"Leaders have to choose between control and innovation. You can't have both" (Tony Morgan). Boy, t
hat is so true. Leaders, we want to control everything. Even if you say you don't, you do. Sorry, you just do. Let's be real and admit it. It's not unreasonable to desire that. After all, we want to achieve certain results and we have our preconceived notions about how to accomplish them. But we need to trust our teams and be like mother wood ducks, kick them out of the nest, let them flail, and eventually fly.You see, although we may have experience in doing the very things that those we oversee are doing, in controlling the pathway to success we stifle creativity and passion in others. For centuries, the Church has been consistently behind the times, clawing to keep up with the ever changing world. That is understandable, but this only proves that what worked ten years ago will not necessarily work now. We need innovation. We need to be creative. We need to allow those we oversea to make mistakes, lots of mistakes, as they take their path to success. In fact, hundreds, yes hundreds of failures, are sometimes necessary on occasion to reach the lofty goals (that many naysayers will frankly say are impossible) that we are seeking to achieve. Take this quote by Thomas Edison, regarding his attempts to create the light bulb:
"I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."
Are you allowing your organization to be an organism? Read that again. Are you allowing your organization to be an organism? Organisms are in a state of constant change. We must be constantly changing, making ourselves better. And your past successes are no proof of your current success. Just because you've done well before does not mean you're doing well now. If you do not let the people in your organization have the freedom to screw up because of your fear that outsiders will be angry or misunderstand, you are stifling growth within your organization. Let the organization morph and change with time, with the varying skills sets of employees, and with the direction the vision is cast.
You want innovation? You want great success? You want to be an organization that is on top of things and ahead of the curve as much as possible? Try new, seemingly crazy things. As a leader, you need to identify the ideas that are "so crazy that they just...might...work." And they won't always be your ideas. That's good. If you aren't learning from the others in your organization, it's not because you are smarter than them. If you hired good people, odds are that they are smarter than you in many ways. This next paragraph might hurt your feelings, but to be honest, some of us (myself included) need it:
If you aren't learning from others in your organization, it is probably because you've created a culture where you aren't questioned, where innovation is stifled, where people have gotten lethargic and apathetic, or worse, where everyone is already looking for another job where their innovations, dreams and gifts will be used and appreciated.
As a leader, I am noticing my own proclivities toward managing versus leading. Leading equals casting a vision and empowering the best you have around you to accomplish the vision. Managing equals making sure everything happens your way, in your time, with your ideas. I have a lot of great ideas. But my ideas are not always the best for the time or for those whom I lead.
How can we effectively release our control and encourage innovation, but not let the organization run wild and uninhibited? I know some of you are thinking this, and I would love to hear your thoughts!
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Once church plant leaders have been identified based on their character and the vision they share with the sending church, the new church plant leaders must be set up for success. This means creating a culture that breeds such success and allows the leaders to flourish to their maximum potential.Individuals who rise to lead the future church plant must be aligned with a team leadership model.
There is no room for leaders who wish to engage in silo ministry work. Leaders must be committed to the team leadership model at the onset and be willing to continue to foster such an environment by dedicating the needed time and effort each week to drive the model to success on a continual basis. “We grow and mature through interaction with one another.”
The dedication of time each week may vary, and yet leaders must plan for several hours per week of team meetings and discussion forums to build trajectory and momentum in collaborative efforts.
“We must work together,” according to Rick Warren. “Our culture’s preoccupation with individualism and independence must be replaced with the biblical concepts of interdependence and mutuality.”
Authors Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson concur due to their extensive research, stating, “When team members describe those teammates who contribute most to attaining the team’s goal, the characteristic that shows up most frequently is a pattern of behavior we call ‘openness.’”
Additionally, opportunities for building team unity through shared activities such as regular outings or trips and frequent meetings with the purpose of simply bonding and sharing hearts with one another should be sought and implemented in order to build the type of perichoretic environment that breeds strong, effective leadership.
A team leadership model for a church plant must realize that it is meant to “covenant to be in fellowship together and life out the love of God.”
Such a lifestyle will breed honesty and genuine self-disclosure that facilitates an overall sense of camaraderie and shared vision. “The second teamwork factor that people see in effective team members is one we have labeled ‘supportiveness.’”
The team shares of its resources and abilities in order to best accomplish what God has for it to do. Individual passions and gifts must be wholly utilized, so far as they match up with the vision laid forth by God for the plant.
It may take a substantial amount of time, even months of drafting and redrafting, yet writing a concise covenant as a team is extraordinarily important.
In doing so, the leadership will be able to collectively craft and hone the defining relationships that each member of the team will have with one another, eliminating ambiguity and confusion when working together. “Collaboration works against competition.”
There must be a collective decision to “agree on their purposes and plans and the ways to move toward their fulfillment.”
Methodologies of ministerial work should be clearly defined for all to approve. Though sinful natures still exist and leadership struggles will arise, covenant teams understand that they are in the fight together, on the same side, unified
. If there is one person dragging others along while others feel that their voices are minimized, there will only be disunity and a stifling of enthusiasm and dedication to the vision.
Naturally such a plan for unity and vision implementation will not be foolproof. There will be times of struggle and hardship in leadership as members individually wrestle with what God is laying on their hearts and how to bring it to the team to be collectively accepted or rejected. But, as Cladis writes so well, “The dysfunction we act out in the team is very likely the same kind we learned in our families of origins. Good leadership teams allow such dysfunction, acknowledge it when it happens, forgive, and identify better ways of relating.” Most of all, the unity of the leadership must be centered in love.
The team must constantly assess and make changes as new information and direction is obtained. They must be a learning organization. “Ministry teams are innovative, constantly seeking to apply their learning in practical ways.”
Sadly, in many churches, “Change is almost always seen as negative, and stagnation is interpreted as ‘stability.’”
Leaders must fight this. They must seek to improvise, hone and completely start over in certain areas of ministry as needed, all within the context of perichoretic unity, love and community.
Although there is undoubtedly much more to cover and many other important factors in identifying and empowering leaders for new church plants, and although creating the right team leadership culture may differ depending on contexts, it is my hope that this is a strong start in the right direction. Risks abound, leaders will inevitably fail in certain ways, but fortunately God’s grace will carry those whom He chooses until the end, for He is faithful to complete the work he starts (Phil. 1:6). We must plant churches. We must spread the gospel.
I echo the strong words of Rick Warren, who writes, “The greatest churches in history are yet to be built. Are you available for that task? I pray that God will use you to fulfill his purposes in your generation. There is no greater use of your life.”
God has a long history, in fact, the entire history of civilization, to prove that “He is always utilizing fallible beings, like you and me, to accomplish miraculous and wonderful deeds.”
 John R. Cionca, Teamship: 52 Inspirational Leadings For Readers (Charleston: BookSurge Publishing, 2008), page 97.
 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church - Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2002), page 369.
 Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson, When Teams Work Best: 6,000 Team Members and Leaders Tell What It Takes to Succeed (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, Inc, 2001), page 8.
 George Cladis, Leading the Team-Based Church: How Pastors and Church Staffs Can Grow Together Into a Powerful Fellowship of Leaders (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999), page 11.
 Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson, When Teams Work Best: 6,000 Team Members and Leaders Tell What It Takes to Succeed (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, Inc, 2001), page14.
 George Cladis, Leading the Team-Based Church: How Pastors and Church Staffs Can Grow Together Into a Powerful Fellowship of Leaders (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999), page 14.
 Ibid., 11.
 Ibid., 105.
 George Cladis, Leading the Team-Based Church: How Pastors and Church Staffs Can Grow Together Into a Powerful Fellowship of Leaders (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999), page 16.
 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church - Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2002), page 77.
 Ibid., 398.
 George Barna, Today's Pastors: a Revealing Look at What Pastors Are Saying About Themselves, Their Peers, and the Pressures They Face (Ventura, Calif., U.S.A.: Regal Books, 1993), page 167.
Question: Are there other ways we can create the best culture to set up new church plant leaders to succeed?
Identifying potential church plant leaders comes down to a two-fold process: considering their character and the vision they share with the sending church. “Nothing precedes purpose.”
One of the best ways to identify the genuinely “called” within the sending congregation is to discover who shares a similar general vision as that of the sending leadership team and are gifted in the ability to embody the vision and “motivate others to dream the dreams, see the visions, and work toward the goals that have been set.”
As such, the sending leadership team must be in tune with what general direction God is leading the plant to take, and then must subsequently decipher what budding leaders share in that common vision.
The budding leaders must be eager to also contribute
to the common vision to then make it unique
and able to meet the distinctive
mission to which the plant is called as a local congregation. Church plant leadership must “act with purpose and design to fulfill God’s will as best they can discern it.”
Each church plant has a direction that God is laying out for it, burdening the hearts of its future leaders. The vision kindled in the hearts of the future leadership is distinctive and crucial, and the portion of the Kingdom work allotted to the future plant resides as embers within the budding leaders that will arise.
Being in tune with what vision arises and fanning it into flame is of high importance, for “there’s no greater cause than the Kingdom of God.”
The future leaders of the plant must also share common vision regarding the particulars of how
ministry is to be carried out. A shared understanding and vision for what methods and practices to utilize is essential.
Though it is relatively easy to find willing people who agree with the theory behind why the church should do ministry, more important is finding those who agree on how it should be done. Even the most skilled and experienced leaders will cause rifts in unity and decreased effectiveness in ministry if divisiveness due to disagreement on basic ministerial methodologies arises. Choosing leaders to plant a church who do not agree with the collective vision and directional trajectory of the plant will only add to the birthing pains and difficulties inherently present when starting a new church. Worse, such a decision may even lead to the failure of the plant due to instability, disunity and dissention among core leadership. Church planting is challenging, and clarity as to the exact, unique call of the new plant is essential or it may flounder and fail. As Cladis pointedly explains, “Churches are not everything to everyone in practice. Why not be clear about what it is we do well as a congregation, or feel called to do well, and celebrate that and let another congregation pick up where we leave off?” Once identified and established, the church plant ministry team must begin its ministry by engaging in constant meditation and prayer with God, both individually and corporately, regarding the planting of the new church.
“Visionary teams are prayerful teams because they know that they can overcome the obstacles in their path only through the power of the Spirit who is guiding and directing them."
Such prayerful practices focus the eyes of the leaders on the source of their strength, wisdom and direction, an essential characteristic of successful Christian life in general and no less essential within the context of church planting.  Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church - Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2002), page 81.
 Bob R. Agee, “Servant Leadership as an Effective Approach to Leadership in the Church,” Southwestern Journal of Theology 43, no. 3 (2001): 12
 George Cladis, Leading the Team-Based Church: How Pastors and Church Staffs Can Grow Together Into a Powerful Fellowship of Leaders (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999), page 12.
 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church - Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2002), page 391.
 George Cladis, Leading the Team-Based Church: How Pastors and Church Staffs Can Grow Together Into a Powerful Fellowship of Leaders (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999), page 63.
 Ibid., 12.
Question: Is it more effective to find leaders within one's own congregation or hire a church planting pastor from elsewhere who has experience already?
********SNEAK PEAK: Next Post - Creating the Culture to Enable Church Plant Leaders to Succeed
When identifying potential church plant leaders to commission and send out to build a new church, several factors must be analyzed.
One of the greatest evidences of potential leadership is flourishing spiritual gifts
within the lives of potential candidates within their current church contexts. Spiritual gifts must be identified and analyzed to determine how potential candidates will best apply their gifts and fit into the structure of the team-based model of leadership in the future church plant (1 Cor. 12:4-8).
Education and experience are certainly important considerations, but the innate godly character, spiritual gifts and passions
within the candidates serves as a greater proof of potential success than degrees alone. Developing leaders is “directly tied to the uniqueness of the aspiring leader himself and the context or times in which he is leading.”
Depending on the church plant, it is unnecessary to prioritize degrees or length of tenure at other ministry positions. Rather, examining the context and historical time of the church plant will provide powerful direction and insight as to who would be best equipped
to head ministries in that unique environment. “Leadership in the church is often lumped into this understanding: it becomes a question of how much the leader knows and what the leader has done, rather than who the leader is.”
Yet, this is a flawed and unfortunate reality in churches today. James Bartz states, “Our patterns for selecting and forming leadership have, with the best of intentions, fallen into a ‘one-size-fits-all’ pattern. Yet this pattern is not the one demonstrated in the Scriptures.”
Scripture attests that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7).
Thus, the best leaders to utilize within a church plant context will be chosen due to their ability to flourish in the context of the location and timeframe of the plant. In short, leaders are meant to simply “be themselves” in the right contexts.
They clearly understand “their own unique selves, being centered in their God-given identity” and are both “unique and authentic.”
“Effective leadership flows from within and leaders lead out of who they are and not by technique”, thus marking the “beginning place for defining the effective servant leader.”
The sending church clearly desires to empower and send out equipped leaders to continue to plant more churches and multiply. Churches are to embody Christ in servant leadership, and such servant leadership begets itself. God “expects every Christian to use his or her gifts and talents in ministry.”
This expectation is assisted in becoming an actuality as their leaders pave their way through example. “Servant leaders exercise mission by the example of their life in Christ; and power, coupled with humility, begets more servant leaders. Love multiplies, feeds upon itself, and is contagious.”
The servant leadership of the new church plant, by the grace and power of the Spirit, must breed a congregation with similar servant hearts. Ultimately, leaders are “not to be thanked because [they are people who] people liked or loved but because [the leaders] made God real to them.”
The sending church must identify those who are gifted to make such an end a reality.
Potential planting candidates must also have a clear attitude of humility
and a strong understanding of their powerlessness and inability to accomplish anything without the empowerment of the Spirit. As Jennifer Strawbridge notes, “It is all too easy while carrying out God’s mission in the world and witnessing the transforming impact of the gospel to believe that this power belongs to the leader.”
Candidates should understand the origin of their unique gifts that God has given them and be able to flourish in using them effectively. Yet, this confidence in God’s ability to use them well must be matched with a humble understanding that such gifts are meant to work in conjunction with those that God has graciously bestowed upon the others in the team (Rom. 12:3-6). No one person has all the gifts, nor does one person possess gifts which are of higher importance in the Kingdom of God. Further, individuals must be identified that truly give up themselves for others, viewing others as more important than themselves (Phil. 2:3-4). Such selfless living is outward evidence of the internal character and humility that is a necessity for church leadership.
Selecting individuals who have a record of trustworthiness is crucial. In order for the future team to be unified even in the inevitable disagreements all leaders must inherently trust the others on the team at the deepest, most basic level. In short, the leadership team must begin as a “trust environment” where all are free to speak candidly in love without fear of negative repercussions. This environment does not come automatically or easily but may be initially “jump-started” by wisely identifying the individuals that God is leading to be on the team who have the background of being trustworthy people. Candidates for leadership in a future church plant view must conflict as opportunity to grow in leadership skill, sanctification and overall church development.
Though this is itself a growth process, such growth will only be accelerated by selecting those who exhibit such characteristics from the outset. In this process it is important to examine how open potential leaders handle conflict in other areas of life with team aspects such as marriage relationships, current jobs and other team environments. A church planter with little or no experience in handling conflict well in areas outside of church team leadership is not equipped to properly lead a new church into the stresses of planting and beginning as a new entity.
Regarding conflict, not only must potential leaders welcome it, but they must welcome the very thing that can cause conflict many times in leadership: criticism. Criticism, like conflict, is uncomfortable for many, though essential for all to grow in leadership skill, sanctification and overall church development.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17). The natural friction that occurs as iron sharpens against iron causes sparks and heat, and such friction, sparks and heat within leadership are natural and necessary. Potential leaders, who can accept criticism, make appropriate changes, and move forward in effective ministry are welcome additions to any team.
Qualified and called church planting candidates are willing to let others make mistakes, knowing that they make many as well, and are happy to encourage others onward in their individual relationships with God and in their portions of leading the budding church plant. Viewing failures as opportunities to grow rather than as character deficits or inherent inadequacies within the person held responsible will empower and motivate him or her onward rather than deflating the individual. As George Cladis states, “Our goal is not to be perfect, but authentic.”
Imperfect but authentic leaders understand that, “A reality of life is that leaders don’t hit the mark every time.”  English Standard Version Bible, to be used in this and all future citations
 James P. Bartz, “Leadership from the Inside Out,” Anglican Theological Review 91, no. 1 (2009): 82
 Jennifer Strawbridge, “The Word of the Cross,” Anglican Theological Review 91, no. 1 (2009): 78
 James P. Bartz, “Leadership from the Inside Out,” Anglican Theological Review 91, no. 1 (2009): 83
 Ibid., 87.
 Bob R. Agee, “Servant Leadership as an Effective Approach to Leadership in the Church,” Southwestern Journal of Theology 43, no. 3 (2001): 9
 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church - Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2002), page 365.
 Jennifer Strawbridge, “The Word of the Cross,” Anglican Theological Review 91, no. 1 (2009): 76
 Ibid., 65.
 George Cladis, Leading the Team-Based Church: How Pastors and Church Staffs Can Grow Together Into a Powerful Fellowship of Leaders (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999), page 122.
 John R. Cionca, Teamship: 52 Inspirational Leadings For Readers (Charleston: BookSurge Publishing, 2008), page 88.
Question: Are there other strengths of character that we should consider? Thoughts are appreciated!
********SNEAK PEAK: NEXT POST - IDENTIFYING POTENTIAL CHURCH PLANT LEADERS BASED ON SHARED VISION.
I have been doing some thinking about church plants recently. Practically every day I dream about one day planting a church and suffering through and conquering the inherent struggles along the way. I dream about struggling to pay the bills, having to give up eating the food I like because I can't afford it, spending agonizing hours in prayer before God because we realize our great need for His provision, wondering where all the people are who we thought would show up, etc. I would never have ever guessed that this would be a preoccupying thought in my mind. Not a chance. But it is. And I can't shake it. That being said, I have some thoughts about how leadership structure would take place. Whenever you start a church from scratch you have the opportunity to do things right and not following popular opinion or pressure from the majority, which, regarding church leadership, is many times off base in churches today.
Decentralized leadership is a term for a leadership style that clearly decides to avoid a top-heavy leadership structure within a church. Rather than a high-church mentality of a select one or two keepers of wisdom and knowledge making all the decisions (centralized leadership), decentralized leadership works in teams, collaborating and maximizing individual goals to form a strong team leadership system.
From a biblical-theological perspective of decentralized leadership and a recognition of the importance of individual leaders, my vision is that our team would structure our church plant with a “leader-of-teams” approach. As God has clearly appointed leaders who lead through teams throughout biblical history, who were dedicated to and equipped for leadership and vision-casting in ministerial venues, I find that there remains a need to have a primary vision-caster and direction-setter who facilitates the general movement toward the group goals. Hence, as we structure a new, infant church plant, the organizational structure and ethos that will carry the team must be that of collaborative leadership which upholds and encourages the individual strengths of each team member while enabling the primary vision-caster and direction-setter to visualize necessary trajectories for processes along the way. A high level of genuine and open communication is essential, and the team must have a fostered proclivity toward honesty and mutual encouragement which allows the highest level of decision-making power and achievement of goals. Such qualities are non-negotiable and the necessary foundation of unified, collaborative leadership which, though hierarchy may remain, leadership structure remains functionally flat and open for negotiating the path toward accomplishment and flourishing in its unique calling.
Once the team leaders are identified and empowered, the outpouring of their efforts in the various ministries will be left for them to individually oversee and subsequently empower, while remaining accountable to both the leadership team, and, if applicable, their individual point-person of personal accountability. This will inhibit silo ministries while allowing individual leaders to remain empowered and equipped to tackle their particular goals with maximum effectiveness.
Thought-provoker: How have you seen church leadership succeed or fail at leading as a team?