Archives for : Empowering Others

Shared Leadership



What is the primary role of the lead pastor? Unrealistic expectations by many congregations can lead to much misunderstanding and great disappointment. There are misconceptions on both sides of the issue. The congregation may feel that the pastor is there to care for their every need and serve the congregation. The pastor believes he is there to primarily preach the word and pray. When there is such a great disparity of perspective you can almost guarantee an eventual confrontation, congregational uprising, or a pastor becoming discouraged and leaving a church way too early.

People need to be cared for, but who has that role as their primary responsibility? The pastor is to deliver the word of God correctly and be a man of prayer – but is that his primary assignment? Is it wisdom for the pastor to announce to the membership that he is there to “serve” them? Has your church clearly defined the role and expectations of the pastor and membership according to the scriptures? Every member of a local church is to serve and to be a minister. While the importance of preaching can never be overstated, discipleship and leadership development is even more important.

The worship service is important but it is not the end in itself. It is the first step in the process. Yes, Jesus preached, but you see Him pouring into the disciples as He leads them through a “come and see” to a “come and be with me” process. The majority of His time (at least 20-24 months) was spent giving the twelve specialized training preparing them to carry on the ministry without Him. Jesus was focused on leadership development and He valued shared leadership by modeling how to reproduce not just followers, but also leaders.

Allow me to suggest that the primary role of the lead pastor is to train leaders to do the work of the ministry. Ephesians 4:11-12 makes it clear, “And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of the ministry, to build up the body of Christ.” Bill Hull stresses the importance of this passage by saying, “The pastor, singular, implies that one person is equipped to meet the needs of the entire flock. This simply is not true.” We must believe and practice the priesthood of every believer.

The pastor needs to see his primary role as preparing people for works of service. One example would be pastoral care. We see in Acts 6 that the people were not happy that some of their needs were not being cared for properly. The solution was not for the leaders to work harder or put in more hours. The answer was to get help from others who could help minister to the needs. It is not the responsibility of the pastor to care for everyone but it is his responsibility to make sure everyone is cared for. The real leadership task is to get the body functioning correctly through training.

The lead pastor must focus his effort and attention to intentionally being committed to reproduction of mature fully functioning followers of Jesus. Your top priority is not preacher but, rather, to be a teacher, trainer, and equipper of more leaders. The only way for any church to experience the multiplication of ministry, as it was meant to be, is through the preparation and participation of every member.

In The Disciple Making Pastor, Bill Hull says, “In the Ephesians (4) text Paul uses katartizo as the primary task of the leadership to bring about corporate maturity. This text presents the only methodology that guarantees corporate maturity. The prescribed means to maturity is the lead pastor’s dedication to preparation of people for deployment into ministry. To ignore this is tantamount to disobedience.” The passage develops this process: prepare God’s people, the preparation and proper training will build them up, and that is how the body will grow up and be mature.

He also says this about Ephesians 4, “Instead of pouring energy into the clear formula for effectiveness, the church has chosen to worship this text rather than obey it…..If applied, this text’s principles unlock the key to corporate maturity, effective evangelism, and a self-perpetuating growth.” Ephesians 4:16 makes this clear, “From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.” Pastors must mobilize the congregation toward this goal.

What is meant by “shared” leadership?

  1. The biblical description of pastor does not mean that he is to do all of the work of the ministry.
  2. Every member needs to work and be involved in ministry. Notice in Ephesians 4:16 that it says, “every supporting ligament” and “the proper working of each individual part.”
  3. Preaching is important but you must also be focused on developing leaders who develop other leaders.
  4. To properly pastor any church it will require the combined gifts, wisdom, and faith of a team of godly leaders and team members.
  5. Bill Hull reminds us that, “No one person has the time, energy, or gifts to pastor a church and do it right.”
  6. If you want more out of our team then you must put more into your team. This will require an intentional plan to develop leaders.  Always be looking for those who want to go deeper and desire to do more.
  7. Don’t be guilty of understanding Ephesians 4, agreeing with its truth, but not carrying out and following through on its teachings. The truth is that the work of the ministry is to be done through shared leadership and responsibilities.

Healthy churches teach that every member is a minister and trains every member to do the work of the ministry!

Who Are Your Must Become Greaters?

He is Greater

   The question is simple but profound, “Why do you do what you do?” or “What keeps you going and what are you passionate about?”  Passion can be determined by watching what brings tears to a person’s eyes or what they pound the table about when discussing it.  Passion is what keeps you doing what you do even when you want to quit or you just don’t want to do it anymore.  It is the fire in your belly that stirs you and motivates you to press forward.  The prophet Jeremiah said this, “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.”

     John the Baptist was passionate about repentence in following God and also paving the way for the Messiah.  He said this, “I must decrease and He must increase!”  He was saying that Christ must become greater but then Jesus said in John 14:12, “Most assuredly, I say unto you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father.”  Remember, Jesus invested in a few so that He could reach many through them.  Who are you investing in and preparing to accomplish even greater things than you ever will?

     Recently a friend of mine asked, “Who are your ‘Must become greaters?”  The more you empower, equip, and release other leaders the greater the advancement of the gospel.  Who is it in your sphere that you are championing to be a “must become greater?”  Moses was the great deliverer but it was Joshua and Caleb that took them into Canaan.  Elijah was a great prophet but Elisha witnessed twice the miracles his teacher did.  Jonathan was a great friend who helped David but it was David who became king.  Barnabas was Saul’s mentor but it was Paul who was the great missionary of the New Testament church.

     First, you must decrease!  We must become less so that they can become more, greater.  That is the secret and the key to raising up some “must become greaters!”  Far too often the temptation is to not release those we have mentored and try to control them instead of creating a culture of reproducing leaders who are sent out from us on mission for God.  They may do a far better job than us and our prayer and hope should be that they do so.  That brings up another problem.  Something is desperately wrong when we cannot rejoice when those we have trained and mentored accomplish far more than we have. 

     In John 3 John the Baptist gave us a paradox, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  A paradox is something that is made up of two opposite things and seems impossible but is actually true.  The Bible is full of paradoxes that reveal an upside down approach to life and leadership.  The last shall be first and the first shall be last.  If you find your life you will lose it and if you lose your life you find it.  It is better to give than receive and God loves a cheerful giver.  When you are weak, then you are strong.  Maybe the greatest paradox to our human minds is, “To live is Christ and to die is gain!”  We must die to self!

     Second, others must increase!  God can take nobodies, and in a kingdom sense, make them somebodies!  Who is it that God wants you to focus on who are the “must become greaters?”  For this to become a reality there must be an even greater commitment to a higher level of discipleship.  There must be a greater investment of time and intentionality where you pour your life into others.  You goal is that they will do even greater things than you ever could and you will rejoice in knowing that their increase has happened because you had a vision and a heart for the “must become greaters!” 

     Remeber, God hates the proud and gives grace to the humble.  Our eyes must be focused on others and raising up the next generation who will raise up the next generation.  God has called us to look for and invest in the “must become greaters” by equipping them, empowering them, and relasing them for the work of the ministry.  The secret is exactly what John the Baptist said, “I must become less!”  Jesus said this about him in Matt. 11:11, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not been one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

     Always be looking for the “Must become greaters!”