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Stop Setting Up Leaders to Fail

The door to a vibrant, future church in 2030 swings on the hinges of relational discipleship!

Here are 4 thoughts:

  1. We’ve settled for a discipleship that looks good on the surface.
  2. You can only give away what you yourself possess.
  3. Minimally transformed leaders produce minimally transformed leadership groups that result in minimally transformed ministries.
  4. And… minimally transformed ministries will be likely casualties on the path to 2030.

I came into leadership in an era of “if you can preach, you can lead!” Most folks today still equate a good talker with a good leader. (Being a good talker is still…good…but not synonymous with leader.)

I saw great congregations built, at least in part, around great preachers. As much as I still value great preaching, and occasionally aspire to be one, there are two problems:

  • Preaching and leading is the task of only one, or at most a few, in a local congregation. (A singularly large burden.) So most are left to listen…or criticize.
  • 90+% of pastors rate themselves as above average preachers by last report. (Catch the humor of that self assessment?) (Congregants share different assessments!)

Of the approximately 350,000 churches in America, there are still some shining examples of great preachers breaking the mold. Just enough to entice congregations to think… “if we only had a better ‘above average’ preacher, then we could grow, survive, have a future, pay the bills, reach the lost, etc. etc. etc.”

But, the future is entrusted to congregations built around relational discipleship–not information transfer–and leaders with the skill to relationally disciple people who can relationally disciple people.

The future will hinge on how many people can be multiplied to be sent out to transform where they live, work and play. 

If we’re going to make a bold move toward a vibrant 2030 church… (and we’re counting on you–seriously, you!– helping move toward that vibrant 2030 church)… it will not happen with a shallow discipleship!

We’re setting leaders up to fail. Elder boards… church councils… church bodies… We expect leaders to flourish. And we expect flourishing ministries. But we’re planning to build it with an antiquated set of skills.  And build it with little investment in the core from which they lead. Elders…church councils…church bodies still think we’re in a “great preaching produces great congregations” world that’s gone.

If we’re going to be “fair” to our leaders, we’re going to invest a couple of new skills in them. And invest in the core from which they lead. One of which is relational discipleship.

So, take an honest look around the leadership table in your congregation…

  1. Are we being fair to ourselves, to our leader(s), or are we expecting him/her/them to flourish, but not give them access to the new skills they need?
  2. Has your congregation settled for a discipleship that looks good on the outside but has little depth?
  3. One church observer has simply stated: “The problem with the church in America is that it’s being led by people that have never been discipled. Change that and you change the future.” Agree? Disagree? What do you want to do about it?

PLI wants to help. Leadership Essentials, D2MC and 1,000 Young Leaders all bring investment in leaders longing to help the church of today become the church of tomorrow.

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