Friday, March 30, 2012

Learning From Other's Painful Lessons

Nobody likes to get hurt. Nobody likes to have conflict. And it seems like nobody likes to learn from others mistakes. But maybe if we would watch and listen to other people who have done what we do we could learn from the mistakes they made. And not have to make them ourselves.

The other day I ran across an article by Pastor Mark Driscoll in which he detailed "10 Painful Lessons From the Early Days of Mars Hill." I was particularly impacted by several of his lessons and hope that I can learn from them.

Create a Team
He makes the point that it is unhealthy to think that one person can fully shepherd everyone in a growing church. Things will have to change or the leader will burn out. He says,
"Through much prayer and study of the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that I'd done a poor job of raising up leaders alone with me to help care for his church. I was carrying the burden myself and was not doing a good job because it was too much. I needed to transition from caring for all the people to ensuring they were all cared for by raising up elders, deacons, and church members. This spurred me to make some dramatic changed to increase membership and train leaders."
Lead from the Pulpit
He emphasizes the extreme importance that the greatest leadership a pastor gives is from the pulpit each Sunday. He says,
"As a church grows, it becomes physically impossible, for the pastor to meet with everyone for coffee and still lead the church through vision. For our church to grow and for me to survive, I needed to transition from being everyone's pastor to being a missiologist preacher who led the church from the Bible in the pulpit."
Now I agree to a certain extent. But a preacher must be a pastor. He must be spending as much time as he can with his people. But a pastor must also be a preacher. He must avoid getting distracted from some of the things of ministry that he forgets the main thing of ministry--preaching God's Word. Maybe this is why the first point and the next one is so important.

Expect Members to Minister
I appreciate this because too often churches soften the expectation of the members in the church. But maybe in reality, the need is to raise the standard of what a member is to do and to be.
"We also made it clear that our members were expected to be missionaries and to do the work of the ministry in their daily life and among each other. It was not enough to just attend regularly and give money. Members needed to understand they are the church and should be ministers of the gospel. This meant that we trained them theologically through classes and preaching, and we created systems for deacons and elders to train our members for the work of the ministry and to provide opportunities to minister."
That is just three of the ten that he shares in his article. I hope to learn from all of them. I hope to be able to listen to those who have gone before me and learn from their mistakes. And I hope that someday, someone might be able to learn from all the mistakes that I make. I would recommend that you read it. You can find it HERE.


  1. Thad, thank you for your balancing comment to your second highlight of Mark's lessons learned. I took a deep breath, anticipating disappointment, as I began to read that point, hoping I wasn't going to hear you say that you'd changed your mind about what it means to be a leader and pastor. I've tried to share with you on repeated occasions the marked impact YOUR one-on-one influence played in developing my understanding of Biblical truth and encouraging my pursuit of Jesus. Leadership was proclaimed from behind the pulpit, but it was demonstrated in living life together. I wouldn't trade the lessons learned on the golf course, or across a small table at Quiznos, or in the basement of your house for more time sitting in a church row staring at the pulpit, no matter how solid the message. Because, if it never moves out of the auditorium and into "real" life on a daily basis, what's the point of preaching in the first place? We are to be "doers" and not just "hearers" a leader, you must play a hugely important role in showing what being a "doer" really means, and for really being a "doer" to truly matter to the people you are leading, they need to SEE you "doing." And the only way that they can see you is when you step out from behind the pulpit into life and "do." If time doesn't allow you "do" alongside the people you are leading, maybe things are too big. All I'm saying is don't stop letting people see you "do" so that you can be more dedicated in talking about "doing."

  2. Richard, I wouldn't trade those times for anything either. And I will always do that to the best of my ability. I think what he is saying and what I am learning is that it is impossible to do that for 250 people. I will always do that for smaller groups, and teach others to do it for smaller groups. But it isn't feasible to have that sort of relationship with everyone.


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