Engaging Leaders

This article is written by Jeff Broadnax, Director of Generations Ministry and Assistant Regional Director.

When someone becomes one of the answers to your online banking “security questions,” you know they have made an impact in your life. Hollis Dane Mitchell was such a person. For years he was an answer to the question, “Who is your favorite high school teacher?”

But why Hollis Mitchell? Well, when I was a junior in high school, he was my Advanced Math teacher. I was a good student overall, but I was definitely an undisciplined and distracted student. My character might have reflected my Christian values, but my grades had begun to reflect my lack of discipline at this critical time in my high school career.

One day Mr. Mitchell asked me to stay after class to “chat.” As I sat at my desk wondering which of my in class “activities” he was going to correct me for, he asked me a very pointed question: “Jeff, what do you want to be when you grow up?” At the time, I saw him as a great example and told him I wanted to be a teacher. He said to me, “Jeff anybody can be a teacher, look at me! You have the potential to be something great but you have to get off your ______ , do the work and stop letting your friends lead you around by the nose.”

This stunned me. Mr. Mitchell thought I could be something or someone great! I thought he was great (and I still do). This guy whom I thought was awesome paid attention to me. He told me he saw something special in me and called it up in a way that I would never lose sight of.

In last month’s Equipper, Heber Ticas gave an overview of how healthy leaders create healthy teams by engaging, equipping, empowering and encouraging others. When it came to engaging he said,

…as leaders we must be sensitive to the work and calling of the Spirit in the life of others. As we recognize the gifting in others and we acknowledge the needs of the ministry, we intentionally invite others in and give them opportunity for participation. Let’s acknowledge we sometimes (often) struggle with giving ministry away, and with leader readiness; however, we must be willing to engage the journey.

Just over a decade after my conversation with Mr. Mitchell, I went to see him while on a visit back home to Cincinnati. I told him how much that conversation meant to me and that it planted a seed from God into the soil of my life and that this teachable moment had become a teaching tool in my pastoral ministry.

As a Christian himself, I know Mr. Mitchell understood that God had taken a humble servant and allowed him to see a young man full of potential and invite him to become engaged in a future full of promise, hope and service to God and humanity. Hollis Mitchell is a healthy leader of leaders.

In my life he will always be a reflection of Jesus’ pattern of calling others into discipleship. Like Jesus his approach was simple:

  • Pay attention—Whether a woman at a well, a blind man wanting to be healed, or a fisherman needing transformation, Jesus noticed individuals for who they were and gave them personalized attention.
  • Say what you see—Throughout the Gospels, we see our Lord show those from the least to the greatest something valuable about themselves that he wanted to transform and use to bring glory to the Father.
  • Call it up—Jesus always left those he encountered with the invitation and sometimes the challenge to engage with him and learn to engage others in his high calling of service to the Father by the Spirit.

Consider the calling of Simon Peter. We often quote the calling up moment when Jesus said, “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matt. 4:19). But I challenge you to read John’s account of Jesus and Peter’s first meeting (John 1:36-42). You will note that this is the moment Jesus paid attention to Peter and told him what he saw in him: “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas.” (“Cephas” means “Peter.”). Notice how this shows that Jesus patiently and intentionally engaged Peter on multiple occasions.

As we read in Luke 5, it was in a second meeting that Jesus famously gets into his boat by the Sea of Galilee, challenges him to put out into deep water for a catch, reframes his view of vocation and calls him up to ministry.

Jesus has invited us to join him in engaging others for ministry the same way. Who does he want you to pay attention to, validate and invite into ministry? Who knows, you might become the answer to their “Who influenced you the most?” ministry security question.

Bringing Others in the Know

Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him (Acts 8:30-31 NLT).

Whether it’s learning about Jesus or learning about how to lead, the truth is simple: people don’t know that they don’t know what they don’t know. Think this through a moment. This is called unconscious incompetence. When we ask someone to serve as a ministry leader or to head up a mission, it is vital to realize people don’t know what they don’t know, and they need instruction. Let’s look at two real scenarios from GCI members who shared new job experiences. Both names have been changed.

Bob was offered a dream job. He was put into a supervisory role with a good deal of responsibility with a new company. During the interview process Bob was assured he would receive the training he needed. Relying on this, Bob accepted the job. Right away he struggled to get the support promised. It wasn’t intentional—the company was growing so quickly, they simply didn’t have time to train Bob in all the intricacies of his job. Thus, he made a few mistakes, which his boss said were not a problem—just part of the learning curve. Bob realized he had to learn on his own. He did the best he could, often asking for input, but rarely receiving the support he needed. Six months after receiving the job, the company faced some financial issues and Bob was let go. One of the reasons given to him was he made some decisions he wasn’t supposed to make. Imagine Bob’s frustration. No matter how many times he asked for support, it wasn’t given to him. Bob didn’t fail—the company did.

Carl was also hired in a great job—a job he felt qualified for. It took only a few days for Carl to realize the job was much more complicated than he imagined. He notified his supervisor that he was over his head in how much he needed to learn. In this case, however, the supervisor put Carl into a training program and walked alongside him over a series of several weeks. He encouraged Carl to ask a lot of questions. When Carl made mistakes, the supervisor asked what he learned from those mistakes. They spent a lot of time sharing questions and answers. Together they made Carl the employee the company desired him to be.

We can learn from these two scenarios. In Bob’s case, all he wanted was some help—instructions clarifying what was expected of him, and answers when he got in a bind. He spent much of that six months in a state of frustration. “How do I do what I need to do, when I don’t know what they want me to do?” The owners of the company were also frustrated. “Why won’t Bob do everything we hired him to do?” Now let’s turn this to ministry or mission. Pastors can get frustrated because ministry leaders aren’t doing effective ministry—at least from their perspective. And ministry leaders can feel like failures because they have been asked to head up a ministry or mission and not given any instruction. It is assumed they know what needs to be done. The truth is, they don’t know, and in many cases, they don’t know that they don’t know, and so they try to do what they believe is asked of them and frustration ensues.

Sometimes in our desire to avoid micromanaging, we fail to manage. Because we want to give freedom in leadership, we leave people to their own devices. Then when they innovate, we get frustrated. It’s also true that some don’t listen to advice and simply want to do things their own way. They aren’t teachable, as we point out in the FATE leadership acronym—leaders need to be faithful, available, teachable and enthusiastic.

 

A simple way to think about training people in leadership consists of three words: information, imitation, innovation.

  • Information—Explain the job, the job requirements and provide clear direction. Encourage questions—we are rarely as clear as we think we are. Give detailed answers and ask follow-up questions: “Did I make that clear, or did I just muddy the waters?” “Do you need more? I’m happy to talk this through.” A good question to ask is, “What question should I be asking you?”
  • Imitation—Encourage the ministry or mission leader to imitate you or the person who has done the job in the past. It’s not that you are requiring them to do the job just like you do it, but you have experience they can learn from. There is plenty of time for innovation after they’ve learned the ropes.
  • Innovation—Once they have learned the essentials, encourage them to innovate – to make the ministry or mission their own. Encourage them to try new things, to think outside the box, and then be sure to give them the freedom and support to do so.

Good leaders know that people don’t know that they don’t know what they don’t know. Our job is to bring them in the know.—Rick Shallenberger, Editor

 

Developing Leaders

The power of equipping and empowering others

Jesus didn’t just send instructions to a group of people to go and share good news—he had a systematic way of training disciples, who trained disciples, who trained disciples and several generations later trained you and me. Now we are called to train the next generation of leaders. What can we learn from Jesus’s methodology? Jesus’ pattern of developing others can be seen in a tool produced by GiANT called “Developing Others.” Let’s look at each side of this square and note what Jesus did and how it applies to us as we develop leaders. Note the clock in the middle—developing others takes time.

Follow me (I do, you watch)

Jesus did not come to do everything by himself—he invited others to participate in what he was doing. To some he simply said, “Follow me” (Luke 5:27). To a group of fishermen, he said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19 ESV). As they followed, they watched Jesus heal the sick, teach the multitudes, cast out demons, and practice a life of grace. Everything they learned was new. When he called them, they knew nothing about his ministry. They were likely familiar with some prophecies about the Messiah, but they had no way of knowing Jesus was that Messiah. They were in the state of unconscious incompetence. They did not know what they did not know. Incompetence is not a bad word—it’s a reality we face often. Until you know, you are incompetent in that knowledge. The key is to not remain incompetent. Part of equipping is modeling—modeling how to do ministry, how to do mission, how to preach, how to extend grace, how to lead worship, how to comfort, how to lead a Bible study.

Participate with me (I do, you help)

When the crowds followed Jesus, he had compassion on them (Matthew 14:4). The disciples told him to send the crowds home so they could buy food for themselves. Jesus responded by saying, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat” (v. 16.) This is the point when the disciples were at the state of conscious incompetence. They knew there was nothing they could do: “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish” (v 17). Jesus told them to bring the fish and bread to him, and after he blessed the food he told them to distribute it. Afterwards, he told the disciples to collect the leftovers. 5,000 men, plus women and children, were fed from two fish and five loaves of bread. Jesus could have had manna come down from heaven; he could have done something that brought all the focus on himself. Instead, he invited the disciples to participate in what he was doing.

They had no idea how to feed this crowd—they were aware of their inability—conscious incompetence—but they were invited to participate. Imagine what was going through their heads when 12 basketfuls of broken pieces were collected. Did each disciple hold a basketful of leftovers and say, “What just happened here? Who is this man and why did he invite me to join him?” It’s a question worth pondering.

Giving opportunity to participate is an integral part of equipping, which is a vital part of developing leaders. In this case, you are taking the lead and teaching by giving them areas to participate in. As they learn, their participation can increase. This is a time when a lot of teaching takes place, so ask a lot of questions, and answer their questions. This back-and-forth communication builds trust and relationship as you teach and share opportunity.

Go and practice (you do, I help)

“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” Luke 9:1-2). Notice a few key points here: first he gave them the power and the authority (the help needed), and then he sent them out. He did not send them out without proper preparation, training and example. They had seen, they had participated, and now they were given the freedom (and power and authority) to go do. In essence, Jesus empowered them to do what they had been trained to do. They went and did as he told them. They were aware of their task—what to do and how to do it. This is conscious competence.

Empowerment is a significant step in leadership. There comes a time to let go of the reins and let others take the lead. This builds trust; you show you trust them to take the lead, and because you are still there to help when asked, they trust you. One of the most difficult aspects of empowerment happens here—waiting for them to ask for help and only then to provide assistance. This means letting them make mistakes, get in a bind, even fail. Failure can be a great learning experience, but only when we don’t leave them in the failure alone. Rather, when asked, we step right in the middle of that failure and help them learn from the experience.

In the diagram above you note the “Pit of Despair.” When people are released too soon, they can feel overwhelmed. The job can seem like too much to bear, or the person may feel they are unqualified or simply can’t learn. This may indicate the need to slow down the process and spend more time in the “I do, you help” stage of training. Good communication helps in avoiding the pit of despair.

Go (you do, I watch)

This is the essence of the Great Commission—Go and make disciples. But before he tells us to go, Jesus reminds us who he is—the One to whom has been given all power and authority over heaven and earth. Then after he tells us to “GO,” he tells us he will be with us always—to the very end of the age. He calls us to go, but he tells us we are never alone. He is always watching. He is always with us. And the One who is always with us has all power and authority. That’s comfort, encouragement, and empowerment all at once.

The disciples came to the point they didn’t have to think about how to preach Jesus, how to anoint, how to counsel and comfort, how to lead—it became second nature. This is unconscious competence—they did things naturally. They became apostles devoted to furthering the work Jesus had started. They were constantly encouraged by Jesus’ words—I will be with you always.

One of the reasons ministry can get lonely and people get burned out is because of the lack of affirmation and encouragement. It’s essential that pastors bring affirmation and encouragement to their team members and ministry leaders. Remind them they are not alone—Jesus is with them and he still has all power and authority. Stay in relationship with them, praise them for successes, help them work through failures, give regular encouragement. And encourage them to find someone they can train, so our pattern of developing leaders continues.—Rick Shallenberger, Editor

A New Look at Lent

Lending With the Promise of Repayment

Written by George Hart, retired GCI pastor

My first memories of Lent are not particularly positive, but not necessarily negative—more indifferent. I remember when I was six years old, in the first grade, and the Lenten season approached. I was given a Lenten coin folder, the type with slots that you can insert coins in, one for each of the 40 days of Lent. In each slot you placed a nickel.

Now, if you are 6 years old in 1958, a nickel is a lot of money. I could buy a heaping ice cream cone, or 10 pieces of Mary Jane candy for a nickel. But I didn’t have a nickel, so I had to ask my mom or grandmother to give me a nickel for the card. I’m sure they got as tired of me asking each day, as I got tired of asking. Even young, I could detect a building sense of annoyance as I approached them with coin folder in hand, expecting them to provide the daily nickel. When they ran out of nickels, I had no other source. Typically, by day 12 the project was abandoned.

It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, and to make matters worse, the only explanation I was ever given for doing this was, “You just need to do it, because God expects you to.” As I think about it, I don’t recall every completing one of those folders. It was another one of God’s expectations for me that I never met.

So, what did I learn? I learned that Lent was about making a halfhearted effort at giving up something I didn’t have (for some reason that was never explained to me) and falling far short. Perhaps your experience is different from mine, but those memories pretty much remained with me for several decades.

It was about 20 years ago that I rediscovered Lent and it changed my view. What did I discover?

First, I learned many Christians think Lent originated with the Roman Catholic Church, and because of that, they don’t want to observe it. For this reasoning, we can most likely thank the Anabaptists of the 16th century, who discarded all Christian holy days on the theory that they were Roman Catholic innovations. That was their best information at the time, but today we know that they were wrong. In many cases, Rome was the last place to observe holy days. Lent has a long history in the church dating as far back as the first couple of centuries after the death of Christ. That was long before there were any Protestants or Catholics, as we may think of them today.

Lent is a period of 40 days starting on Ash Wednesday (March 6, 2019) and ending on the Saturday before Easter Sunday (April 20th 2019). If you look at the calendar, however, you will see there are 46 days in that time period. The 40 days of Lent exclude Sundays. Sundays are excluded because they are days of celebration in the church—a day for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. So the Lenten season is actually 40 weekdays plus six Sundays.

The objective of Lent is spiritual preparation for Easter; it’s a season for reflection and taking stock. Traditionally many people have chosen to give something up as a discipline, or as a reminder of Christ’s sufferings. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Often people give up something they enjoy like meat, alcohol, sweets, television, etc.

But Jesus is not looking for self-torture, self-hatred, woe-is-me thinking, 40-days of starvation or self-loathing. I believe there is a lot more to Lent than giving something up. I believe Lent provides us a focused time of simply and honestly looking into ourselves and getting down to what’s real. Self-loathing and shame are not being real about who we are in Christ. Further, every Sunday during Lent carries with it a part of the victory that is ours through the resurrection of Jesus, and points us to the great celebration, the Super Bowl of Sundays, Easter Sunday, when we celebrate our Lord rising from the dead and the victory over death that is ours!

Lent is not just about giving up something. It’s about seeking something—a closer relationship with Jesus. I suggest rather than deprive yourself of something, add something that will enrich your life spiritually. Think of the good things that Jesus asks of us and “follow him” by doing one of those. You might choose to reconcile with someone you don’t like or perform acts of kindness. You may set aside a period of time each day to reflect on creation and God’s goodness. You may make a phone call each day and share a devotional with someone who needs encouragement or affirmation. There are many great Lenten devotionals, some free on line, that will enable you to journey through Lent and reap a spiritual harvest.

The word Lent comes from a word that means “to lend.” The concept is lending something for temporary use on condition of repayment with interest. In other words, the idea for Lent is not about performing some obligatory ritual but rather enjoying 40 days of devotion that will reap spiritual benefit for our lives. If through our Lenten commitment, whether we choose to give up something or to add something, we experience greater conformity to the mind of Christ and more effective ministry on behalf of the world, we will have certainly “lent” something with the promise of “repayment with interest.”

Being Called Up

The Value of Life-on-Life Mentoring

Written by Anthony Mullins, National Coordinator for pastoral residents. interns and coaching.

Have you ever had a parent, teacher, coach, pastor or mentor tell you something you did not want to hear, but you knew you needed to hear? I mean the kind of words that hit you like a truck in the immediacy of the moment and yet somehow those words are strangely life-giving. I suspect most of us have and we are better for it. Sometimes the most profound learnings in our life are embedded in challenging words from someone we respect and admire.

“I want to involve you in church leadership, but until you consistently show up, I can’t and won’t.” Those words were spoken to me by Tom Mahan, then GCI pastor in Kennesaw, Georgia. Most importantly for the purposes of this article, he was a significant mentor in that season of my life. Those words stung because he was “calling up” something better from me. His words were like a mirror revealing an area of needed growth in my life as a disciple of Jesus. (Link to Calling Up article in Equipper archives.)

In my twenties, I was employed as a sales representative by a national event-planning company requiring extensive travel. Most years, while at that particular firm, I would travel out-of-state upwards of thirty weeks per year, which often included Sundays. My presence at the weekly worship service was erratic at best. In those days, Pastor Tom recognized the Lord had given me an ability to connect well with young people. He expressed a desire for me to lead the fledgling youth ministry in our church and he knew I had a keen interest in teaching and discipling teenagers. There was just one problem—my lack of presence, availability and commitment to the cause. My mentor had an important decision to make. He could simply acquiesce to the situation or he could bring appropriate challenge to this teaching moment. For my benefit and growth, he chose the latter.

My personal experience tells me bringing challenge only hits the mark if first there is a relationship of trust. Trust is built over time together and through a lot of relationship. In that way, a relationship of trust resembles a Crock-Pot instead of a microwave. It’s a slow-burn rather than a quick fix. Therein lies the beauty of a mentoring relationship. Mentoring, done well, is a life-on-life relationship girded by Christ’s love for one another. My relationship with Tom looked like sharing meals together, watching football together, talking about church life and leadership together, discussing theology and what it meant to be Christ-centered in all things, and praying together. Because of that relationship of trust, Tom was present to celebrate some of the sweetest moments in my life and to mourn with me in the face of heartache and perceived failure. Tom mentored through the lens of a great life mantra: care about what people you care about, care about.

As a pastor and ministry leader in Grace Communion International, I am standing on the shoulders of giants who took the time and effort to mentor me well. The challenge Tom brought me that day was a catalyst for change in my life. It helped me see the importance of showing up in lives of people in my community of faith. Soon thereafter, I made an intentional job change to be more available to what the Lord was doing in the life of our church. The Father was at work in the “calling up” to draw me into a deeper abiding relationship with Jesus and more active participation in his ministry by his Spirit. I am forever grateful for those courageous words of challenge from a mentor and friend.

You have what it takes to be a good mentor: time and the compelling love of Jesus Christ.

The best use of your life is love.

The best way to express love is giving your time.

The best time to love is now. – Anthony Mullins

 

REAL Teams

This article is written by Randy Bloom, US Regional Director

In the early years of my ministry I was mentored within an omni-competent pastoral leadership culture. You know the drill: the pastor had all the answers—how to run a youth ministry, how to minister to the elderly, how to reach out to the community, how to raise children, how to counsel for baptism, marriage, family issues, how to rebuild a carburetor. (Ok, a bit of exaggeration here, but not much.) Any team consisted of a group of people who could help the pastor get the job done.

Even though I was a young and dumb minister, I saw the problems inherit in this approach, but I was expected to “lead” as I was trained. I found it frustrating. I am confident the omni-competent approach only added to the sense of insecurity and incompetence I already felt as a new minister. After all, it was obvious to me that all people—including pastors—have shortcomings and grow by experience. But if we are expected to act as if we know it all, how can this not but add to our frustration (and the frustration of others) by trying to do it all. It didn’t make sense to me then, and now I understand why.

Much has been said and written in Equipper and on our GCI resource page about developing team-based/pastor led ministries. I highly recommend you watch the REAL Team videos that our new president has shared. REAL is an acronym for Relationally connected, Enthusiastically engaged, Affirming and Liberating leaders. But what are we talking about and why is there so much emphasis on this?

First , a widely accepted axiom of learning is that repetition enhances learning and retention. So, we continue to address the value of team-based/pastor led ministry and how it is lived out.

Second, we are striving in GCI to use the same language. (Next month we will discuss the importance of using GCI language.)

Third, we hope to help you avoid some of the problems we’ve faced over the years. Sadly, it took being employed outside the church environment for me to begin to learn the need and value of team-based leadership. (This doesn’t have to happen to you!) One of the first and most important things I learned about working with teams was that “team-based” is not purely democratic and certainly does not mean anarchy. Someone still needs to lead (in GCI, this is the pastor), but leaders need to learn how to lead. As Equipper Editor Rick Shallenberger mentioned last month, Healthy Church begins with Healthy Leadership. I had to learn to lead and thus, when I re-entered employed ministry with GCI, I was able to apply what I had learned (and continue to learn to this day) about team-based ministry.

For team-based leadership to occur, you need a team—a REAL team. We use the acronym REAL to describe the kind of team that is healthy and that provides the kind of leadership needed for a healthy church.

Relationally Connected

REAL team members live in a close relationship with each other and our Triune God. They spend time with each other outside of planning sessions. They pray together. They have fun together. They share the joys, challenges and tragedies of life together.

Enthusiastically Engaged

They are enthusiastic about participating in the ministry of Jesus within their congregation. While they may live with a keen sense of what are at times sobering realities, they trust Jesus to lead and provide. They work collaboratively together, and they do so willingly and with joy and a sense of expectation. Enthusiastic team members serve out of love, not for a title, recognition or out of a sense of entitlement.

Affirming

REAL team members who are relationally connected and enthusiastically engaged are also affirming. They encourage each other and members of the congregation. They look for the best in each other and help fellow team members who stumble or need assistance. Affirming team members respect the absent. That is, they don’t talk negatively about others behind their backs. REAL teams have no place for nay-sayers or foot-draggers.

Liberating Leaders

REAL team members are always mentoring someone. They get joy out of mentoring someone and then they mentor to lead. They are constantly on the lookout for someone to mentor. This means they aren’t territorial about their ministry. They see themselves as Jesus’s bondservants who serve him first, with a recognition that the ministry they are involved in belongs to Jesus (not them) and eventually needs to be shared and passed along to others. Finding, mentoring and liberating leaders is part of building a healthy leadership team – and it leads to church growth.

REAL team-based/pastor led ministry is a challenge, but a great goal. REAL teams help a congregation in many ways. Overall vision and plans that need to be developed and decisions that need to be made are better done with the input of a variety of people with different skill sets, perspectives and personalities. This leads to healthy church. Can we do this? Yes, we can, with a humble heart, a willingness to learn, and the help of the Holy Spirit.

Leadership FATE

This article is written by Tim Sitterley, GCI Regional Director

“Team-based pastor-led is how I want to lead,” one pastor shared, “but I don’t have a good record choosing the best leaders for the congregation.” Her statement reminded me of a telling scene in the 1990 movie “Crazy People.” When his coworkers start believing that job stress is affecting his performance and his mental health, advertising executive Emory Leeson (Dudley Moore) is sent to a mental hospital. Leeson’s employer is convinced the unique and unorthodox views of Leeson’s fellow mental patients would make them excellent advertising executives, so during one of their group sessions Leeson’s boss asks the question “Who wants to be an advertising executive?” There is an enthusiastic response from everyone in the room.

Moore’s character, however, understands the true nature of his fellow patients, so he follows that question with a question of his own. “Who wants to be a fire truck?” There is a far more enthusiastic and unanimous response.

Finding qualified members for our congregational leadership teams can sometimes be as challenging, and it’s important that we understand the true nature of those…often enthusiastic…individuals we work with, and with whom we strive to build healthy teams for a healthy church. For this reason, we recommend using the simple acronym FATE when choosing our teams. FATE stands for Faithful, Available, Teachable and Enthusiastic.

Faithful, in this context, is more than just showing up. It implies an individual willing to use the gifts and talents given them, in a consistent manner, for the benefit of the congregation. The imagery of the faithful servant in Matthew 25 comes to mind. “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” The willingness to step out and step up—time after time—even in the face of occasional failure—is an attribute to seriously consider when choosing team members.

In today’s busy world, Available will often be a challenge. Often there is a competition for the attributes and skills that make up good leaders. Occasionally rescheduling meetings to accommodate members of the team will always be necessary. But when rescheduling for one team member becomes the norm, the toll it takes on the rest of the team makes whatever gifts that individual brings to the table less and less relevant.

A Teachable spirit is a must for all members of the team, including the leader of the team. We are not talking about someone just using their “guardian” voice here. Guardians may initially resist a new idea or concept, but once the effort has been made to build a bridge of understanding, the guardian will gladly move forward. But when a member of the team refuses to learn and adapt, they become a boat anchor preventing future progress.

And finally, there is Enthusiasm. As in the opening story, enthusiasm to be a part of a team is often quite evident. But as we’ve seen, other factors must be taken into account. On the other hand, the lack of enthusiasm for what the team is doing, or where they are being led, can undo even the best laid plans. A member of the team may be faithful, available and teachable, but if they are like Eeyore, the continuously pessimistic gray donkey from Winnie the Pooh, the overall effect on the rest of the team will always be negative.

It may be the desire of many to be a part of a leadership team. But after prayerful consideration, it may not be their FATE. That consideration, however, is an essential part of a Team Based/Pastor Led model. To see prayerful consideration in action, one simply needs to study the selection process of the seven deacons in Acts 6. Or maybe you can just sort things out by asking “Who wants to be a fire truck?”

Leading Leaders

The Call to Engage, Equip, Empower and Encourage

By Heber Ticas, GCI pastor and Superintendent of Latin America

It was a daunting Sunday afternoon. My wife and I were exhausted from the demands and responsibilities of a growing congregation. As a bi-vocational pastor with a demanding “tent-building” job, it was tough to find time to get everything done. I vividly remember sitting on our deck venting about the enormous task ahead of us. While venting, I recalled the scene when the pastor whom I had trained under stood up before the congregation voicing his frustration about not having enough help around him. I remembered thinking, he did have help, he just didn’t ask for it or offer opportunity to participate. I recalled musing that I was available and would have done more if given the opportunity.

My wife and I were feeling the same level of frustration as my former pastor. As we talked, I recalled an exercise from a regional conference on “Win, Build, Equip and Multiply.” The exercise required us to rate the weakest part of our ministry with the intent of bringing attention to a healthy balance. It may not surprise you to hear “Equip” was weakest part of my ministry.

Looking back, I now clearly understand that the Holy Spirit was at work in my life bringing me to a place of health as a pastor. He had already placed the pieces in his church for the healthy balance that we needed. After all, it is his church. If I was to lead the congregation through the renewal process we were starting to experience, I needed to become a leader of leaders. I needed to understand the importance of giving away ministry from a place of health, rather than from a place of frustration and discouragement. I needed to surround myself with a healthy team. In order to achieve this, I first needed to surrender my weariness and all self-preservation to the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I could not agree more with Equipper editor, Rick Shallenberger, in his introductory article last month where he states that “healthy church begins with healthy leadership.” I experienced that reality first hand. In GCI we believe that healthy ministry is Team-based Pastor-led. What does it look like to be pastor led? What does a profile of leaders of leaders look like? A healthy pastor engages, equips, empowers and encourages others. This month we will give a quick overview of these four areas, and next month we will expand on each one.

Engage—as leaders we must be sensitive to the work and calling of the Spirit in the life of others. As we recognize the gifting in others and we acknowledge the needs of the ministry, we intentionally invite others in and give them opportunity for participation. Let’s acknowledge we sometimes (often) struggle with giving ministry away, and with leader readiness; however, we must be willing to engage the journey.

Equip—one of the most frustrating things for leaders in the making is to be invited to lead without the proper training. A healthy pastor understands that one of his/her main responsibilities is to develop and multiply healthy leaders. Developing a healthy leader requires intentionality and recognizing the difference between a ministry worker and one that leads others. As healthy pastors, we acknowledge that equipping leaders is of high priority. Next month’s Equipper will have an article on “Developing Others.”

Empower—a healthy pastor does not engage and equip others only to have them sit on the sidelines. He/she creates spaces for leaders to step into leadership roles. He/she commissions them before the body for recognition and a healthy charge.

Encourage—ministry in isolation is not healthy ministry. A healthy pastor leads a group of men and women who are for each other and who lift each other up throughout the difficult journey of ministry. A healthy pastor will call up, affirm and engage ministry leaders through both the good times and the difficult times of ministry. A leader of leaders will recognize when to lead with strategies, support and challenge but will also recognize when to pastor and encourage a ministry leader.

My leadership teams have changed throughout the years. My present leadership teams include some who have journeyed with me from day one, and some who were in their early teens when our renewal process began. I recently needed to restructure our youth ministry because the youth leader asked for time away from ministry to deal with life. Looking around, I saw that the Holy Spirit had already supplied the answer as I recognized a team of three young people (Stephanie 21, Chris 18 and Cristian 20) to lead the ministry. These young leaders in the making will need high support from myself and from other mentors – support that includes continued engagement, empowerment, equipping and encouragement.

I praise the Holy Spirit for providing our congregations and our denomination with gifted individuals and with a new generation of leaders who are willing to make the needed sacrifices to participate with Jesus’ everyday mission to the world and in his church. I pray that the Lord continues to tug at our hearts and bring us clarity in those areas where we need to grow as leaders of leaders.

 

Congregational Brochure and Postcard

Brochures and postcards are effective ways for congregations to make their presence known in the community and connect with visitors. Below are two GCI-branded templates for postcards, and two for brochures. Click on each image to download a template and instructions for use. To download GCI’s standard type font (GCI), click here.

Postcard #1:

Postcard #2:

Brochure #1:
Brochure #2: