login/register

blog posts

Why the leadership movement is leaving your church leaderless

Leadership is one of the most over-used and overwrought topics in Christian ministry today. Yet for all the books, blogs and conferences, there are two staggering realities we must come to grips with: First, while most churches believe they have leadership development programs, in actuality they have programs that recruit and train volunteers. A volunteer is someone who executes someone else’s vision. A leader is someone with a vision of his or her own.

In truth, there are often only a few leaders in the average church, and everyone else is simply executing their vision. It’s the “genius with a thousand helpers” paradigm Jim Collins uses to describe organizations that are good, but never become great. This is the leadership movement widely espoused in the church today.

Let’s be very clear: A volunteer pipeline is not the same thing as a pipeline that multiplies leaders. These are two different things. You need both. Currently, most churches have only one.

I come across thousands of church leaders each year — and while I’d certainly not put everyone in these two broad categories, when it comes to the topic of church leadership many fall into one of two camps:

  1. People who want to multiply Christian leaders, but don’t really know how to get them.
  2. People who believe their vision is big enough for everyone and don’t want more leaders. They really just want volunteers.

Helping the first lot is easy enough. Being a disciple means being a learner of all the things Jesus was — and Jesus could multiply leaders. Scripture outlines truly practical and replicatable models for church leadership you can learn to put into practice in your context to begin identifying, training, and releasing kingdom leaders to do God’s work in the world. I’ve done it and I’ve seen other people do it all over the world. It can be done and done with incredible results.

But then there’s that second group — those who, in their more honest moments, would seek not Kingdom leaders but clock punchers to execute the vision of one… I have to wonder if that’s actually where most Christian leaders land.

Why wouldn’t most pastors want more leaders in their church communities?

I think there are probably many answers to this question (don’t know how to train them, afraid of releasing and relinquishing some control, unsure how to manage resources against their person agenda, etc). But I suspect the big answer is this: At the end of the day, what most pastors want (and have been trained to want!) is minions to execute the most important vision of all. Their own. In doing this, they effectively kill people’s ability to get a vision of their own.

Nevermind that this approach is antithetical to the Gospel.

Christian leadership is about listening for vision from God within community and then being given the authority and power to execute that vision — to take new Kingdom ground. That’s the birthright of every Christian…to hear the voice of their Father. But in the way we do leadership, suddenly it’s like we are pre-Reformation where only the select and the elite who are given this privilege. And let’s be clear: Our ego has a lot to do with this.

Now I’m not suggesting we shift to a paradigm full of chiefs and no Indians. I’m not suggesting that there aren’t times where we leverage our collective abilities to deliver on a central vision. I’m saying that there are many places in your community where the Kingdom needs to be advanced. And if you want to take that territory, you’re going to need more than just a cadre of volunteers. You have to learn to operate in a model that releases leaders to take those fronts, or you’re going to stand still. You may think your vision is big enough to all those cracks and crevices, but I’m telling you…it’s not.

Of course churches need broad, over-arching vision to be cast. There’s an art to casting vision that allows room for others within that vision. And strict volunteerism isn’t that.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about a hypothetical scenario in which Peter, James, Lydia, Priscilla and Paul walked into your staff meeting, asking to be put to work in your church. Not sure what to do, we assign some of the greatest missional leaders the world has ever seen to be a small group leader, lead usher and bass player at the Sunday morning gig. (You can read the whole post by clicking here). As if this is the best way to utilize these kind of leaders!

Here’s a second staggering reality: I don’t think we’d know what to do with missional leaders if a bunch of them were given to us. Our vision for church has been so captured by the place and space of the four walls of Sunday mornings that we’ve bought into the belief that it’s the only place where leadership lies.

Are our development programs about releasing leaders to the missional frontier? Or, more likely, are they about recruiting volunteers to keep the machine of the church running? To be sure, we should attend to the organization of the church, for it is a significant thing when the scattered church gathers. But as the Church stares precipitous decline in the face—as we look to re-embrace the missio Dei—we must learn again the art that Jesus exhibited: the task of multiplying missional leaders and releasing them into the cracks and crevices of society where there is little-to-no Gospel presence.

I’ve heard many church leaders say, “We want to be known more for our sending capacity than our seating capacity.” I’ve met very few who truly embrace that reality and know how to do it. I can’t help but think sometimes that all the talk of Christian leadership in churches is a bit like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. You’re expending energy — maybe even accomplishing something — but it’s not changing the overall trajectory of where this ship is headed.

What we are talking about is a new kind of skill-set for leaders. That’s what the future of the church requires. It’s what the past reveals to us as well.

What does the church of today and the future need?

  • Leaders who are disciples first and foremost.
  • Lots of leaders within any given church community who are “allowed,” encouraged, trained and empowered to hear from the Lord for a vision for impacting the world outside the four walls of the church building and given the authority and the power to do something with this vision.
  • Leaders who know how to train and release everyday, normal, unpaid people into their Kingdom destiny. In other words, the skill to multiply leaders. Leaders who can lead by first making disciples themselves.

In my opinion, this is where the church of the future lies. My worry is that, in the culture of the genius with a thousand helpers, the prevailing culture of the upkeep of the machine will keep us from the real task of true Biblical leadership development and release.

What say you? Am I onto something? Am I off? What’s been your experience? 

 

This blog post is part of a 5-week series related to the release of my new book, Multiplying Missional Leaders: from half-hearted volunteers to a mobilized Kingdom force. You can check out the paperback version here, or the e-book version here.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Subscribe

Enter your email address to subscribe to the 3DM Leadership Blog. You'll receive notifications of new posts by email.

83 Responses to Why the leadership movement is leaving your church leaderless

  1. Brandon Hatmaker 2012/05/15 at 9:53 am #

    Mike, you nailed it. I have a corporate friend who says you know the end is near when you’re sitting around a board table and everyone there thinks they are the only one’s who know anything. A “culture with a genius and a thousand helpers”. Way too many church staff cultures mirror this.

    Thanks for your insight, friend.

    Brandon Hatmaker

    • Shawn Russell 2012/05/15 at 9:15 pm #

      My wife has a saying they are using in education circles… gone are the days of sage on the stage. We are moving towards having a guide by the side and eventually want to get to ghost in the wind.

      I see this as the future evolution of church leadership.

      Perhaps your best article to date Mike.

    • Doug Flett 2012/06/11 at 6:00 am #

      Mike says, “What we are talking about is a new kind of skill-set for leaders. That’s what the future of the church requires. It’s what the past reveals to us as well.” No, not quite. Whilst I totally agree with Mike’s observations up to that point, I believe the “new kind of skill-set” leaders are already here; they are found in several, non-pastoral vocations – in the prayer and prophetic ministries, in the wrongly-titled, para-church organisations, in public life and in the myriad sectors of the marketplace, Mike mentioned fear, control and a lack of skills. I’d like to add, a replacement of Jesus words about leadership and servanthood in the Kingdom with a worldly, religious view. These differing perspectives on leadership are illustrated by the hermit’s wise advice to the British church leaders as they met Augustine on his Papal mission to evangelise the Anglo-Saxons. It was basically, ‘if Augustine rises up to greet you – embrace his overtures, but if he sits arrogantly on his seat, reject them.’ He remained seated.

  2. Geoff Surratt 2012/05/15 at 9:54 am #

    Great post Mike, you’ve nailed the issue on the head. Real leaders scare most of us who are pastors. Real leads tend to actually want to lead around their own unique vision. We don’t know what to do with them, so we aren’t all the keen (isn’t that a British word) on developing them.

  3. sugemyers 2012/05/15 at 10:24 am #

    Excellent. I am in the process of stepping out of institutional church world where I’ve always recruited volunteers to help keep the machine running and into the missional frontier where we’ll focus on making disciples and releasing leaders to do the same. I have learned so much through 3DM over the last few years and am looking forward to putting it into practice in a new way.

  4. Ryan Cook 2012/05/15 at 10:33 am #

    Your clarity on this issue is refreshing, thanks for writing!

  5. Samuel 2012/05/15 at 10:39 am #

    wow. This is really good!

  6. Caridad B. 2012/05/15 at 10:42 am #

    Great post! Im not a pastor but I was blessed by what you wrote because I love to serve outside the four walls because we are all called to be the church and to share the Gospel everywhere not to only serve inside our corporate body.

  7. Dave K 2012/05/15 at 11:35 am #

    Mike – how much impact on “having” to raise leaders was caused by not having a public Sunday meeting? Would you agree that so many churches are organised around just keeping Sundays good?

    • Mike_Breen 2012/05/15 at 11:51 am #

      Dave, I’d definitely say most churches are using 80-95% of their time, energy, resources, etc on the Sunday thing. Now I don’t think having public gatherings is something we should abandon. I think it’s necessary for sustaining true scattered mission. But I think we need to make it lightweight and low maintenance. Here’s the thing: If we are releasing leaders to lead teams of people outside of the 4 walls on Sunday morning, that means these lay leaders have less time to devote to the “machine” of the church. Now, we still need “volunteers” because when the scattered church gathers, it’s the family taking care of itself. But that can’t be the majority of what we do. We can’t be that insular.

      • LF Buckland 2012/05/24 at 3:31 am #

        The key question relates to these ‘missionary leaders’ If they are leading a small group in being Jesus in the world, their example/works/lives may be transforming. What happens when they are asked the *big* questions? Do they point enquirers back to the Pastor/Vicar? Or try to answer, themselves?
        I’m with you on the need for multiplying leaders – the church tends to infantilise: and many people’s faith remains at Sunday School level – the energy released by authorising leaders (in every small way, too, from coffee-making upwards!) is amazing! Transforming!
        My point is about consistent, reliable information..what does the church teach about Jesus, not What do I think.
        I guess this is why the Church takes care to train its Ordained, or Licensed, Leaders…so there is a single song-sheet, even if the parts are sung by different voices.
        How do you feel about this?

  8. paschalc 2012/05/15 at 11:38 am #

    A good lesson for anyone in evangelical leadership. Truth is, Ive seen way too may leaders investing most of their time in the wrong things because, well.. its easier. True leadership training is hard, disciplined, intentional work albeit a labor of love. We all need to remember to pray for our leaders, pray for the church, and may we train our hearts to view the church, in its many flaws, as a bride and not a machine. Thanks for the great post, Mike.

  9. Joe 2012/05/15 at 11:53 am #

    Thanks Mike. I purchased the book this morning, and look forward to cracking it tonight. We’re in the midst of discovering what it looks like for several people in our simple church to take the reigns of leadership and execute on their visions. I pray that I will not fall into the trap of only wanting volunteers to execute on my personal agenda.

  10. Alan Hirsch 2012/05/15 at 1:15 pm #

    Are you off? I hope not because I find myself in total agreement with you…as usual. :) I totally believe that the greatest secret weapon in the hands of God is the whole people of God…each one an agent of the King. That’s the church that existed around Jesus and in the pages of the NT. Nothing less than that is needed today.

    Thanks for your leadership in this Mike!

  11. Jeff Slack 2012/05/15 at 1:21 pm #

    Hey Mike:
    Linked onto your blog through Alan Hirsch’s Facebook and am glad I did. Your insight and clarity on this issue are a cool sip of water on a hot day. After 20 years of ministry and now doing ministry outside of the walls, I couldn’t agree with you more. Keep up the great work! I will be reposting this on my Facebook and hopefully some of my friends will read it.

    • Brandon Hatmaker 2012/05/15 at 11:48 pm #

      Who’s this Alan Hirsch guy? And why do I hear an Australian accent in my mind when I read his comment? Weird.

      • Hamish Divett 2012/06/20 at 4:55 pm #

        South African accent actually, perhaps the ears in your mind have a wax issue? Do Johnson and Johnson make metaphorical cotton buds?

  12. MichaelDWarden 2012/05/15 at 1:28 pm #

    BAM! Nailed it.

  13. Erin 2012/05/15 at 2:09 pm #

    Thank you for writing this. I’d also like to add that many of us (“non-leaders”) don’t even really know what biblical leadership actually looks like. My first thought is that a leader is a pastor, small-group leader, someone who runs AVLC, plays a guitar or (honestly) a young white male (which I am not). It’s very disheartening to feel (or be treated as though) you have nothing to offer.

  14. Ben Sternke 2012/05/15 at 2:36 pm #

    Appreciate the clarity and prophetic sharpness of this post! Thanks Mike.

  15. AlexAbsalom 2012/05/15 at 2:50 pm #

    Thanks for this Mike, a tremendous post and (sadly) so true. I’m looking forward to reading Multiplying Missional Leaders!

  16. Joel Zehring 2012/05/15 at 2:52 pm #

    Lots of resonance with this one, Mike. Got me thinking:

    Think of a church as a block of ice. That solid, rigid shape can only fit into certain places. Now imagine melting that block of ice. As the water transfers from solid and rigid to liquid and fluid, the matter is able to fill any given space, regardless of shape or size.

    God is calling believers to embrace liquidity and take the gospel to places that institutions just can’t reach.

    • Sugey V 2012/05/25 at 10:13 am #

      The illustration in your comment exemplifies the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. I got a powerful visual image as I read it. Thanks for sharing, I will in turn share on fb as well, great quote.

  17. glassdimlyfaith 2012/05/15 at 3:30 pm #

    Hey there Mike,

    This sort of thinking has much in common with the Occupy movement and with my own work at Crabgrass Christians Initiative: http://quixote.org/programs/the-crabgrass-christians-initiative

    Love to connect sometime.

    Thanks for a great post!

    Reposted over at http://theoccupychurch.org.

    blessings,
    Jeremy

    http://twitter.com/glassdimlyfaith

  18. Jeff 2012/05/15 at 3:32 pm #

    A question, Mike: you seem to indicate there is *some* sort of importance to organizing the church, but you place an overwhelming emphasis on “true” leadership being the multiplying of disciples who can have some sort of missiological vision for outside the four walls of the church (and therefore “false” leadership being the creation of contexts where volunteers can serve and grow in the context of a church). If there is some importance in maintaining the work/organization of the church, how do leaders as you’ve described them participate in it? How do they place importance on it when they’re being taught that everything that “really” counts from a leadership standpoint is happening outside the walls and life of the church? How do leaders learn to serve and submit to a collective ecclesiastical vision and not just be lone guns fulfilling their own vision and destiny?

    Much of what I hear from leadership-speak these days submits ecclesiology for the sake of a quasi-individualized missiology. I am a young (31) urban church planter in one of North America’s most secular cities (Vancouver, BC). I am trying to gather and train missional leaders as you’ve described in this context, but I am also hoping to do that within a church context that emphasizes the important tension of being BOTH gathered and scattered (and not one more than the other).

    • Michael Cupp 2012/05/17 at 7:07 am #

      While I very much agree with Mike’s post, I have a similar concern to Jeff. I think it invalidates those whose ministry it is to lead groups of people under another vision by calling it all ‘just volunteering’ and not leadership. Aren’t we all just ‘volunteers’ under Jesus’ vision anyway. I think we need to empower leaders inside the church as well as release leaders to start new things. It is that second area the church has certainly struggled with. I completely agree that this will be the church of the future. Helping people find their place in mission; whether part of another’s vision or pursuing a new vision God has given them.

  19. Mitch 2012/05/15 at 3:39 pm #

    Good read buddy. Must get a copy of your book. @mitchbelfast

  20. altonwoods 2012/05/15 at 4:29 pm #

    I just finished reading Alan Hirsch’s book “Permanent Revolution” which I found to be greatly encouraging. I perceive books like Alan’s and yours to be a continuous narrative from the Holy Spirit who’s urging the church to once again become a “movement” in which we plant not only church’s,but more importantly,the gospel!

  21. Pierce 2012/05/15 at 4:32 pm #

    Thanks Mike for the post. Feels to be right on the spot. Keep the good work!

  22. Andy Goodacre 2012/05/15 at 4:48 pm #

    Bang on Mike! Just rediscovering your blog! This is exactly the process we are beginning to see happening all the way round the world here in Tasmania! Bless you – looking forward to TOM gathering next month :)

  23. Glenda 2012/05/16 at 8:27 am #

    Yes! So true. But all those leadership courses are keeping the guys occupied while the rest of us do life!

  24. fathafrank 2012/05/16 at 9:03 am #

    As I navigate the bureaucracy of my job all week and attend “leadership” meetings at church on the weekends, I am struck by the similarity. I look around at both environments and see a people frustrated because they are stuck. And I think the problem is the same- we are not empowered. I see the problem as having a leadership title, but having no authority. Now I’m not talking about an uprising or revolt, but it is hard to lead when we don’t have the opportunity to pursue our personal passions. Great post!

  25. Scott Lamb 2012/05/16 at 11:01 am #

    Mike, I like your heart in this and I am in the process of wrestling the same issue as my wife and I are planting a church in Eugene, OR. My question is probably along the same lines as Jeff in B.C. Those of us who are in the midst of planting a church are challenged by framing mission and vision as well as our core values as we begin our churches. How can we teach, preach, and engender our vision and mission (that we feel God has given us) into the DNA of our body of believers and not ask them to be on board with the direction that God is leading? It seems that if everyone is encouraged to pursue their own vision then at some point the church may be faced with someone ( a leader) who comes in opposition to the direction of the church, but feels that it is their vision and they want the church to be their platform for living it out. This compromises the initial vision and causes a split. I want to empower leaders and followers, but also want to be faithful to what God has called me to. Hoping to hear from you on this. Thanks for sharing!

    • John in Eugene 2012/09/09 at 1:00 am #

      Which church in Eugene?

  26. davef 2012/05/16 at 11:54 am #

    Great post – I think this meshes well with Bonhoeffer in “Life Together” when he says “He who loves his dream of community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so earnest and honest and sacrificial.” It’s why Bonhoeffer believed that visionary dreaming was potentially a great danger to the church, as he felt that it often led to pride, pretentiousness, and even making an idol of the vision itself, rather than creating disciples. Thanks again for your post – very thought provoking.

  27. Patrick Watters 2012/05/16 at 1:58 pm #

    Spot on, and love the comments and questions here too. We have found the biggest problem in churches are controlling pastors/leaders who are either afraid to delegate/empower or simply don’t want to. Because the “control” issue is so prevalent and insidious, especially among those who tend to take leadership roles, I suspect it will remain a big hurdle even among those who embrace 3DM?

  28. Kevin Rush 2012/05/16 at 7:21 pm #

    Great stuff. I totally agree. I have always struggled with holding both, volunteer development and leader deployment, together. How do I cast vision for our faith community to be a place where I am developing both volunteers AND a leader are empowered to dream God-sized dreams?

    I’m feeling a little schizophrenic calling people to both, follow and lead, all the time. I know they aren’t exclusive of each other, but we are a brand new church started out of Missional Communities (we call them CityGroups) so the tension is definitely there. Thoughts?

    I’m starting Multiplying Missional Leaders tomorrow. Looking forward to it.

    • James Paul 2012/05/18 at 11:48 am #

      Kevin – This may sound oversimplified but – I would enourage church leaders & staff to consider their volunteer run ministries as both fruitful ends within their walls and strategic means outside their walls. Sounds like you’re already thinking this way!

      Alex Absalom has been doing some blogging about the BOTH/AND of this topic recently: http://alexabsalom.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/the-future-of-church-services-part-6/

  29. D. L. Webster 2012/05/17 at 10:58 am #

    Yes, this has been my experience. I am a leader, not in the “I tell people what to do” sense, but in ideas and such. Because of this, I often don’t fit into the box of someone else’s plan. Therefore I have typically been ignored, marginalized and barred from “leadership” positions in church.

    • Patrick Watters 2012/05/18 at 10:59 pm #

      DL this is similar to what I was trying to express earlier (up there somewhere?) The need to “control” is so strong among pastors (and other leaders in society, especially among men) that many of us never see empowerment, and many just give up and “do their own thing” rather than lead collaboratively in community.

  30. len 2012/05/17 at 11:57 am #

    Mike, you have a habit of creating lucid, riveting, energizing posts. If you keep it up I can retire my blog and become a passive spectator of the missional landscape ;)

  31. len 2012/05/17 at 12:00 pm #

    The closing lines of “The Tao of Leadership”

    The best leaders, the people do not notice.
    The next best, the people honor and praise.
    The next, the people fear;
    and the next, the people hate.

    If you have no faith, people will have no faith
    in you, and you must resort to oaths.

    When the best leader’s work is done
    the people say: “We did it ourselves!”

  32. david carlson 2012/05/18 at 9:23 am #

    we are all volunteers executing God’s vision and leadership. As Paul taught Timothy “…entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well.” (2 Timothy 2:2, NET Bible).

    However we work towards that, if we do not start with that vision, we our failing our leader

  33. VIRGINA KLEEZ 2012/05/18 at 9:55 am #

    Absolutely right, I do agree with your post. By the way I am a member of Baptist Church at Sacramento. Our church use church calendar software designed by Congregation Builder, It is really good software to use. It gives us Camp Management, Church Web Calendar & Event Registration.

  34. regenerateweb 2012/05/20 at 1:45 pm #

    “At the end of the day, what most pastors want (and have been trained to want!) is minions to execute the most important vision of all. Their own. In doing this, they effectively kill people’s ability to get a vision of their own.”

    Typical human behavior. Wanting to retain control, rather than giving that control over to God.

    Great article Mike. Good points all around.

  35. Graham Carter 2012/05/20 at 5:44 pm #

    Great post. Great comments. Reading this has been a huge personal encouragement to me.

    For 20 years I have been making disciples and growing local leaders in the mission field. I have long felt at odds with, and have just recently been ejected from, the western missions organization that originally sent me and up until now has funded me. I wasn’t ejected because of any personal sin, and it was done in spite of verified great results in terms of new converts and maturing local leaders.

    So why was I expelled? I could never conform to the top-down, directive, board-room imposed style of leadership my western ministry brothers understand and expect. (Those brothers are all middle-aged, middle-class, white male leaders of affluent ministries in affluent cities, by the way.) This type of leadership is already endemic in the feudal/tribal cultures where I work and
    is a major corruption of the Gospel of grace.

    I was told my lack of adherence to western (actually, commercial) methods and systems makes me unaccountable. I take that to really mean – my practices of ‘bottom-up’ ministry for every believer and my lack of conformity to their own leadership examples threatened their comfort and control.

    Anyway, I hasten to add – I am not bitter (although that has taken some working through).
    I am extremely thankful for your article and the comments which have encouraged me to realize I am not the only one who sees it differently. And I will quote from your article it at my next leadership huddle.

  36. Harry Van der Veen. 2012/05/21 at 2:40 am #

    Sorry but I thought we are all followers and that there is but one leader.

  37. Mark McIntyre 2012/05/21 at 7:19 am #

    Thanks for this, I can’t express how encouraging this is right now. I recently resigned from my position of elder in a church with a sense that something was wrong with the culture but couldn’t clearly articulate what that wrong was. This post helps me understand one of the things that made me very uncomfortable – the lack of empowerment of the people. Too often people would volunteer to do things like host a prayer time or begin a Bible study and were told that they were not authorized to do those things in their homes. They needed to be done at the church and under the church’s authority.

    The conclusion I have come to is that either God is in control or the pastor is, there cannot be any shared authority.

    • gpsparks 2012/05/21 at 2:27 pm #

      Mike, I led large corporate organizations and you have nailed the key leadership component. Compelling vision was always the difference maker. I think your huddle method is right on!

  38. Nate Palmer 2012/05/21 at 4:04 pm #

    Well said. We need more of this. The pursuit of Leadership has hijacked the pursuit of servanthood in too many christian movements.

  39. joshkerkhoff 2012/05/23 at 1:30 pm #

    Mike, I am a frequent reader of your blog. Really enjoy this post and thank you for speaking so directly to the church and pastors who think God’s story is centered on them as leaders. The radical reorientation for us is that we are all followers.

  40. davepatchin 2012/05/25 at 8:06 am #

    Great post with some keen insight (thanks Geoff). Leaders with their own unique vision are innately challenging to pastors. My only quibble is with your title. This is not the fault of the “Leadership Movement.” I’d re-title your post, “Why senior church leaders create leaderless churches.”

  41. Toni Gatlin 2012/05/25 at 5:02 pm #

    I love this part… “[The church needs...] Lots of leaders within any given church community who are “allowed,” encouraged, trained and empowered to hear from the Lord for a vision for impacting the world outside the four walls of the church building and given the authority and the power to do something with this vision.”

    That is exactly the opposite of what I experienced a few years ago when my ministry idea was completely shut down by pastoral authority. Instead of celebrating initiative and embracing a creative solution to a real need, I was called rebellious for not using church resources and instead hosting in my own home, and told I needed to come under authority and use my energy to advance the greater vision (the pastor’s, conveniently). I was genuinely torn and prayed for weeks about what to do… should I stand my ground, or submit? A wise friend shared with me that if the Lord was truly calling me to submit, He would equip me to do it. I felt such relief that the resistance I was feeling was NOT rebellion, and I was free to serve wherever I felt led. It was such a difficult experience, but I learned a lot– real ministry does NOT have to fit into a little pastor-approved box!

  42. Eric-Sherry Brisendine 2012/06/03 at 8:57 am #

    Thank you for feeling the call to verbalize this issue.

    For 50 years we’ve been in church denominations but the last 10 years have been a constant question to ourselves, “why do we not fit in”. Even trying to go worship corporately (warm a pew only), pastors felt led to ask us to lead large missional areas of the church and we would ask upfront “are you ready for the results?”.

    Having felt the worldly pain (within churches) and the Kingdom joy of missional work (local/internationally) I totally agree with your comment of ‘Christian leadership is about listening for vision from God within community and then being given the authority and power to execute that vision — to take new Kingdom ground. That’s the birthright of every Christian…to hear the voice of their Father’. Paul explains in Romans that when you feel the call to be a disciple then it is time to begin doing. We felt led to start a religious non-profit doing local and international teaching/mission work and have never felt so free in our Kingdom work.

    Maybe the future generations can actively take part in multiple groups that offer participation in different parts of the Body without being subjected to guilt. To openly join and serve in three areas: churches to worship and praise God corporately; home-based study/accountability groups to learn and grow; and disciple-building mission groups to further the Kingdom through faith.

  43. David Harrington 2012/12/06 at 4:47 pm #

    Hey, Mike. I stumbled onto this post today and really enjoyed it, but wanted to share one comment. While I do agree that the church needs to train and empower leaders, and I agree that pastors need to let go of some of the “power” that they have been clinging to, I think we need to start at the beginning. I heard someone (don’t remember who) say one time that no man can be an effective leader if he isn’t first a follower. The problem in our culture is that we have an entire generation of young adults coming up who were told by their parents that they should strive to be leaders because they were special….a shining star… I understand the sentiment and I admire those parents for wanting in boost their children’s self esteem, but I also think that we should learn to walk before we learn to run. And (geek warning) if everyone is Batman, who’s going to be Robin?

    From what I see in most churches, we have alot of people who want to be Batman. They want to be in front, making the decision, being in charge of things, getting the credit…but nobody wants to be Robin…the faithful sidekick who is always there when he’s needed. The guy who Batman can always count on when times get tough.

    We need to remind our people that we are ALL followers. That applies to everyone from the custodial staff to the senior pastor (who follows the leading of God). Teach people to follow if you want them to become effective leaders.

  44. Ariel Pangan 2013/02/27 at 2:39 pm #

    You made some really good points there. I looked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.

  45. wahlberg 2013/05/17 at 7:25 am #

    Do you mind if I repost a few of your articles providing I provide credit and sources back to weare3dm.
    com? My website is in the exact same niche as your site and my readers could certainly learn from a lot
    of the information you offer here. Feel free to let me know if
    this would be fine.
    Regards

  46. Corazon Laubach 2013/05/25 at 10:00 am #

    Truly beneficial thanks, There’s no doubt that your readers would possibly want far more items along these lines carry on the excellent perform.

  47. Raceview Dental 2013/05/30 at 4:04 pm #

    I have fun with, result in I discovered exactly what I used to be having a look for. You’ve ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  48. Full Report 2013/05/31 at 4:51 am #

    It’s going to be end of mine day, but before end I am reading this wonderful piece of writing to improve my knowledge.

  49. Dennis Huxley 2013/10/16 at 11:12 am #

    Mike, you are dead on target (not that you needed to be told that). This is my big beef with the Body as well. My frustration is that I don’t think this will be corrected by appealing to leaders. I think we need to appeal to the “lay” people to stop waiting for leaders to place them into positions where they can be used, but there doesn’t seem to be a way of speaking broadly to the Body as a whole. I guess written media like this is the way to do that, but it needs to be directed at them specifically.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Why the leadership movement is leaving your church leaderless | Mike Breen | In the Currach - 2012/05/15

    [...] via Why the leadership movement is leaving your church leaderless | Mike Breen. [...]

  2. The leadership exodus « BRITTIAN BULLOCK - 2012/05/15

    [...] Read the whole post here [...]

  3. Are Churches Leaderless? | Mike Breen « ERIK THIEN - 2012/05/16

    [...] I just read this challenging post by Mike Breen of 3DM called Why the Leadership Movement is Leaving Your Church Leaderless.  I thought is was worth sharing and, apparently, it was so popular it crashed their servers when he posted it yesterday]. Click and see if it was worth the hype! [...]

  4. Blog Heaven « hutchblog - 2012/05/18

    [...] 2) Mike Breen – Leadership not the answer? [...]

  5. Most Churches Don’t Really Have a Culture of Leadership Development « chriskidd.co.uk - 2012/05/18

    [...] Mike Breen: Leadership is one of the most over-used and overwrought topics in Christian ministry today. Yet for all the books, blogs and conferences, there are two staggering realities we must come to grips with: First, while most churches believe they have leadership development programs, in actuality they have programs that recruit and train volunteers. A volunteer is someone who executes someone else’s vision. A leader is someone with a vision of his or her own. [...]

  6. Do we want leaders or do we want to call volunteers “leaders”? « Joewulf - 2012/05/18

    [...] Why the Leadership Movement is Leaving Your Church Leaderless [...]

  7. This Week on Trans·formed (5/19) - 2012/05/19

    [...] Why the Leadership Movement Is Leaving Your Church Leaderless: Let’s be very clear: A volunteer pipeline is not the same thing as a pipeline that multiplies leaders. These are two different things. You need both. Currently, most churches have only one. [...]

  8. Links I Like | Blogging Theologically | Jesus, Books, Culture, & Theology - 2012/05/21

    [...] Why the Leadership Movement Is Leaving Your Church Leaderless [...]

  9. Missional Monday: Wright Sings, Chan Chastised, Breen Brings It - 2012/05/21

    [...] around the nature and purpose and structure of gatherings in relation to God’s mission.Mike Breen brought it on church leadership in a blog post promoting the launch of his new book Making Missional Leaders. Breen writes, [...]

  10. Questioning your leadership training… « Relentless Christianity - 2012/05/21

    [...] Mike Breen has a worthwhile article about the reality of many of our church “leadership” training programs. The truth is, they are not about leadership, instead they are about volunteering under someone else’s leadership. Breen doesn’t say that this is bad but does call the church to be more about training for sending. [...]

  11. Why the leadership movement is leaving your church leadersless - 2012/05/22

    [...] Why the leadership movement is leaving your church leaderless | Mike Breen (function() {var s = document.createElement('SCRIPT'), s1 = document.getElementsByTagName('SCRIPT')[0];s.type = 'text/javascript';s.async = true;s.src = 'http://widgets.digg.com/buttons.js';s1.parentNode.insertBefore(s, s1);})(); */ /* */ /* */ [...]

  12. Shepherd Links – 5/26 | Pastoralized - 2012/05/26

    [...] Why the Leadership Movement is Leaving Your Church Leaderless [...]

  13. End of the Week Links | OpenArms.tv - 2012/05/31

    [...] Why The Leadership Movement Is Leaving Your Chuch Leaderless by Mike Breen [...]

  14. End of the Week Links | OpenArms.tv - 2012/05/31

    [...] Why The Leadership Movement Is Leaving Your Chuch Leaderless by Mike Breen [...]

  15. Links to Help You Get to Friday | My World - 2012/06/06

    [...] Mike Breen on Why the leadership movement is leaving your church leaderless.  [...]

  16. Is the Church Leaderless? | - 2012/06/07

    [...] the typical local church.  Take a look at what Mike Breen from 3DM has to say in his post titled Why the Leadership Movement is Leaving Your Church Leaderless. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  17. Voluteering vs. Being Used « Still Growing - 2012/06/18

    [...] vs. Being Used 18 Jun The other day, I was reading this blog post here (and another one by the same author that I’ll link to in a bit), and it gave me some splendid [...]

  18. Doug Gamble | a church planting journey - 2012/07/06

    [...] http://weare3dm.com/mikebreen/we-are-3dm/why-the-leadership-movement-is-leaving-your-church-leaderle… Posted on May 25, 2012 In Uncategorized Leave a comment [...]

  19. Por qué el movimiento de liderazgo está dejando tu iglesia sin líderes « La Oveja Nro.100 - 2012/07/12

    [...] de “Why the leadership movement is leaving your church leaderless” de Mike [...]

  20. Leaders v Disciples: Why Isn’t There a ‘Discipleship Summit’? | Missional Church Conversations - 2012/11/21

    [...] posted on May 12, 2011. Also visit this exceptional post by Mike Breen on Leadership and [...]

  21. Sunday Best: leadership, racism, Wendell Berry and how to spot the future - 2013/02/08

    [...] A major plight of the Church is the constant need for volunteers, right? Mike Breen says, “ALL WRONG.” He says we’re looking at it the wrong way; leaders and volunteers are not the same thing. Find out “why the leadership movement is leaving your church leaderless.” [...]

  22. I’m With Don – Thoughts on Worship Services Part 5 | D. L. Webster - 2014/04/02

    […] to most. Many people are ready to act and even lead in much more significant ways. However, as Mike Breen has said, many churches simply want volunteers to run the programs they’ve created even though they […]

Leave a Reply

Connect with: