“The primary purpose for our leadership mandate is to make known the glory of God by leading others to flourish in God’s design.” (62)
Is there a connection between discipleship and leadership? Where do leaders come from? Are all disciples leaders? What role does the Church play in leadership development? In an effort to answer these questions and more that Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck have written Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development (B&H, 2016).
For decades there have been books written, seminars and conferences dedicated to, and entire models made and revolutionized around the idea of leadership development. Places outside the Church have largely been the producers and shapers of leadership development as we know it. And this is exactly the problem according to Geiger and Peck. “The Church is uniquely set apart to develop and deploy leaders for the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel.” (2) “Because the core of sustaining and transforming leadership is the Church,” they say, “no organization should outpace the Church in developing leaders.” (7) But that is exactly what is happening, argue the authors, and addressing how to bring the Church to the forefront of leadership development is the purpose of this book.
In one sense there is nothing new that Geiger and Peck are proposing. In fact, it is a sad commentary on the current state of too many churches that this book even needs to be written. What they are calling churches to do is what Scripture has been calling churches to do since the first century. They take their biblical cues from 2 Timothy 2:2, “….entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also,” and Ephesians 4:11-13 which is Paul’s instructions for the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to use their God-given gifts “for the training of the saints in the work of the ministry.” This is no-brainer stuff, right? It should be but it isn’t.
What has happened to ministry in general, and leadership specifically, it that many churches operate on the following approach:
This is where the pastors do the majority of the ministry in the church while most of the rest of the congregation is a recipient of the pastor’s ministry/gifts but are not joining them in ministering to others as well with their gifts. So, only the pastor can visit the sick in the church.
What Ephesians 4:11-13 teaches is the following:
In this (biblical) ministry model the primary purpose of those with the gifts mentioned in Eph. 4:11-13 is to equip the laity to do “the work of the ministry.” Some gifts are given as ministry-equipping gifts. So now, everyone is doing ministry and the ministry of some is to equip others to do ministry to others. This is the every member a minister mindset. The failure to follow this simple model “results in an unhealthy church,” state the authors, and “a lack of conviction for equipping results in an immature body of believers.” (35) The result of following the biblical paradigm is not just faithfulness to God’s intention for the churches use of its Spirit given and driven gifts but a church that “is a community of gifted people, not merely a community of people with a gifted pastor.” (50)
While the Biblical rationale and foundation for this ministry mindset are not new, the authors present (1) their own vision for how the biblical model is carried out in churches and (2) solid theology of ministry woven throughout it.
The grid through which Geiger and Peck envision enacting Eph. 4:11-13 ministry is threefold:
- Conviction – As “a God-initiated passion that fuels a leader and [a] church,” conviction is the inner belief that God (1) knows best how the church ought to do ministry and (2) that He has told us how to do it. It must be part of our thinking and philosophy of ministry from the top of the leadership chain down to the saints who are being equipped for the work of the ministry. Churches must have the conviction that God designed mankind from the beginning to bear His image through leadership of the world (57) and that “to be part of a local church is to be part of a leadership community.” (79) If churches, both the shepherds and sheep, are not convinced of this basis for ministry then it will never get off the ground.
- Culture – In order for the convictions of a church to begin to become a reality, they must shape the culture of the church. This culture “is formed through the actual beliefs and resulting expressions for a local church about creation, the identity of the local church, and how the local church interacts in the world.” (103) This is where a churches philosophy of ministry on paper becomes a part of the minds of its people. This is where a church moves from actual beliefs to articulated beliefs and then forms artifacts which are the visible and tangible expressions of the aforementioned beliefs (127). Church culture is hard to change. Its artifacts are the hardest but they will never change until the actual beliefs change followed by the articulated beliefs.
- Constructs – “If a value is strongly embedded in the culture [of a church], a system is in place to ensure the value is lived out and not merely words on a vision document.” (184) In order for the convictions of a church culture to become a reality, there must be constructs (or systems) in place to make them a living reality and give them long term stability. What you do is an expression of what you believe. The construct God has designed for the church to make leaders is discipleship. Leaders must be identified for ministry, trained for ministry, given ministry opportunity, and coached along the way. They must be shaped in their heads, hearts, and hands if they are to grow and do likewise for the next generation.
Conviction, culture, and constructs are the three C’s to living out Eph. 4:11-13 and leadership development through discipleship. Something new serving as the vehicle for something old. Geiger and Peck close with this apt challenge:
For the faith to continually advance in your context, your conviction must be continually stirred, your culture continually cultivated, and your constructs continually implemented. (216)
Designed to Lead provides a biblical, theological, and practical explanation for how to develop leaders through discipleship. There are no gimmicks or overnight promises of change. Leadership training is for the long haul of faithful steady plodding and this book will provide the guidance churches need to make lasting disciple leaders for generations to come. If you loved Marshall and Payne’s The Trellis and the Vine then you will equally love this book. They both need to be read together and complement each other.