Are you Trading Leaders for Lessons?

I started Lake Hills Church when I was 25 years old. I had just graduated from seminary – and somehow I was just naive enough to think that I could do it. With my wife and six-month old son, we moved to Castaic, California to start “a growing church for a growing community.” It was an incredible opportunity and I praise God for the lives that were transformed by the power of the gospel as we established a vibrant church.

One day my friend Phil Graf came over to spend some time sharing about ministry and life. He challenged me with this question – “When will we stop trading leaders for lessons?”

Wow! That question has haunted me ever since. I have learned so many lessons as a church planter and pastor. But unfortunately, many of those lessons have come at the expense of people – valuable leaders in our church.

Learning the importance of clearly defined doctrinal positions resulted in the loss of several leaders. Once I was asked, “Are you open to the moving of the Holy Spirit in this church?” I thought to myself, “How could anyone answer that question ‘no’?” So I responded that we were open to the leading of the Spirit. However, this created what I have since referred to as “charismatic chaos.” By not clearly defining our position on supernatural manifestations of the Spirit, we created confusion and several leaders left the church. At least I learned to speak clearly on this issue in the future.

However, our position on the security of the believer also resulted in leaders who left the church. Our involvement with a building campaign also resulted in lessons learned and leaders “lost.” I wish that was it – but I can think of several more examples.

I got tired of trading leaders for lessons!

My prayer for you as a pastor or church planter is that God will protect you from trading leaders for lessons. Maybe you should make that your prayer, too.


Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
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