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Reproducing by "Losing"

“Less is more.” This adage has relieved many an individual oversaturated by information in a digital age. But, in the life of the church, isn’t “more”, better? If ASCC were to accomplish the mission that we’ve set out on, what would that look like? We’re answering that in this series by proposing: conversions and baptisms, families with children grow up here; we become both a compelling and controversial community, and, multiple leaders are being developed.

But hear this key question out:

“Once we start producing a pipeline of maturing leaders and members, do we keep them all to ourselves?”

Answer: No.

We’ll know we are accomplishing our mission of making King Jesus unignorable through the establishment of redemptive presence in our parish neighborhood as we start “bleeding” really good leaders. Granted, you need some good leaders to stick around for a long period of time in one place, but other than seeing members get re-located to other regions for jobs or promoted to heaven, one of the “best” ways for a church to build Christ’s kingdom is by strategically “losing” people. That is, when we plan to send members to start a new church or breathe new life into a declining one in another parish neighborhood, we are losing them to a good cause, a bigger cause than our own church. Like the starfish who reproduces by losing one of its arms, we as the local church do well to plan for losing for the sake of someone else’s “win.” And, like a starfish, we hope that our “lost” arm (that sent-out member), will grow back through other stronger or new members. Or, consider how great it would be if our church matured to the point that we actually sent out some of our people overseas as gospel workers (missions).   

We shouldn’t hoard up our people and “pennies” only for this immediate church. We exist for the SPREAD of God’s glory through and with other local churches. We can’t do it alone. We need other churches, and other churches need us. Nor should we want to do these noble works to make a name for ourselves. “Jesus must increase, and we must decrease” (John 3:30).

In the end, Lose=WIN.

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Growth in Leaders

As I went through my formal education, I was under the sincere yet immature assumption that the pastoral ministry “path” led to what is called a “senior” pastor. As I’ve “grown up” and become convinced of a plurality of qualified pastors comprising a church’s leadership, I had to ask myself if I’d be content being in a support role or “just” one of several equal leaders (a church leadership concept called parity).

Churches must be “in the business” of training leaders. They are, what Dr. Harry Reeder calls, a leadership “factory and distribution center” (The Leadership Dynamic, p. 8). This goes from internships to elders. But it goes farther back from that. It has to do with its ‘everyday’, ordinary means of grace discipleship of the members. In other words, no pastor or church membership should be content with just one guy leading indefinitely. Eventually, there’s got to be a plan for replication. Practically speaking, though, it is helpful to have one visionary leader over an organization; one with whom “the buck stops.” But that doesn’t translate into a dictatorship or autocracy.

St. Paul gave us a blueprint for the church leadership “factory”: “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

If maturity is the goal for every believer as part of a church’s mission, then, it is not unreasonable to think that you would want as many potentially qualifiable leaders preparing to lead the church “waiting in the wings” and serving the church with their gifts. Realistically, leaders age, move away, change jobs and sometimes (unfortunately) defect from the faith. A church needs to ready herself for the storms of life together as a congregation, and one of the best ways to do that is to train leaders. When potential, godly leaders are identified, developed and deployed, a local church is better off.

Let’s pray that God would continue to endow our church with the right leaders for its mission now and in the future. To him be the glory!

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