Thursday, June 26, 2008

What kind of leader are you...?

“Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrible. He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; He goes out to meet the weapons. He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; And he does not turn back from the sword. The quiver rattles against him, The flashing spear and javelin. With shaking and rage he races over the ground, And he does not stand still at the voice of the trumpet. As often as the trumpet sounds he says, ‘Aha!’ And he scents the battle from afar, and the thunder of the captains and the war cry. -Job 39:19-25

I was talking to a pastor friend of mine and we discussing the trends of late concerning church planting. One of the hot methods now concerns a kind of MChurch like franchising, where the mother church plants smaller services with either the same pastor preaching or video services. Many reasons are given for this approach: better use of finances, reach more people, easier for other leaders to emerge but not carry the whole load of a church plant, helps maintain a unity between mother and daughter churches, allows the new church to access all the resources and ministries of the older church and a host of other benefits.

But as I have pondered the challenges of planting a church by ourselves and our future church planting visions...one issue has been stuck in my gut. It has to do with the kind of leaders the franchising model might possible produce.

Church planting is a mix of both heaven and hell. The endeavor calls for a certain type of man. The pressures, risks, battles, needed faith, daunting fears, plentiful challenges and potential opportunities that lay ahead of a church planter require a certain type of madman. The kind of man church planting requires and produces is in my opinion more important in the long haul than the perceived immediate benefits of doing it the easier way and seemingly the more financially responsible way.

I would rather have a handful of men hewn out of the rock of naked church planting than a host of little men that are still hanging onto mommies apron strings. I want to see fire in the eyes of a potential church planter. There has to be a lot of idealism, daring dreams, crazy hope, over confidence, dangerous and maybe even reckless faith to succeed. Men should plant churches not boys.

"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many. The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing." -Isaiah 51:1-3

Cities, nations and churches need leaders that have learned that God is bigger than their fears, He makes a way where there seems to be no way. We need Davids that will tackle Goliath's and take heads. We need leaders that "Snort, paw and laugh" at the battle. Men who hear the battle cry in their spirit and long for the flashing of sword, the spilling of blood, the crashing of battle. We need spiritual leaders who won't fall into the potential traps that lie in ministerial success, or suffer from visionless leadership. Leaders who will fight against becoming dismayed, depressed or dejected by the many voices and situations that seek to imprison or castrate them and turn them from Stallions to Geldings. You must be a bucking Bronco to get free from all that will seek to keep you in the pen or that will seek to break you.

[Inserted later...]
I would add that the imagery I am using here speaks nothing of outward means...but of spirit. All the imagery of horse, man and rock speak of internal things. Outwardly we are not called to dominate, fight, conquer or prevail in a triumphant sense....it's the meek that will inherit the earth. We are Jesus followers that know how to have "faces set like flint" but at the same time we walk in a way that isn't full of cigar chomping bravado or boot soaked militarism. There is a lamb that is a lion and that is the true heart of a leader. We are both lion and lamb...dove and serpent. It's a reality that is first and foremost spiritual.

The battles that await church planters won't be won by a quality of men who won't risk it all...family, friends, finances, future, security and reputation...and even their very own lives.

Anything else...is less than future churches deserve.
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