I’m not sure if anyone missed my weekly blogs but I am back writing them again. I have had a sabbatical. I am feeling physically and spiritually recharged and there are many aspects of small-church ministry that I am anxious to assume once again. One of the things that I missed was writing this blog.
So what does someone do on a sabbatical. I wasn’t really sure what I should do in that this was the first sabbatical I had taken in just over forty years of ministry. I knew that I needed a break from the normal routine but what should that look like. I did a number of things but one of the things that I most enjoyed during the past three months was a study on leadership and its place in the small church.
I want to share in broad terms the four conclusions that I came to and then over the next few months I plan to expand on each of these conclusions. Actually, I had arrived at each of these conclusions before I took the sabbatical but the past three months gave me time in which to do additional reading and to sharpen my thinking on them.
The first conclusion is that evaluating your church is all about “impact.” For the past fifty years we have been told that numbers are the measure of a successful church. The experts have taught that if God is blessing a church, that church will grow. Small churches need to learn from large churches or so they would tell us since the large churches are obviously doing it right.
The problem with that perspective is that it is wrong. It simply isn’t the case. I have discovered that there are healthy large churches but there are also unhealthy large churches. There are unhealthy small churches but praise God there are also very healthy small churches.
Individual local churches, whether large or small, are called to be impactful. God calls every church to make an impact and that can be done in many different ways. Over the next few weeks I am going to talk about what an impactful church looks like.
The second conclusion that I arrived at is that the measure of impact is discipleship. Jesus gave us the Great Commission and at the heart of the Great Commission is a call to make disciples. The church is to be a place in which disciples are making other disciples who in turn will make still more disciples. That is what the Great Commission is all about.
There are two questions that every church must answer if it is going to make the kind of impact that God has called it to make.
Question One: What is a disciple?
Once a church has a clear understanding of what a disciple is, then it needs to answer the second question.
Question Two: How does a church make disciples?
In future blogs I want to spend some time answering those two questions.
The third conclusion is that building disciples needs to start with a strong leadership team. A church will only make an impact if its leadership team is making an impact on the members of the church.
I have always believed that God’s design for the church is to have multiple leaders. No one person is wise enough to provide an answer to every issue that a church might face. No one person has all the gifts that are required to lead a church. No one person is capable of meeting all of the needs that exist even in a small church.
While I have always believed that leadership in a church should be the responsibility of multiple leaders, it has been as a result of my study during this sabbatical that I have come to appreciate the difference between a leadership board and a leadership team.
God doesn’t want his church to be governed by a leadership board. He wants that board to do the difficult work involved in becoming a leadership team. This involves such things as shared vision, common purpose, accountability and a common commitment to becoming passionate disciples of Jesus Christ.
Over the next few months I want to explore more fully what it means to be this kind of team – a leadership team of growing disciples committed to producing disciples throughout the church.
This brings me to my final conclusion. The task of making disciples begins at the top and trickles down to members of the church.
There is an economic theory that became most famous during the 1980s when Ronald Reagan was president of the United States. It was labelled by some as Reaganomics but was more famously known as trickle down economics. The idea was that if a government gave tax cuts to the rich, the benefits would trickle down to the poor so that everyone would become more prosperous.
I am not a proponent of this economic theory but I do believe that there is to be a trickle down effect in the church. Those in leadership need to be absolutely committed to personal growth in each area of his/her life. As those leaders grow spiritually and interact with the members of the church, there will be a trickle down effect that should impact everyone in the church.
I will also be expanding on this in the weeks ahead.
I am excited about being back writing this blog and it is my prayer that something that I will say in a future blog will meet a need in your life so that I can be a small part of your personal growth into discipleship. May God bless you in all that you do to serve Him.
Glad you’re back Ron! As always, your blog entry is both challenging and encouraging!