Monday, May 26, 2008

Good to Great Churches

Many of us are probably familiar with the best-selling book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't by Jim Collins, but I think very few are familiar with Thorn S. Rainer's book, Breakout Churches: Discover How to Make the Leap. Rainer's book follows on Jim Collins' ideas and applies the principles Collins discovered to helping good churches become great churches.

As I reflect on the GBI senior pastor's dissatisfaction with the current state of the church, even though it has a membership of 30,000, I cannot help but recall what Jim Collins and Thorn Rainer wrote. They both did research on good companies and churches that were disatisfied with being good and went on to become great companies and churches.

Rainer believes that most churches are falling short of their divine call to be "great" churches and remain content with just being "good" churches (translated, mediocre). Sadly, I've even heard many church leaders justify their lack of obedience to God's high calling by spiritualizing their mediocrity.

Following Jim Collins' five levels of executive leadership, Thorn Rainer has his corresponding six levels of pastoral leadership:
  • Level 1: Acts 1 - The Called Leader. Breakout church leaders have a clear sense of being called by God into ministry.
  • Level 2: Acts 2 - The Contributing Leader. Breakout church leaders take their basic pastoral duties of preaching and prayer seriously. On the average, they spent 20 hours per week in sermon preparation and prayer.
  • Level 3: Acts 3 - The Outwardly-focused Leader. Breakout church leaders are consistently and persistently moving the church to look beyond itself.
  • Level 4: Acts 4 - The Passionate Leader. Breakout church leaders have an obvious passion for their ministries which is evident in their preaching, conversation and leadership roles.
  • Level 5: Acts 5: The Bold Leader. Breakout church leaders are willing to take incredible steps of faith and make tough calls to keep the church focused on its primary mission.
  • Level 6: Acts 6/7: The Legacy Leader. Breakout church leaders are willing to give ministry to others and raise up new leaders to replace them.
Rainer believes that a leader can only move on to the next higher level after he has become the leader at the lower level. Every time a leader chooses to move up to the next level, the church experiences noticeable gains.
The challenge for a church leader is move himself upward until he reaches Level 6 leadership before he can become a breakout church leader.

Chee Min

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