From Jeff Leake…
Being from Pittsburgh, I am a huge Steelers fan. Our head coach, Mike Tomlin, is famous for responding to questions about why he did or didn’t do something. Almost always, you’ll hear him say in interviews, “we choose to not live in our fears.” As much as I love that sentiment, it’s way more difficult to apply than it is to say.
As soon as we decided to step out and plant our first church,
I felt the pull of fear on my soul:
• What if everyone leaves our church and goes with the church planter?
• What if our larger givers leave and I’m left with nothing but bills?
• What will happen if my attendance drops?
• What will my peers think of me if I pastor a smaller church than I did before?
I dealt with those fears by setting some guidelines. Pat Summers (our first church planter) and I sat down and had a meeting. I told Pat, “You can recruit anyone you want from APC on two conditions: First, you must tell me who you’re recruiting before you talk to them, and second, you must stay away from two key leaders I’m depending upon right now.” Pat was thrilled with this arrangement and kept his word to me.
On the final Sunday before the launch of this new church, Pat spoke in our services about his new calling. When he finished, I put it out there to the church, “Whomever feels called by God to go with Pat and help him plant this church is free to go. In fact, why don’t all those who feel called come to the front so that we can pray over you?”
I guess I really didn’t think through what I was doing at the moment, because as soon as the statement left my lips a stream of people left their seats to come to the front. And wouldn’t you know it? Who was in the group but one of the two leaders I had told Pat he was not allowed to recruit! God reserved the right to override my restrictions.
As this “restricted” leader made his way to the front, in about five seconds flat my emotions went from shock to fear and then from fear to anger. God, how could you do this? I didn’t ask for much! I am willing to be generous. All I asked for was two guys. Of all people, did you have to speak to him to go with this church plant? I said all this under my breath as I led this prayer moment.
In a flash, as I protested before God, I felt Him speak to me: I know you are sacrificing and being generous, but if you’re not going to give Me your best, then why are you even doing this?
From that moment on, I have chosen to die to any effort to control my own church. The only way you can become a multiplying leader is to break with fear. Nothing is birthed out of fear, and everything is birthed in an atmosphere of faith. And what is faith but hearing the ‘Word’ and believing it so much that you’re willing to act upon it.
If you live in your fears, you cannot foster an aggressive multiplying church. In fact, the very decision that we make when we decide to plant churches is a decision to break from fear and live in faith. That decision must be made repeatedly because the pull of fear will always be something we have to purposefully overcome.
You can download Jeff’s eBook for free at exponential.org
As printed in the 2015 Network ConneXions