Yesterday, I outlined what I felt were the most important things to consider when expanding a church beyond it’s present site. Among the items I considered, the most important one for me and the one I want to discuss today is that of quality leadership. Notice I didn’t just say “leaders”. I said “quality leadership”. The reason for my emphasis is because I think the idea of a church expansion goes beyond having “leaders” and must consider the quality of those men and women.
For my thinking, quality leaders take time to develop. These men and women must not only have leadership skills but also have a complete buy-in to the church’s vision and mission. If they do not, you’re headed for disaster. More on that in a moment. If a church is considering an expansion, it is something that should not be considered lightly nor should it be given mild consideration simply because the “parent” church is experiencing growth and unity. Among all the things I considered in yesterday’s post, the issue of leadership is the first thing that should be considered when building a long range plan for the expansion. Who will lead this group? A flesh and blood person needs to be on site to handle any and all questions, shepherd the flock, and see to it that the church’s integrity is NOT compromised. This is a tremendous responsibility and not just any “leader” can fill that slot. Perhaps “leaders” can serve in capacities that are designated by the site’s pastor (nee “quality” leader) but you would be surprised how many “leaders” are tabbed to head up a church expansion and through their limited view, harm the flock, and spread dissension among the families in the church ultimately bringing dissension to the “mother” church that gave them life in the first place. In my previous posts, I mentioned two very similar churches that had launched church expansions in the last 5-6 years. One was quite successful while the other was not. Both churches were led by excellent leaders but one failed while the other prospered. Why? Both were will thought out and funded. Both had the support of their “sending” church but ultimately, it was the “quality” of leadership that made the difference. In the successful churches’ case, the leader at the new campus was a servant leader with solid leadership skills but a humble heart. He had been a pastor before and knew the skills needed to be successful. What he also had was a clear connection and loyalty to the sending church and it’s leadership. He bought in to the vision and because of this, both churches are solid and still connected. He can now minister at both locations as the senior pastor sees fit. It’s a great relationship and it works well for them.
So where do you find these types of “leaders”. You may grow them in your church as new converts are discipled and trained in the denominational differences that make you unique, learn and commit to the vision of the church, and personally commit to live out the mission that the church has been called to. Of course the wonderful traits outlined in the biblical books of Timothy and Titus apply as well but if the person you recruit to help lead a team at an expansion isn’t fully sold on the current leadership, jealousy, envy, and strife are the result. I’ve seen it play out time and again. It never fails.
As a pastor, I read in the bible of my calling to train up the congregation for the work of the ministry. Part of that for me is also to identify future leaders who are able to duplicate my work and to prepare them for the possible chance that God may call them to pastoral leadership and ministry.
The church I pastor isn’t yet ready for anything close to an expansion but already, my long range vision is to identify someone who may fill that position. I don’t lose sight of the present but if we’re not planning and preparing for eventual growth, then we will never see it. It may not sound spiritual but growth is a natural result of living out the gospel. It may be slow in some areas and quicker in others. The pace of growth is irrelevant in my opinion. Many can grow quick with little God in their ministry while some wholly committed to the Lord may see only scant growth from year to year. The key is to prepare for new families. Expect them. Plan to make sure that they are being fed the true Word of God and not some quickly thrown together slop that would be better left for the dogs. If you do this, your church will see the real growth that matters and who knows, you might need a new site too!
Tomorrow, I’ll put the wraps on this series by discussing the various thoughts on what is popularly known now as “multi-site” in the church world. I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow.