2/28/2011 9:57 AM
One of the greatest challenges for any senior pastor is to continually work to develop other leaders. Without leaders, churches (or any organization) won't grow. There is a direct correlation of the number and maturity of leaders to the size of any organization. Churches are no different.
I feel incredibly blessed to have the leaders that we currently have at BHCC. I am continually amazed at the unity and friendship that exists in our Lead Team, pastors, and Ministry Team Leaders. God has done an awesome work by building a foundation with these leaders. Through the years, I've seen much growth in each and every one of them. All of them have incredible hearts and impeccable character.
When the church first began, I was very proactive and intentional in developing leaders and creating an atmosphere where people cultivated a desire to become church leaders. However, I also made the 'classic' new church planter mistake of putting people in positions too quickly. That led to some very bad consequences for the whole church. It was a painful mistake, but one I did learn much from.
One of the principals I learned from my early experiences is what our Leadership team has come to know as the 'pushing the cookie-cart test.'
The premise of this test is that anyone who shows a desire or giftedness to serve in any type of leadership role in the church must first pass the cookie cart test. The cookie cart test comes from a method used by a church where they had people who pushed a cart full of cookies to distribute to kids in every Sunday school class. It's a very humbling position and people's willingness to do this shows a servant's heart (which is an absolute requirement for church leaders.).
Now we don't actually have such a position in our church but it represents the more humble type of service jobs in the church such as set-up, tear down, making coffee, running errands, whatever! Before anyone can rise to the position of leader in our church, they must pass the cookie-cart test.
Of course, that's not the only qualification for leadership in our church but it is an important one.
One of the biggest challenges for Senior Pastors in developing new leaders is finding / making the time to do it. Our plates are often overflowing and it's so easy to get caught up in the Tierney of the Urgent. For that reason, I'd say my focus on developing new leaders has ebbed and flowed through the last few years. (Not saying that's a good thing. :-)
The good news is that God has recently brought someone to our church that has become what I now think of as a 'driver' for leadership development. He has been working with the pastors and Lead Team to help us formulate and strategized leadership development. I couldn't be more thrilled to see this happening.
We've been having bi-monthly leadership retreats that include inviting Ministry Team leaders and people we see as up and coming leaders. We have recently had our BHCC core group members all take the Natural Church Development (NCD) church health test and the results were incredibly positive. We scored in the top 15% of healthy churches in the nation. We were all very encouraged by the results.
Some of our highest scores were in Gift-based relationships, Empowering Leadership and Loving Relationships. All of our scores in every category were above average. Our lowest score was in holistic small groups which didn't surprise me at all since we know that is an area we need to work harder on.
Our leaders recently did a SWOT analysis and we're still compiling the results on that. The Lead Team has also been making much progress in developing more written policies and procedures for the church. Most people have no idea how complex running a church can be. There is a big business and organizational structure side to it that takes much work and many hours to manage.
It really is amazing to me how far we have come and all God has accomplished through us in the last few years. Sometimes it seems like it's all happening so painfully slow to me, but other times I look and see how tremendous the forward motion truly is.
God has been definitely bringing more leaders and raising up leaders from our ranks recently. We will soon have a new Communications person and it sure looks positive for a few other very important positions.
My biggest personal challenge is figuring out how to grow myself as a leader. God is showing me places that I must continue to grow and change. Changing oneself seems like the hardest task of all. As the church continues to grow, I know I must too continue to grow and morph into the kind of leader that I need to be to lead a bigger church.
Sure wish I wasn't such a slow learner. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
To God be all the glory forever and ever, AMEN! :-)