church. Even if you don’t agree, you can at least see where some of my hesitations lie. If you’re interested in further study on the subject or reading what others are saying, I highly suggest bouncing over to the ongoing discussion on Bob.blog.
Welp, I have now officially begun working overnights at the People’s City Mission. This means that I will now have many late and lonely hours to peruse the great blogosphere (and hopefully revive this little blog of my own).
In looking around this morning, I came across yet another sad story for Christendom.
In case you haven’t heard, Randy and Paula White, the founders
and co-pastors of what has been one of the nation’s biggest and
fastest-growing churches, plan to divorce. Bob Hyatt has a great post on the Celebrity Church, what it does, and where Rob Bell fits into the scheme of things. It’s definitely worth a read.
I particularly appreciate the distinction he makes between "celebrity churches" and "mega-churches." It seems sometimes that I know too many fellow ‘emergings’ who seem to subconsciously assume all things big to be inherently inauthentic, production heavy, and programatically driven. This rather pretentious opinion usually works for these progressives (whose churches are typically smaller) until one day they wake up to find their trendy little community has become a bona fide "mega church."
I would never make the argument that numerical growth is necessarily evidence of God’s work, but as we seek to make disciples of all nations, shouldn’t we all have the goal of seeing our churches grow as a result of life change? And if that is the goal, how can we harbor any kind of bitterness towards churches for being…well…big? Personally, I think the negative reaction is probably 1/2 knee jerk towards a nostalgic Christian subculture, and 1/2 good ‘ol fashioned penis envy. In either case, we need to acknowledge that we need all kinds of churches to minister to all kinds of people. And, as ‘emergings,’ commit to be agents of unity to a world that sees our faith as terribly divisive.