Author: PASTOR HARLEY SNODE
What do you notice is the greatest void in the ministry of a brand-new church? Frequently, it is a void in leadership that finds the pastor and his family “doing everything.” While that is often to be expected in the early months, it becomes lethal if not addressed and resolved in subsequent months and years. While there are several key components of a church plant “that makes it,” none are more significant that an expanding plurality of leadership under the inspiring vision and disciplined oversight of the senior pastor.
Here are few key steps that enable every church plant to implement a leadership pipeline:
The first step is that the church “planter” himself must transition into becoming an effective, Spirit-guided “pastor.”
It is time to do more than talk about “what we are going to do as a church” and simply start doing it. Long before you can mentor another budding leader, you must first model it! Fleshed out, this looks like door-to-door visitation and one-on-one discipleship amongst other leadership disciplines. (It is very likely that someone you lead to Christ and disciple will become your most indispensable and influential partner in leadership because they will grow with you and under you.) Being available and poised to counsel in the areas of personal sanctification is a must for those attending. Visiting the elderly and shut-ins must be a regular, frequent part of your weekly rhythm. To raise up additional under-shepherds, those very same people must first be a part of a flock of well-fed and cared for sheep.
The second step is to read broadly, listen intently, and dig deeply into the Word to refine your philosophy on becoming a “leader of leaders.”
The third step is to tenaciously begin to practically invest large amounts of energy and time into that one or two or more that God has gifted to your church in spiritual leadership.
The fourth step is to learn how to maintain and encourage those who begin to log some years in leading the church with you.
It is not enough to start a leadership team; you must learn to maintain it, or it will often implode in a costly way to your fledgling church. One the biggest mistake the church planters like us make is that we tend to burn out our volunteer leaders and have way too much turnover creating unnecessary flux. If you are looking for it, Paul, in the opening chapter or closing chapter of his epistles, consistently takes the time to encourage the elders and servants in the local church. Here is one example in Philippians 1:
Every local church pioneer must quickly and thoroughly go from “planter” to “pastor” if their fledgling work is to be grounded and grown. In no area is more intentional time and focus required than that of developing leaders to maintain and expand the gospel ministry. Without this key transition, not only will the church die, but you will burn out your dear wife, kids, and anyone else that you “dump on” when you should have learned the art of sanctified delegation. While you see nowhere Paul instructing Titus or Timothy how to build massive crowds, he does command them, for the sake of their churches, that their primary responsibility is to develop leaders: 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Until you obey this command, you are not pastoring. Maybe planting. But not pastoring.
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PASTOR HARLEY SNODE
Pastor of North Life Baptist Church in Wooster, OH