“The discipleship system in the local church isn’t working,” says Jeff. Leadership skills grow out of spiritual formation and that everybody in God’s church is broken, including himself. “But Jesus gave us a job to do: make disciples. Leadership development starts there.”
Jeff drew on his personal time as a participant in CREST Leadership, a two-year cohort for ministry professionals, to create and implement Growing Leaders on Purpose (GLOP), a leadership development experience rooted in discipleship. Then at Campbell River, he and his leadership team worked under the radar to recruit fifty members. These leaders embraced the church’s vision, were already engaged in the church’s ministry, and demonstrated a teachable spirit.
Two years later, forty finished – a remarkable 80% completion rate. But more important was how the new leadership experience transformed the church and the local community.
Transformation Makes Disciples in the Local Church
The misunderstanding about what a disciple is, says Jeff, leads people to focus on acquiring information about Jesus, the Bible, and faith – rather than on experiencing transformation. When people can’t get along, church business meetings end up like Armageddon and lead to broken relationships. Yet when people understand what makes for true discipleship and change from the inside out, they look more like Christ and can multiply themselves.
Jeff created GLOP’s content by adapting CREST’s model for a local congregation in four, full-day sessions a year, scheduled quarterly, for two years.
The first year focused on self-leadership, allowing participants to understand their own personal stories and what shapes them. “Each of us carries false beliefs about ourselves, God, and others that can damage our relationships,” says Jeff. Participants examined their family of origin and themes that twist and bend through their lives. During that time, participants completed their own Leading From Your Strengths profiles as a means to understanding their strengths, valuing others’ strengths, and engaging purposefully with others.
The second year focused on organizational leadership. “We learn how to have healthy conversations when the stakes are high,” says Jeff. “If we don’t do this well, we can leave an emotional wake behind us.”
“The process has revolutionized our team,” he said.
A good example is Adrian, who was the church’s Director of Administration at the time. He worked through his personal story and profile during the first year to discover that his strength was as a relater. Adrian disliked details and was spinning his wheels in his administrative position.
“Finally, I understood why things didn’t seem to be working,” says Jeff. Adrian moved into a new role as Pastor of Community and Outreach where he flourished. Under Adrian’s leadership, the church formed teams to travel weekly to two low-income housing projects in the community, lead worship, and offer VBS-style activities for children and families, most of whom are unchurched. It’s the first time in the church’s history that the congregation is reaching out to minister outside its own walls to this extent, says Jeff.
“Some of those residents now attend worship with us on Sunday mornings,” says Jeff. “Our church is becoming known as a safe place to be in this community.”
Transformation Extends into The Community
As the Campbell River Baptist Church leaders completed their first two-year GLOP cohort, another congregation in this town of 35,000 on Vancouver Island, BC, is using it as a model for discipleship and their leadership development. Others are curious and inquiring.
And Jeff is quick to point out that his staff uses Position Insights and the Successful Staffing Process when they create and fill a new position. In addition, he and his wife have offered Marriage Insights profiles at marriage workshops. All told Jeff has led at least 150 people through the Ministry Insights process.
“God told us to bring the love of Jesus to the world,” says Jeff, explaining that one person alone can’t lead the charge if his group doesn’t know how to get along. “The profiles and the process are one of the most powerful tools I’ve used to build teams and to build disciples.”