This message was preached at the RegionsBeyond India Leadership conference 2016.
This message was preached by Gary W who leades Urban Voice.
For the audio please click here
1. All teams need a leader. There are no specific scripture references. It is more through implication of how teams work. Sometimes when we have just one leader, it’s better than having a bad team.
2. People who chose to be in this team need to be servants. The people need to understand that we are there to serve the church. We serve the church because we are serving God. We serve with our leadership.
This is upside down kingdom. Churches are not there to serve us. The team isn’t there to serve the senior guy. The senior guy is the bottom not the top. Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Remember that he doesn’t discriminate between those who were going to leave him, betray him etc. He washed all their feet. He defines leadership with a bowl and towel.
James and John’s mum comes to Jesus and asks him to make her sons sit at the right hand of God. The kind of people we choose need to be servants. Not those who want to be up front. Giving people positions too quickly is not helping them. They need to know how to lead well by serving. Who are the guys who are serving? Look out for them.
3. We need to pray – ask God to help us in recognising those who are called for leadership. Paul and Barnabus were sent out in the context of prayer and fasting.
4. Elder’s wives: as we gather a team wider than elders, it isn’t necessary for every elder’s wife to be in the team. Some should be there because they are gifted, God has called them, they have a leadership gift of their own, etc. But that isn’t a given for every wife who happens to be married to be an elder or who wants to be there.
We need to avoid two extremes- that since you are an elder’s wife, you have to be there. The other extreme is not involving them because of the questions surrounding it. We have to move between these two extremes. Ask the same questions as you would ask anyone else in the team.
There are male elders in the New Testament if we read it properly. Our churches are lead not just by elders, but also other people. In the letter to the Hebrews, it says obey your leaders, not elders. Paul also writes to overseers, not the elders. The notion of leadership of New Testament churches is broader than we thought. In Romans 16, Paul gives greetings to all. The obvious office is deacons. It’s difficult to see this with all the background we have.
5. Being deeply relational must be grounded. At Urban Voice- people say, we are very friendly. Being friendly to me is not the same as being my friend. People on the reception can be friendly to me, but they are not my friends. We are not lying when we’re friendly, we are warm and welcoming. But it doesn’t have what friendship has. It might be the beginning of friendship, but not the end. It has to be grounded in friendship. I genuinely don’t have the capacity to be deeply relational with all of you. But in the context of a team, we do have a capacity for that. This is beyond being polite.
Q. Would I spend time with these people if we’re not working. Do they share your dining table with you?
If the answer is no, you’re not friends.
6. Conflict: it’s inevitable in a team, because we have different personalities, and we are moving towards character changes. These could be differences of opinions etc. Knowing about ourselves is good, but recognising that neither of the responses (to fight it out or to back off) are right, is important. It’s not a helpful reaction to conflict. With mutual respect, it’s possible to navigate conflicts well.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Sometimes, the ones with whom we are deeply relational wound us. But we are building. Don’t be scared of conflict.
7. Accountability- when we get some things wrong, the answer is not to not do them, but to do them properly. Some people misuse this. But we do need to make one another accountable. Nathan had to go to David, Paul had to challenge peter. In the context of a team, it’s all aspects of our lives.
Sometimes when someone has a big gift, we are afraid to say something when they have obvious things that need to be challenged. This is a voluntary act. You give permission for people to speak into your life.
8. Submission: Richard foster defines it as laying down the burden of always getting your own way. If we take that attitude into team meetings, planning context. Many of us have what we have. We invest in the meetings, and when we get challenged, it feels like some sort of a personal attack. We need to humbly present what we have. There is not only one way to do the things we are called to do.
9. People need to have tasks- the particular activity they are responsible. Know what’s expected of them. What am I responsible to the team for?
10. Expectations- there might be some personal expectations of what you are called to do. If you have some prophetic words, it’s helpful for the team to be aware of what you’re believing God for.
It is good to discuss your expectations for the future. You don’t want to know that someone is leaving after booking their tickets. You give them a heads up on what God is saying to you. But not to say that this is what God is saying- I know some of you don’t think it’s a good idea, but I’m going anyway.
Trust a team that when you share it with them, to pray and to think, that they will come to the same conclusion- assuming that they are speaking to the same God.
11. We must reproduce: part of how the team functions together- is always bringing guys in as a training opportunity. Otherwise they’ll never learn. Then all we’ll learn from one pastor, to a few pastors, to a wider leadership and people who still can’t get in.
Q and A session:
Q. How do we raise elders, what is the process?
A. There is always a lead elder, a team captain etc. In Newfrontiers, I have always been in a plurality of leaders. But there was always a leader of the leaders. There is some leadership there. It’s a wider team than just the elders.
Depending on where you are, you determine the process how to get there. We want to lead this team with more than just one leader. A church lead by a good leader is better than a church lead by a bad team. In our context, they are lead by one pastor. The process will be like this-
· He (the pastor)’s got to be convinced that he has to change. The worst step to take is to do something you are convinced to do.
· Start teaching it to the church. It can be hard to admit that we have been doing something wrong for so many years. That I’ve changed the way I think about leadership takes some courage and humility.
· Start meeting with people, etc.
Start in these particular places. The goal is not a time goal. We might think it’s a good thing, but it’s not helpful in every single church we are in. We would like to see the process begin as soon as possible. There needs to be a wider accountability.
Q. What is the difference in the role of a senior pastor and the other elders or leaders?
Don’t think a lead elder is:
· The guy who makes all the decisions and comes to team meetings with everything figured for what everyone must do. He’s not the final vote.
· All authority in all aspects the church is run. Team members have responsibilities where she also has authority to do what they have to do. We don’t bring every decision back to the team.
Lead elder will positively:
· Cast vision and will remind where we are heading.
· Do most of the preaching in the church.
· Through the preaching the lead elder will influence the whole of the church and move the church forward.
Q. Is the lead elder or Pastor responsible for all the decisions?
He’s not. Elders are responsible before God for their own eldership. Elders do have a responsibility that other leaders don’t have.
Q. How do you balance maturity on a leadership team?
There is leadership wisdom. But it’s unhelpful to say that you listen to me. There has to be succession. Churches are going to grow. If we are going to make this work, then our aim is to make the younger guy the lead elder and older ones supporting them.
Q. How do we deal with elders’ wives in our cultural context?
We have gifted women with great characters, strange personalities who should be involved in shaping the church. In different cultures, we are getting there. Because it’s a process, we have to go with it and not trip it up. We don’t have enough role models of gifted women and the sooner we get there it’s better for our women to get through.
Indian culture is changing a lot. Indian women are changing in their values as well. There is a lot of change happening in your culture and you need to be aware of this within men-women relationships, authority relationships. We can’t keep tossing the culture card to not do certain things. There are good things in your culture that are helpful for the gospel and some awful things that need changing. Recognise the difference between the two.
Q. How do we function in areas where we do not have the gifting and there is no one who is rising up to it?
Gifts – if you are not enjoying what you are doing you maybe need to stop to need help. Sometimes the call of God you need to do it. How do you marry the two?
I think if God calls you to something he changes your heart to like it. Sometimes we do have things we just have to do. There is no one specially gifted to put out chairs, but you just do it.