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And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was
regarded to be greatest.  And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles
lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called 'Benefactors.'
 "But not so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become
as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.  "For who is greater,
the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the
one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
For fifteen years, prior to coming to this ministry position, I devoted
significant amounts of time to equipping people for the Pastoral ministry.
I taught in Seminary Extension in Palm Desert, California and Turlock,
California and was an Adjunct professor at Trinity Southwest in Albuquerque,
New Mexico while I pastored there. When I moved here, I made a strategic
decision to stop training people in Pastoral leadership and refocus my
efforts to training lay leaders. I have continued to write for professional
journals and to provide resources for over 2000 Pastors a week through
my Internet websites, but by and large my writing ministry and teaching
ministry has made a dramatic shift when I moved here from training the
clergy to training lay leaders.
In talking with our church leaders here, I came to believe that I could
have a greater impact for the Kingdom by moving to The Monterey Peninsula
and pastoring a church that trains lay leaders for churches around the
world. We do not develop leaders for our church, we develop them for churches
around the world. Because there is a steady flow of people coming through
the church, we have a unique calling and a unique opportunity. Now, I don't
want you to think that I brought this vision to this church. The vision
was here before I arrived. It was a vision God gave this church years ago
and it was a vision He gave me when He appointed me to be your Pastor.
It wasn't a new vision for you, but it was a new vision for me. As I said,
prior to moving here, I focused on training clergy, not laymen.
We've made some strategic changes to facilitate this vision. For one,
we've nurtured a multi-generational, multi-ethnic church. We are cutting
against the grain of the conventional wisdom of the Church Growth movement.
It says that to be effective, we need to target an age group and sculpt
our ministry and programs to meet their unique needs. Instead, we've fostered
"intentional dissatisfaction" among our membership. We've said, that we
don't want to build a church where just the old or just the young attend.
But we want our church to include everyone. Because we are multi-generational,
we know that no one group of people will like everything that goes on in
our church. As I often say, "If you like everything that is going on in
our church, you're not paying attention." Because not every program, service
and ministry was designed with you or your age group in mind. We don't
ask you to like everything we do, just to support the vision of being a
church where all generations can attend. Where the young can learn from
the old and where Paul can remind Timothy not to despise his youth.
I am convinced that people grow more by being involved in ministry than
attending a class so we involve as many people as possible in ministry.
The old and the young alike. This is a strategic decision. I know it doesn't
foster satisfaction among everyone, but it does give every leader, regardless
of age, an opportunity to grow as they serve their Lord. We try to mix
up the generations when we form our committees and ministry teams to give
the opportunity for cross generational fellowship and provide natural opportunities
for mentoring to take place.
But we've also provided some classroom training opportunities. Beyond
our traditional Sunday School and pulpit ministries, we've made a substantial
innovation in church life. For several months, the retired ministers in
our church and I met regularly to discuss how to build leaders. We worked
on one question, "how do we develop 'make a difference' Christians?"-the
kind of laymen that stand beside their pastor to make a difference in their
churches and their world. From those discussions emerged a change that
the deacons of the church and the Church Council embraced-Encounter. Today,
we have more people gathering on Thursday evenings to receive training
than used to attend Sunday Morning when I arrived at the church.
God is blessing our efforts as we work together to build Church leaders.
But in recent days, I've begun to question a key component of the philosophy
of ministry that guides my life work. For years, I've focused on building
leaders, either for the pulpit or the pew, regardless, I've focused on
building leaders. Today I question whether that is what I need to be doing.
Yes, it is important to be able to run a committee meeting or guide a church
to fulfill a vision, but today, I don't believe it is the most important
thing I can do with my life or with our church's resources.
Forget about me and us for a minute. Think for a minute about how Jesus
spent His time. Did He teach His disciples to be leaders? Think for a minute.
Was that the thrust of His parables? What about His sermons? Was that the
thrust of His sermons? How about His miracles? Did His miracles result
in teaching His disciples to be leaders? To some degree, He did, but He
did more than that.
Jesus taught about being a Kingdom citizen. He called His followers
to obedience, sacrifice and a life of service, not just to be leaders.
I know that what I'm saying right now isn't in vogue, and perhaps you can
prove me wrong, but I'm convinced I'm right about this. And thus comes
my own self-evaluation. Is God calling us just to train Christian leaders,
or to nurture in each another a radical lifestyle of high character and
service to others?
Now there is nothing wrong with developing leaders, it is only wrong
if God is calling us to do something else. And I believe He is. He is calling
us to make servants out of leaders. Something I've learned by watching
you. Whether it is cleaning up after a wedding because the family of the
bride and groom failed to live up to their responsibilities, or stocking
the food pantry so we can serve hungry people, or moving the furniture
around in the fellowship hall to prepare a place for the homeless to sleep
when it is our turn to host I-help, or training our young people to run
the sound system-our church is filled with leaders who have learned that
their callings are to be servants. They are men and women of high character
who are willing to do the unglamourous because they love their Lord and
In the time I've served you, you've rubbed off on me, and I've come
to understand that my life mission is not to train church leaders, but
to train church servants. In our text today, Jesus doesn't impart leadership
secrets to His disciples, instead He tells them to become servants. John's
gospel tells us what He does next. Look at John 13:5 "Then He poured water
into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them
with the towel with which He was girded." Jesus didn't wash their feet
to teach them a lesson about servant leadership-He washed their feet because
He was a servant.
Today, Jerry, we do not ordain you just because we see in you the capacity
to be a Church leader-we ordain you because we believe you have the character
and the humility to be a Church servant. In the years to come, I'm sure
I'll hear how you and your family have impacted Churches around the globe
and how your leadership has made a difference. And if I do, to be honest
with you, I'll be proud of you. But what I really hope to hear is what
a humble servant you are, then I know, that your Lord will be proud of
you. And then, I'll know, that we've accomplished our mission and our calling.