This is the place to explore forming leaders in the life of Disciples Church.
Before planting Disciples, I had the privilege of working full-time as a pastor in three very different churches with three very different organizational structures and leadership styles. The first, a dying dictatorship, whose “commoners” had long since taken over in a created culture of black market trading for power and progress. When it blew up, it was ugly. The second was an elder-led church with a very pastoral-/chaplain-like feel with the people. The leadership largely played a role of keeping things safe and ethical. That they did; the trade-off was that they were in perpetual decline and lacked desperately for a vision. My third and final staff experience before planting was in a large corporate structure in a large and growing church. It had multiple boards, large staff, and a culture where most things got done and/or decided over lunch, then pitched to the board(s) for approval.
The strangest thing about these experiences were not their own dysfunctions; we all have them. There is no perfect leadership structure, and since these teams are made up of human beings, there is no perfect group of leaders. What was so fascinating (ok, depressing) was the way in which all three distinctly different churches selected and prepared their Elders—and for that matter their pastors—for service. When an opening came up, a short discussion of who might fit the bill was had, a name was selected from the body for whom all had fond feelings. Following that, the Lead Pastor met the woman or man and invited them on the board or staff. That’s it. No discerning process of any real consequence; very little vetting or preparation.
Now of course, like most, I have a tendency to remember the past in the darkest of shadows, and the present in beautiful light. That said, it was in those experiences when a staff member or elder flamed out that I thought to myself, “There has got to a better way to form leaders for service in the church!”
What follows is our process with Disciples Church for leader formation. It’s not perfect, it has some holes, and certainly we have still brought people on that did not work out. But, by and large, it’s a process that has served us well since it’s inception in 2009.
Please take your time as you work through the readings and your own reflections. Pay close attention to the working of the Holy Spirit as he nudges you into deeper waters, possibly, than you have been in some time, if ever. I am so glad you are on this journey, and pray you will see your own soul enlarge as you seek to use your gifts for the good of the body and the world.
-Stu Streeter, Lead Pastor