Pastors: 5 Keys to Building a Highly Responsive Congregation


It is a precious commodity in the leadership world. With it you can move your organization through changes and challenges much easier and with greater facility than those who lack it. Those leaders who lack connectivity among their people move slowly and painfully without a system of reliable relationships to mobilize the larger community. And while a lot of leaders claim to have a great team and structure in their organizations, they really don't know the strength of their "network" until it's tested and the depth of its traction produces real movement forward.

Key words? Traction and forward.

All pastors want it. Most don't have it. Either we are over-asking, which ultimately desensitizes our people to the point of learned apathy, or we under-ask and rely on fancy commercials or bulletin graphics to get it done for us. Not only are both methods highly ineffective in raising up the necessary muscles for our Kingdom missions but they are also weak substitutes for having a real relational network that doesn't have to be "sold." People don't like being sold but they do like and respond well to people they know, trust, and like helping them be a part of something significant. All smart pastors I know are open to saving themselves a ton of pain and frustration and don't care where the solution comes from as long as it's biblical and effective. To this end, you need to see a pattern of leadership agility, mobility of community, and movement forward modeled biblically. Enter Joshua.

After God stabilizes Joshua's emotional and spiritual spine (Joshua 1:1-9), the only reason he is able take action is because his organization has serious traction. Top to bottom, his network runs deeply, and runs relationally from his inner core all the way to the outer communities of his people. There are two features of his network that we need to highlight. First, his network is made up of strong men who are strategically raised up and seeded intentionally into the fabric of the community of believers. Second, they are assigned specific groupings that they are responsible for messaging and mobilizing. They are called "officers of the people. Take a look and learn.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: "Go through the camp and tell the people, 'Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.'"

My guess is that without that imbedded network of men behind him Joshua would not be so strong and not so courageous in his mission. Without the officers of the people there is no ability to form ranks around a single direction or vision whether you are moving people across a river like Joshua or moving people through a giving and building campaign like David (I Chronicles 28 & 29). When it is real, relationally solid, and received well by the people, nothing can touch it. What Joshua possessed thousands of years ago would still outperform the best digital networks available to us today in terms of getting the emotional "buy in" of the people with their heart and the physical response with their feet. A good network of connected leaders emanating from the leader outward saves money, saves time, and saves you from the negative emotions and pressures associated with trying to move a stubborn donkey forward (I mean your congregation!). At least that's how you perceive the situation. You have awesome weekend attendance but awful initiative performance and it's confusing, depressing, and infuriating especially when the cause is Christ!

Sound familiar?

Traction is possible but only when, like Joshua, you intentionally layer into your structure these five keys to having an agile, mobile, and responsive spiritual family.

1. A community of strong lay men who report to you on a personal level ("Joshua ordered the officers").
2. A community of strong lay men with reach into the network you lead ("Go throughout the camp")
3. A community of strong lay men who will effectively, in a timely way, repeat your words ("tell the people").
4. A community of strong lay men who get respect when they direct others ("get ready").
5. A community of strong lay men who relay your measure of faith ("you will go in and take possession").

That first circle of leadership (Joshua and the officers of the people) led to second and third circles that had to perform as well as the first circle in order to gain quality traction and movement across the network. It was a must then. It is a must today. It will be in place in heaven as well.

The good news is that there are plenty of great men to draw from in your congregation and in your community to build an effective and explosive men's leadership engine. All you have to do is have simple proven strategy in place that provides community for them, promotes growth among them, and produce leaders out of that process. Most pastors are unaware that they have a Sleeping Giant under the floorboards of your congregation and actively incubating in their community right this second. In fact, take heart in knowing that the Holy Spirit is already calling the very men you will activate from your own congregation or catch in your nets in the community. God brings their faces to your mind, runs you by them in the coffee shop, and gives you their hands to shake after services. Those are the men! Pray for them right now if you feel led. Pray for men you know. Pray for the men God brings to mind. Pray for the men yet unsaved and unconnected in your community.

After that pray for yourself, that God would open your eyes and energize your commitment to intentionally raising up your own personal corps of officers who will execute the mission and vision when God speaks to you.

Then after you pray, ACT! Adopt a proven strategy, provide community to draw the net, promote growth, and begin producing your own officers of the people. If you need help here's how:

Buckle up.


Kenny Luck is the founder of Every Man Ministries and the men's pastor at Saddleback Church. His 20th book – SLEEPING GIANT: No Movement of God without Men of God - is a blueprint for men's ministries, and was released through B&H Publishing. Watch and read more of Kenny's teaching here at EXPLORE: "Media Vault" for related resources.

Follow Every Man Ministries now on Facebook, Twitter (@everymm,) and YouTube.

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