Thoughts on Growth

RobDiscipleship, Leadership

AllCountyTeamCowTipping574Southbrook Church has been on a whirlwind of fast growth.

I don’t say this pridefully at all. If you really knew the inside story you would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it wasn’t because of me but in spite of me. I’m a firm believer in God being more interested in a person’s willing heart and great big faith than He is our own overblown estimation of ourselves.

In short, we’ve done a lot of things wrong in our relatively short existence as a church. But God has seen fit to grow us anyway. And, occasionally we even do a few things right.

So there you have it.

And every now and again someone will ask something like:

How did you all do it?

Hopefully by now you can see that that is the wrong question. But, I’ll play along anyway and give what little insight I can. As it just so happens, an old analogy really makes all the difference in the world.

First, let me say this. Growth has its price. There is an emotional toll on a lead pastor at each stage of growth that many are not ready to take. But the truth is, you’ll hit plateaus and the point isn’t that you do things to grow, the point is that you make these adjustments because you want people to keep meeting Jesus. Now, others will feel the pain as well, but the brunt of it always falls squarely on the shoulders of the senior leader. Why? Because everyone has spoken and unspoken expectations and when they are not met, get ready for the full gambit of responses (some will leave hurt, others will claim “You’ve changed!,” still more will feel betrayed, disappointed, displaced, Some will leave in a godly way, others will try to cause as much collateral damage as they possibly can [in the name of Jesus of course!] etc).

The accusations will run the full gambit as well. I’ve been called prideful, arrogant, power hungry, clueless, boastful, and those are just the ones I’m aware of! The bottomeline? Growth has had its price. It has cost me (and at times, my family) tremendously. I’m convinced that this is why so many pastors do not see through to completion the necessary transitions we need to make to see God’s vision come to pass.

As a church grows, leadership needs to morph form a sheep herding mindset and approach to that of cattle ranching—from shepherding to ranching. This is what most church planting gurus will tell you. However, that analogy falls a bit flat with the MTV/Xtreme sports generation. Let’s face it, “Cow Tipping” isn’t really an Xtreme sport no matter how you play it.

I can’t remember who said this, but I’ll never forget it. It’s right on!

First of all, the lead pastor must go from the point of all contact to then having layers of leaders between you and the leaders who lead the people. Not everyone can email you, call you, have lunch with you, be visited by you and you alone—not if you want to keep your sanity.

The bigger a church gets, it goes form being a team of generalists to a team of specialists—from one or two guys doing everything to several of you becoming extremely focussed.

Tomorrow I’ll share with you the single best analogy I ever heard (from Church planting guru, Larry Osborne) to describe the necessary shifts that impactful, growing churches must make.

Bet you can hardly wait.