Our Story: The Nightmare Speed Bump

I shared last week about the long beginning of Awaken Church. While launching the way we did certainly had some wonderful blessings/advantages, there was one pretty significant disadvantage: a lack of experienced spiritual leaders. It didn’t appear as much of a disadvantage until the weakness was exposed.

After our 8th Sunday, we entered into a season that I never would have dreamed of happening. One friend called it a “death blow” for any church plant. To put it lightly, it was a speed bump. To describe it more appropriately, it was a nightmare.

But God in His grace brought us through what was a great season of trial. In the midst of it all, I learned lots of lessons, but one really big one: it’s never too early to start developing leaders. Here are some points God is teaching me:

1. Start before “launch” :: I should have been more intentional about developing spiritual leaders before we launched. Everything is so focused on launch day and the first few weeks after launch that you can easily forget the big picture. I forgot it and we paid for it. I’m convinced the season we went through would have been avoided if we had more men growing as spiritual leaders.

2. Start simple :: I think we as pastors/church planters sometimes think we have to have this brilliant strategy for leadership development that would be worthy of the biggest churches or biggest companies using to train leaders. The simple reality is that we can start by inviting potential leaders into our devotional lives. Start by getting together regularly to read the Bible, pray, and share life together. Most men have never been discipled – start by discipling them.

3. Teach theology :: Most of our leadership development plans teach skills. If we put practice over theology in the life of the church, we are sunk. On top of spiritual disciplines, teach theology. I recommend Wayne & Elliott Grudem’s Christian Beliefs as an accessible way to teach theological basics to budding spiritual leaders.

4. Invite them into your heart & mind for the church :: As you build relationship, spend time with God, and teach them theology, you will naturally be able to start sharing more of your heart and mind for the church. Help them understand the processes, systems, needs, etc. of the church. Help them to see the biblical roots. Share your vision for the future and some the questions you have about how to get there.

5. Invite them to help :: Eventually and appropriately, give them the opportunity to lead others or carry out various leadership roles in the church. With the opportunity, give them some freedom. Granted, they may not do it exactly like you would, but they are learning and it’s a start. Remember…big picture. Planting a church is a marathon, not a sprint. The same is true for developing leaders.

6. Don’t be afraid to start small :: You can’t start early enough and you don’t have to have a multitude to start. If you only have one guy, start with that one. If you do it right, it won’t be one for long.

We’re just now beginning to put the pieces back together and re-gain the momentum that was lost in November & December. After attendance dropping into the 60’s in early January, we’re now averaging 125 people per week and February was a record giving month! And, I’m now more committed than ever to developing leaders in our church.

The points I listed above are for me as much as they are for you as I am very much in the beginning stages of what I just wrote. Pastors…preach, lead, and cast vision. But, don’t forget to develop leaders now. Trust me, we’ve been where you don’t want to go.

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One Comment on “Our Story: The Nightmare Speed Bump”

  1. kim Sanders says:

    Jay,
    Praying for Awaken right now! Thanking God for His watch over this church plant and over you and your family! What a great ONE we serve! Thankful also that have chosen to look at that time as a “speed bump”, a useful item meant to slow us down when we may be moving too fast for our own survival. I believe that God is purposeful, even in His speed bumps.

    Kim


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