Here are a few observations from our experience:
It is, and always will be, a sacrifice.
Investing in leaders and sending them out to pursue their dreams demands sacrifice on our part. You invest lots in helping them discover who they are and in training and equipping them. Along the way you begin to wonder how you’ll ever accomplish what God has called you to do without them! We’ve discovered that God is big enough to meet our needs along the way as we continue to hold others with an open hand. Every single time it has felt like a sacrifice and every single time God has been faithful to us.
When leaders leave it’s healthy to feel something.
The first few weeks after sending out someone you’ve deeply invested in, you will feel stuff! It might be grief, anxiety, or worry. When you have discipled and prayed for and cried with a leader as they’ve developed, it is normal to feel some hurt when they leave. You’ve loved them, cared for and about them, and enjoyed doing ministry alongside them.
If you hold onto that hurt and pain, it will eventually harden you to sending anyone else and sometimes, it can even keep you from investing in the next generation of potential leaders. To live in the fear of that hurt will make you hold leaders too tightly. Instead, we called to help these potential leaders develop and grow, giving them absolutely everything we have so that they can effectively embrace Christ’s invitation for themselves. Learn to embrace the “empty nest” as a normal part of life, but don’t let it stay “empty” for too long. There are many more potential leaders right around the next corner.
It’s the nature of the kingdom for this thing to multiply.
When you send out a new church plant, it’s true, you will initially lose leaders, attenders, and finances from the mother church. Sometimes you’re sending out a whole team of people to give this new church a healthy start. It can feel scary and painful, but this is the way multiplication happens. You will now have the opportunity to invest in and disciple a whole new group of people.
It’s the nature of the kingdom that the local church multiplies. The church is a beautiful picture of who God is, and since he doesn’t keep his flourishing life to himself, neither should we. By being willing to freely encourage our best leaders to take what they’ve learned and go to the next neighborhood, we get to participate in what God is doing in a whole new group of people’s lives—we see the transformation and healing and renewal and community that flows from the gospel keep right on going. How sweet is that?
If you are interested in being the kind of pastor who confronts your fears, who invests in and sends out your best, and who consistently participates in what God is doing in the next community… We want to invite you to join us for a gathering of pastors who are doing all of this and more—multiplying leaders, sending out new churches, or discerning a call to ministry. The Multiply Vineyard Summit is happening virtually February 4 & 5, 2021. Join us!
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About the Author
Michael Gatlin co-pastors, with his wife Brenda, the Vineyard church in Duluth, Minnesota. Michael also leads the Multiply Vineyard team which exists to encourage and empower local churches as they multiply disciples, leaders, and churches.
Michael’s primary focus is to see Vineyard churches be healthy and multiply. His passion is helping people to discover and express all that God created them to be.
When he’s not riding his motorcycle, Michael loves to spend time with his family, read, create art, or even take some time to play a little music.