Stages in a Replant: Harvesting
What Comes Next?
Looking back at your time in ministry, if you’ve worked through the 4 stages of a Replant, here are some things that you’ve been doing.
- You’ve plowed the ground by continual prayer and preaching of the gospel.
- You’ve planted gospel seeds by infusing the gospel into every ministry, every sermon/teaching, every member you have.
- You’ve watered those seeds by focusing on intentional discipleship in your congregation and the growth of your people.
- You’ve witnessed how God is working through growth: whether that be through the spiritual growth of your congregation or the physical growth of new people coming through community engagement.
This is it. You’re doing the work of ministry. It’s effective. But while there are many moving pieces included with all of this work, there is one thing that we should be careful not to forget: just as disciples should be making disciples, leaders should be developing leaders.
The Necessity of Leadership Development
Our team has developed a 5th stage of a Replant due to how crucial it is for the future of your church: Harvesting. What is Harvesting? In Episode 167 of the podcast, we said that harvesting is the process of identifying, training, and utilizing leaders from your congregation to assist and carry on the work of the ministry. As spiritual growth occurs, leaders are actively engaged in intentionally discipling and raising up new leaders. The term “Harvesting” could be compared to gathering the crop together and putting it to use right away.
As leaders ourselves, we cannot neglect the work of developing new leaders to carry on the work of the ministry. I’m sure you’ve heard the statement: “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” John Maxwell says, “When you raise up and train leaders, you impact yourself, your organization (church), the people you develop, and all the people their lives touch.” If we put that statement in the setting of a local church, here’s what we would say:
When you, as a pastor, raise up leaders in your congregation, you impact yourself, your church structure, your congregants, and all the people who your congregants will encounter.
Many Problems Stem from Lack of Leadership
One of the most common requests for pastors and leaders is their need for more leaders, more workers, more servants, more helpers. As a Replant or Revitalization Pastor, you may do everything you can possibly do alone, but you’ll fall apart in the process. You need people to pick up the baton when you need a break or when you leave. You also need people in the everyday work of ministry who can lead in your weak areas. Leaders are not perfect and we are not superman. We need others who can lead alongside us.
Here are some scenarios: You fall ill. You move on to the next assignment the Lord has for you. You pass away. You take a leave of absence. Whatever the case is, think about this: what happens to all the plowing, planting, watering, and growing that has happened? If leaders are not in place to continue that work, the church can fall back into the same place they were. Our ultimate goal is not to build our own kingdom, but God’s kingdom. That’s why we must develop leaders from the congregation. If we aren’t identifying and raising up leaders to carry on, we are missing the joy of a multiplying congregation and the blessing of obedience.
Practical Ways to Identify and Develop Leaders:
- Keep your eyes always open — watch and see how people interact with you and with others. Who are the people that your church members talk about on a regular basis? Who do people go to for advice and biblical questions? Lou Holtz, former Notre Dame football coach, once said, “You’ve got to have good athletes to win, I don’t care who the coach is.” Our work looks a little bit differently than recruiting college football athletes, but we must also keep our eyes open to see who could be developed as a leader. A leader is not always an extrovert. Many personality traits are helpful for different situations. While I can’t give an exhaustive list here, see the last paragraph for a list of resources and articles on the character traits of a leader.
- Spend time personally with those individuals. Provide opportunities where you can watch and see how they lead. Though some people have natural leadership abilities, they may need some training and oversight.
- Show them the way you do ministry and model an example for them to follow. Deliver knowledge and coaching to them. Use a resource to work through with them. Provide them with the space to ask questions and be intentional in the process. The three ways that leaders are developed are through experience, knowledge, and coaching (not necessarily in that order).
- Delegate responsibility to them with oversight. Watch them lead – with a caveat. Bob recommended in the recent podcast to wait until you have a disagreement or conflict resolution with the person. If you are unable to come to a resolution with someone you are trying to develop, it may be time to slow down and give some more training.
The Biblical Rationale:
To use the example of Apollos in Acts 18:24-28, Apollos was instructed in the way of the Lord. He already had some background being trained as a leader…but Apollos’ theology was not complete. He was well studied in the scriptures, but he only knew the Baptism of John. Apollos was probably teaching people how to repent and turn from their sin, but he was missing the other side of repentance: faith in Christ Jesus. But when Priscilla and Aquilla met Apollos, they identified him as a leader, and taught him more accurately. Here are some ways he was a natural leader, and some traits we need to seek out in identifying leaders.
Competent in the Scriptures: Spoke and Taught accurately (v. 24-25)
Fervent in Spirit: speaking boldly (v. 25-26)
Greatly Useful to Ministry: (v. 27)
Jesus’ Inner Circle
Next, we could look at the life of Jesus. Jesus chose 12 disciples to follow him and spent every day with them for three years, discipling and pouring into them. But Jesus intentionally discipled Peter, James and John out of that twelve. The following scriptures show Jesus pulling aside Peter, James, and John to minister to others, to reveal himself to them, and to teach them to do the work of ministry:
Healing of Peter’s mother in law: Mark 1:29-31
Healing of Jairus’ daughter: Mark 5:21-43
Mount of Transfiguration: Mark 9:2
Garden of Gethsemane: Mark 14:32-33
When you read the book of Acts, the only disciples mentioned by name out of the original twelve are Peter, James, and John. They took leadership responsibility. Peter preaches, Peter and John heal a lame beggar, Peter and John are brought before the council, Peter and John were sent to the Samaritans, James – pastor of the church in Jerusalem, is martyred for his faith.
Paul’s development of leaders
Next we could look at the example of Paul, who sought to develop leaders like Titus and Timothy.
2 Timothy 2:1-2, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Titus 1:5 “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you”
There are numerous examples in scripture of leaders being developed, but these are just a few that give us the necessity as it relates to the local church.
In his book called, “Designed to Lead,” Eric Geiger argues that the church is the most important place that leadership development can happen. He says:
“Notice that we are NOT saying that the locus of the Church is leadership development, but that the locus of leadership development is the church. Please do not miss the difference. The locus of the Church is and must be Jesus and His finished work for us…The center of the Church is the gospel, but the center of leadership development must be the Church – meaning, that the leaders who will ultimately transform communities and change the world come from the Church.. These leaders carry with them, into all spheres of life and culture, the conviction of people who…have been brought from death to life through Jesus. These leaders are designed to serve others, because they have been first served by Christ. God has designed his people to lead.”
If we truly believe that the purpose of the church is to proclaim the gospel to the world as an assembly of called-out believers, how can we do so if we are not developing leaders within?
For more information, see the following resources on leadership and leadership development: Designed to Lead, Building your Leadership Resume, The 360 Degree Leader, The Marks of a Spiritual Leader, and the Character of Leadership.