Shifting From Pastoral to Apostolic Servant Leadership

SHIFTING CHURCH LEADERS FROM PASTORAL TO APOSTOLIC SERVANT LEADERSHIP

We would like to present a new leadership paradigm that we call apostolic servant leadership (ASL). Jesus lifted a clear vision for servant leadership in Luke 22:26. Unfortunately this commandment has almost always been viewed through the lens of the pastoral gift. The impulse and gift orientation of a pastor is to gather, care and keep. The impulse and gift orientation of an apostolic leader is to gather, train and send. BOTH are good! Both are from God. Both are necessary. But the modern church has mostly focused on and elevated the pastoral so that it dominates.

Pastors generally lead and run churches, and pastorally-gifted people tend to lead small groups and ministries. The result is that the church and the ministries and the small groups are gathering, caring and keeping. The sheep get fed….and fed….and fed… and want more feeding. One can easily find people who have been believers for 20 or 30 years say, ”I need more Bible study”… but they aren’t using much of what they have already studied, they aren’t using their gifts, they aren’t leading, they aren’t serving, they just want to be fed more. This is unbalanced! And the result tends to be a lack of growth in quality and quantity because the focus is inward.

If a shift is made to apostolic thinking and leadership, the focus is gathering to TRAIN and SEND. We still need the pastoral. But the apostolic must lead the pastoral. The result will be that people are not just getting fed and fed and fed…. They get fed to grow stronger and use their spiritual muscles and multiply spiritually. We need to be raising sons and daughters to be mature competent adult fathers and mothers who are reproducing themselves. We need to adopt the goal of people development.

People development – this means that the primary job of a leader is to develop the people that the leader has responsibility over. Not to just feed them and care for them, but to develop each person to become all that God has designed them for. Every person has a unique personal destiny, and calling, a ministry – one or more things to accomplish for the Kingdom. Ministry does not mean just in the church – it includes serving in the home and the marketplace. We need to encourage and empower every person to be a minister for God in whatever environment he or she is in. Every member is a minister, sharing God’s love and doing good, and bringing the gospel and all of God’s truth to others… whether it’s doing a neighborhood Bible study for moms, starting a high tech company and bringing Kingdom values to Silicon Valley, being an accountant and pastoring people at work, doing short-term missions work in South America, or working on weekends with an inner-city ministry in Los Angeles… all of it matters, and for all of that to happen, people need to be developed, trained and sent.

Every member is part of the team, working towards a goal, not off by themselves doing their own thing, or just working out and looking in the mirror at their muscles – NO! They work out, they grow stronger, and they learn in order to accomplish something. The coach (leader) has the responsibility to develop each member to get the most out of them. And it’s not to accomplish the goal of the coach alone. There is an organizational goal or destiny and an individual goal or destiny. The challenge is to bring them together.

What are the keys to serving the flock while at the same time training and sending them to their God-ordained calling and destiny? The first step is a shift in mindset – from inward to outward, from pastoral to apostolic. The leader must embrace his or her calling to develop every member of his or her church or group. The individual calling or destiny is important. In fact we think it’s more important than the organizational calling or destiny. The parents of a family want their children to succeed and go farther than they did. But…. in order to achieve that, the children need to grow and develop and be trained.

So…. you as the leader need to speak about your vision and the church destiny and goals AND show the members how you will help them towards reaching their goals and destiny by serving in the church. You say, “Come and serve in the church, using your gifts, and we will help develop you. And not only will your service bless the church and minister to others, you will be moving forward, developing yourself to be able to do the ministry that God has for you.” It may be that they continue to serve in the church or primarily in the home. It may be that they minister in the marketplace or education or government. They may move on and start their own ministry, or serve in another ministry. It’s all good! The point is that we as leaders are developing all the members according to their gifting, passion and calling. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

It’s NOT the pastor getting people to build his or her empire. It’s KINGDOM thinking – it’s mature father and mother thinking – the parents want their kids to do great things, so they develop them towards that end. Along the way, the kids need to serve in the family, doing chores, learning, taking on new responsibilities. The result is that the kids mature, becoming adults who are able to have their own families and accomplish much through each person.

For more on this vital topic, take a look at our MasterClass, Developing Powerful Leaders.

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