I am in the process of reviewing the book UnLeader, by Lance Ford. Well, it is probably more of “thoughts the book brought up for me,” than an actual review…but you get the idea. You can find each post in the series here. If you would like to order a copy of the book, you can do that here.
If you’re a regular here, you know I have concerns about the state of the church. That doesn’t make me unique. But as I continue working through UnLeader, I need to clarify that much of my frustration at the state of church leadership is not me wondering what’s wrong with “them.” I was one of them. (I’m sure I still am to some degree.) Obsessed with growing as a leader. Obsessed with building better leaders in our church, because one of the mantras I heard was, “everything rises and falls on leadership.” And since I wanted our church to grow, I needed to be a better leader and I needed to raise up more leaders.
But over the past few years I been wondering…Everything? Really?
“Therefore go into all the world and make more and better leaders.”
– things Jesus didn’t actually say.
Of course, after pursuing the goal of better leaders in the church for decades, we have a church where the lack of discipleship has become critical.
In chapter one of UnLeader, Ford focuses up on the emphasis in evangelical circles on the topic of leadership. He doesn’t exaggerate. It is simply taken for granted that to build a “great church” you must be a great leader.
As a church planting coordinator for my old denomination in the States, I’ve been to a lot of church planter training events. And you are far more likely to see a video clip of the storming of the beach from Saving Private Ryan, and hear a talk about leading people into battle, than you are to hear about caring for your soul as you plant a church.
Ford touches on this issue when he writes,
“Fitting Jesus into my schedule had become a chore in itself. I had to admit that I was too distracted by leading for him to keep my eyes on following him. After all, the church experts were telling me I had to be a great leader because I first had to get people to follow me. It was just assumed that I would be following Christ as I led for him.”
One of Ford’s biggest issues with the emphasis on being a great leader is that we end up getting people to follow us so that we can then get them to become followers of Jesus. He correctly points out that when we try to get people to follow us, so that we can give them Jesus, we have stopped following Jesus.
Think about it…why is discipleship in the church in the state it is in? A key reason is that so many church leaders are more focused on getting followers for themselves than equipping followers of Jesus.
Clearly there is a need for good leaders in the church. But leadership focused on “me” instead of Jesus will always take us to the wrong place.