‘Leadership Matters’. I’ve heard that phrase said so often but never realised the truth and importance of this statement until i became involved in church planting work. We have a growing passion to work with our leaders here in San Antonio, it’s become a critical area of our work.
As an outsider coming into our neighborhood, i’ve realised over the past 2 years that i can have an impact here, but this impact only goes so far, its limited. In any kind of church planting, and especially urban church planting, there has to be an emphasis on raising up indigenous, local leaders.
I’ve been a part of churches in the past where its very difficult to move up into leadership roles. You have to jump through all sorts of hoops, prove your worth , defend your call to leadership, be reasonably well educated but I just don’t see this model of leadership in the bible.
Of course, there has to be some balance. Not everybody is called to a leadership role. Potential leaders must have the right character, a good litmus test for us have been questions like ‘Is this people willing to tell others about Jesus?’ Are they willing to be obedient to Jesus? Are they open to being taught and corrected? Is there some understanding of what it means to lead others? Is there any previous leadership experience there?
If we believe that we have identified a future leader, we still have a rigorous 2 month discernment process that people have to go through, but this doesn’t take years. Local people have to be given significant opportunities to lead. If you’re only leaders are outsiders, how are you going to see multiplication and growth? It will be much slower, it has to be.
In our reading and experiences, all church planting movements around the world have a number of key factors. Indigenous leadership is one of these important factors. There is an element of risk involved, local leaders will likely fail or experience crisis at some point. We are continuing to develop important rhythms for our leadership, this includes involvement in prayer, evangelism, leading bible studies, preaching, local community development. These are exciting challenges for us as our church continues to grow.