Over the past 10+ years of training and coaching pastors and church leaders, there’s one common barrier that I’ve seen limit growth and impact—that barrier is when a leader doesn’t empower the team. When we don’t delegate and empower well, we put a lid over our churches growth potential. These few verses in Acts highlight the link between empowering and growth.

Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” — Acts 6:2-4

First, we’re reminded of the necessity to stay focused on our primary responsibilities and functions of the role we’re called to. In this specific set of verses the main focus that the apostles needed was on prayer and ministry of the word, and note how easy it is to get distracted with all of the genuine needs of the people in our churches. Each of us has primary functions and things that we must maintain focus on, and if you’re a lead pastor or primary ministry leader than vision, and ministry must remain a primary focus. And, when we read the conclusion of this passage we realize that the Apostle’s ability to delegate, empower and stay focused on what they needed to do, directly impacted the growth of the church.

Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. —Acts 6:7

Growth only happens when we RELEASE responsibility rather than hold onto it. Like a seed, it only grows when planted. As church leaders we’ve been given by Jesus a bag full of seeds, what are we doing with those seeds/leaders? Holding or planting? Controling or empowering? And we must see delegation more as empowering and releasing people into their gifts than just handing out tasks. Task delegation doesn’t require our people to engage their creative God-given potential, but when we release authority into their hands and empower them, you’ll see them flourish!

Here’s a few common reason why we get trapped into not empowering people:

The Moses Complex
Sometimes we feel that as the lead pastor or department leader that we’re the one that needs to have all of the answers. And while as the lead pastor you’re setting vision, if we make the “buck” or most answers stop with us then we put a limit on our capacity. Take that superman/wonder woman pressure off yourself and begin to empower and turn the responsibility over to them.

We have to set the Culture
Yes, as the leader we need to shape and set the culture of our teams and overall church, most of the time that ends up becoming a crutch that we lean on for way too long. Your team is more ready than you realize. Remember that you were inexperienced when you stepped into your role but someone trusted and released you into that calling!

The Perfection Freeze
In our pursuit of an excellent team or service experience we can often create a freeze in the potential of the team. As the leader you carry a great weight and in our very proformance culture it’s easy to create the opposite experience on our teams than we want. Most leaders want to see the potential and capacity in their team launched and released, but when you’re dealing with young or developing leaders, if you are overly “jumpy” on creating that perfect church culture and excellent service experience, we can end up creating a gun-shy feeling in our teams where they’re nervous to step out because their afraid to fail. Make sure that you create space for people to fail.

I’ll Delegate When I have Leaders
We can often think, If I had the leaders then I would release. But part of the reason why no leaders are emerging is because we’re not creating space for them. The more that people see you creating room or creating a demand for leadership the more you’ll see those leaders emerge. When you publicly celebrate and give people a shot then you’ll subconsciously send the signal to your church that this is a leadership house that sees, develops and releasing people into their gifting.

So, if you feel like you have a lid on your growth as an overall church or in a specific department, this may be one of the areas to evaluate. Review your daily, weekly and monthly focus and responsibilities: figure out what things you can release and empower someone else to carry. And if you’re wanting to see more leaders emerge, consider more ways that you can create for people to stretch their gifts. In San Diego, (My Pastors) Ps Jurgen & Ps Leanne have done a great job at constantly creating areas for people to stretch their gifts and develop as leaders. As a result, we have an abundance of leaders.
The more you release, the more you’ll be able to focus, which will result in vision being accomplished, more disciples being made and the church growing!

For more on creating a healthy and growing church culture, check out Pastor Jurgen Matthesius’s new book Leadersight:

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