5 Levels of Movement Leadership
Movements rise and fall on leadership reproduction. On the edge of movements in Asia, we have clung to simple application of the Word as the standard for success or failure in our church planting. Over the years, we have repeatedly seen the need for leadership at several levels across movements.
Jesus was on a timeline to engage “all the towns and villages of Galilee” with the good news of the Kingdom (Matt. 9:35). It wasn’t enough for the 12 and 70 to do the work; He instructed them to first, “Beg the Lord of the harvest to thrust out laborers” (Matt. 9:37–3 and Luke 10:2).
Jesus’ band of disciples, indwelt by God’s Spirit, were promised power (Acts 1:8) and the Lord’s presence (Matt 28:20) to the end of both geography and time.
And the book of Acts records the early Church’s transition from addition to multiplication (Acts 2:41,47; 5:14; 6:1,7; 9:31; 11:21; 21:19–20).
The dynamics of developing a multiplying work force were graciously included in the Holy Spirit’s record of Paul’s labors. Acts and the Epistles read like a playbook for advance (1 Thess. 1:4–10) and apostolic triage among newly established churches (1 Cor).
A key question in any movement (or church) is, “How do we identify, develop and mobilize emerging leaders into their God-given roles in our fields (or community)?” For those pursuing movements, what cues exist within Scripture to guide our expectations of emerging leadership?
Following is an outline of movement leadership roles we have encountered consistent with Paul’s example.
1. Seed Sowers-
engage lostness with the Gospel.
- 100%; Every believer an ambassador, a minister of reconciliation — 2 Cor. 5:11–21.
- Sows in obedience to Jesus’ command to be His witnesses.
- Overcomes fear and prejudice with love for the lost.
- Wins some in their own “Oikos” (relational network) to faith.
- Uses simple tools — testimony and a simple gospel presentation.
- Models seed sowing for others.
Common Barriers to mobilizing seed sowers
- Lack of expectation among church leaders
- Lack of training for believers.
- Instruct them to gather discipleship groups within relational networks.
- Train them in a simple discipleship process.
- Build their confidence for discipling a group.
- Teach them to guide participative Bible study
- Lead them through Acts 2 and 13 to see the function of churches.
- Impart to them reproducible and indigenous church “DNA.
2. Church Planters-
engage new fields, sow the Word, nurture the growth and birth new churches.
- As many as possible; A high percentage are called to start new churches — 1 Cor. 3:10–11.
- Models effective seed sowing among strangers.
- Facilitates discipling of new believers in their relational networks.
- Encourages body life with baptism, the Lord’s Supper, etc.
- Identifies spiritual gifts toward proper church function.
- Discovers the pastor locally rather than assuming that role.
- Develops emerging leaders to entrust with leadership.
Common Barriers to mobilizing church planters
- Applying extra-biblical qualifications (eloquence, dynamic vision, scholarly knowledge of the Bible).
- Restricting authority regarding baptism, the Lord’s Supper, etc.
- Pushing church planters into pastoral leadership.
- Subsidizing some as church planters in ways that undermine expecting everyone to plant churches.
- Guide them to apply 1 Tim. 3:1–7 & Titus 1:5–9 in selecting local leaders.
- Urge them to release their fruit to emerging local leaders.
- Expose them to multiplication in scripture and in other fields.
- Train them to filter disciples by fruitfulness and faithfulness.
- Teach them to track the progress of new gatherings in the biblical functions of church.[1
3. Church Planting Multipliers-
successfully multiply through new generations of church planters and churches (2nd, 3rd, 4th generations) — Titus 1:5–6, Col. 1:3–9, 4:7–17
- Recognizes and releases authority for church leadership.
- Equips and mobilizes seed sowers and church planters.
- Casts vision for 2nd, 3rd & 4th gen autonomous churches.
- Delegates responsibility and authority.
- Models engagement of new fields, gospel seed sowing, disciple-making and church formation.
- Provides diagnostics and training for a wider network.
- Envisions ministry beyond their abilities.
Common Barrier to mobilizing church planting multipliers
- Extra-biblical systems of church government and ordination.
- Expose them to other fruitful fields for bigger vision.
- Lead them to see gaps and fruitful tools used elsewhere.
- Guide them to consider their role in the global context.
- Urge them to evaluate “What’s It Going to Take?” (WIGTAKE) to fulfill God’s purposes.
- Encourage them to serve/debrief other CP Multipliers.
- Exhort them to recognize their potential as a catalyst for other movements.
4. Movement Trainers-
introduce pre-existing autonomous networks to biblical training for multiplying churches— 2 Tim. 2:2
- Empowers others, independent networks. (Does NOT “own” the fruit of their labor.)
- Trains leaders in this and previous levels.
- Diagnoses network strengths and weaknesses with the five parts and four fields.
- Brings biblical correction to barriers to reproduction.
- Casts multiplication vision in other networks.
- Mobilizes the resources for training other networks.
Common Barrier to mobilizing movement trainers
- Pursuing their own ministry to the exclusion of serving other ministries.
- Help them develop a strategic focus.
- Encourage them to increased prayer.
- Urge them to study “panta ta ethne” in scripture.
- Cultivate their burden for unengaged populations.
- Build their vision to reach engaged population segments until there is No Place Left.
5. Strategy Coordinators-
train and release leaders and mobilize networks / resources to saturate a specific population segment — Rom. 15:15–23, Acts 20:17–35
- Focuses on a specific unreached segment or people.
- Mobilizes networks and resources to reach this people group.
- Applies balanced, reproducible church planting strategy.
- Trains and develops all other levels of leadership.
- Diagnoses/cross-pollinates multiple streams of multiplying churches.
- Pursues No Place Left in their chosen people.
Common Pitfalls for strategy coordinators
- Losing focus amidst competing needs and responses to success.
- Early success drawing outside attention.
- Additional agendas backed by foreign funding.
- Discovering unengaged segments beyond their current focus.
- Developing strategy coordinators from within their movement.
- Preparing an exit strategy for their current focus.
- Pursuing No Place Left in their current focus where Jesus isn’t yet preached.
Adapted from Four Fields of Kingdom Growth: Starting and Releasing Healthy Churches by Nathan and Kari Shank (2014) Movements.net/4_fields_manual_shank
Further developed in Steve Addison’s new book Pioneering Movements: Leadership that Multiplies Disciples and Churches (2015: InterVarsity Press)