Leadership in the Church Plant

Leaders Who Last As part of my studies in church planting resources, Crossway was kind enough to send me a review copy of Leaders who Last by Dave Kraft (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010).  While this book is aimed at pastors, elders, and deacons in any church situation, I’m reading it with respect to a church plant situation.  Here is my brief review to that end.

The book is divided into three main parts: 1) Foundations, 2) Formation, and 3) Fruitfulness.  In the foundations section Kraft notes how the gospel and God’s word are at the center of Christian leadership.  In other words, at the outset, Christian leaders have to realize they’re saved by grace alone and they must rely on that same grace to give them strength to lead.  Kraft explains how – based on God’s grace – we should develop a purpose statement for our lives.  This might sound cheesy, but Kraft is basically telling leaders to pray, study Scripture, and seriously consider some of the main things in life that drive them.  For example, Kraft says his purpose is to discover, develop, and deploy leaders passionate for God (p. 47).  This has to do with grace, the Word, and love for others.  A purpose statement is like the crosshairs on a gun scope – they keep the leader on target in life.  Related to purpose in life is passion and priorities: “Proper priorities will protect my purpose and passion” (p. 60).  Finally, in the first section, Kraft talks about pacing – how to avoid burn-out while in a Christian leadership position.

In the second part of this book, the topic of formation is examined.  Here Kraft talks about how God calls a man to lead a church.  He helps the reader evaluate his calling and also leads the reader to contemplate his God-given gifts of leadership qualities.  Character – Christ-like character – is also vital for a Christian leader.  Leadership has to with service, the fruits of the Spirit, following God’s Word, and so forth – this is what Christian character is all about, which is necessary for a leader in God’s church.  The second part ends with Kraft talking about maintaining spiritual and leadership growth when in a leadership position. 

The last part of this book – on fruitfulness – is where Kraft writes about vision, influence, and legacy.  Leaders need a solid vision for their ministry, which is cultivated through prayer, Bible study, and wisdom.  Leaders are those who influence people around them to share in this vision, which in turn leaves a Christian legacy in the years to come.  Of course, in church plants (and hopefully all churches!) the pastor-planter’s vision has to do with making disciples, training them, and leading God’s people in repentance, faith, and grateful obedience.

While I do recommend this book, I was hoping it would be more rooted in biblical principles (i.e. examination of key verses/texts).  If you’re looking for a book that is a sort of Bible study in leadership, this is not that book.  It must be noted that Kraft was writing this from a Christian perspective and based on his many years of leadership and growing leaders in the church – his aim wasn’t to exegete and apply Bible verses on Christian leadership.  Kraft wrote it as sort of a practical Christian guide for developing solid, life-long leaders for the church.  It is helpful to that end.

This book is easy to read and not too long and daunting (c. 150 pages).  It would be a good book for a church planter to get, work through, and possibly use to train others on what it means to be a Christian leader.  This might be a good book for training elders or deacons who have not held any sort of leadership position before.  It won’t be the only book you’ll use to train men, but it should be one to consult in this area.  I’ll sign off with a quote that Kraft wrote in the beginning of chapter one.

“As I lead, I lead out of the reality of being saved by Jesus, and Jesus alone, and empowered by the Holy Spirit for the leadership role and responsibilities to which he calls me.  It is too easy for the work and the ministry to be the center instead of Jesus himself.”

shane lems

sunnyside wa

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