Category Archives: leadership

Launching a training ministry: Two prerequisites… and a cherry on top

Last week, I posted “How to Plant a Seminary in Four Steps” and drew from the example of the Berea ministry in Spain, which began with a conference ministry in order to launch a seminary to train Bible expositors. I closed alluding to prerequisites without which the four steps would be ineffective.

BK Smith, lead pastor at Oaklands Chapel in Victoria, British Columbia, nailed the first and most importanta model church. He is absolutely right when he comments:

I think these steps are all well and good, but I find many people forget how crucial it is to have a healthy church that models what a Biblical Church should look like. I define a healthy church as a faithful, disciple making, community impacting church … obviously by being faithful to preaching God’s Word, developing men and women in the church by discipling them and training them to disciple and then to impact those around them. A healthy church is NOT just having a rock solid doctrinal statement and believing all the right things … I also believe we need to see fruit along with faithfulness in these churches.

So in order of importance, here are two prerequisites… and a cherry on top.

  • A model church
    A ministry training pastors and leaders in expository preaching must have a strong, healthy church where expository preaching is on display. The class room instructors need to be able to point to a church where the principles are in practice, and say “That’s what we’re after!” If you don’t have a model church, you’ll need to plant the church before you can plant the seminary.

  • Qualified character and skill on the ground
    The personnel launching the start-up will by necessity wear many hats. In addition to seminary training (these men will become the professors of the new seminary), they also need to be men of godly character and be able to manage their own homes (i.e., they need to be elder-qualified [1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9]). They’ll need to be all this, plus be administrators and event coordinators all while serving as their own secretaries.
    (If you know someone like this, pray for him!)

  • Relationships with visiting instructors
    17146_wpm_ cherry 300While perhaps possible in principle to do without, for the conference start-up to work, it really helps to have a pool of guest lecturers committed to make periodic international trips (probably on their own dime) to teach at your new school. The visiting instructors don’t have to be famous, but they do need ministry experience. Seasoned pastors and teachers as visiting instructors will balance the relative inexperience of the young bucks trying to get the new seminary off the ground. Also, the experienced visiting instructor has the advantage of being able to draw from previous teaching series to reuse the content without having to write something fresh for another conference every several months.

I’m excited for David Robles and his team at Berea in Leon, Spain. They are doing a great job, and God is granting growth to their new ministry. Furthermore, their model and progress encourages us in our work in Brazil.

 ¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Have I left something out? What else might one need to consider when preparing to plant a ministry to train pastors and leaders for the church?

How to Plant a Seminary in Four Steps — A Case Study from Spain

You’ve heard of church planting missionaries. How about seminary planting missionaries?

David Robles is a friend and fellow alumnus from The Master’s Seminary. He is also a missionary in his native Spain planting a ministry equipping pastors and leaders in the church.

David Roble’s ministry, Berea, was featured by The Master’s Academy International in their April Missions Mobilization Memo. The memo’s purpose is to seek additional funding for Berea’s next growth phase, but the article itself describes an excellent strategy for getting a new seminary up and running.

Plant a seminary in 4 steps (TMAI MMM 4-14)

You may click on the image with my highlights and annotations to enlarge it, or read the article at the TMAI website. But here is Berea’s strategy:

  1. Conference ministry
    In their first year, Berea began holding conferences every three months. They addressed theological and practical ministry issues while modeling expository preaching. These conferences attracted pastors from a wide area and earned the host church a reputation for fidelity in preaching God’s Word.
  2. Train leaders at home
    In their second year, Berea began a weekly program in expository preaching, training the elders and leaders of their own church.
  3. Take the training on the road
    In their third year, Berea exported the expository preaching training from home, and offered the same to a group from six different churches in another region. Word spread, and other churches expressed a desire to participate.
  4. Launch the seminary
    This fall, almost five years from inception, Berea is launching a three-year, modular training program emphasizing Bible interpretation, exegesis, pastoral ministry and expository preaching. Berea has 30 students signed up, with more expressing interest.

Obviously there are other ways to start a new seminary. A seminary professor of mine, in a class on starting church-based training ministries, said, “Pity the man who tries to launch a full MDiv program all at once from scratch. Better to just start teaching one class. Then add another. And then another.”

One advantage of the model from Berea in Spain, is that while tethered to one local church, the conference ministry start-up rapidly builds recognition in the field and at the same time, builds productive relationships with mature ministries through visiting conference speakers.

More could be said about prerequisites that need to be in place before planting a seminary whether via a conference ministry or any other strategy, but that is a post for a different time.

Question: The above aren’t exactly four “easy” steps to planting a seminary, but they strike me as refreshingly clear and doable. What is your reaction to the four-point strategy above?

Ordination of Pastor Luiz

“The first time I visited this church,” says Luiz, “I was living on the street, addicted to drugs, … And I smelled really bad.”

That was 20 years ago. But God saved Luiz, who then spent the next 14 years rescuing more addicts and street dwellers. Along the way, God brought Luiz his beautiful wife Guiomar (who cares for children Sundays in the nursery).

Pr Luiz

For a number of years now, Luiz has served as an elder at Igreja Cristã Evangelica—Setor Oeste, teaching and caring for the body. Having helped shepherd the flock in many ways, today he was recognized by the congregation, his fellow elders and the denomination, and officially ordained as a pastor.

Our God saves!

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
(Luke 19:10)

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets,
and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
for the equipping of the saints for the work of service,
to the building up of the body of Christ.”

(Ephesians 4:11–12)

Book Review: The Leadership Dynamic by Harry L. Reeder III

Harry L. Reeder III. The Leadership Dynamic: A Biblical Model for Raising Effective Leaders. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008.189pp. $12.99 (paper). Reviewed by Matthew Carroll.

I was once asked to assemble a book list of recommended titles on Christian leadership. Immediately, J. Oswald Sanders’s classic Spiritual Leadership came to mind, but not much else. After consulting other pastors and seminary professors, I realized that much has been written on leadership attempting to apply a corporate business model to the church, but very little has been published on leadership from a biblical perspective. Therefore, the book list project was scrapped, but just this month, Harry L. Reeder III, pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama has come out with a book on leadership in the church.

The Leadership Dynamic is the book I would have liked to have had at the top of my book list on leadership a couple years ago. Harry Reeder’s conviction is that “The Christian church must become a leadership factory and distribution center for the world, and by the grace of God, it can – if we return to both the biblical definition of leadership and the biblical method of producing leaders for the church and the world” (15). Reeder’s dream is to hear the words of Acts 17:6 uttered again, even upon the lips of an adversary, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also” (22). In order to see this come about, we need what Reeder calls 3-D Leadership: “The church must follow the Bible’s model for defining, developing, and deploying leaders while simultaneously rejecting the world’s leadership models and standards” (15).

Chapters 2 through 11 flesh out the ideal of 3-D Leadership. Christ’s threefold mission on earth was to save sinners (Mt. 1:21), to destroy the works of Satan (1 Jn. 3:8), and to purchase his church (Eph. 5:25-27). Reeder finds “embedded in achieving his threefold mission is the strategy of leadership multiplication of servant leaders for the kingdom” (35). A leader is defined as one who “influences others to effectively achieve a defined mission together” (43).

In Chapter 5 Reeder deals with the lists of qualifications for elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 and distills them into four requirements for leaders in the church: 1) the existence of a divine call, including an internal aspiration and an external affirmation, 2) that godliness is more important than giftedness, 3) that effective leaders must develop a grace-driven and disciplined lifestyle, and 4) that leaders are position-bearers, not position-wearers.

In this same chapter, Reeder describes three traps to avoid: indolence, immorality, and insubordination. Here, unfortunately, Reeder is unclear on whether an elder or pastor who commits adultery may ever be restored to his position. He asks the question, “Can a leader who falls to adultery or fornication be restored and reconciled in the home and in the church?” and responds, “Yes—sexual immorality is not the unforgivable sin. But it is extremely destructive to the element of trust that’s so essential to leadership, and full restoration to authority will, of necessity, require much supervised time and effort” (60). However, on the following page, Reeder describes an accountability group he has been a member of for 25 years. In this group each member has agreed that if any one of the group is guilty of “violating [his] marriage covenant, he must leave the pastoral ministry. For us, the door to leadership and ministry swings open one way and only one time” (61). Reeder’s personal conviction seems to be that a pastor or elder needs to be a one-woman kind of man; it doesn’t make sense that he allows in general the remote possibility that a Christian leader who has proven himself not to be a one-woman man could then return to his former position.

In Chapter 12, Reeder sums up his vision that through 3-D Leadership the church could once again become a leadership factory and distribution center for the world. Reeder writes passionately about a topic near to his heart, and with only a few exceptions, supports his points well from Scripture. Though Reeder includes no examples from modern corporate leadership, he takes many examples and illustrations from military history, using them to good effect throughout. The Christian life is spiritual warfare, so we should not be surprised, Reeder affirms, that biblical leadership more closely resembles a battle than a board meeting.

To cite just one example, Reeder relates the story of Lieutenant Colonel Moore, who during the Vietnam War was known for his leadership skills. One story is told of Moore that in a training exercise, a squad leader was “killed.” Moore declared, “You are dead! Now, who do you have ready to take your place?” Reeder employs this story to illustrate one of his leadership maxims that “great leaders always prepare to reproduce and multiply themselves” (68).

I left the foreign mission field to enroll in seminary in order to be equipped to return overseas and train men to effectively proclaim the Word of God. Pastor Harry Reeder is a like-minded brother-in-arms, and I heartily recommend The Leadership Dynamic as a resource to anyone who is about the work of training faithful men who are able to teach others also.

From the Publisher:
Product page: The Leadership Dynamic: A Biblical Model for Raising Effective Leaders.
Read the Preface and Chapter 1. [PDF]

About the Author:
Harry L. Reeder III earned an MDiv from Westminster Theological Seminary and a DMin from Reformed Theological Seminary. He is senior pastor of the 4,000-member Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham. He is also the author of From Embers to a Flame.