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PLI is devoted to empowering leaders for wider influence for the sake of the gospel in their communities and effective leadership in their ministries. Learn more about our vision and process here.


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3 Different Leaders. 3 Different Results.

It’s no secret that leaders and churches are experiencing enormous downward pressure as a result of the shifted world in which we find ourselves.

There’s really only one way to get to a vibrant 2030 church… no matter your tactics or plan. The journey requires stepping into the chasm illustrated below. Unlearning. Letting go of treasured traditions or practices moving down the front side of the chasm. Coming face to face with our own incompetence and inadequacy at the bottom of the chasm. Then steadily climbing up the far side of the chasm while learning new skills and competencies to excel in the world of the 2030 vibrant church.

(It’s no wonder that most of the good, godly people in your congregation don’t volunteer for a path like this to 2030 church.)

There are no successful short cuts … even though most of us need to try first.

“Americans avoid suffering and pain at almost all costs.”


Leader 1 illustration

Arms firmly planted on hips. Going nowhere. They fail to recognize the world has changed or they refuse to take on the challenge. They choose obsolescence. We’ve all been there. Right? Some leaders choose to stay here.

This leader mumbles…

  • I was trained for a world that no longer exists.
  • We’ve always done it this way.
  • I’ll retire in a few years. I pass. It’s too painful.
  • Or like my dear Phyllis some years ago: “Pastor, you can change anything you want. Just wait until after i die”

By the way, given time and consideration, Phyllis became a champion for our path through the chasm with her 80+ year old peers! They gave up personal preferences and comforts so people could be reached.


Leader 2 illustration

Goes for the quick fix. Quick results. Fails to count the cost. Fast track! Read a book. Institute a program. Attend a seminar. Fails to recognize the disorientation of being foreigners in a familiar land. Chooses to bypass the character forming/faith forming journey through loss and feelings of incompetence

They make the “Jump”. But unfortunately, no one ever gets to the destination. Progress is usually short lived. They crash. Maybe they repeat the same again… or again and again. Or they become disillusioned and surrender leadership.

“I’ve learned ten times more about the grace of God in the dark times than I have in the good times.”


leader 3 illustration

Wisely surveys the journey. Makes the journey in community with other pioneers. No rose-colored glasses. Admits the difficulty of the challenge. But knows the destination of a vibrant congregation that can give voice to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They’re honest about…

  • What no longer works
  • Losses along the way
  • Surrendering things they’ve valued
  • Unlearning

As a result they descend into the chasm. They experience…

  • Feelings of incompetence
  • Weakness
  • Questions of their own value

All while…

  • Arrogance and pride are crushed
  • Competitiveness dies
  • Self-centeredness is eroded

And then, finally, slowly…

  • A new level of confidence in God emerges
  • New capacities are birthed
  • Hope emerges
  • Character is formed

Adapting to a new world that didn’t used to exist requires stepping into the chasm.

It’s necessary, just not pleasant. And it should never be done in isolation. Inviting the congregation to do the same is no small challenge either.

Americans will do almost anything to avoid suffering and pain.

But, we have a higher calling. Entering the season of Lent we remember that we have One who has gone before us. Suffered the shame. Endured the cross. He already climbed down from the throne of heaven to take on flesh and blood!

Ask any missionary, any urban ministry leader, about their journey through the chasm. They’ll describe the journey in vivid detail on the way to becoming useful agents of the Gospel in a foreign territory. By the way…thank them for their courage!

And then? I’d invite you to consider the cost and join the journey. The church desperately needs pioneers and innovators who go “first” on the journey to a vibrant 2030 church!


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