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Leadership Development

Leadership Devo

by Elliot Grudem

A couple of years into my church replant I was talking to my father about the state of the church. (My father, Wayne Grudem, is a seminary professor who has trained pastors and scholars for Christ’s Church the majority of his life). He asked me when the church was going to get elders.

“I don’t know,” I responded. “It’s going to take some time.”
“I don’t think it took Paul that long,” my dad replied.
“I’m not Paul.”
“I don’t think it took Timothy or Titus that long either,” he said.

His encouragement reminded me of similar encouragement I received from church planter and long-time Pastor Steve Smallman who helped me navigate my first year at the church. He reminded me that God designed the church to be led by elders. Part of establishing elders in the church I served involved trusting that God had given my church qualified elders.

 The Example of Paul and Titus

As a church planter, there are thousands of things you can do. You have a group gathered. The church is up and running. You are meeting for public worship.

Now what?

Should you start small groups, a mercy ministry, a missions program, or an outreach to your community? What about a women’s Bible study? What about the many counseling needs in the church? What about a youth group?

How do you decide what to do next? You have so many good options.

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“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (Titus 1:5).

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Titus, church planter in Crete, was in a similar situation. The Apostle Paul wrote him a letter, telling him what to do next.

Titus’s job was to finish the work Paul started in Crete. He was charged with getting the new churches there on solid footing. It wasn’t an easy task. The church was full of Cretans—famously known as lairs, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons. The church also had its share of false teachers that needed to be silenced.

By all accounts, Titus was not your average church planter. He was a great leader who interned under the Apostle Paul, the greatest church planter of all time. Titus was one of Paul’s boys, hand-picked by Paul for the tough job in Crete.

Paul had a lot of options when it came to protecting the church from these false teachers: He could have returned to Crete and taken on the false teachers himself. He could have given the church a theological tome that refuted each point of heresy. He could have told Titus to take the false teachers on himself.

Paul didn’t do any of those things.

Out of all the things Paul of all the things Paul could have told Titus to do first as a church planter to protect the church Paul started and loved, he told him this:

“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (Titus 1:5).

 A Priority to Leadership Development

As a church planter, there are thousands of things you can do. I’m convinced one of the most important things you can do is develop leaders for the church. In order to do that, though, you need to make it a priority. If you don’t, as I know from experience, there are too many other things that will demand and take your time and attention.

When you plant a church, leadership development is one of those things that falls into what business consultants would call not urgent, but important on your time management matrix or to do list. You can increase attendance without developing leaders. Leadership development doesn’t provide you much instant affirmation. Leadership development stories aren’t anywhere near as exciting as stories of conversion or counseling breakthroughs. Developing leaders won’t get you re-tweeted a whole lot.

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As a church planter, there are thousands of things you can do. I’m convinced one of the most important things you can do is develop leaders for the church.

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Yet leaders won’t be developed on their own. As the church planter, you are the only one that can develop these leaders. It’s part of your job. If you can’t develop leaders, you shouldn’t plant a church.

When you plant a church, you plant an organization with a temporary leadership structure—you (and possibly an oversight board). Your job as a planter is to develop the elders necessary to lead the church. Once that happens and the elders are in place, the church is no longer a plant. It’s a church. You are no longer a church planter. You are a pastor. Until that time, leadership development—specifically elder development—should be one of your top priorities.

If you don’t have time for it, you need to cut things out until you do have time for it. Make it a priority. Then, develop a plan.

 A Plan for Leadership Development

There are many reasons church planters don’t developing elders as soon as they should. One of the biggest hindrances is the lack of a plan.

To develop a plan for developing elders, you need to begin with the end in mind. That is, you need to answer this question: What kind of men do I want as elders in this church?

To answer that question, you need to think about three things:

  1. Requirements from Scripture (For example, what do 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 say?)
  2. Requirements from your Denomination or Network (For example, what does it mean to be an elder in a Presbyterian, Baptist, or an Acts 29 church?)
  3. Requirements from your context and church (For example, what does it mean to be an elder at my church, at this time, this stage, this size, in this part of this specific city?)

Once you’ve answered those questions, you know what kind of man you want to serve as an elder in your church. Work backwards from there to create a plan that will you develop the right men into the leaders Jesus has called them to be.

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If you can’t develop leaders, you shouldn’t plant a church.

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Your plan will need to help these men understand the knowledge that’s vital, develop the skills necessary, and show forth the character required to serve as an elder in your specific church. Part of what that means is that some parts of your plans can come from other churches. Other parts need to be unique to you, your church, and your vision.

Put the time required into developing this plan. Don’t just photocopy another pastor’s plan. Think about the men needed to lead your specific church. Work from there to create a plan to develop those kinds of men.

Article continued here: A Plan for Leadership Development

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Elliot Grudem is the network coordinator for the Acts 29 Network and a pastor at Mars Hill Church. Prior to his work with Acts 29, Elliot served as the senior minister at Christ the King Presbyterian Church, a church he replanted in Raleigh, NC. He has worked for an urban ministry in New Orleans. He worked for a Fortune 100 company prior to seminary. He is the editor of Christian Beliefs, a book he completed with his father Wayne. Elliot holds degrees from Miami Univeristy (BA, History and English) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.).