Kay, the chairperson of the staff parish relations committee called Charlie, the chairperson of the finance committee with a twinge of doubt about how the conversation would go. A team had been interviewing for a new worship/music director for the congregation. It would be the first full-time worship/music director in the congregation’s history. Already the finance committee had allocated a salary and benefits that would be hard to finance. Kay said to Charlie, “we believe we have the right person and I know the budget we set was pushing how much the church could afford, but we need another $4,000 to make the package work for our top candidate. Is there any way we can add another $4,000 to the package?” Charlie shot back, “Sure Kay. If this is the right person, then our job is to raise or find the money to enhance our ministry.” Charlie was a transformational leader.
For the past two months, I have shared about leadership – the five expectations GNJ has of leaders and the five temptations of a leader. Today I want to talk with you about the three types of leaders we seek to recruit and develop in GNJ – fruitful, transformational and apostolic.
Fruitful leaders grow people, congregations and mission. Under their leadership, worship attendance, the amount of money and the number of new disciples, disciples in small groups and disciples in hands- on mission increase. They understand that to grow disciples, congregations and ministry, you must grow the congregation and its people deeper and wider. People must go deeper in their faith and convictions and wider in their understanding and commitments to make disciples of Jesus Christ and grow vital congregations for the transformation of the world.
As it turned out, Mike, the new worship/music leader was a fruitful leader. Under his leadership, the high school choir went from 11 choir members to over 30, the bell choir was revitalized and had 15 members, a contemporary worship team was established and the children and adult choirs grew. Why? Because Mike was a teacher who taught people about music, worship and God. He deepened the music, set high standards, developed challenging goals and courageously led people to the worship experience. Mike had a great personality and an upbeat spirit, but this isn’t what attracted people. It was quality, achieving higher standards and growing relationships that grew the worship ministry of the congregation. Fruitful leaders understand they are to grow people, congregations and ministry.
Transformational leaders change hearts, culture and direction. Charlie was a transformational leader. Many finance committees see themselves as protectors of the church’s resources. They focus on managing money rather than growing people and resources; preserving limited resources rather than recognizing God and people’s generosity. They live out of a scarcity culture rather than an abundance mindset.
Charlie knew that the finance committee was organized to serve the mission and to grow and make resources available to expand the mission. He worked with the committee to change their hearts about the role money plays in advancing God’s agenda and the role they played in growing the financial resources for the mission. He did it by starting small, demonstrating that if the purpose was right and it would enhance the ministry, additional money should be put into a project. Once people saw the benefit, he moved to larger and larger projects including a $4 million dollar building endeavor when experts said the church should only undertake half that much. What was Charlie changing and building confidence in? He was changing hearts and building confidence in a new culture that said the finance committee is here to serve the mission, not manage money, and that people were very generous when presented with the right mission and purpose of the church.
Apostolic leaders make a way when it does not seem possible. Peter, Paul and Francis Asbury were apostolic leaders. Junia (Romans 16:7) and Rosa Parks were apostolic leaders. Each made a way when there didn’t seem to be a way. God works through these leaders to make something occur where it did not previously exist. Rosa Parks gave new birth to the civil rights movement, Francis Asbury gave birth to a new denomination known today as The United Methodist Church, and Paul birthed new congregations.
Apostolic leaders literally means ‘sent for a mission’ particularly a new mission. These leaders are rare among leaders. I believe this is so because apostolic leaders need particular gifts and strengths to make a way when a way does not seem possible.. They need two sets of gifts that can be seen as contrary. One set includes creativity, vision, imagination, developing relationships and passion. The second includes grit/perseverance, courage, confidence, initiative, drive and focus.
Junia, identified by Paul as an apostolic leader in Romans 16:7 faced many challenges as an apostle. In fact, some scribes and translators masculinized her name to Junias. Apostolic leaders will face doubt, bias, persecution, ridicule, obstacles and what seem like insurmountable challenges. Yet like all the apostolic leaders mentioned above, they persisted for the sake of God and the mission.
Organizations can also be a leaders.. GNJ is becoming a fruitful, transformational and apostolic leader organization through the many leaders and disciples of GNJ.
GNJ is a fruitful leader because we has steadily worked toward deepening leadership, faith and congregations as evidenced by our growth in worship attendance, disciples participating in small groups, disciples engaged in hands-on mission and giving to mission. Each of these grew in 2017.
GNJ is a transformational leader as we continue to shift the culture
- From relationships to relationships and results
- From providing leaders information to developing leaders through application
- From good enough to excellence
- From honoring diversity to having a diverse leadership and including diversity
- From waiting for people to come to us to going out and engaging with people
GNJ is an apostolic leader because we make a way when it does not seem possible. After Superstorm Sandy we created one of the most robust relief and recovery efforts in the state. We have started more than 30 new faith communities in the last two years and are changing how we call, equip, send and support leadership. We see buildings as assets that can be repurposed for greater mission and ministry. We have reduced how much we apportion churches while at the same time grew our foundation from $4 million to more than $44 million.
While there are other conferences and organizations doing better than GNJ, we have made steady progress through the many fruitful, transformational and apostolic leaders within GNJ. Thank you!
Keep the faith!
United Methodists of Greater New Jersey