Church Leadership Training Process
1. Re-Jesus our lives, families and churches. People will learn what we as leaders live. If we live Jesus and the mission in our family and in our life as a leader, our family and church family will follow. Thus the need for thorough self-assessment and coaching. Further, as a leader we must allow Scripture, Jesus, and not tradition to provide the best pathway forward into fruitful disciple making.
2. Irreducible Core. Each of us together in the Church must understand that the Missio Dei (mission of God) is to have a people among all peoples who will worship and glorify Him forever. Thus, the local church is a gathering of those who mimic Jesus in loving God, loving others and making disciples by engaging the culture with the gospel.
3. Gospel of the Kingdom. Jesus began His ministry by going throughout Galilee preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. This message that demands repentance of His followers brings the dominion and reign of God to each individual heart. It holds the potential of extending the dominion of Jesus and His kingdom to our families and our communities.
4. Community is essential. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have lived and continue to live in perfect love and community with one another. The Church is to share in this relationship in that the Church is composed of those who love God and love one another. They also are loved of God and loved by others. True community expresses the dominion and love of God. Community becomes a powerful tool in spreading the gospel because Jesus said in John 13:34-35:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
5. New Testament Discipleship is based on Rabbinic Education. Just as Western or Greek Education states that the learning process must include information, understanding, integration, and, finally, application, so Rabbinic Education speaks to the issue of the goal of education. Learning is more than data transfer. Jesus taught the disciples and lived what He taught with the disciples for three years. Jesus was a Rabbi who believed that in order to truly transform a life and a culture education would best be served by life related learning which was both content based and relationship based in one’s life experiences. Jesus lived with and trained twelve who would be able to do the same with others. This type of learning or disciple making would be the foundation of the Church’s mission.
6. Transformational Leaders and Disciples of Jesus Completely Comprehend Their Identity, Capacity, and Destiny. As Christians our identity is that of a son or daughter of God. Our deepest and strongest desire is to love and serve God. We also have a capacity to serve. However, being precedes doing. In our hearts we are growing in relationship to Jesus which we live out of as we serve Him. Through this abiding relationship He enables us to be like Him. Finally, through us being good stewards of the gifts, talents, treasure, and time He gives us, we have a destiny. We have a pathway to walk that results in His story becoming our story and vice versa.
7. Ecclesiology Flows out of Our Christology, while Missiology Flows out of our Ecclesiology. Jesus and the apostles are the foundation of the Church (Ephesians 2:19-22), not tradition. The Gospel is good news that Jesus through His death has restored right relationship of God with His creation and His creatures. As the second Adam and the Promised Messiah/King, the King now offers restoration of His dominion to each of us. As we respond through repentance of our sins, we are transformed and become a part of His People and His Kingdom. The message of the Gospel includes His cross, His resurrection, and His Kingship in our lives. The Kingdom we live in is here already in His people, the Church, and is coming to all peoples and nations through this Gospel. At His return every knee shall bow and confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God. As the People of God, the Church, we join our God in proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom.
8. The Three, the Twelve, and the Seventy. As leaders and disciples, pastors and leaders need to be thinking of their capacity and destiny as leaders/servants in the church. Like Jesus maximum impact comes through disciple making and leadership development. The Movement Jesus launched will be most effective in smaller groups through disciple making. Though good preaching is important, it must be combined with disciple making and leadership development as practiced by Jesus. Thus as pastor and church planters we must train before we launch. We mean by this that we must develop leaders who will be able to make disciples and develop some of them into leaders. So, we challenge each pastor to identify their three, their twelve, and their seventy leaders they are developing to help in providing leadership for the Harvest.
9. Engage Culture with the Gospel. If the essentials of a local church include the irreducible core of loving God, loving others and making disciples like Jesus who engaged the culture with the Gospel, how can we do less? The Early Church seemed to have a wonderful pattern of gathered/scattered. Ephesians 4 encourages leaders to equip the Body for the work of the ministry. The Jerusalem Church met in small groups in homes and at the Temple Courts. Equipping, empowering, and releasing the Saints for the work of the ministry. As a people who are caught up into the Missio Dei we are missional because God is missional. We gather and scatter to proclaim through our lives and lips the Kingdom of God.
10. Planting Missional Communities and Churches. The founding vision of the New England District of twenty two churches was to plant churches all over New England in communities that did not have a gospel witness. Our twenty two churches have become 64. Our 2200 followers of Jesus have become over 9,000. The Early Church planted churches all over Asia, Africa, and Europe in communities that had not received or heard the Good News. There are people groups in every community that do not have knowledge of and life-related awareness of the Gospel and the love of God. Each community needs and deserves a gospel witnessing community/home or church. The evangelical population of New England is approximately 700,000 (2% to 3%). Surveys have identified New England as having some of the states that are least religious. Our current mission is as important and relevant as it was in March of 1984 when New England Free Churches had their first gathering and conference.