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Ministry leaders: Mac Lake on Leadership Development

Meredith Mahon Morris December 13, 2011

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We respect the real thought leaders in ministry who are doing ministry day in and day out. Because of that, we’re bringing you different voices with real ministry perspective to aid, challenge and inspire you. It’s not about what we think, it’s about helping you learn from your peers. And in that, we’ll all growing together.

 

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17


I recently had a great chat with Mac Lake, where we talked about leadership development, and why it’s such an important issue to him. He’s the chief launch officer at The Launch Network,  and he has decades of experience in church leadership development, including many years at one of our client churches, Seacoast Church. Mac shared some of his passion with me, and starting next week, we’ll share some of his wisdom about leadership development with a series of posts.

To start, here is what Mac told me about his passion for leadership.

– Eleanor Pierce, ACS Technologies

Awhile back, I went to visit a church planter on his opening Sunday. He was a great young man, it was a growing area, they were meeting in a nice school, there was a high traffic count in that location – he had a lot going for him. My wife Cindy and I went to visit his first Sunday service, his grand opening, where he was expecting about 250 people.

We pulled up in the parking lot two minutes before the service started, and there were about 10-15 cars in the parking lot. We walked up, and there was one greeter. We walked down a lonely, quiet hallway, and walked into a beautiful auditorium that could have seated 250 people.

He had 22 people there at his opening service. It was just a tragic experience.

When the service ended, we waited until everybody left, and we talked to him, and what should have been one of the greatest days of his life was one of the worst days of his life. Cindy and I left after trying to encourage him and do a little emotional CPR on him. We went and got in the car and I looked at Cindy and I said “That should never happen.”

“It’s not a spiritual issue … it’s a leadership issue.”

Because you know what? It’s not a spiritual issue, because this is a godly young man, and it’s not a contextual issue, because it’s a growing community – he knew the community well. It was ripe for a new church. It’s a leadership issue. He made too many leadership mistakes. At the heart of The Launch Network, and in most of the work I’ve done over the years, my mission is to help inspire and equip next-generation leaders, including church planters.

It’s not just church plants that can benefit from leadership training. The fact is, a lot of the churches that are shutting down, it really isn’t due to spiritual issues. These are godly men and they’re in areas where the need is great, but for a lot of them, it’s just a clumsy execution of their calling. Some of them are making too many leadership mistakes and they’re paying the price for it.

When I graduated seminary and went to my first ministry position at Pawley’s Island Community Church in Pawley’s Island, SC, the lead pastor at the time, Bob Barrows, was just a wonderful mentor. He gave me really broad experience, he let me do everything in that church. It was there that my passion for developing leaders started.

“If you’re going to be successful, you’ve got to surround yourself with leaders.”

That’s because, what I discovered after a year and a half was that I was doing everything. So everything was getting ready to fall apart because everything pointed back to me. 88 volunteers reported directly to me, but I just couldn’t do it all. That’s when I really began to recognize the need for developing leaders. If you’re going to be successful, you’ve got to surround yourself with leaders.

“I’m going to pour into you as leaders.”

I restructured the ministry and chose 7 leaders to begin to lead through, and I told them: “My job is to make you successful; your job is to make those under you successful. I’m going to pour into you as leaders.” That just really changed the trajectory of my ministry at that point.

After serving there for 7 years, I felt called to plant a church, and did that, and my last couple of years the church was growing well, and my hunger to be more and more involved in leader development was just growing. Through a series of circumstances, I ended up in a lunch with Greg Surratt, and he just all the sudden offered me a job at Seacoast, and I said, “what would you want me to do?” and he said “what do you wan to do?” What I wanted to do was leadership development, and that’s what I did there for years. I’m just passionate about it.

That’s how the passion developed. Come back next week for the next installment in this leadership development series by Mac Lake, “What is Leadership Development?”

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