Dear Friends of the Mission,
I have been spending a lot of time recently reflecting on the beginnings of All Saints Dallas seven years ago and how the Lord has raised up leaders, both clergy and lay, for His Kingdom work. All Saints began as a Bible Study group of 17 parishioners led by Ron+ McCrary, and after meeting for a while they realized that they wanted to plant their own church. When they called me to be their Rector, Ron+ helped me recognize the leaders not just within the Bible Study group but also in the community that was forming around them.
Dallas is a big community, so we asked our core group to invite their friends into their homes for food, drink and fellowship, and to talk about the vision for All Saints Dallas. In those days, I spent most of my time at coffee shops and sandwich places meeting one on one with new friends, friends of friends, or even the guy I met at the theatre where Claudia and I had been to see a movie the night before. I have found that I am always looking for the next one who God is putting in front of me, whether in a sanctuary, a Starbucks, a parking garage or the Walgreens on the corner.
It was as clear to me then as it is now that a church will rise or fall in its cultural impact based on the quantity and quality of its leaders, both clergy and lay. It is in identifying, developing, and encouraging your leaders that your church will find health, strength, and growth. Leaders (and I’m not just talking about clergy here) recognize other potential leaders, and should be trained to develop and grow those new leaders as much as their priests. Not every church leader is called to be ordained into the priesthood, but all are equally important to the health of the church.
As a Mission Society, one of our main objectives is to develop disciples in our midst who respond to leadership. We are very blessed to have coaches within the Mission who work with our clergy, churches and church planters to build capabilities and resources for leadership development.
As Rector of All Saints Dallas this has been impressed on me in a new way as we prepare to move into a new building in downtown Dallas in the next year to year and a half. We will be bringing in a coach to work with our leaders, clergy and lay, to help them discover their calling, contribution, spiritual gifts and wiring. We have invited the whole church to participate!
As we are digging deeper into leadership development I see that this needs to be a vital part of each of our Anglican Mission churches and works. I hope that you, too, are actively involved in areas of identifying and equipping leaders wherever you are in church leadership: vestry, lay leader or clergy. Over the years I have found that materials such as Terry Walling’s Focused Living and Apex are a great help for people to get clarity on their calling, understand God’s sovereign foundation in their lives, discover their unique contribution in the world and grow as a Christian leader.
Another great tool is the Alpha ministry. It invites those who have completed the program to rise up in leadership as table hosts, speakers, administrative help, and creators of a culture of invitation that strengthens the overall church community.
You may have other ways of identifying and equipping lay leaders in your church, and we’d love to hear about them! My prayer is that the Lord will challenge and encourage you in these areas whether you are laity or clergy. If you are interested in coaching, please contact our Rector General, Mike Blanchat, at firstname.lastname@example.org or our Counselor General for Leadership, Allen Hughes, at email@example.com. We want to support you in your ministry and help facilitate mutual support among our churches as we learn, grow, and follow the Lord together.
On mission with you,