Concluding the 2 FIEC addresses:
The other thing that is crucial for capacity is team life. It is even more important if you are thinking of leading a church where you will be the sole pastor.
New Testament leadership is always plural leadership. There may be seniors and juniors, but there is always a team. Right at the end of his life, at the end of 2 Timothy, the thing that is most on Paul’s mind is his fellow workers and partners in the gospel. Those who are still going on: Timothy, Luke, Mark, Tychicus, Carpus, Priscliia and Aquilla, Onesiphorus, Erastus, Trophimus, Eubulus, Pudens, Linus and Claudia. And sadly those who hadn’t: Demas, Crescens, maybe even Titus.
Paul took the gospel beyond the frontiers with his friends. Terry Virgo is reputed to have once been asked “what is New Frontiers?”. The story goes that he replied “me and my friends serving Jesus.” (Apologies to Terry if this is apocryphal!) That’s just a good definition of a church. And a good definition of what FIEC hopes to be – a band of brothers.
Find the people – whether or not they are formally in leadership positions – who will be the key people who energise your spiritual walk. And walk closely with them. You are not meant to do it alone, but lots of people in churches will assume you are the elite man of God, you are trained to do it all, their job is to receive and consume what you have been trained to deliver to them.
That will kill your soul and kill your church. Some of you will have the tough job of reigniting whole churches, or significant percentages of churches that have stalled spiritually. If a church or a large group within a church stalled a long time ago then two things will have happened:
· They will have made various activities, rather than the extension of the kingdom, their core understanding of what church is
· They will have called you assuming that you will affirm the activities. And when you try to change it you will get resisted because the activity is their comfort blanket. Faith is burning low, there is a wrong understanding of church and a wrong understanding of leadership. And that is a long term task to gently change.
Why do I say that team creates capacity? We are in the business of applying long term pressure in the same direction. It is impossible to do without surmounting obstacles. It is impossible to do without criticism, in some cases a lot of criticism. You pour your heart into people and they are dismissive. You preach your heart out and someone says to your wife: isn’t it great he can just stand up and say those things, what does he do the rest of the week? You put on evangelistic events and nobody brings non-Christian friends.
Team life doesn’t just create capacity to do more things, it creates emotional and spiritual capacity to continue loving God, loving leading and loving the church when the demands are arduous. They help you pray. They keep you earthed. You can go into some church meetings feeling sick because you know you have to introduce something that many won’t like. If you do it on your own you carry all the emotional fallout on your own. If you have brothers and sisters at your back you carry it together. Putting your shoulder to a great boulder on your own yet again is the most dispiriting thing in the world. Putting your shoulder to it with one, two, five others may still be difficult but it doesn’t sap your spirit.
What are you looking for in your team? How do you want to disciple your team? You are after people for whom the glory of God being magnified in the church is – or will clearly become – their consuming passion
Let me finish with Colossians 1.
V27 says God has chosen to make known among the gentiles the glorious riches of mystery of the gospel which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. That is your task – developing Christ in you and Christ in them, the sure and certain hope of the glory of God.
V28 says therefore we proclaim him, we admonish and teach with all wisdom. We labour and struggle with all his energy so that we present everyone perfect in Christ. What does it mean to be perfect in Christ? It means Christ being formed in them by faith, the sure and certain hope of glory. Banking all their hopes and dreams and ambitions on him, submitting their lives to him, becoming mature believers for the sake of his glory, being the church that displays the manifold wisdom of God to the Heavenly realms so that his grace is marvelled at and his glory praised.
Establish the foundations that will enable you to lead for it over the long haul, and lead for God’s glory with all your hearts.