This is a presentation from LDC 2014. To learn more about the LDC, please visit LDC.io.
Can the church build healthy leaders who are capable of leading like Jesus? This workshop uncovers three key principles for building healthy leaders in the local church. This workshop is presented by one who has 10 years of experience being built and building others in the local church. This track is a process of engaging and empowering people to do leader development in their local church.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am the lead pastor at Living Faith Fellowship in Elkhart, Indiana. What we’ve been doing there for the last about 13 years is doing a local leadership development program. Malcolm Webber actually started that program and I was in the first class that went through that and from there we kept doing it and we kept having young people come and be a part of it. So from there a lot of the designs and models have been tested and activated and practiced and refined and practiced again and it’s changed a lot since the first year that I was in it. About five years after graduating, I became the director of it and then from there we’ve just kept having groups come through every year. What I hope to do today is just explore this question: “Can the church build healthy leaders and is the church equipped to do it? Should the church even be engaging in this or should they be leaving it to somebody else?” I’m pulling from my experience and from the experiences that I’ve had as an emerging leader and an existing leader. And so I by no means pretend to have it all. I don’t have all of the answers, but I am excited to explore this question with you: “Can the church and should the church build healthy leaders?” To kind of guide us through our first session, I have a little packet that has a nice folder because I like to keep things in one place and you’re probably going to get lots of different handouts.
Audience: How long has the program been going?
About 13 years. There have been 11 or 12 cohorts in those 13 years. There were one or two years where we weren’t running the program, but we started it about 13 or 14 years ago. What I’m not here to do is present our curriculum or exactly what we do. What I am here to do is engage us on some questions and some core principles and hopefully introduce what we have found to be a biblically grounded model for the church to use when building leaders. Our core question is, “Can the church build healthy leaders?” I’m presenting three keys over three different sessions. So we’ll be hearing the first key to growing local and that is that it requires a collaborative community. My hope today is that we define what a collaborative community is and why it is important. And then before we leave today I would love that each of us would have a diagram of collaborative community that would surround our emerging leaders. I’m going to ask you to think about an emerging leader – or it could be an existing leader; it could be anybody that you want to build, and then we’re going to talk about what kind of community needs to be around them to build them in a healthy way. So that’s where we’re going here in this first session.
Let’s activate prior knowledge. Can you remember a time in your life when you looked up to somebody? It was a coach, a mentor, a parent or a grandparent, a teacher, a pastor; it was a role model in your life in some way. But remember that time when you found out that they weren’t so perfect, that time when you discovered they had imperfections? Just think about that moment for a second. Do you remember how it felt? Do you remember how it kind of almost felt devastating and you told yourself, “Man, I have to stop putting so much faith into people.” We tell ourselves things in those moments and unfortunately what happens over and over again is that people are having this experience with existing leaders, leaders who have responsibilities, who have followers. And the leaders under them are being disappointed time and time again, sometimes in minor ways and sometimes in major ways. All of us know stories, the headlines of the Christian leaders who it comes out after years and years of ministry that they’ve had major character flaws; they’ve had major problems. Can you imagine how many people are ruined by that information?
We know from scripture that when the shepherd is struck, the sheep are scattered. And so we know that the enemy would love nothing more than for leaders to be built up with flaws, with cracks in their foundation so that when they’re in power, when they have the most influence, that the crack would be exposed and the building would come tumbling down and the most people possible would be scattered. As a church, it tells us our most important time to build leaders is before they’re there. Our most important time is when they’re still being formed. Our most important time to show them healthy leadership, to build healthy leaders, is when they’re still open to influence and input.
I’m going to tell you two numbers – the first number, 17 million, the other number, 21 million. This is from a U.S. Today report in June of this year. Twenty-one million represents the total number of recalls that the major U.S. manufacturers of automobiles recalled – 21 million. Seventeen million represents the number of cars that GM has recalled this year alone because there’s a problem. There’s a problem when factories have processes to create things efficiently and at the least cost possible. When those factories have problems, something happens. The problems are copied on a massive scale and what happens is you get products out on the road that all have the same problem. Why? Because something was wrong at the factory; something was wrong where those products were being produced.
Unfortunately for us, there’s no recall for leader development. There’s no way that we can look back and say, “Man, the leaders that we’ve built over the last 20 years aren’t the leaders that we needed to build. They have cracks in their foundations and all these cracks are being exposed. They’re causing massive amounts of Christians, of followers, to be scattered and lose faith because their flaws have been found.” There’s no recall for leader development. There’s no way to fix it. If it’s been found, if the problem’s been exposed, then the ruin has already happened. So how can we as a church come together to build healthy leaders, to expose flaws while leaders are still young, and give them the chance, the opportunity to build health into their life, to have accountability into their life, to talk about the things that are cracks in the foundation, to have people come around them? This is what I define as collaborative community. And in some sense, the church is the best place and sometimes the only place to find that accountable community that leaders really need to actually learn and grow and to remove the cracks so they’re not found out years and years later when they’re actually in power, because we know a few things. That just because a leader is in charge doesn’t make him exemplary. That’s what we learned. When we were looking at our coach or our leader or our pastor, whoever it was that let us down, what we learned was just because they’re in place in their role doesn’t make them exemplary. And what we’ve learned, if you’ve been in leadership circles for any amount of time, is that there is no perfect leader, that everybody has flaws and if you can’t see them it’s just because we don’t know them enough yet, right? There’s no perfect leader. But here’s the problem, people that cannot see themselves are dangerous. The most dangerous leader is the one who doesn’t see his own flaws, but leads other people courageously. That’s dangerous.
In 1955, two American psychologists came together and coined something called the Johari window. The Johari window is a diagram that shows us blind spots. It shows us four quadrants in a person’s life. In this case, we’re using it for leader development. It shows us four quadrants that all of us have in our life. There’s an open area. The open area is the part that you know about yourself and it’s the part that I know about you. It’s the part that others know about you. It’s open. It’s common knowledge, but there’s another part that you don’t know about yourself, but everyone knows about you. One simple example of this is, I do a lot of speaking at least once a week, public speaking, and my wife would tell me that my posture wasn’t good. She’s like, “You slouch. Your posture’s not great.” And I’m like, “Oh, honey, that’s just the way – I’m sure it’s fine.” And she’s like, “No, really, it’s not becoming. You need to focus on your posture.” So one day I got a video of my Sunday morning presentation and I watched myself and I was surprised to find that I literally looked like I was doing this to myself. You know you’re your own worst critic. And I was like, “Man, what is wrong with that kid? What’s he carrying on his back?” And then I also saw that I looked down a lot. I didn’t make enough eye contact with my audience. So there are two things I saw just by looking at myself that exposed my own blind spots. Every Sunday people were seeing this side of me and I had no idea that they were seeing this. I just thought they were seeing the me that I thought I was, but it wasn’t. The visual representation of me that they had was totally different than what I had in my mind. And so just by watching the video I could see what they saw and it was enlightening, but that’s an easy example. There are other times in my marriage, which I won’t share with you, where blind spots have been revealed and I’m sure you have stories about that as well.
Then there’s also this third quadrant, the hidden area. The hidden areas are the things that we keep secret. It’s our own decision about choosing vulnerability or not choosing vulnerability. It’s the point at which we say, “Here’s how I want people to view me, so I’m only going to open up so much to them. I’m only going to let them in so far.” And the hidden area is the dangerous area. The hidden area is where accountable community really has to work very hard with the leader to say, “This is a safe place to open up. This is a safe place. We’re not going to persecute you. We’re not going to destroy you. We’re here to build you. We’re here because we love you and we want you to be the best leader that you can be. Open up. What’s really going on?” So as collaborative leaders we have to think, “What do the people I’m building, what causes them to feel safe and what causes them to open up about their hidden areas?” Because the worst thing we can do is think that we’re building leaders. The worst thing that we could do is be GM and multiply the errors through the factory models, bring a bunch of leaders in and bring them all through with the same kinds of hidden areas. And here they are now, they’re out on the road, they’re out in their leadership communities, they’re out leading other people, and what do they have at the core? There’s a problem.
With GM a big one was the ignition switch. It’s a small little problem except it causes major damage at really important times on the highway when you need it the most. And so right now there were at least 13, maybe even 19 deaths that were linked to this. That’s a big problem. That’s a big deal and how much bigger of deal is it in leadership when our leaders come through our courses and we say, “Hey, you’re ready to go, you’re a leader now” or people look at their degrees and say, “Well, he’s got a degree, he must be a leader, he’s ready to go,” but really what’s going on in the hidden area? How big is their open area? How healthy are they? You can tell the health of a leader by how big their open area is. This is four equal quadrants which is very nice and prints a great diagram, but what if we drew quadrants of ourselves? How would our quadrants be? Which ones would be bigger than the others? And what if we drew quadrants of our emerging leaders? What would they look like? Would they be nice and even? Which one would be bigger? Which one would be smaller?
Then there’s this fourth area, this unknown area, and in this unknown area these are parts we don’t know about ourselves and nobody knows about us either. It’s the undiscovered, but who sees these parts? God. David in Psalm 139:23 and 24 prays this beautiful prayer which I think every leader needs to adopt and every mature leader needs to teach the leaders they’re building. He prays to God and he says, “God, search me and know me. Search my heart. Know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts.” And then he invites God to see. He says, “God, see if there’s any offensive way in me and then lead me in your way everlasting.” And that prayer gets right at the core of this hidden area because it’s so foolish, it’s so arrogant for a leader to think that just because they’re in place or they went through their leadership building process and they’re existing leaders now so, “Hey, here we go,” like David.
David was surprised by his own character when he saw Bathsheba. I think he was surprised by his own actions, what he was capable of. How was he capable of that? Because there were unknown areas and you don’t question the king. Nobody was holding the king accountable. The king had absolute authority. He was the one who made the laws and enforced the laws and too often in our existing leadership communities we act like King David. But King David learned something. He learned to pray for God to show him the unknown so that he wouldn’t be surprised by his own behavior. I think that is a mark of health when we say, “God, there’s probably things in me that could be major problems down the road. Show them to me now.” That’s the mark of humility. That’s the prayer of humility and I love David because he showed us that. So here’s the Johari window. It’s a tool. It shows us that there can be blind spots and in factory models blind spots are things that have to be recalled. In leadership development we don’t have the recall. So it becomes very important for whatever we’re doing to build leaders. Can the church build leaders whose blind spots are reduced to a very low percentage? Can the church build leaders whose hidden spots are exposed so that their open area is the largest that it can be for that season of their life?
I’m going to invite you to do an activity with me now. In the next page, page four, you have a few passages. Page four and page five I’m going to ask you to just team up in groups of four, two groups of four. In groups of four I want you to read these passages together and then discuss how would you explain the following passages through the Johari window. Please explain how you see Peter’s window opening or closing and in which quadrant. What role did Jesus play in Peter’s window? It’s Peter’s denial. Jesus is projecting the denial. Peter’s denying it. Peter actually does deny Jesus and then Jesus restores Peter in John 20. So it’s just that story, but look in the actual text and then explain it as best you can through the Johari window and then I’ll give about five minutes and then I’ll hear from your groups.
Absolutely. Because He’s the master builder and what He’s doing in His leadership community is He’s pointing out a weakness. And you can see the response. It’s a very human response and I think we’ve all had that response when somebody’s pointing something out that may be true. I think I heard over here that even because it is true we have an extra level of response. “I would never deny You. I would never do that.” Because there was maybe some faint hint of truth and so it has an extra level of energetic response to it and I think we can all relate to that. Either we’ve done that or we’ve watched that happen to people around us. But here we have Peter and he’s being called out basically and he’s defending himself and Jesus knows. And notice that Jesus doesn’t take it further. Jesus doesn’t continue the conversation. Jesus doesn’t want to be right. Jesus sees his response and then He stops. He’s like, “It’s going to happen.” “No, it’s not.”
So then we see Peter actually betraying Jesus or denying that he is a disciple and in some translations it says he gets quite vocal and uses choice words and in this translation we just see a very unique interaction. It’s not in any of the other Gospels, but it’s here in Luke. We see that Jesus and Peter had an interaction. They had an interaction in this moment, and I think it’s one of the most powerful things to note as leader developers and to understand the power of community. Jesus left this one up to the community, to the collaborative community. Jesus saw the flaw and He saw the response and in infinite wisdom He decided He wasn’t going to get anywhere by having this conversation. So He left it up to the experience and to the community.
So here’s this community. Who’s the community? It’s the servant girl. It’s the people by the fire. It’s the people who are saying, “Aren’t you – I recognize you. Your accent gives it away. You’re one of His disciples.” “No, I’m not. No, I’m not. No, I’m not.” And on the third time here in Luke we see in verse 60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed and in verse 61 – this is remarkable – the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Boom. Just a glance, no words. And what came to Peter’s mind? You know how the Holy Spirit brings things up to us. Right at the moment he feels the weight of the reality that Jesus saw a blind and unknown part and Jesus revealed that masterfully using community.
The problem in a lot of our leadership development work is that our communities are not robust enough. Our communities are not big enough. They are not broad enough. Our communities too often are one leader. The problem with the one leader model is we get into the factory model. The problem with the one leader model is it looks kind of like this. It looks like we say somebody’s up here. We have the top leader. And people say, “Well, this was Jesus’ model.” And then we know that He had three that were close to Him, right, Peter, James, and John? In this case, we’re talking about Peter. They were with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration. They were with Him on some special times in their life and so if someone were to put this lens on it they could see that Jesus had a close relationship with three, but we also know that there were 12 and they were also part of this group. So if you draw the other ones under these, at least we know there were 12.
We know also that Jesus had 72 and so if you spread this out enough, you could divide it up in a nice organizational chart. But a lot of times when we think about it, especially in the western context, we see leadership in our top-down models where if you have a good top leader you can do leader development, which is true. If you have a good top leader you can have leader development and you need top leaders in leader development, but the problem is when people look at Jesus and say, “We’re copying his methods,” there’s such a limit to what we can copy with Jesus because, as we discussed earlier, Jesus is fully God and fully man. So He is perfectly representing community. Jesus is the perfect community. He is perfectly and exactly God. He is perfectly and exactly human. If you look at Jesus, you’re not getting flaws in your production. If you’re copying Jesus, you’re not getting flaws in your production. You’re getting pure, infinite God and pure expression of humanity all in one Person. So if anybody could lead by himself, it would be Jesus.
But if we’re not Jesus and we’re leaders, then we need other leaders. Because if we don’t, if we consider that we’re copying His model, well, we have to ask the question, “Well, what is the actual model?” What you have is you have the fullness of God in bodily form, Colossians 2:9. “For in Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form.” Wow. Perfect access to God, the Father, a perfect spiritual community and you have a perfect human. You actually can copy exactly everything that you see Jesus doing. Nothing is taboo. You’re never going to have that moment with Jesus where He let you down. You’re never going to have that moment where the closer you got, you just found out He wasn’t that great. Jesus was perfect, is perfect. So if anybody could build leaders in this method, Jesus could do it.
But the thing I’ve learned and all of us know is that we’re not that great. We’re not like Him. And at the end of the day, the last thing I want is all the leaders I’ve built to come out looking like me, because I have flaws. And if my leadership factory produces all leaders to look like me I’m going to produce the same things that I need to work on in them. So how do we actually as a church build healthy leaders? What we don’t need is a dynamic superstar leader to come in and everybody look like him because that’s this model. Jesus already did that; but when we copy Jesus, we have to copy His humility and not just His method. Because His humility, Philippians 2, in order for Him to get here, to be the top leader to the disciples, He had to leave His high and lofty position to come, right?
So what if we modeled His character more than His method; what would that model look like? What if we modeled His character more than His method? What model would we find ourselves using? Well, here’s me. I’m a top leader in my circle and I have leaders that I’m building. There’s emerging leaders that I’m building. Well, here’s the thing. It looks like when we first start building, “Oh, I know what you’re going to do. Jesus – I get it. It’s going to end up being this model, right?” No, it’s not because here’s what I know. I have something to offer emerging leaders. I really do. I have a peace that they need and I would love to invest that in their life, but it’s about that big. It has a limit. It has a start and a finish. There are parts where I’m still working on me. I’m still working on my own things. We heard a great presentation about life management. Who has that balance perfectly struck? I’m still learning what that is in my life. I’m still trying new disciplines and behaviors. I’m trying to stay true to the disciplines and behaviors that I know guide me into fruitfulness and I think we all are, if we’re honest. If we’re able to open up and be open with that area of our life, we’re all still hounding. We’re all still working.
So none of us can claim that other leaders should look exactly like us, and I think we get that, but sometimes our models don’t really represent that. Sometimes we say that, but then we copy a method and we employ a method that actually doesn’t look like that. And here’s what happened; when Jesus ascended to the Father, He gave the Holy Spirit and then He gave His fullness to a group of people that would be called the Church – the group of people that would actually be His Church. The fullness left. The fullness ascended to heaven and then through the Holy Spirit the Church has the fullness. The Church is the community that can represent Christ to the world and the Church is the community that can represent Christ to our emerging leaders. And so what we cannot do is say that Christ is represented only in one leader because they’re a top leader. No!
What I have to understand and with humility – if I would model Philippians 2 – humility, what I would say is I need somebody else to fill in where I’m not. Each one of these can be a different role, a different kind of leader, a different person, a parent, a coach, a mentor, a missionary, a mom, a dad, a grandparent. It could be anybody, but what I know is I want emerging leaders that have the biggest open area and the smallest hidden and the smallest blind spots possible, and in order to do that I can’t just copy me because I’m still working on me; Jesus is still working on me. So what I could do, if I wanted to build a leader that was greater than me, I would have to surround them with collaborative community, people that are on the same page that have the same goal that say, “Hey, Christ is my center, too, and I have something to give. I have something to offer. And what I would love more than anything is to link arms with you and build emerging leaders and come along and be another perspective.” All this requires is leaders who have enough humility to say, “I can be a part. I don’t need to be the whole.”
Where are we going to find all of these people to surround one leader? In this model, one leader can work with at least 72. That’s great efficiency. And Jesus can keep that up. He can do that because what He’s producing is perfection. I cannot copy that model. If I copy that model over 20 years we’ll have to issue a massive recall. If anybody uses that model long enough, they will have to issue a massive recall. I just heard about a top leadership development ministry in one of our countries in Asia that asked, literally asked, the leadership development group that was sending teams, “Please stop sending us your graduates from the seminary, from the college. Please stop sending them. They’ve lost their passion. They don’t have the development that we need for our leaders on the field. Please send us your older, mature – please send us anybody but those that have all the knowledge, the lack of experience.”
Because what happens in our colleges and universities? We’ve got one person sitting with 20 to 30. We’ve got that person pouring in and then they go to the next class and they pour in. And we’ve got this top-down thing happening, but what we really need is we need this emerging leader to open up about hidden areas. We really need them to find out their blind spots so that when they’re in leadership they’re not ruining the lives that they’ve spent most of their life building. This is a huge problem. We know this problem plagues leadership today. We call it, “Oh, they’re character flaws,” but really the flaw might not be in the individual as much as it is in our process of building them. Maybe somewhere in the testing, in the product development we never actually put them in a community that tested them hard enough to see if the flaw would be exposed. Jesus did.
Jesus let Peter go into a volatile environment. Jesus let Peter be tested. He wasn’t done working with him yet. Notice that right in the middle of that testing He looks at him. He’s still building Peter. Jesus was on trial for His own life, but He’s still aware that I’m building these people. It’s not a program. It’s a relationship. And His goal was to expose, His goal was to show hidden areas, and then this beautiful restoration in John 20. It’s beautiful. Jesus says, “Do you love Me?” Peter says, “You know I do.” Jesus says, “But do you love Me?” And at one point we see that Peter gets offended after the third time. He gets offended and Peter says something to Jesus that’s profound. Verse 17, “The third time Jesus said to him, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time.
He’s hurt because he realizes he’s let Jesus down. He’s hurt because he feels like, “I probably deserve this because I’ve been wrong before. I’ve had a blind spot before.” What’s Jesus doing? He’s drilling him. What’s He doing here? He’s showing Peter something. Each level is asking a deeper level. If you look in the actual language it’s hitting different aspects of the word “love.” “Do you love Me?” The agape love, that last one. “Do you love Me enough to follow Me? Do you love Me all the way to death, because that’s where I’m headed.” And then He talks about Peter’s death and then He says again at the very end, “Now follow Me,” and He re-engages him. That is masterful building right there. That is leader development in a collaborative community. That is a leader who was perfect, who didn’t need community, but still used community. If Jesus used community, do you think that we should in our own leader development efforts? Do you think that we should?
He didn’t need it. He could have talked harder or showed Peter a different way, but instead He used community. In that sense we have to look at this and we have to say we are not Jesus. We cannot copy His methods, but we can copy His humility and if we copy His humility what we’ll do is we’ll surround an emerging leader; because here’s my emerging leader. They’re represented by four quadrants and if I’m the top leader I only have this view. It’s a very limited view. If I’m the top leader I only see a little bit of their life. I only see moments. I only see snapshots of their life. I don’t see them all the time, but if I had this perspective and this perspective; look at that angle. That’s a different angle. That’s a good angle. Now I’m going to add this perspective here and these people. We’re going to add some really cool prayers, spiritual dynamics on this hidden area. We’re going to ask questions like Jesus did. We’re going to ask them over and over again. We’re going to cause our people that we’re building to ponder.
Look at all of these perspectives. You can’t hide in community. You can’t hide in accountable community and you wouldn’t want to because what’s being preached in this community is, “Look, if you want to be a leader, you have to work on your blind and hidden areas.” It’s way too dangerous for you to go through just to get your degree. It’s way too dangerous for you just to go through so you can be in charge. You have to work on it. You have to learn to let God open up who you are. Then our leaders come in like this. That’s a messed up quadrant. Sometimes they come in like this. They’re just a mess, but you know what? If you have huge areas like this, listen to Peter. He’s so confident that he’s not going to do what Jesus said. That arrogance, that egocentrism, that confidence, right? This has come to characterize young leaders, but what if that never gets addressed? There’s a huge problem if that never gets addressed and now they’re top leaders and they have those same qualities in their character and this is what we see. We see the effects of it. We see it much later.
It was 2001 when GM first discovered their faulty part. It was 2014 when they issued the biggest recall in history, because they addressed it too late. And when they saw it they didn’t deal with it. How many times in leader development do we see the problem and don’t deal with it? And here Jesus gave fullness to a group of people called the Church. So let’s look at the Church, the collaborative community. Ephesians 2:21, “In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord and in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by the Spirit.” This is the nature of the Church to come to be built together, to be a dwelling place for God. This is where leader development has to happen. We have to have the presence of God. We have to have the unknown being exposed. We must have God saturated in our leader development. We have to call our young leaders to accountability. We have to find things. We have to show them that they can be so much more healthy than how they’ve entered our programs; but I’m limited. So I’m going to need you, and I’m going to need you, and I’m going to need you, and I’m going to need you, and we’re going to have to somehow collaborate.
The ability, I call it, leading horizontally. I didn’t come up with that, but I used that. Leading horizontally, which means I have staff and I lead vertically. There’s people that work for me, but I hope to work with people that don’t work with me. I hope to lead horizontally to invite leaders in their own right into my emerging leader’s lives just so they can get the best part of you; but you have a part. You have a part, but I want them to gain that. I want them to know you. I want them to learn; the Christ that’s in you, I want to be in them. The Christ that’s in me, I want to be in them and I want to multiply that. Instead of one with 12, I want 12 with one. I want all the perspectives. I want this leader exposed in accountable community, not in a negative way, not in a fault finding kind of way, but in a healthy accountable community with leaders who have walked with God in reputable ways. That model is the local church. That’s where you’re going to pull these people from, because you know them.
In your local church, you know your people. You know their stories, you know what they’ve been through, you know how they’ve held on to God through loss and through pain and through suffering of many kinds, and you’ve watched them faithfully live out their years and who better to put with our emerging leaders who think they already are ready to go, the people who have been tested and proven? Just if anything, just to hear their stories. In our church we just invite people in and I’m just like, “Tell them your story. Tell them your God story. Just tell them the most impactful moment in your life when God’s moved in your life.” And it makes an impact on us when we hear stories. We read biographies. We look for ways to surround our emerging leaders with existing leaders that are reputable, that are still doing great, that are passionate about the vision that God’s put on their heart. And we understand that the Church has been given this incredible fullness in Christ as we come together.
Ephesians 4, Paul prays for the Church. He prays that we would be able to understand that we are growing and building in him the whole body. Verse 16, “Joined and held together by every supporting ligament, we would grow and build itself up as each part knows its work.” What if the leader – what if the top leader invited church members and leaders, youth pastor, anybody on staff, anybody in the neighboring churches? What if we said, “Hey, we’re going to do a collaborative thing here.” It’s not just me and multiplying these people because that’s the factory model. The factory model looks like this. We have a church and the church sends their leaders to the factory. And the factory, when they’re done, supposedly sends them back and this is without a degree and they come back with a degree. So obviously they’re ready to lead. Right? That’s the training.
We sent them off to the training and what did the factory do? It’s four years. Here’s the courses you can take. You can specify a few that you want to take. So there’s some differentiation, but pretty much it’s a factory model. We can take as many people and we can stamp them and we can send them back to you. That’s the factory model. If that model’s broken, if there are defects anywhere in that model, it’s going to be multiplied because factories multiply mistakes. It’s great for efficiency, but if there’s ever a mistake, and there always is, it’s just going to multiply that. Your leaders are only going to be as healthy as the leaders that are involved here when really the model, if we would look at it more closely, Jesus being fully, perfectly man is the perfect community. One man was the perfect community. Not so with me, not so with you. We are not the perfect community, but we do have some great things to give. So what if we built collaborative communities around our emerging leaders?
The task I was going to leave with you would be to draw a diagram just like this where you would have the emerging leader at the center and I want you to think about a name of somebody that you would actually build and you would actually write their name here. Who would you actually build? Who are they? What age are they, gender, place in life? What’s their role right now? What’s your hope for them? What’s your goal? And then you ask yourself this question, “Who are the people that I know that exemplify Jesus that I need to bring around this person? Who are the people that I know that I have a trusted relationship with that I need to bring around this person?” If you answer that question, you’re on your way to developing your collaborative community. First, determine who you’re building. Second, determine what types of people would be best – so if I’m building someone who thinks they want to be a missionary, I’m going to bring in a few missionaries, right? That makes sense. If I’m building somebody who wants to be an evangelist, I’m going to bring in a few evangelists. So, who are we building? This isn’t a factory. Everybody’s not getting the same thing, but who are we building? That determines who we want to bring around them.
Answer that question well and then you’ll be able to do the third one well, which is define roles – define the roles, define the nature. What do you want out of this person? How much interaction do you want? What should the interaction be called? What types of expectations should the emerging leader have with that person? Just define the relationship so that existing leaders who are busy can come and say “yes” and can come and can partner with you. People in your church can come and can give an hour once a month, but if you don’t define the role, they may just say, “No.” So that’s the model. In session two, if you come back, I’ll give us some more time to work on that diagram. Any questions on this content?
Audience: You mentioned a lot about character development? Are there other areas too that you feel this applies to, like competencies or other types of things or is it primarily for character that you see?
I’m preaching character here, but yeah. You would pick up competencies and definition of purpose and calling as well by these relationships. But competencies can be picked up in factory models. You can learn skills and abilities at educational centers and if you have the character already or you’re building the character and you’re focusing on the character; it’s just so many times we’re so focused on competencies. So I’m just trying to hold up character as, “This is the thing that will ruin you. This is the thing that will ruin your emerging leaders and scatter the sheep and ruin decades of work,” and it’s just so – because we see it and hear it over and over again, in my mind it just becomes one of the biggest issues that we need to be addressing in leader development. But competencies, the lack of competencies can be a significant issue, but there are just so many places to learn competencies; but great question.
Audience: Paint a picture of how this is getting out in your church. So are there a number of emerging leaders? Is it just one or two? And then, who?
Let me tell you in roles. Some of the people we bring around we call a “pastoral coach” and this is basically if you could assign somebody in your church who’s pastoral quality, but isn’t maybe on your staff, because we can’t hire these. But somebody with pastoral quality, their life and their gifting is geared towards pastoral work and counseling and mentoring. We assign each student, no matter how many students we have, their own pastoral coach. They have to meet with their pastoral coach a certain number of times. Right now that’s twice a month and in those meetings there’s a list of accountability questions that the pastoral coach can use, but ultimately we let them organically build that relationship, but they do have some very hard questions to ask.
So if we’re having a problem as the top leadership who are daily in these people’s lives, we bring in the pastoral coach. That’s one facet of life. Another facet we have is an “intercessor.” This is somebody who commits to pray for the participant for the duration of their training experience. The intercessor meets with them at least once a month, is always available by phone or e-mail to have emergency requests, but prays for them throughout the week, and prays with them at least once a month. A lot of these people will see each other on Sunday morning at church. So it’s kind of a nice dynamic there.
Then we have something that I’ll call “community leaders” and this represents its own web. So there are people in the community. There are reputable organizations in our community here in Elkhart that we work with and those people add different perspectives, but there could be at times at least four to six people, just community leaders that we bring around. These aren’t people in our church. These are just people that are doing work outside of the church that I respect and that we want to bring into our people’s lives. Another role that we have is a “host home.” Some of the students will stay with their parents, but where better to see a student than when they leave our training. So the host home is any family in the church who says, “Our ministry would just be to open a home.” This is already happening with schools. They’ll do like – what do you call that – exchange student programs. It’s kind of like that. You provide housing, food, and transportation for the student if they need it and then all of these people collaborate.
Collaboration is about communication. So all of them report back to the top leader about what they’re seeing in the participant and so they have monthly reports that they give based on their interactions. “Oh, the student’s doing well. Hey, there’s a big flag area here. We need to work on this.” Then most of the time if there are areas we’re working on, we’re working with the intercessor and the pastoral coach. If there are issues at home, we’re bringing in the host home community. If there are issues – we send them out on experiences with community leaders. If those community leaders report back and say, “Hey, so-and-so’s not really into this or acting weird or has a problem,” then we bring them in. And so all of these people we work with and stay in communication with.
Then we have “learning coaches.” These people are in their life just for the competency of learning, checking projects, checking readings, checking information, how’s it going, how are you handling the load, this kind of thing. We have, because we’ve done the program several times, I call them “alumni coaches.” These are people who have been through this type of immersive experience before and can relate with it in some way. One of the things we say is, “When you don’t feel like giving up then you haven’t had a real experience yet.” You’re going to want to give up. You’re going to want to quit – we’ve all been there in leadership. You’re going to want to quit and so the nature of this accountability is there’s just no place to hide. People want to quit. We have people over the past who have left the program and then come back because they just had to get away. It’s too much accountability.
People don’t always know what they’re signing up for. They think, “Maybe I’ll just get some core competencies and then I’ll be able to lead.” No. You’re going to really find out some humbling perspectives as everybody’s looking at you. And then of course we have teachers that come in, whether they’re from our church or from the outside or from our local seminary. And if they can’t come in person then we’ll have them through their audio or video courses. So we experience teachers. Then also we have missionaries. We have missionaries from our church. Sometimes we have missionaries that are visiting. Leaders like yourself. If anybody would be here for a long period of time we would try to develop some kind of interaction with teachers and missionaries.
Audience: Mentors maybe?
Yeah. We have mentors and pastors. We have the staff, the church staff itself that all pitches in. So we have the pastors on there. We have ministry mentors as well. These are ministries in our church. These are leaders who are doing – leading some of our voluntary ministries or maybe our youth pastor, our children’s pastor; maybe it’s our women’s ministry or men’s ministry or our outreach ministry. Any of our ministries they can shadow and follow them around for a while and learn them and learn their story and what God’s doing through them. So it’s really just as many as you can get would be great. As many quality, reputable leaders who are doing kingdom stuff with vision and passion that you can surround your leader with, that becomes collaborative community. And this model is just so much stronger than any other model that has a leader just at the top.
Leader development, LD, collaborative LD: It’s the way I was built. It’s the way that I build leaders and I’ve also been to seminary and I’ve been through education and so I get it. There are some great things that you can take, but if that’s your only training – it’s just like input, input, input and they’re writing everything and I’m like, “Man, some of this stuff is good and it’s not all great. Some of it’s not great and besides that, who’s working on…” – well, let’s have some community. So community at seminary means let’s get in groups and talk, but you don’t get to know each other at that level and there’s nobody seeing all the perspectives. If you do leader development well, you can surround that leader so that their window is forced open. Nobody wants to discover their blind spots. It’s always very unpleasant. I feel myself slouching as I say that. Every time I say blind spot, I think about posture.
Audience: Do you – one more question – so do you do any training for all of these people who are in the collaborative process to give them a role description? It’s like, “Here’s your role.”
Audience: Do you give any training with that and then how much time does each emerging leader spend with you for training?
This year they’re spending quite a bit of time because I’m doing a lot more of the teaching, but it just depends on who I have capacity-wise on my staff team and at what time. Before, we’ve had on staff an actual director of our program. Right now we don’t have a director, so I’m back into that role and it can work either way. But we’ve had as many as 12 to 18 emerging leaders. So you can imagine this community times two, times three, times four; it gets to be a lot of people. We have had trainings in the past, but most of the people that we ask are – especially in the key roles – there are different levels of importance of roles. So a pastoral coach, intercessor, those are people that we know really, really well and those are people from the church. Those are people that you wouldn’t ask them if they needed a lot of training – but we do coach them.
Pastoral coaches are equipped in accountability issues, sensitivity issues, confidentiality issues every year, if they’re not – a lot of times we use the same people, too. So the training kind of happens throughout as we’re working with people, but pastoral coaches always get instructed on confidentiality because that’s the big thing and what has to be reported up and whatever you say you just have to keep to yourself. It’s just we’re pastors, we know this; but pastoral coach has to function with the same level of trust and integrity. And you can’t train that, so it’s just about who you ask; but we do definitely declare it. The intercessors, these are people that have to have active prayer lives and you’ve got to know that. So those two you’ve got to know your people.
The community leaders already have their own ministries happening. Ministry leaders already have their own ministries happening. Host homes, we’ve had to do some training there and mostly that training looks like, “Hey, here’s what we need from you, look at the description.” And again, if it’s not an organic fit you’ll know pretty quickly and most of the stuff doesn’t require a lot of training or equipping. It’s just tapping into the strengths that these church members already have. So you have some people that are really hospitable and just love to open their doors, but every now and again you’ll get some people that thought they were – didn’t know what they were getting into and needed out, and we always give a safe out to everybody. Safe outs are ways they can come to us and just in an un-offensive way get out. Mostly, we haven’t done a massive amount of training to the community, but we do a lot of conversations and in those conversations learning happens and things are – bugs are worked out, but the role descriptions give us the platform and then we just jump into it and issues come up and we troubleshoot them.
Yeah. It won’t happen. You know how vision’s adapted with the bell curve model. You’ll have the early adapters. People adapt to change. You have the early adapters, the early majority, and then you have the middle, and then you have this point – there are people that will just never get it, no matter what you do. And so what’s great about this is if you’re building a few, which you should do, definitely build a few. This year we’re building two. So as you’re focused on a few because you want to do that really well and in 20 years your fruit is going to be massive. It’s the kingdom principle, right? If you do great with a little over time that little’s going to be massive fruit.
There are going to be people that get the vision and that’s going to be enough, but your whole church is not going to get the vision. Our whole church still doesn’t get the vision, but a lot of people do. Over that many years you’ve got a lot more buy-in by now. You’re way over here with buy-in, but if you were just starting right now, all you would need is pastoral coaches, intercessors, and host homes, and your emerging leader. And the rest as they see about it and hear about it you’ll get some other people on board and it’s by invitation. We have people who may not be totally on board, but they’ll come in and share their God story and then while they’re sharing it they’ll be like, “Hey, this is cool.”
I just had a leader come in this week. He sat in. He’s here for the LDC and he sat in for like an hour and he’s like, “Man, I can see why people want to do this.” So you gain the vision. You gain momentum that way just by inviting people in and they can see it and feel it and touch it and taste it and feel the energy of it, but you’re absolutely right. You have to coach the culture. You have to create the culture, but there’s no better way to create than just doing it with the little that you have and they’ll hear about it. They’ll experience it and so that’s how we did it. We just did it and then we did it again and again and again and you kind of just get more ownership as the results are seen and people hear about the leaders.
Audience: Can I ask a question again? So you just started a couple first and you then you grew that, but how many do you have right now that you’re running through your program?
Right now we have two. We have had, when I did it, 12. At that point we were doing it a little bit differently. We had existing leaders and emerging leaders combined from other nations and also from our church and so we had five or six international leaders, some of them quite reputable in their countries and leadership. So that provided a great dynamic, but right now I’ve limited it to the 18 to 28-year-old, kind of the emerging leader development rather than emerging and existing. And so we’ve had 12. We’ve had six. We’ve had – at one point I think the biggest one we had was 18. And so it just depends on who we have in our group and who’s interested.
Audience: Depending on how many you have and who they are and what they need, that’s how you…
I always start with the people, not the program. That’s one of my mantras. Start with the people, not with the program. We have great curriculum and we will use a lot of that curriculum, but at different points in the program than we did last year and we might choose deeper level missionary stuff if we have a missionary coming through than if last year’s cohort nobody was really interested in international missions, but they were interested in other things. So we’ll tailor it to some of their needs, but everybody gets a certain level of the same thing. But it’s more about drawing out who God’s brought in than stamping everybody with our curriculum and I think because there’s so many people in their life there’s a lot of people pulling stuff out of them. There’s a lot of people asking them great questions. So did I answer your question? Okay. Any other questions?
Like I said, we don’t have it all together. We’re not doing it perfectly, but I believe very strongly in this just as a biblical approach, as a way to say, “Hey, look, with humility and the Bible you can get this model real quick.” And you have all the resources. They’re already there. It’s just the thing about leader development is, if I as a top leader see this, I can build this. I can create this. If I don’t see, it I’m going to do this, the top-down. I’m going to do the thing that everybody’s doing.