24 March 2014
Get this, get more leaders
I have never met a pastor who has too many leaders in their church. For all of us, the issue is the one that Jesus faced in Matthew 9:37: "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." But whereas Jesus said this before raising up a mighty army of leaders, our problem never seems to go away. We still lack enough good leaders. I think I can see the problem. I'm becoming more and more convinced that the number of leaders in our churches reveals what we really think of God.
Jesus entrusted leadership of the early Church to a loud-mouth who denied him when the going got tough. He entrusted his great revelation of what will happen throughout AD history to a man with such a short temper that he nicknamed him "the son of thunder". He entrusted the evangelisation of the subcontinent of India to doubting Thomas. What was he thinking? He grasped something which too many of us have forgotten. We need to rediscover it, because it turned Peter, John and Thomas into world-changing leaders in God's hands.
Jesus never looked at an individual and asked 'can this person do the job?' He always looked at them and asked 'what could God do through this person if He lived inside them through His holy spirit?' When was the last time that you asked that question about the people in your church? I've started asking it and it's nothing short of revolutionary.
The apostle Paul asked this question. He didn't just preach a gospel of grace for forgiveness. He also preached a gospel of grace for leadership gifting. He had never ceased to marvel at all that God had been able to accomplish through him, repeating three times to the churches at Antioch and Jerusalem that his fruitfulness was only ever "what God had done"by "the grace of God"(Acts 14:26-27, 15:4, 15:12, 15:40). Because he never forgot that his own achievements were the result of the grace of God, he never seemed to doubt that God's grace was for other people too.
A lot of Christian leaders stumble at this hurdle. They believe that God can use ordinary people like themselves, but they haven't the same faith to hand their work over to others. They see faults and flaws and a thousand different reasons why it is not yet time to trust those around them to continue what they have started. They consign themselves to mediocrity because they haven't faith to multiply new leaders in their stead. They have forgotten what Paul knew – that: "I planted the seed … but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow" (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
This insight enabled Paul to appoint relatively new converts as elders in Galatia in Acts 14:23, committing them "to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust".It enabled him to appoint new converts as elders in Crete in Titus 1:4-5 because he believed that "grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour"is a gift for everyone. We, on the other hand, have forgotten this insight and so we overwork and underachieve for God. The evangelisation of the world depends on our rediscovering a simple truth: God's grace is for other people too.
So, is your church a bit like a football match – a handful of tired people run backwards and forwards, watched by a crowd of spectators who could really use some exercise? Then perhaps God is speaking to you now. A lack of leaders is often a sign that we think too little of God and too much of ourselves. Instead of asking 'what could this person do?' let's start asking the question that Jesus asked instead: 'What could God to through this person by His holy spirit?'
Phil Moore leads Everyday Church,
a multi-venue church which reaches into three boroughs of London, UK