This is part 4 of a series of posts from David Francis’ Transformational Class: Transformational Church Goes to Sunday School . Click here for a free download of the book, as well as training materials to help you present the material to your leaders.
- Transformational Church Goes to Sunday School
- Missionary Mentality, Part One
- Missionary Mentality, Part Two
This excerpt is adapted from Chapter 2, “Vibrant Leadership,”, pages 15-16
A discerning missionary mindset must be built on proper motives and right values. That is exactly what we found to be true in a Transformational Church. Three values were present in TCs: vibrant leadership, relational intentionality, and prayerful dependence. When a Sunday School class or small group desires to be an agent of spiritual transformation, it starts with vibrant leadership.
It Starts at the Top
Luke 10 records the account of the sending out and return of “The Seventy”on a mission trip. In short, these missionaries departed with uncertainty and returned with joy. When our team of consultants returned to debrief their interviews with pastors of Transformational Churches, they returned with joy as well—and insight. As we compared our findings guided by Dr. Stetzer and his team, the element of vibrant leadership stood out clearly. The TC pastors did not display heavy-handed, autocratic leadership, but rather shared, multiplying, empowering leadership.
Or Maybe It’s the Bottom!
If you’ve read much on organizational leadership, you’ll recognize the idea of the “inverted pyramid.” The basic theory is that exceptional leaders see themselves as servants at the bottom of this pyramid, whose primary job is to exhort and support those charged with carrying out the organization’s vision and mission. That seemed to be true of TC pastors, at least from the stories they told. They delighted in sharing about others who had been captivated by a vision of introducing people to Jesus, or equipping disciples to become more like Him, or helping their church act more like His body, or ministering in their community as a reflection of His Kingdom, or going beyond their community to advance the gospel. I don’t think the word ambitious was ever used to describe these leaders. They were both humble and confident. Confident that God had placed them in that church, to shepherd that people. Confident that God would guide them in loving their community with Spirit-empowered words and works that would bring glory to the Father and bring people to the feet of His Son Jesus.
One of the ongoing tasks of vibrant leaders is to keep organizational energy focused around a few key principles. My former boss at LifeWay urged me on several occasions to guard against letting an issue “spin out into complexity!” That’s a particularly good word for Sunday School leaders. Volumes have been written about administering and organizing effective Sunday Schools. I’ve written a few myself, and every idea has been helpful, I’m sure! But at its essence, effective Sunday Schools are led by vibrant leaders who may try different organizational schemes or experiment with new ideas, but who hold fast to two key principles and one irreducible law. Tune in to next week’s blog post, and we will unpack what those principles are and reveal that one law.
David Francis is Director of Sunday School at LifeWay Christian Resources. Before joining LifeWay in 1997, he served as minister of education at First Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. David and his wife, Vickie, love teaching preschool Sunday School and are helping start a new adult class in their church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.