I wasn't always a fan of the multisite church model. In fact, there was a time I was pretty caustic towards it! So, what changed? Take a look at the previous post in this series to catch up a bit before jumping in with this one.
Leadership was a topic that I had given very little thought to in my life. I think part of that was ignorance and part was arrogance; I had always been a leader in things like school projects and to think that there was even an option of being a good leader or a bad leader wasn't ever something that crossed my mind. For me, it was very black and white: either you lead or don't.
One staff retreat I went on early into my job, I was baffled by all the leadership talk. I thought it was fluff and unspiritual. One staff member was musing out loud what kind of leader Joshua would have had to be in order to mobilize the nation of Israel to cross into the Promised Land.
Never having led anything of any significant size, (and therefore, obviously an expert on such matters), I piped up that this was a silly discussion; if God tells you to lead people into the land, you just did it. No planning about how to do it. You just acted on it. My response really highlighted my inexperience in leadership. From that day forward, I began a pretty steep learning curve about what it meant to lead people - either 3, 30, 100 or more of them.
I realized that leadership development was ultra important for leading anything from an 'organic church' to a mega church and everything in-between!
Keep reading to see how I handled this leadership journey
My first leadership experience came in children's ministry where leading 60+ volunteers required me to articulate the vision, inspire the team members, figure out how to add volunteers, how to move forward with the mission of the church (to make disciples) in my context. The sheer number of people caused me to learn faster than if I were only working with 5 volunteers, but through the process, I learned that Leadership is scalable - and even the smallest ministries need good leadership.
For me, I could no longer look down my nose at all those "big churches" with their strategic leadership: I could hardly lead the team I had now, and I lacked the skills at the time to even lead a house church well.
If leadership, structures and systems weren't sinful in themselves (the smallest ministries need them), then big did not equal bad. If something were sinful, it was the people and not the size.
The Stafford from 6 years ago would have been very quick to point out the sinfulness of other people and of the multisite movement. While I would have identified what I thought was someone else's ego trip, I would be ignorant to the fact that I was jealous that I wasn't experiencing the same kind of growth and success that they had. It was easier to bash their model than to concede that perhaps they were being blessed by God in ministry.
I was more concerned with condemning the methodology of others, that I was missing out on the call that Jesus had for me to give things up and follow him on my own path. I found (and find) myself more and more like Peter, who after being asked to follow Jesus, looked at other pastors and asking "Lord, what about him?" (John 21:21) Jesus' response stung Peter and often stings me, "If I want him to remain alive [and run a multisite church] until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me."
I had to lay down my axe I was grinding [on church models] and focus on following Jesus. During these past 4 years, I had to practice what Peter wrote to other young leaders, knowing that eventually, Jesus would be leading me to a place where he wanted me to be:
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on hime because he cares for you.
My Journey Continues...
I am a pastor in rural Manitoba that is passionate about the church, leadership, coffee and bicycles.