Gospel-Driven Leadership Training at Church in the Boro

Monday, February 22, 2010

Church in the Boro (I'm not giving a hyperlink to our website because it sucks and we're getting a new one through Church Plant Media on April 1), where I currently lead, is seeking to become a part of the New Frontiers family of churches. Carl Herrington is on the apostolic team for the US. He leads Jubilee Church in Atlanta.

He came down this past weekend to work with our leaders here. We've got about six guys who are gifted as leaders. The potential is huge. Carl said to us yesterday morning that our church is especially gifted with a high number of leaders. This, he said, simply means that God is preparing us to reproduce. That's pretty dang exciting. Church planting is the toughest thing I've done. It's like parenting multiplied by however many people come. In our case, about 60-70.

One of the things I focused on Saturday night in giving direction to our guys about Sunday morning, was what our focus is. This is often up for grabs and fodder for argument...especially among friends of the reformed stripe. At Church in the Boro, however, we are having our focus sharpened based on our mission as a church. The mission, of course, is to grow...to expand...to absorb. The universal church, reflected in local churches around the globe, have the two-fold simple privilege of reconciling the lost to Jesus (2 Cor. 5), and encouraging them toward maturity and unity (Heb. 10:25; Eph. 4:11-16). Funny how we make things so hard so often, huh?

Based on this simple mission of the local church, I told our leaders in development that Church in the Boro has two main purposes. Perhaps two hands or two feet would be a better illustration. I want each of our leaders to see the two-handed mission of our local church on Sunday mornings, which help them work harder toward the goal. Or...I want each of them to see the two-footed mission of our local church, which will help them run harder after the goal. Each of these hands or feet come from two of the most summary, simplified statements Jesus made regarding His own ministry while on earth.

1. The leaders at Church in the Boro "go to church" on Sunday mornings to seek and save the lost.
In Luke 19:10 I find one of my most favorite stories in Luke: the story of Zaccheus...the wee little man. Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. But in His omniscience and providence, He had obviously arranged His trip because it was in His eternal plan, before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) to seek and save Zaccheus.

So I figure that if this was the simplest way Jesus could sum up His ministry on earth, it's probably the simplest way to sum up our ministry on earth...especially on Sunday mornings. For me personally, I've come to see Sunday mornings as THE most significant reflection, THE most prime example, THE model of what ministry is to look like. So if Jesus' ministry was seeking and saving the lost, then I want our leaders to reflect, exemplify, and model that ministry on Sunday mornings.

Ultimately, this has got to move from theological, to philosophical, to practical. And we're working on that right now. But I offered the following instructions to the men as a starting place, and I guess one could call it the "Five Touchpoints" for a guest at Church in the Boro. Here's what I told them men to do on Sunday mornings.

show up on time for leadership prayer at 9:30 am so that we can all be done by 9:45 am and be out speaking to guests. That's the first touch.

wherever your wife put your stuff, move it (and her...and your children) so you can sit beside the family or person during the worship service. This is, of course, unless your wives beat you to it. In which case, stay beside the family she's moved toward, and pull the other family you've touched over with you. This is touch point number two.

ask the family or person to have lunch with you after the service. Take them out and pay for it yourselves. (This means you have to rework your budget a bit so you'll have money to spend on lunch...and be extra good and ready in case they have kids). This is a very practical way to use our money and resources for the mission of the kingdom. And this becomes touch point number three.

over lunch ask a bunch of questions. Questions show care. And the one thing I've learned after twenty years in church leadership and in the business world is that people love to talk about themselves, and their kids. Let them talk as long as they want to. Along the way, look for things you can pray for them about. Then pray for them at the end of lunch. Before parting, get the family or person's email address and cell phone number over lunch. Give your word to email them this week, simply to swap contact information. This is touch point number four.

when you email them or call them, as promised, invite them over for a meal at your house that week. (This means you'll have to rework your family schedule to allow at least a couple of nights a week for this kind of ministry, since one night may not work for them or for you, but another night may.) When they come over, make sure they are treated like kings and queens...sort of like you would love to be treated if you were invited over to someone's house. According to the Bible, this is the prime place for ministry, according to the Bible, which places a HUGE emphasis on the home. This is called hospitality, contrary to what we have made it out to be today. And this becomes the fifth touch point.

So within less than a week you will have had five significant touch points with first time guests. And if there aren't any first time guests that week, target a second time guest you haven't made significant contact with yet and do the five touch points all over again. They aren't meant to be mechanical, of course. But it is a helpful system we've used for putting ourselves on a track to seek out and save those who are lost.

"But what if they're already saved?" you ask. Two responses. First, make sure this isn't the norm. If you've only got saved people visiting your church all the time, then all that's really happening is sheep-swapping. The church's mission is to grow by absorbing lost people and reconciling them to King Jesus. It is not to build a preaching center where lots of saved people come to hear good messages. Second, I'd reply by pointing you to the second simple purpose of our mission on Sunday mornings.

2. The leaders at Church in the Boro "go to church" on Sunday mornings not to be served, but to serve.
This other simply-stated mission of Jesus comes from Mark 10:45. The context of this passage is Jesus' teaching to the disciples about leadership. He said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (NASB).

This passage is chock full of helpful leadership guidance and counsel. But the emphasis in this passage was really the same as the first passage. It's about the death of Jesus. It's about Jesus coming to save. And here in Mark, saving happens by serving. Jesus saved others by serving them. This brings salvation out of the theological ivory tower and puts it in the gutter and in the alley. And that's what we want Church in the Boro to be…an alley or gutter for those who are suffering, who need to be reconciled to Jesus and to others. I thought it was interesting that this whole passage in Mark began with a discussion about suffering (vv. 32 ff.).

So I want my leadership team to come to church on Sunday mornings not to be served, but to serve. Putting this into practical terms, this means don't find your buddies and talk about whatever happened that week at work, or whatever you did that weekend. And it means making sure you're wife is taken care of when it comes to the kids. Get your kids situated, or have them close to you. They break the ice when meeting guests, who may also have kids.

From "Hey man, so glad to have you here this morning!" to your goodbye, I want our guests to become the subjects of intense study by our leaders. I want our leaders to become intuitive (watching for normal, cultural indicators in conversations), as well as Spirit-led (waiting on the Spirit to lead and guide in the conversation with key questions that draw them out). Just as a servant or a slave has the responsibility of practically reading their owners' minds, I want our leaders to become something like mind-readers so they can know how to best serve our guests. Because that's what Jesus did.

So this is where we're headed on Sunday mornings. This is our focus. This is gives shape to our mission. Our mission is not just to get together and worship. And that's where my reformed training had given me only part of the big picture. We'll worship together forever when we get to heaven. But right now, on earth, our mission is the same as Jesus…to seek and save those who are lost…and to serve by giving our lives for others. Failure to do this means failure to grow…and the whole purpose of the church, again, is to grow. It's about faithfulness and fruitfulness. By God's grace we hope to achieve a biblical growth driven by a seeker-sensitive Savior.

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