The Challenge of Leading An Established Church

I know there is great challenge and difficult work in planting churches.  I know this because I have friends involved in such great kingdom business and because briefly (for a year) I helped some friends begin a church plant in the northern metro area of Denver, Colorado.  I am telling you that just so you’ll understand that what I am about to say is not meant in any way to take away from the challenging and difficult work church planters face.

Sometimes I get the feeling that some would like to paint the work of serving an established as a preacher, pastor, evangelist (whatever you wish to call it) as easier work.  Perhaps it is if the preacher or pastor brings no sense of missional vision and dream to lead the church towards.  But that is not me nor is it many of the preacher/pastors I know.

In their book Transforming Leadership: New Vision for a Church in Mission, authors Norma Cook Everist and Craig L. Nessan write:

Claiming our true identity in Christ and becoming a people who participate in God’s mission are the two most difficult challenges faced by leaders of congregations.   This is true because no matter how well we may have resolved these challenges yesterday, they must be continually reengaged today and in the future.

So many identities compete for the allegiance of the people in congregations, including things like personal success, accumulating things, maintaining an image, winning, or being patriotic.  We are constantly tempted into idolatry by clinging to false identities or suffer amnesia about our true identity.  On ongoing, even daily, leadership task involves returning to our own core baptismal identity, dwell in God’s Word, partaking of Christ’s Supper, thanking God as the Giver of all gifts, and remembering whose we are.  (p. 41)

That is a neat summary of the challenge faced in trying to lead a church into renewed mission for today and the future.  If the preacher/pastor dares to try and lead a church into renewed mission, it is too challenging and difficult work.

Blessings to all my compadre’s serving in God’s kingdom, whether it be leading a new church plant, leading an established church into mission renewal, or some other missional calling!


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