Jesus and Apostolic Women

Part 4 of my Series on Women
[ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 ]

Why Were No Women Included With the Twelve Apostles? Many conservative theologians argue that if Jesus really believed in empowering women for leadership, He would have appointed one or more females to serve among His twelve disciples. It is assumed that since all the Twelve were male, only men can occupy the top positions of authority in the church. But again, we must take into consideration the culture of Jesus’ day. Women were not allowed to occupy any positions of authority in first-century Palestine.

It is also important for us to recognize that even though Jesus selected twelve Jewish males to lead the early church, He was in no way signaling that future leaders of the church must be Jewish. To the contrary, the Holy Spirit showed the early disciples that the gospel was also sent to the Gentiles—and within a few years Gentile apostles emerged. So, we must see that just because the first apostles were male, this does not set a precedent for all time. Women, including Priscilla and Junia, were already functioning in missionary and apostolic ministry roles by the time the early church began it’s western expansion.

All of this information is gleaned from – Grady, J Lee. Ten Lies The Church Tells Women: How the Bible Has Been Misused to Keep Women in Spiritual Bondage (p. 51). Charisma House. Kindle Edition.

Women in Biblical History

Part 3 of my Series on Women
[ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 ]

The Bible records a rich history of women who were placed in authority by God. It would be wise to consider the way God used women before we attempt to pull an isolated Scripture out of context to build a doctrine that restricts the ministry opportunities of women. Consider the following biblical women and the level of authority they were given:

  1. Miriam. There is no question that Moses’ sister was considered a leader in ancient Israel. This is confirmed in Micah 6:4: “Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt and ransomed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” She represented the authority of God to the people in the same way Moses did. She spoke for God. That’s why she is described in Exodus 15:20 as a prophetess.
  2. Deborah. Among the judges of Israel, Deborah was the only one who held the respected position of prophet other than Samuel. She is referred to as a prophetess in Judges 4:4, and her attentiveness to God’s purpose and strategy resulted in an impressive military victory for Israel that secured peace for forty years. (Judges 5:31.) She was married, but her husband, Lappidoth, did not share her position of spiritual authority, and we know little about him. Deborah functioned as a civil ruler and was so respected for her anointing and spiritual insights that Barak, Israel’s military commander, refused to go into battle without her.
  3. Huldah. After fifty years of paganism and spiritual adultery in Israel, King Josiah assumed the throne and rediscovered the Book of the Law, which had been hidden in the temple. When it was read aloud, he immediately repented and turned to the Lord, then sent his high priest to seek out a faithful follower of God who could speak for Him. To whom did they turn? To Huldah, a prophetess who obviously had remained faithful to the Lord during one of the darkest periods in Israel’s history. (2 Kings 22:14.) The fact that Israel’s high priest, Hilkiah, and his associates sought her out to make their inquiry of the Lord shows that she had earned a reputation for hearing from God.
  4. Esther. Although she did not function in a place of ecclesiastical authority, Esther’s life proves that God can and does use women in strategic positions of influence to further His purposes. Indeed, he singled out this young Jewish woman and thrust her into the place of an intercessor and deliverer, not unlike Moses, and her prayers and courageous actions literally saved her people from genocide.
  5. Phoebe. Paul commended this woman to the church at Rome and asked them to “receive her in the Lord” when she arrived from Cenchreae to work among them (Romans 16:1–2). Although he refers to her as a diakonon, the Greek word for deacon, the word is translated servant in many Bible versions. But it is more accurate to place her in the category of deacon with men such as Stephen and Philip, for the same Greek word is used to describe them.
  6. Priscilla. Along with her husband, Aquila, this woman was a noted laborer in the early church, and it was this couple’s influence that helped launch the apostolic ministry of Apollos (Acts 18:24–26). It would be safe to say that they also functioned as apostles, since Paul refers to them in Romans 16:3 as “fellow workers in Christ Jesus.”
  7. Philip’s daughters. We are told in Acts 21:9 that Philip the evangelist had four daughters who were “prophetesses.” We know nothing about them, but we can assume that their influence was significant enough to be mentioned in the biblical record. Obviously they were engaged in public speaking, and their words carried the same level of authority as the words of Agabus—a male prophet who is described in the same passage.
  8. Lois and Eunice. The apostle Paul commends these two women—Timothy’s mother and grandmother—for shaping the young man’s ministry through their instruction and example. Although it is an obscure passage, it is a crucial one because so many churches today use Paul’s letters to Timothy to justify misguided policies that limit the scope of women’s ministry.
  9. Junia the apostle. What? An apostle? Paul’s reference to this woman in Romans 16:7 has created quite a controversy because she is referred to as an apostle, Bible scholars and translators have assumed that she could not have been a woman—since females can’t possibly function in an apostolic role. But Junia was a common Latin name for a woman.

All of this information is gleaned from – Grady, J Lee. Ten Lies The Church Tells Women: How the Bible Has Been Misused to Keep Women in Spiritual Bondage (pp. 46-48). Charisma House. Kindle Edition.

Jesus and Women in Ministry

Part 2 of my Series on Women
[ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 ]

It appears that Jesus came into the culture and broke from traditional roles for women, here are a couple examples…

  1. Leadership.
  2. Reliable witnesses.
  3. Heralds of the gospel message.

More from Lee Grady’s book, 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, and some personal observations.

Did Jesus Believe Women Could Lead?

This strong church bias against women in leadership is peculiar when we examine Jesus’ own inclusive attitudes toward the women who followed Him. Jesus affirmed the equality of women in the midst of a culture that denied them basic human rights. He called them to be His disciples during a time when religious leaders taught that it was disgraceful even to teach a woman.

So, what is the point of teaching a woman if the knowledge or training cannot be passed on? Perhaps she CAN teach, but only to her children, in the home or in VBS, or even Sunday School (certainly before the boys get into the youth department) but that does not seem right.

The Same Holy Spirit

When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon the church, as recorded in the Book of Acts, many of these same women were in the upper room and received empowerment on the Day of Pentecost. Those who were Christ’s disciples had been commissioned to go into all the earth as witnesses, but they had been instructed to wait until the Holy Spirit came upon them to empower them to fulfill this commission (See Acts 1:4–5). When the Holy Spirit came to fulfill this promise of empowerment for ministry, both men and women (including His own mother) received Him. This was noted by Peter, who then recited the verse from Joel’s prophecy: “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17). If Christ commissioned solely men to the ministry of the gospel, why did He send the power for that mission upon both men and women?

The Samaritan Woman

In the story of His visit with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7–42), we read that after He revealed His true identity to her (and she received forgiveness of her troubled past) she began telling others about Him (John 4:28–29). Here we see perhaps one of the clearest pictures in the Bible of Christ as an ordainer of women. The gospel account tells us that after her encounter with the Jesus, “from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman” (John 4:39). Why would the Messiah send this woman into her village to tell others about His power if He was opposed to the concept of women in ministry?

Certainly you agree that every follower of Jesus has the opportunity and responsibility to share the good news of Jesus by telling what Jesus has done for them, and women are no exception. But there are many in the church who somehow draw the line when they do this in a leadership role, certainly never in a professional capacity in the role of a lead pastor.

Unreliable Witnesses

Grady reminds us that we must remember the cultural context of John 4. In the land of Israel at the time of Christ and, indeed, in all of the Roman world, women were not considered reliable witnesses. Men were taught that the testimony of a woman was not to be trusted because women were considered ignorant and easily deceived. Yet, to whom did Jesus choose first to reveal His resurrection on Easter morning (Luke 24:1-12)? And whom did He commission first to tell others that He had triumphed over the grave (Matthew 28:5-7)? Was it not His brave women disciples who were willing to identify with His death while His male followers hid from their persecutors?

After His resurrection, Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, “Go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God’” (John 20:17). Was He not affirming her as a witness of the gospel? Was she not commissioned by Jesus Himself both to go and to speak for Him? Why then do we deny women the opportunity to carry the same message in a professional capacity?

Living Life in a Submissive Role

In conservative Christian circles women are expected to live contentedly in the background (presumably to focus on domestic duties) because this is their humble, God-ordained “place” in life. It’s a place of invisible service and of godly but quiet influence over children and the home, or perhaps over the church nursery, Sunday school class, or women’s Bible study. Women, of course, are told it is an honor to live in the shadow of their husbands or other male authorities and a disgrace for them to assume a place of significant spiritual authority. But we need to ask: Where did we get this warped idea when it was not the perspective of Jesus Christ, nor is it promoted anywhere in the Scriptures?

All of this information is gleaned from – Grady, J Lee. Ten Lies The Church Tells Women: How the Bible Has Been Misused to Keep Women in Spiritual Bondage. Charisma House. Kindle Edition.

Designed to Lead

Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck have put together one of the best books on leadership (and leadership development) in the church. Practical and applicable. Here are a few of the more thought provoking quotes from the book (this is sort of my online filing cabinet full of clippings). By all means, buy this book, it will change your life and ministry.

Key Quotes:

When ownership of God’s vision and God’s mission is the water our members swim in, there will be a great swell of emerging leaders desperate to be equipped for the task. Without ownership, our leadership development will be subjected to the futility of begging people to “step up” and minimizing the expectations to make sure it “isn’t asking too much of people.”

Dedicated to multiplication. In these last days, God has determined to use His Church as His primary agent in ushering in His Kingdom. This reality is made clear to God’s people throughout Scripture, but pointedly in the Great Commission. Jesus makes His mandate clear; we are to advance His Kingdom by making disciples. That’s it—we want to make much of Jesus through advancing His reign by declaring and demonstrating the gospel and instructing others to join us. The mission of the local church is not up for debate. The mission of the Church is the mission of the One who is the Head of the Church. Namely, His particular mission is “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). A church joins in that mission or she is no body of Christ.

Churches must measure leadership reproduction because if leaders are not being made, the church has been unfaithful. As the local church embraces the mission of making disciples, she will be unlocked for her fullest potential in multiplication. The local church must see leadership development as an expression of obedience to the Great Commission. Leaders cannot simply make more followers of Christ; they must be intent on replacing themselves as leaders. The multiplication of disciples and churches is significantly tied to the multiplication of leaders.

These undesirable outcomes and behaviors exist because there is a mission-killing divergence between what we say our church believes and what our church actually believes. When the theological statements and catchy slogans don’t match the theological convictions actually held by the people of the local church, the God-honoring hopes of that church will never become a reality. It is for this reason that many churches who want to engage in leadership development can’t seem to get the church to fall in line.

Often ministry leaders will ask, “What do you do for discipleship?” and then a few moments later ask, “What do you do for leadership development?”—as if the two are mutually exclusive. Jesus did not divorce leadership development from discipleship. As He invested in the Twelve, He continually “discipled” them while simultaneously developing them to be leaders. While it may be helpful to view leadership development as advanced discipleship or as a subset of discipleship, it is detrimental to view leadership development as distinct from discipleship.

The lack of a system reveals the value is not really embedded. Without a system, all you have is wishful thinking.

Succession planning. A pipeline helps with succession in all roles, as leaders are being developed at all levels. When a role is open, whether staff or volunteer, a leadership pipeline helps ensure there are others ready to move into that role. Instead of reactively scrambling to “fill a spot,” a leadership pipeline helps leaders think proactively about the future. If you do not have a leadership pipeline, you are likely approaching leaders from a reactive posture rather than a proactive one.


Conviction | Culture | Constructs

We attend conferences and preach sermons imploring the church of God to stand up and take hold of their destiny to advance the Kingdom of God across the globe. Still, our pews and folding chairs stay warm with immobile, uninspired, ill-equipped saints. Our churches, homes, and places of work lack the leadership of Christian men and women. Something has to change.

For leaders to be developed consistently and intentionally, churches must possess conviction, culture, and constructs.

Churches that consistently produce leaders have a strong conviction to develop leaders, a healthy culture for leadership development, and helpful constructs to systematically and intentionally build leaders.

Conviction is a God-initiated passion that fuels a leader and church. Conviction is at the center of the framework because without conviction to develop others, leadership development will not occur. Developing leaders must be a burning passion, a nonnegotiable part of the vision of a local church and her leaders, or it will never become a reality.

Once the church leaders share this conviction, this ambition must become part of the very culture of the church itself. Culture is the shared beliefs and values that drive the behavior of a group of people. The church that believes in and values the development of others collectively holds the conviction for leadership development.

Wise leaders implement constructs to help unlock the full potential of a church that seeks to be a center for developing leaders. By constructs, we mean the systems, processes, and programs developed to help develop leaders. Constructs provide necessary implementation and execution to the vision and passion of culture and conviction.

Constructs without Conviction = Apathy.
Constructs without Culture = Exhaustion.
Conviction without Constructs = Frustration.

Conviction, culture, and constructs. If any of the three are missing, leadership development will be stifled.

How do you know if something is a conviction? If you can imagine life or ministry without it, it is not a conviction.

Michael Goheen reminds us that “the Great Commission is not a task assigned to isolated individuals; it is an identity given to a community.”


Moses and Joshua:

In observing Moses’ leadership, we can see a holy conviction for investing in others, an emphasis on a culture that develops leaders, and constructs that enables development.

Moses personally selected and invested in leaders. As you read through the Scripture, you see Moses pouring into Joshua.

Through all these critical moments in the life of God’s people, Joshua was there with Moses. Moses served God’s people by pouring into the life of another. And immediately after Moses’ death, Joshua was ready to lead Israel.

After Moses died, immediately God’s people were ready to move to the land the Lord had given them. After Joshua died, a generation rose up who did not even know what the Lord had done for His people. Why the stark contrast?

There is no record of Joshua investing in anyone. We don’t see him intentionally developing leaders. We don’t read of him pouring into others. And the generation after his leadership doesn’t know the Lord. Israel enters a period marked by leadership failure after leadership failure.

Clearly Joshua lacked the conviction to develop others. Even still, as most leaders, he likely would never have admitted that. He would have claimed developing leaders was a priority, something that was important to him, but his life over the long haul revealed it wasn’t.

Clearly most church leaders do not hold the conviction of developing leaders, so they find ways to continue in ministry without it. They have learned to lead churches without developing leaders. They have learned to offer programs, conduct worship services, and manage budgets all without developing leaders. Like Joshua, they are able to execute tasks and make decisions without any conviction to develop leaders. It is to our shame that we have learned to lead ministries without developing other ministers.

The responsibilities that Jethro encourages Moses to retain are culture-forming responsibilities. Instruct them about the statutes and laws; provide clarity about their identity. Teach them the way to live; provide focus of mission. Select the leaders; provide leaders for the people. In a healthy culture, the people know who they are, what they are to do, and leaders are being developed and deployed. In a healthy culture there is strong sense of identity, clarity of mission, and credible leaders with integrity.


Paul and Timothy: 2 Timothy 2:2

With Jethro-like intensity, when the apostle Paul challenged Timothy to expand the ministry and reproduce himself in others, he emphasized trustworthiness. He didn’t diminish competence, but he started with integrity and faithfulness.

Notice the order of the language of this often-quoted verse. The verse does not read, “Entrust to able men who will be faithful.” Paul is not saying: “Go find some great leaders and try to make them faithful. Make a list of high-capacity leaders and work to turn them into faithful followers. Find the best, most talented people and put them through a character boot camp.”

Biblical leadership development is to “find the faithful who will be able. Not the able that might be faithful.”

Without faithful men and women, a ministry culture loses credibility. The ministry may produce great programs, be well-managed, and meet budget, but if the leaders lack character, the ministry lacks the moral authority and credibility to call others to come and die, to challenge men and women to become leaders.


Leadership Pipeline:

A leadership construct provides a framework for leadership development, a pipeline for future leaders, and a path for people to walk in their own leadership development.

So we say it again: your church, the one you worship with every Sunday, is divinely designed to develop leaders who will bless and serve their families, churches, communities, and the world. But conviction, culture, and constructs are all required. Without them your church may offer programs, fill calendars, exist with an array of activity, and may even fill all your volunteer spots, but you won’t develop leaders the way God intended.

Leaders, when embracing the enormity of the responsibility, keep an eye on the future. They develop others, not just for the comfort of life in the church, but also for life as a whole. They equip God’s people to serve, not feverishly attempting to do all the ministry themselves. Both parenting and pastoring must focus on equipping.

Many churches are not healthy. A plethora of symptoms are lamented, from a lack of generosity to low ministry engagement to the scarcity of God’s people living on mission. Symptoms are often addressed, but the symptoms point to an overarching sickness.

Quite simply, a failure to equip people for ministry results in an unhealthy church. A lack of conviction for equipping results in an immature body of believers.

There is a holy cause and effect in ministry. If we will make the training of the saints our holy cause, the effect is a healthy church. A healthy church is not a perfect church, but she is a church that is being collectively formed more and more into the image of Christ.

“You had one job” is a popular and sarcastic online catchphrase usually associated with blunders people have made while performing their jobs. God has given pastors to His Church, and their overarching job is “to equip the saints [God’s people] for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). Equipping encompasses preaching/teaching (1 Timothy 3:2) and leading/governing (1 Timothy 3:4–5), as the goal in all of healthy ministry is to prepare or train God’s people.

Another thing stands out: many churches do not even list, on their very long list of pastoral profiles, equipping or training the people for ministry. And of the few churches that do, most have the responsibility so buried amongst the plethora of other tasks that it is unlikely to receive much attention. According to pastoral job descriptions and pastor search team profiles, the one job emphasized by Paul in Ephesians 4:11–12 is seldom “a job” and rarely “the job.”

The typical approach also hampers the movement of the church. The effectiveness of a local church is greatly slowed as people are taught that the majority of ministry occurs through the “professionals.” The scope of the ministry, therefore, is limited to the time and abilities of a few people.

Pastors, and churches, with a biblical approach to ministry possess a deep-seated conviction that all believers are gifted for ministry, not just the “professionals.” The Scripture never uses the term “minister” to set aside a special class of people who serve other Christians. All believers are ministers. Thus those selected by the Lord to be pastors are to invite all believers to engage in ministry and view themselves as equippers of all the ministers, all of God’s people, within the Church.

A pipeline in the realm of local church ministry may look something like this: Lead Yourself (be in a group) Lead Others (lead a group or team) Lead Leaders (shepherd or coach a group of leaders) Lead Ministries (direct a ministry area).

Our friend Dave Ferguson, pastor of Community Christian Church, articulates the leadership pipeline at his church this way: Apprentice Leader (leader in training) Leader (of ten people) Coach (leader of up to five leaders) Staff (leader of up to ten coaches) Campus Pastor/Church Planter (leader of staff) Dave’s pipeline focuses heavily on developing campus pastors and church planters because of the multiplying focus of Community Christian.

A pipeline is for the whole organization; a pathway is an individual development plan, within the pipeline. A pipeline focuses on the flock; a pathway focuses on individual sheep.


Clergy and Laity:

Clergy. Churches often think it makes sense to hire clergy to do ministry because many believe that “the clergy” are a select group of people—a group able to offer spiritual counsel and insights that mere mortals could never; a group able to care for others in ways regular, everyday Christians could not.

Laypeople. “Oh, but I am not a pastor. I am just a layperson.” We have heard that statement countless times when speaking to committed Christians at conferences or other events. Often the statement comes from someone who wants to serve God more, wants to lead and make an impact, but feels second class and unable to do anything really significant. The person is often searching for a bigger view of life and the mission of God, but the lie that ministry is for the professionals has been reinforced for years.

Clergy and laity have been terms inaccurately used to create an unhealthy, unhelpful, and unbiblical division in the Church. The people of God are split in two, the “holy clergy” and the “laypeople” who tolerate work in unspiritual professions so they can pay the clergy to do the spiritual work. But this must not be; there should be no division in the body of Christ.

There is a massive difference between distinction and division. While there is no division between God’s sons and daughters, there is distinction. For example, Christian unity does not eliminate race, status, and gender. Instead, unity in Christ transcends those distinctions because Christ is so much better, and is what ultimately unifies God’s people. Christian unity does not eliminate our distinctions because God, in His providence and creativity, has made us distinct from one another.

Elton Trueblood stated it well: The ministry is for all who are called to share in Christ’s life, but the pastorate is for those who possess the peculiar gift of being able to help other men and women to practice any ministry to which they are called.

John Stott, writing on the role of pastors, stated, The New Testament concept of the pastor is not of a person who jealously guards all ministry in his own hands, . . . but one who helps and encourages all of God’s people to discover, develop, and exercise their gifts. His teaching and training are directed to this end, to enable the people of God to be a servant people. . . . Thus instead of monopolizing all ministry himself, he actually multiplies ministries.


Why Pastors Don’t Equip the Church:

Job security. Just as Ned designed a system where he is necessary, some pastors are hesitant to develop others for ministry because they fear they will become unnecessary to the church.

Insecurity. Just as Ned builds a system that necessitates him, some pastors need to be needed. They love to hear statements like, “I can’t imagine anyone but you praying for me at the hospital,” or “We do not know where our church would be without you.”

Idolatry. Releasing ministry to others is impossible for the leader who holds tightly to ministry as his or her reason for being. Ministry can be an attractive idol because it is rarely called out as sinful. It is an idol that others applaud you for. If ministry success is our god, we are likely to take the shortest path to greater and greater “victories,” but preparing and developing people is never on the shortest path. If ministry idolatry plagues us, we are hesitant to relinquish the ministry that fuels and drives us. We want to be the one, the man, the hero. We are only perfectly content to equip others if our hearts are filled with awe and wonder that we belong to Jesus.

Ignorance. This is not to say that churches are filled with ignorant people, but that many churches are filled with people who are ignorant to the biblical approach to ministry. Smart people can display incredible amounts of ignorance. People are often ignorant to the biblical approach to ministry because in many ways it feels so counterintuitive. “So our church hires pastors not to do ministry?” Also, “Let me get this straight. We are going to pay pastors to train us to do their jobs?” But His Kingdom often feels very counterintuitive. Such is life in the upside-down Kingdom of God where the last are first, the weak are strong, and the poor in spirit inherit the Kingdom. It’s easy and comfortable to rely on pastors to “do the ministry,” especially if that has been the culture and practice in the church.

Selfishness. Yes, some resist a culture of equipping because they are selfish. Also lazy and narcissistic. For some, refusing to embrace a biblical approach to ministry is a heart issue, not a head issue—a lack of passion, not a lack of knowledge. They are likely to bemoan that “pastors have easy jobs” and lament “life in the real world.” While many pastors do not emphasize equipping the people in a church for ministry, pastors have often entered church cultures that do not value equipping. In other words, both pastors and churches bear some of the responsibility for the lack of equipping that takes place in many churches. And the effect is that no one wins.


Community and Consumerism:

The beauty of unity. A church is a community of gifted people, not merely a community of people with a gifted pastor. When people are discipled and developed, a church is more unified. Instead of watching the professionals row the boat, all people are invited and trained to row the boat together. And there is some truth to the cliché: those who row the boat don’t have time to rock it. In other words, when people are focused on serving one another, unity increases.

Equipping changes a church from a mere consumption center to a gathering of people who serve one another and the world around them. A church focused on developing God’s people to serve is a church that knows why she is on the planet, and the people are likely to sense the urgency and significance of the opportunity.

Growing into maturity. Our maturing is a lifelong process of being formed more and more into the image of God’s Son, and a church with an equipping culture intentionally moves people toward Christlikeness. As people are equipped in the Word, Christ is more fully formed in them.


God’s Calling and Leadership:

God’s gift of leadership is not for Adam’s sake and it is not for yours. It’s for God’s sake; it is for His renown. So many times we find ourselves using the platform we have been given to make ourselves more famous, powerful, or wealthy. We use the gifts He gives us to earn more applause, to increase our power, and to gain more wealth. It becomes easy for us to use people to improve our own situation. We use our leadership capacities to get people to do what we want them to do. Many times, the result is more income or more power for us. It is fleshly and natural for us to use our gifts to make much of ourselves. We lead people, and we want people to know we led them. Sadly, many don’t just want to lead greatly, but also want to be known as great leaders. But this isn’t what God intended.

The leadership God has entrusted to mankind can be placed into three primary activities: Leaders are called to reflect God’s glory. God-centered leadership is expressed by leaders who embody the character and nature of God in their own lives as much as a pardoned sinner can. Leaders are called to replicate. God-centered leadership is rightly employed when it aims to fill the whole earth with other renewed image bearers by spreading the gospel and multiplying children of God. Leaders are called to cultivate. A God-centered leader strives to cultivate an environment where others will flourish in light of the glory of God.

God does not need your leadership. Don’t get us wrong; He wants you to lead, and He wants you to lead well. But, do not mistake God’s desire as dependence on His creation. He is not dependent on us.

It is not first the work of our hands that pleases the Lord, but the condition of our hearts. We cannot go on leading or living as if our results are God’s primary concern. Our leadership results alone do not honor God. We cannot hide behind our accomplishments. The ends do not justify the means in God’s Kingdom. We cannot see our leadership as bringing God glory simply by the results our leadership produces. Why and how we lead is much more important than what we lead. As we develop leaders, likewise, we must train them that the why and how of their leadership is critically important.

Through us, God will call others to come to Jesus and be changed. As we lead, God is calling others to be born again and begin the lifelong journey of being conformed to the image of Christ. By His design, we are not called to simply be image bearers, but to replicate other image bearers! We are not called to simply be His disciples, but also to make disciples.

God has designed His people to lead. From the first recordings of history God has made it clear that He has designed creation to be led by His covenant people. More than that, He has determined what His people are to do with the leadership entrusted to them. Whether you are called to lead in the home, the marketplace, the church, or in the city, His people are called to lead others to worship Jesus Christ.

It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. — A. W. Tozer. God is intimately concerned with why, how, and to where we lead people.

Not only are church leaders called to be leaders themselves for the Kingdom, but the church must equip others to lead. If members of the body of Christ are to be faithful to this Great Commission, they must be developed to lead. Everyone called to be a disciple of Jesus is also called to make disciples of Jesus. There is no doubt that the Spirit of God can use anyone. He does not require great leaders to make faithful disciples, nor does He need great evangelists to deliver the gospel. Nonetheless, the aim of the church is to enable every member to lead others into the Kingdom, so we must work hard to train them for the task.

Charles Spurgeon put it this way: “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” The charge to our churches is to prepare the saints to be missionaries to this world, even as God calls some of them to lead in the world.

We can talk ourselves blue in the face about evangelism and mission, but if our churches don’t fundamentally believe that God’s work happens wherever God’s Spirit is present, then our ministry will always come short of leader multiplication. Our passion to send leaders out is inextricably linked to the belief that God’s power goes with them. If churches really believe that the people of God are empowered not only when they meet but also when they live scattered, then a conviction for developing leaders infects the culture of the church.

We love God, so we love His Church. We love His Church, so we want to provide her with the best leadership possible.

A belief in membership is woefully incomplete without a strong belief in the priesthood of all believers.

A necessary theological conviction for the leader-developing church is a people deeply devoted to the glory of God and dedicated to multiplication


Actual Beliefs | Articulated Beliefs | Aspirational Beliefs | Artifacts

These layers move from actual beliefs to articulated beliefs, to the expression of those beliefs (called artifacts). All three layers make up the culture in a church.

Actual beliefs are what the group collectively believes, not merely says they believe.

While not everything that is articulated is really believed, what is really believed is always articulated. If something is really valued, it is declared. Language and words help create the culture one lives in.

It is unwise simply to bring a list of “aspirational” values and attempt to reverse-engineer them into the culture. Find what actual beliefs and values are affirmable and affirm, celebrate, and reinforce them. Starve and confront the unhealthy ones, but affirm the healthy actual values and the right beliefs.

The artifacts of church culture are the visible, tangible expressions of a church’s actual and articulated beliefs. Artifacts include common behaviors, informal rules for interaction, and other customs. Artifacts also include the formal behavioral management systems like policies, organizational structures, meeting formats, and required procedures.

Artifacts reveal a church’s worldview and simultaneously shape the church to continue believing it.


Change is Hard:

Changing Church Culture Change is extremely difficult. One of the most vivid and striking examples of this painful reality is the inability of heart patients to change even when confronted with grim reality. Roughly six hundred thousand people have a heart bypass each year in the United States. These patients are told they must change. They must change their eating habits, must exercise, and quit smoking and drinking. If they do not, they will die. The case for change is so compelling that they are literally told, “Change or die.” Yet despite the clear instructions and painful reality, 90 percent of the patients do not change. Within two years of hearing such brutal facts, they remain the same. Change is that challenging for people. For the vast majority of patients, death is chosen over change.

1. Establish a sense of urgency. Leaders must create dissatisfaction with an ineffective status quo. They must help others develop a sense of angst over the brokenness around them.

2. Form a guiding coalition. Effectively leading change requires a community of people, a group aligned on mission and values and committed to the future of the organization.

3. Develop a vision and strategy. Vision attracts people and drives action. Without owning and articulating a compelling vision for the future, leaders are not leading.

4. Communicate the vision. Possessing a vision for change is not sufficient; the vision must be communicated effectively. Without great communication, a vision is a mere dream.

5. Empower others to act. Leaders seek to empower others and deploy them for action. They seek to remove obstacles that hamper action that is in line with the vision.

6. Generate short-term wins. Change theorist William Bridges stated, “Quick successes reassure the believers, convince the doubters, and confound the critics.” Leaders are wise to secure early wins to leverage momentum.

7. Consolidate improvements and produce more change. Effective change gives leaders freedom and credibility for more change.

8. Anchor new approaches in the culture. Leaders do not create a new culture in order to make changes; instead, they make changes to create a new culture.


Consumption Is Not Discipleship:

The Church was birthed in a discipleship paradigm, a culture where rabbis invested in their disciples. As the center of the Church moved from Jerusalem to Rome, the culture surrounding the center of the Church looked very different. With Jerusalem as the Church’s center, the Church was surrounded by a rabbi/disciple model. With Rome as the Church’s center, the Church was surrounded by a culture that valued professors dispensing information to students.

Consumption and discipleship are very, very different. Jesus launched the Church with discipleship, and she drifted to consumption.

Consumption is focused on the masses and for the short-term payoff. Discipleship is focused on the person for the long run, for fruit that will last. Churches will drift without a consistent and constant conviction for discipleship, to disciple people and develop leaders. We must not settle for consumption. Though much more challenging and difficult, we must insist on discipleship.

To view discipleship as distinct from leadership development is to propose that discipleship does not impact all of one’s life. If a church approaches leadership development as distinct from discipleship, the church unintentionally communicates a false dichotomy—that one’s leadership can be divorced from one’s faith.


Character Development:

Yet all the pushes for integrity and all the instructions on character development from leadership gurus won’t transform a leader’s heart. Inevitably after these authors reveal their findings that “character matters,” their challenges and their writings quickly degenerate into futile attempts to change our own hearts. We can’t change our own hearts. We can’t pep-talk ourselves into transformation. Only Jesus can transform our character. We must develop leaders who are consistently led and fed by Him before they attempt to lead and feed others.

Knowledge alone will not develop a leader. Knowledge alone results in consumption and produces fat Christians with heads filled with information but hearts hardened and hands never dirty in serving others. If knowledge equated development, our churches would be filled with developed leaders as knowledge is frequently dispensed in many churches every week.

Experiences alone will not develop a leader. Experiences apart from knowledge and coaching can actually produce ineffective and unhealthy leaders who are shaped by poor experiences and unhealthy ministry environments. Without truth applied to hearts, experiences are not wisely evaluated and interpreted.

Coaching alone will not develop a leader. Without knowledge and experiences, the coach or leader has nothing to say, nothing to apply, and no feedback to give. Coaching without knowledge and experiences isn’t really coaching.



Jesus shared knowledge with His disciples and invited them to experience life with Him, but He also applied truth to their hearts as questions and situations arose. He asked penetrating questions, responded to theirs, and took full advantage of everyday situations to develop them. His coaching was constant.

Watch (Luke 7–8). At first, Jesus invited His disciples to simply be with Him. His presence was the essence of their development. They saw His focus, His love, and His mercy and compassion toward people for ministry. They saw Jesus receive worship from a sinful woman and defend her before the religious. They observed as He mercifully drew attention to a woman who was healed from her bleeding, so that all would know she was no longer unclean. They saw Him relate to a family in the midst of grief and pain before raising their daughter from the dead.

Go (Luke 9–10). After the disciples watched Jesus serve, Jesus sent them to minister to others and proclaim the Kingdom of God. Twice in Luke 9 and 10, Jesus sent the disciples and others to minister. He gave them specific instructions on how to respond to people who were hospitable, how to respond to those who were not welcoming, and what to take for the journey.

Let’s talk (Luke 9–10). In both instances, when the disciples returned from serving and proclaiming, they shared their experiences with Him. Essentially, they debriefed.

Leadership Development Imperatives – If you and your church are going to develop leaders, you must deliver knowledge, provide experiences, and offer coaching. As people receive truth from godly leaders they trust and respect while they are in a serving posture, development is likely to occur.


Head | Heart | Hands

Head: To deliver knowledge to the minds of leaders you are seeking to develop, you must know what you believe they must know. In other words, you must have an established sphere of knowledge that you want to pass on to those you are developing. Some questions to consider are: What do leaders need to know? What competencies do they need to develop?

Heart: As we apply knowledge, we must apply knowledge to the hearts of those we are developing. Heads filled with information without hearts transformed by the grace of God is a horrific combination in the realm of leadership development. As King Saul continued ruling, surely his head was filled with more and more knowledge of how to direct people and administer his kingdom. But his heart wandered more and more from the One who ultimately made him king.

Hands: As leaders are developed in their thinking and in their affections, they must also be equipped with knowledge to serve. They must be taught how to lead, how to serve. Zeal for leading, without knowledge of how to lead is not good (Prov. 19:2). Zeal without knowledge is dangerous because we can be deeply and sincerely passionate and completely misguided.


Put Steel in the Ground. After you have designed the leadership pipeline, you must implement it among your leaders. Actually, you must continually implement. Your leadership pipeline will not serve you well if you roll it out one time and expect people to embrace it as a helpful construct.

Communicate clearly. Understanding always precedes commitment, and people will not be able to understand the leadership pipeline and their opportunities for development unless there is clarity. Placing the pipeline before leadership teams helps them see the overall plan to develop and deploy leaders.

Communicate carefully. The pipeline must be communicated carefully, however, because you don’t want to send the signal that success is progression through the pipeline. The goal of the pipeline is development, not progression.

Mark transition moments. A small group leader who moves to coaching other small group leaders must make a mental transition from shepherding people to recruiting, shepherding, and training leaders. A greeter in your church who moves into training and leading other greeters must change his or her approach. Shaking hands becomes recruiting other leaders to shake hands and ensuring people are properly scheduled.

Don’t leapfrog. Both of us have led churches that have experienced seasons of exponential growth. In those seasons the need for new leaders is so pressing that there is a constant temptation to leapfrog your own pipeline, to take people who have been competent at one level of the pipeline and thrust them into a new place of ministry that is several steps ahead. Leapfrogging your own pipeline is one sure way to ensure you get the wrong people at the table.

You won’t drift into developing leaders, but you will easily drift from developing leaders. Just as we don’t drift into a pursuit of holiness, we won’t drift into developing and deploying leaders.

Tim Keller, David Powlison, and others have thought more deeply and written more eloquently about the idolatry that plagues our hearts. They have identified four common idols beneath the surface, idols that drive sinful and destructive behavior:

  1. Control: a longing to have everything go according to my plan
  2. Approval: a longing to be accepted or desired
  3. Power: a longing for influence or recognition
  4. Comfort: a longing for pleasure These idols will strangle the conviction for leadership development in your life.

Just as Dwight L. Moody famously remarked, “Sin will keep me from the Bible, or the Bible will keep me from sin,” there is a sense that Jesus-driven conviction will keep you from these idols, or these idols will keep you from developing leaders.


Geiger, Eric. Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development, B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[print_link] [email_link]

Choosing a New Pastor

Choosing a new pastor HAS to be different than an episode of The Bachelor, and let me tell you why.

It was disturbing to recently see a handout that takes the reader through the pastor search committee process. While much was in order and took the reader through the logical and practical steps in the process, there was a disturbing and concerning section that I want to address. Perhaps just writing this is therapy for me, because once the committee begins its work, I have no influence whatsoever on how they conduct their business.

One block in the process is to “narrow the field down to 6-10 potential candidates.” Certainly this is all well and good. But the next step was to “check all references” which is not so good. I am a fan of checking references, but at the proper time. After checking references, then the field is “narrowed to 3-4 top candidates,” and then visiting and interviews take place. As I read this, all I could think about was The Bachelor TV show.

While I have only seen commercials and never the show, the premise is for a room full of women to be wooed and seduced by a handsome eligible bachelor. The process involves a series of dates, conversations, and decisions. The show is known for its famous scene of giving a rose to the ones that move forward in the process, eliminating those who don’t make the cut.

Point of clarification: the following is written in general masculine for simplicity in language. I do not want to write him/her for every pronoun used.

Doing this to a potential pastor is simply not right. Contacting references before the candidate is in serious consideration is premature. The candidate is now vulnerable to those in his current position, should they find out a search committee is considering him. Everyone in the candidate’s circles of influence begin thinking he is perhaps on his way out, asking questions, and damaging his current ministry, especially if he does not “get the rose” eliminating him from the competition.

The simple fact that he is in a “competition” is humiliating enough; imagine yourself being courted my someone. You’re interested and think this could lead to something like a life-long commitment, only to discover down the road he has been dating other people all this time and chose someone else over you. Besides, a potential pastor wants to know that God has led you to him, rather than you’re throwing the dice hoping for the best.

So, how should this pastor search be done? After all of the preliminary stuff like congregational survey and church profile, when the time comes to get to the business of looking at candidates, I suggest this process (beginning with much prayer and seeking God’s direction).

  1. Gather resumes from multiple sources: local association or state convention; recommendations from people you trust; sites like, etc. Beware of resumes that come from churches, groups, or individuals whose theology, methodology, or ecclesiology is not a good fit for our church.
  2. Copies of these confidential resumes are distributed to committee members to read and review. Messages on tape or mp3 are distributed as well.
  3. Each member picks out their top ten candidates based on the criteria for which they are seeking.
  4. In committee, everyone explains their selections to the rest of the group, and perhaps narrowing the field by pooling the candidates that many of the members have in common.
  5. Once you get to the top five choices, the committee puts these in priority order, and agree that candidate number one is the first to pursue.
  6. A visit is made to that pastor’s church to hear him preach live; no official committee contact is made. Make sure to call the church (like any guest might) to make sure the pastor is preaching that Sunday, and ask the time of the service. And don’t sit together as a group; don’t be obvious.
  7. The committee then decides if they want to contact him for an in-person interview.
  8. If all is satisfactory after the interview, then the committee requests confidential references. These reference should be called, not sent a reference form.
  9. If there are NO red flags at this point, the committee decides whether to extend and invitation for the candidate to visit the church, in private with the committee rather than publicly. The candidate and spouse visit the church and see the community to get a sense of who we are, and get a little of our history and the flavor of the church. The candidate may decide at this point to continue in the process or feel led that this is not the place.
  10. If there ARE red flags in the references or the interview, the committee may decide to move toward candidate number two. We thank candidate number one for his time and consideration but communicate that the committee decided it is not a good fit for the congregation.
  11. My recommendation is to work with one person at a time until such a time that God closes that door.

Once a candidate is unanimously selected, the committee is responsible to organize a “visit weekend,” in public, gathering with various groups within the congregation at various times for meeting, greeting, and questioning. Sunday is preaching day at the church. Then at a called business meeting, perhaps later that evening, the church would decide whether or not to extend a call that the candidate.

This is not The Bachelor, and these are solid reasons why we should employ a different method to select a new pastor.

[print_link] [email_link]

Millennials and Meetings

Every generation creates a new set of prime values to uphold and live out. The millennial generation (born 1980-2000) is now coming to adulthood and leadership. Here are three brief observations about working and meeting with millennials:

1. Don’t waste their time: Millennials value action, productivity, and efficiency above all else. With instant information and communication, the world’s problems are always in their faces. They perceive “to much to do and too little time.” Make sure you have a clear plan of action for every meeting.

2. Embrace flexibility: Google Docs, Skype, the GroupMe app, Facetime, GoToMeeting… all these help to decentralize workplaces and meeting environments. They allow for mobile presence. They have, of course, some inherent dangers, but it’s fruitless to fight the inevitable. Utilize mobile meetings.

3. Always answer the WHY: Millennials want to belong to something bigger than themselves, to be part of a movement. Tap into that desire, and they will give their lives for the cause. You will need to make an extra effort to communicate “why” you are doing something, always pointing back to the foundational example of Jesus.

[print_link] [email_link]
Written by Austin Maxheimer (Director of Groups for One Life Church, Indiana & Western Kentucky)

A Leader Worth Following?

Church and life can turn believers into consumers, spending all our resources and time on ourselves. There is frustration on how to lead people beyond traditional church. How to lead your people to be on mission? The key: LIVE IT or you have no hope to LEAD IT.

First Corinthians 4:15-16, 11:1 – Lead by example. The word guardian or tutor means NANNY, someone caring for you for the moment but is not a permanent fixture. We can pick and choose from so many teachers, blogs, pastors, podcasts, but a nanny is not a father. A father is invested into the lives of his children. We are to be real flesh and blood leaders to our people.

We cannot lead a missional community if we are not on mission ourselves. If I asked people to imitate me, perhaps they would learn how to prepare sermons and attend meetings. Quite convicting talk by Jen Hatmaker.

How to Build Trust

People will not follow you if you cannot be trusted, it is the foundation for doing ministry. Trust is the critical component for healthy and effective relationships and teams. David Horsager writes, “As trust within an organization increases, so do output, morale, productivity and loyalty” (in his book The Trust Edge).

Horsager suggest eight pillars for building (or rebuilding) trust with the people you lead. Think about how these principles transfer to the church world.

How do you rate in these trust-building qualities:

Clarity: This is straight from Simple Church, the message and process must be clear or people will not get on board. People trust leaders who provide clear communication, whether it’s vision for a new ministry or program goals.

Compassion: This is a lesson straight from Jesus himself, who had compassion people in need. It’s why everyone liked Mother Teresa, but you don’t have to be a saint to show people you care.

Character: This has been defined by Bill Hybels as, “the person you are when no one is looking.” We must do what’s right, not what’s easy. This may be a deal breaker if you don’t show your team biblical integrity. There is a reason I like this quality coming before competency; we so often emphasize competency and training for the task that we sacrifice the quality of character. Jesus invested into his disciples, not only for competency in the task, but also character. We must develop people.

Competency: Training is so important in the ministry; we want people to be successful in what they do, and sometimes just a little training will get them on the right path toward a fruitful ministry. You don’t have to be an expert is everything, but make sure you stay on top of your primary ministry focus. On the negative side, why do people so often resist training?

Contribution: People want to trust that you’ll get the job done, and get it done right. Don’t settle for less than your best. The body of Christ all working together makes “the body” of Christ, never minimize your contribution to the whole; everyone is important.

Commitment: The quickest way to build trust is to make and keep your commitments. Think about all the people you trusted to do what they said they were going to do, now think of those who fell through, failing to keep their commitments.

Connection: As John Maxwell teaches, “everyone communicates, few connect.” It’s all about relationships. Connect with those you lead, as friends, not just as workers accomplishing a task. Volunteers will walk away from a task sooner than they’ll abandon a relationship.

Consistency: It’s why we trust a restaurant franchise; we get the same food in Bangkok as in Birmingham. Leadership consistency lets people know you’re dependable.

DARING PROPOSITION: Ask your team members which of these trust-builders you demonstrate most, and which ones need improvement. Your commitment to trust-building will model this value and create a strong ministry team.

Bear Bryant’s Secret of Success

Leadership is so important. Jesus was the greatest model of leadership and Ken Blanchard has developed seminars and written books on how we can Lead Like Jesus.

I recently read about legendary football coach of Alabama’s Crimson Tide, Bear Bryant, who once said: I’m just a plowhand from Arkansas, but I have learned how to hold a team together. How to lift some men up, how to calm others down, until finally they’ve got one heartbeat together, a team. There’s just three things I’d ever say:

  • If anything goes bad, I did it.
  • If anything goes semi-good, then we did it.
  • If anything goes real good, then you did it.