I’ve done a lot of consulting, coaching, and writing about trying to help churches develop leadership farm systems (developing leaders from the harvest). One observation I’ve made is the churches that are able to raise leaders from the harvest have pastors who are willing to personally engage in the harvest.
If the pastor doesn’t personally engage in the harvest, the church doesn’t become a leadership farm system. After 20 years’ observation, I’ve yet to come across a single exception.
As we pray for the development of leaders, our motivation should reflect that of Jesus: the harvest fields themselves. We need to allow our heart to break for the harvest.
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” – Matthew 9:35-38
Luke 10:2b: “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Excerpt from Neil Cole’s excellent book Organic Leadership:
As I mentioned in Organic Church, I have actually set my mobile phone alarm to go off at 10:02 every morning to remind me of this verse in Luke so that I can remember to beg for workers. In fact I spread the passage wherever I go. We call this the 10:2b virus, based on the reference in Luke 10:2b, which commands us to beg for workers for the harvest. God ahead and put the book down at this point, get out your cell phone or PDA, and program the alarm to go off at 10:02. Join the movement. Spread the virus.
Over my years in ministry, I’ve recommended many different structures be put into place to help us grow and multiply healthy churches: coaching systems, church planter training and assessment, networks/cohorts of people in similar ministry roles. Those have yielded great benefits. But one piece I still haven’t seen put into place is the leadership farm system. Of all the necessary systems for church multiplication, this is the one that’s still missing right now.
Why is it that when you are working in urban contexts it’s so hard to get people to join you? Why do people seem unwilling to join in urban ministry ventures?
In rural settings, it’s relatively easy to get people to come out and build some houses or churches, dig wells, respond to natural disasters, or do relational-level ministry. In urban settings it’s not. People might be willing to throw money at the problem, but they don’t want to get involved at a personal level. Why is that? Is it an unwillingness to sacrifice? The comfort of what’s familiar? A fear of the city? Lack of compassion? Self-centeredness?
Note: part of a series started April 22nd.
The next question my coach asked me—after I had wrestled for a while with “What’s next?”—was “What’s missing?” After reflecting on the state of the church in the U.S. I decided my answer was that true leadership development from the harvest was what was missing. We were providing seminary education at a rate unmatched anywhere else in the world, but where were the new leaders that came out of the harvest? Who were we reaching from there? And how were we developing them? We weren’t.