Breaking Leadership Barriers

joelIn chapter one of Leadership Explosion I talk about the barriers to preparing leaders for the battle. One of those barriers is “Christian Education.” The following three paragraphs come from Leadership Explosion (pp. 24-25). breaking barriers

The Christian education in many churches is simply not conducive for mobilizing lay leadership. The goal of the training is unclear and the training process is even fuzzier. Everyone is encouraged to enter the classes, but few know what they are being trained to do. The hope is that leaders will develop by themselves. This barrier is often imperceptible. “After all,” many pastors muse, “I have many leaders in my church.” Yet when you examine more closely, you’ll discover self-made leaders who were often developed outside the church.

The phrase “general education” characterizes the training in most churches. The goal is often to prepare a person to live the Christian life, rather than to lead a group of a people. I’m in no way criticizing general education. My love for learning propelled me to acquire a Ph.D. Lifetime learning, in fact, is a highly valued leadership trait. Churches, however, are uniquely positioned to help exercise the muscles of the lifetime learners and to transfer head knowledge to the feet. Effective leaders come down from the lofty tower and succeed in the trenches, where the battle for souls is won or lost.

Yet, even when a person does feel prepared, often there’s a lack of available openings for service. For these reasons and others, a few key people do all the work. Researchers have repeatedly discovered that in most churches, 10% of the people do 90% of the work.

There are a lot of worthy educational courses out there. Yet, we must go beyond mere knowledge. We need to move people to the point where they can do something with that knowledge in a practial setting. Cell group ministry provides a great atmosphere for a person to pastor, serve, evangelize, and minister.



Passing the Baton

by Steve Cordle

“Passing the baton” is often  used as a metaphor for developing leaders. While the image might have limitations, it does communicate two ideas which are vital to development of new leaders: proximity and hand-off. So here are a few questions which can prompt our thinking about how we are developing leaders.

1. Who am I regularly spending time with in order to intentionally build into their lives?

         We can’t pass the baton until we are next to our teammate. We develop new leaders best from close up. Have some fun, hang out, serve together.

2. How am I sharing my connection with God with the person I am mentoring?

           This is foundational to disciple-making. The disciples watched Jesus pray.  Wayne Cordeiro does devtions with those he develops. how do you do it?

 3. How am I sharing my vision?

           The passion for reaching a lost world is best stoked by another flame. I still remember the fist-pumping joy my college roomates showed then they led someone to Christ. It helped instill that passion for the lost in me.

            You can also share the vision you have for the emerging leader. The guy from my group which I am currently discipling one-on-one asked me “Why did you pick me to do this?” I told him it was because I was confident he would in turn disciple someone himself. He took that to heart and has already started discipling another guy from our group.

You probably have your own questions – maybe you can share them with us!


Leadership Eyes

joelI appreciated the responses to Monday’s post about leadership development. Adrian Barker commented that he has yet to be in a church/cell setting that effectively developed leaders. In the third paragraph below I mention the example of Peter, who had a similar experience.LEADERS All three paragraphs come from the first chapter of Leadership Explosion.

I believe in church growth. My core church philosophy centers on church growth theory, and I believe that God wants His church to grow in both quality and quantity. If the major focus, however, is how many people attend on Sunday morning, a leadership void can occur.

When a church primarily focuses on Sunday morning, the people feel like they’ve fulfilled their purpose by showing-up on Sunday. The goal is Sunday attendance and members hear this in many subtle ways. A church, without knowing it, can produce a grand multitude that keeps shifting as people shuffle in and out. The back door is often as large as the front door and in the meantime, few leaders are developed.

Peter is a perfect example of this malady. He came to our church after many years in a denominational church that emphasized the Sunday morning service. God had miraculously saved Peter from a life of wild living, but the church found little use for him. When he came to us, we immediately saw his potential. We asked him to enter the training track to eventually become a cell leader. In the meantime, one of our youth cell leaders began leading a group in Peter’s home. We didn’t view Peter as an attendee in our church. Instead, we saw him as a potential leader in the harvest and even a future leader of leaders.


The potential harvest workers are sitting right in front of us. They are sitting in our cell groups and seated in our pews. We need to ask God to give us leadership eyes in order to see their potential. As Rob mentioned in his post yesterday, we need to “scan the ditches.”




Scan the Ditches

Yesterday, Joel wrote about how the future leadership of your cell/church is in the harvest.  He quoted Matthew 9:36:  “He [Christ] felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help.”

Do you remember the story of Christ that involves a Jewish priest, a Levite, and a “despised Samaritan?”  Most of us know this story we call “The Good Samaritan.”  Of course, you know in Jesus’ day and time, you couldn’t find a Jew that would come close to believing that one could ever find a “GOOD Samaritan.”  Jews despised Samaritans.  They saw them as half-breeds, ethnic traitors, and bad guys.  Socially, a Jewish person would not dare touch a drinking vessel of a Samaritan person.  Mmmm?  Check out John 5– woman at the well.  I digress.

One characteristic trait that the Samaritan had (in contrast to the Jewish priest and the Levite) was pity.  His pity for the Jewish man (who was attacked by bandits, stripped of his garments, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road) serves as a pathway for sacrificial action.  This Samaritan rescues the Jewish man.  Let’s see now.  A Samaritan caring for a half dead Jewish man?  Did I get that right? 

The story of Christ is presented by Christ to answer the following question asked by a Jewish lawyer:  “Who is my neighbor?”   After telling the story, Christ asks this Jewish lawyer, “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?”  The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”  The Jewish lawyer couldn’t answer the question by saying, “the Samaritan.”  He simply couldn’t bring himself to that despicable level of saying those words.

Therefore, Christ responds:  “Yes, now go and do the same.”

A further difference between the Jewish priest and the Levite in contrast to the Samaritan is that the Samaritan not only saw the road, but the ditches as well.  He didn’t pretend that he had not seen what he saw.  The goal of reaching Jericho was not more important than a deed of mercy.

Today, keep your eyes on the road… and scan the ditches as well.


by Rob Campbell



Harvest Workers

joelIn the next few blogs I’d like to take selected quotes from my book Leadership Explosion. The following four paragraphs comes from the introduction:

So often we see the multitude but don’t contemplate their awful state. Jesus did more than analyze the condition of the lost. He had compassion on them because “. . . they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt. 9: 36). Yet, this compassion stirred Christ to exhort his followers to, “. . . Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Mt. 9:36-38). We can’t reap the harvest alone. We need help. This book is about raising up leadership to reap the harvest.

I’ve researched small groups around the world. Here’s what I’ve discovered: Small groups are not the answer. In fact, there is a danger in thinking that small groups are the answer. Small groups come and go; they rise and falter over time. Unless small group members are converted into small group leaders, little long-term fruit remains.

Churches do not reap the harvest because they have small groups. They reap the harvest because they have harvest workers. Churches that have no plan to develop people have by default planned to lose the harvest.

“The growth of the cell movement is based on raising up leaders from within. The highest priority of the cell leader is to identify prospective interns and begin the mentoring process.” With this quote, Gwynn Lewis pinpoints the purpose of this book. Cell leaders are not primarily called to form and sustain cell groups; their primary job is to find, train, and release new leadership. Jim Egli expands on this same point: “The cell model is not a small-group strategy; it is a leadership strategy. The focus is not to start home groups but to equip an expanding number of caring leaders. If you succeed at this, your church will flourish.”

I agree with the above comments today just as much as I did when I wrote them seven years ago. I’ve learned that raising up harvest workers in the WEST is more difficult than in the majority world, but the same principles hold true anywhere in the world. Jesus is looking for harvest workers and cells provide the best atmosphere for leaders to develop and spread their wings.