Filling Gaps In Leadership

Learning How To Recognize And Nurture The Qualities Of A Good Leader

Ross Sawyers
Oct 31, 2021    55m
Do you know of somebody in your church or in your life group that is a natural leader? To grow the church from within the church body, we need to learn how to recognize and nurture the qualities of a good leader in ourselves and others. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:09] It's been an incredible morning of worship. And I'm reminded, I've been reading Bob Fu's book, he came last year and spoke to us, he leads an organization called China Aid. He grew up in China, became a follower of Christ during his college years, and was a part of that Underground House Church. He was arrested and imprisoned for a couple of months, and then God worked his escape out of country, and he's been working ever since for the sake of the gospel in China. But the reminder for me today is the freedom we have to come and to worship, and we're not fearful today that the government's going to come in and arrest us for gathering and worship like they are in China even on this day. And so it's a gratitude to God, and a gratefulness for those who are in the underground church all over the world, that love Jesus so much that that will not deter them, and they are willing to go to prison for their faith and their love for Jesus Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:21] This last week, I had a surgery on Tuesday, and I'm never going to miss a moment as a pastor to take advantage of things like that. And it was something that I've needed to do for a while, it was just kind of something I needed to take care of. And so it's Tuesday morning, and one day I want to say about it is, I'm incredibly grateful for the doctors, and nurses, the administrative people. I just, from beginning to end, and when I met with the doctor at first making phone calls to clarify questions, the people helping with insurance and bless their hearts. I mean, that job is an incredibly difficult task. And just the way that I was cared for, the things I was told, is just almost unfolded exactly as they said it would. And so I'm just grateful for the way that worked.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:19] Well, I showed up on Tuesday morning, and you know the deal, and many of you've had different surgeries. And so you can relate, you show up, you check-in, you do your deal, and then they start putting bands around your wrist. And they put the one with my name and birthdate that if I didn't know it by Tuesday, I know it now, by the time I repeated it multiple times. And then she put one on me, though, that I was surprised by it, it was a red one, it said fall risk. And I thought, what are you looking at that you see that I'm a fall risk? She goes, well, you're going to have surgery and you're going to have an anesthetic and you're going to come out of that, and you're going to be a fall risk. OK, I can live with that. And then they did the pre-op work, the nurse was fantastic that did all that work. And then the doctor comes, and he explains again what he's going to do, and then gratefully takes a pen and marks on me where he's going to actually do the procedure. You don't want them to get in there and miss, so I appreciate that, and so he marked me. Then the anesthesiologist, who's a friend of mine, he explains what he's going to do. And then they roll me off and I'm headed down the hallway and I remember him saying, he's not going to remember what we said here. And that's the last thing I remember.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:41] And I thought, I don't know about you if you have surgery, I don't sleep well, I actually like anesthesia because it gives me an idea of, oh, this is what sleep is supposed to be like. You don't actually remember anything while you're sleeping, and you don't wake up while you're doing it. But then you know that this surgery is done, and the goal is to get you in recovery and you have to do different things, tasks they want you to do, before you can leave. And so what I remember next is I fell asleep, rolling down the hall, and then I woke up and I was hitting my head against the pillow, trying to get it off so that I could do what I was being told, I guess.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:19] But when you awaken from anesthesia, you're like in a stupor. I mean, you're just trying to really figure out where you are and what's going on afresh. I remembered what I was told somewhat, but I was still trying to just get a grip on it. And then we left, the doctor told me, he said, you're going to feel great the rest of the afternoon. He said, I have so numbed you up and the anesthetic, you're just going to feel really good the rest of the day until about five o'clock. And I did. And then he said, you're going to want to start the pain pills at five, and I did. And then we watched a movie, and everything was going great, take one more pain pill and went to sleep, failed to calculate what would happen during the night in thinking about the numbing, the anesthesia still working its way out, sleeping, and the combination of all of that. So, between one and two o'clock, this is way too much information, but I got out of bed, and I went to the bathroom and the next thing Lisa hears, so this is a combination of my memory and she's telling me what happened, the shower curtain comes down. So we don't know what happened there, and then she finds me, and I was next to the sink, my arms were shaking, I fell into the mirror, so I guess I passed out briefly. She gets me off of that, and then gets me to the ground, but I wanted to follow the rules and I was told that I'm supposed to wash my hands really good, and so I wanted to get back up to that sink and finish off what I went in there to do. But she said, and this is my gentle, kind wife, she said, Ross, stay down. And so she got me to crawl back to the bed, and I made my way back. A couple of hours later, I said I had to go to the bathroom again because, oh no, here we go again. And then after that, I looked at felt my finger and I thought my wedding ring is gone. And so said Lisa, my wedding ring is gone. She was ready for the morning to come; it was a long night for her and all that was going on.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:25] And the doctor was exactly right, he said peak pain would be Wednesday, and he was right. When I awakened, I was ready for those pain pills. Now, why would I tell you all of that? I'm just not interested in telling you my surgery story, I tell it to you because I think it's a great picture of what's going on in leadership on a world level, a national level, a state level, a local level, in our churches all over the world. And I think what Satan has done is put us under an anesthetic, and so many leaders that are operating out of a stupor, and are making no sense, and are fumbling around in a bathroom, trying to figure out what in the world in the way they're to lead us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:28] There are problems everywhere in leadership. And Satan is the one who does that, he is deceived, tricked, lied, and so many have bought it. Anesthesia and pain medicine is great, it has a purpose, but the purpose is to come out of it with a clear mind and to not stay in it. There are so many today also who are clear minded in their leadership, and I want us to see an Acts chapter 1 today, how we should operate from a leadership perspective, how we actually fill the gaps of leadership, and hopefully, it's an encouragement for us in a way to pray as we think about leaders all over in whatever realm it might be.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:29] If you turn your Bibles to Acts chapter 1 verses 15 to 26, and what we're finding in Acts is an unfolding of the early church, the disciples have shown up, they are with Jesus. Jesus tells them they need to wait, that the Holy Spirit is going to come, and then they'll be clothed with power, and they'll be witnesses for him to the remotest parts of the Earth, but not until the Spirit comes. He ascends to heaven, and then the disciples, they go to the upper room in Jerusalem and it's there that they've gathered and they're doing exactly what Jesus said to them to do, and they are singularly devoted in their minds to prayer, they are seeking God in prayer.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:14] And as they're praying, something happens that we see unfolding 15 through 26, that is different than what they were waiting for, they were waiting for the Spirit to come. And I think this is what happens with us often, we have a specific thing where we're going to God for in prayer and we're waiting for him to answer, but while we're waiting, he talks to us about something else. That's what's occurring here, they're praying, they're seeking God, they're waiting for the Spirit to come, and it seems God puts on Peter that he needs to take care of a leadership issue, and he does it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:57] I want us to think about this pattern for selecting leaders that we see unfold in Acts chapter 1, I think it's transferable to so many of our realms. But first, I want us to do a quick character study between two leaders that are in this passage of scripture. Let's read verses 15 and 16, "At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, 16“Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus." I want to think about two leaders going to different directions, Peter, and Judas Iscariot.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:54] Now, Peter, just to give a thumbnail sketch of his character, he is one of the three in the inner circle with Jesus. So he's part of the 12, but Jesus had an inner three, and Peter was one of those. Jesus had actually given him the name of Stone, and Peter would be the stone that supports the rock, he's the one supporting Jesus, and he would become the earliest establisher of the church. Peter was impulsive, bold, you didn't have to wonder what he was thinking, whether he was on or off, he'd say it, that's his personality. He was willing to die for Jesus, he said, until it was time for that moment, and then he wasn't. Jesus in his most crucial moment, and Peter, one of his inner three and close to him, denies him, not once, not twice, three times. And I think it would be fair to say that in those moments that we just don't use the word denial, that Peter himself betrayed his friend. Well, that's Peter, I'll come back to him in a moment.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:34] Judas, the scripture says, became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. Judas was also one of the 12 disciples, someone that Jesus chose to be in his 12, and to walk with him, discipling him to be a leader. What do we know about Judas? From the scripture we know that he was the treasurer for the group, he took care of the money. But we also know that he was a thief, so he actually stole the money he took care of. We know that on the night of the Last Supper, that same night where Peter, who said he would die for Jesus, actually denied and betrayed him. The scripture says in John, 13, that Satan entered into the heart of Judas. And Jesus, around that intimate table with his disciples, that last meal they would take together, identifies Judas as the one who would betray him that night, and his disciples still don't get it. How could a man who is betraying Jesus walk among the disciples for those three years, and somehow, they never picked up on what Judas was really about? He's the one that leads the chief priests, officers, Roman soldiers, and betrays Jesus with a kiss.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:26] Two leaders, Peter, and Judas Iscariot, both betrayers, both close into Jesus, both remorseful, we're told, over their betraying of Jesus. But here's where we diverge, "Judas, in despair, hangs himself.", Matthew 27. Peter allows himself to be restored by Jesus, and he becomes a transformational, clear-minded leader. He would actually later write in First Peter, to be careful, to be sober, to be on the alert, because the devil, like a roaring lion, is seeking someone to devour. That is what Satan is about, he is seeking people to devour. And if he can devour leaders, then he can devour the people who are following those leaders. He also says to be prepared in our mind and to fix our eyes on the grace that's to be brought to us, the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, he says, don't be about your former lust, which you did in your ignorance. Instead, you're to be holy in all your behavior because it's written, I'm holy, so you be holy. Peter became a transformed leader.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:20] And I wanted you to see both of those pictures of leaders because sometimes we feel like we've denied, we've betrayed, we've so sinned against God that we're rendered ineffective, disqualified, and no longer can fulfill the gifting and the leadership that God has given to us. But here's Peter, unworthy, made worthy in Jesus. None of us are worthy today, our worth comes in who we are in Christ, he makes us worthy in himself through what he did on the cross.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:01] Practically today, when we think about these two leaders, I don't have to tell you that we live in a challenging day, I don't have to tell you that there's poor leadership everywhere, and I don't have to tell you that there's excellent leadership everywhere as well. But what distinguishes the two? There are those today, and this is a piece I want to highlight in thinking about our moment, our cultural moment, that what we're seeing all around us is a deconstruction movement of our Christian faith. That may or may not be a term you're familiar with, but people who once said they were followers of Jesus, like Judas, are now saying, no, I need to deconstruct my faith, I don't know if I really believe this anymore or not, and they're removing parts of it, and then many are de-converting as well. And these leaders are guiding whole segments of culture to follow them in rejection of Jesus. Satan is anesthetizing our culture, he has put us to sleep, and he's awakening us just enough to keep us in a stupor where we are unclear in our thinking and easily swayed.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:05] Over the last couple of years, I can't tell you how many parents of 20 somethings, that I've talked to that just grieve where their children are today. And this is what's different today than a few years ago, it's not 20 somethings who are just going off into a party world for a while and rejecting the church for a bit and kind of getting away from their faith, and there's a sense of conviction about God inside of them, they know they're wrong, but they're still pursuing it. Tons of people have pursued that path, and in the past, what you would think is that people would come back, they'd get married, they come back, they have kids, and they think, oh, I better get into the church so I can get my kids rooted in the church, that was an old way of thinking. But now what we're hearing from Christian 20 somethings, or who said they were Christians, they're flat rejecting faith. It's not, I'm just going wild out here, it is I don't think I believe that anymore. I don't think I believe the Bible is true or reliable anymore. I don't think that faith that I grew up in is real. I don't agree with the sexual ethic of the scripture, therefore, I don't think I can believe this anymore.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:26] So someone turned me on this week to a podcast by Alisa Childers, and I'll tell you what, after listening to her, she's someone I'll go back to again, she's speaking really well into the culture. She had an interview with Jeremy Camp and his wife, Adrienne, and then the band Skillet, John and Corey Cooper. It's a fantastic interview, talking about deconstruction, and what's going on all around us with leaders that are turning from the faith in leading people away like Judas. And Alisa tells her story, and she grew up in a Christian home, they served the homeless on the weekend. She said it was normal for us, I didn't know that's not what you did as a Christian. I just thought as a Christian, what you did is on the weekend you hung out with the homeless and the drug addicts and she said, we just saw radical transformation in people's lives that were impacted by the gospel. She said, I just thought that's what you do as a Christian growing up. That's a beautiful picture, by the way.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:42] And then she was part of the band ZOEGirl for seven years in Christian music, and then that ended. And then she ended up in a church in Tennessee, and the pastor who she really loved and loved his teaching, and he invited her to do a class that he was going to lead with different people. And when she went to that class, what he proceeded to say to them is I'm now a hopeful agnostic. And he began over a series of time, to teach that small group, he basically deconstructed the faith with them, and it undid her faith. She said I didn't start deconstructing my faith, he deconstructed it for me, and it put her in a place of darkness and doubt.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:28] And she realized she had a strong, emotional, and experiential faith, but she didn't have an intellectual faith to go with it. I think, by the way, it's why God says to love him with all of our heart, soul, and our mind, so we don't get put into a stupor in our minds. And whenever we get untethered and non-anchored to the truth of the word, we go into an irrational stupor, and we better have somebody grabbing hold of us, to help us get back to bed and to regroup. And she started to study, and it was a period of years that God restored her faith, and now God's using her in phenomenal ways. I would encourage you to look at the podcast, Elisa Childers on deconstruction, interviewing Jeremy Camp and his wife Adrienne, and the band Skillet, it will give you a really clear idea.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:38] But I think that's what's happening to our 20 somethings today, you have all this deconstruction going on, its big personalities out there, they have influence on social media 24/7, the Prince of the Power of the Air, Satan himself, is taking advantage of those. And I'm not saying that Christians aren't utilizing social media as well, because they are. I'm just saying 24/7, it is full-on, there is not a break with it. And it depends on what we're allowing to shape our minds, if we're not allowing God to shape our minds through his word, we're in a stupor. If we're allowing all the latest trends, this week's influence, however it shifts to shape our minds, then we're in trouble.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:24] A friend of mine said it this way, this is a general statement. He's asking somebody, saying, when do we give our kids a phone? And the answer was whenever you want to introduce your kids to pornography, that's when you give them the phone. Satan is robbing, stealing our 20 somethings, our teenagers, and our children, and it doesn't have to be that way because we have hope, we have truth, and we do have leaders that are sober and clear-minded in the scriptures.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:59] Now how do we find those leaders? I see a pattern here when we unfold this part of the scripture that can be helpful to us and anchor us. And the first thing that we'd want to think about when we're filling leadership gaps in the church. and I think wherever you are in your workspace, wherever you're functioning as leadership, I think is a Christian, this is a good guide. And it might be that you're the leader, it might be that you're helping find the leaders, it's one or the other, and we want to be a part of the finding leaders process because leaders matter, and it affects everything. So I want to know that whoever the leaders are, that they're as much as possible, that they're the way that God is laid out for them to be, we have our best shot when that's the case.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:45] Scriptures as a guide, verse 16, “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus." So, I want to anchor this part on, the scripture had to be fulfilled, God is a yes, he's always a yes in his promises, it had to be fulfilled, and he goes back a thousand years to King David. When we talk about the reliability of scripture, one of the ways we look back is that the Holy Spirit was already leading people in what would be scripture a thousand years before this would even be said.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:22] What's also beautiful here is Peter understands that Jesus explained himself from the Old Testament. The Old Testament points us to Jesus, and he's going back to the scripture as a guide for why he's about to fill this vacant leadership slot. "He was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.”, verse 17, so he's acknowledging Judas was with us, he was part of the 12.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:46] In verses 18 and 19, Luke gives a little bit of an aside here. Peter's talking, Luke's the writer of Acts, and he interjects some information about Judas. "(Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 19And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)"

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:18] We know in Matthew 27, and right here in Acts 1, how it unfolded after Judas betrayed Jesus. It's complimentary, there are different details in each spot that helps us get a fuller picture of the gravity of what went on there. It's unfortunate when we see this, what happened with Judas, and I'm afraid today, too many times people go into that kind of despair. What I want you to see on the other side, though, is for Peter, he could have moved to that same place of despair, but he didn't. And again, that's an encouragement for us today, that God takes us even our brokenness and he can restore that. I hope today you'd be encouraged by what happened with Peter, and we don't have to live in shame, and guilt, regret, the same kind that Judas lived in.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:12] In verse 20, “For it is written in the book of Psalms." So here's the quote from the Old Testament, ‘LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT’; and ‘LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE.’ Peter is praying, God brings the scripture to mind. Judas has defected, there were twelve apostles, twelve tribes of Israel, he needed to be replaced. After this, there's no more replacement of the Twelve Apostles, once they die, that's it. But because Judas had defected, they replaced them, "Let another man take his office."

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:59] Scripture helps us to know what we do with leadership. So if Scripture's our guide, then how are we guided as a church? When the scripture, we're told that the church is to be led by pastors and teachers, shepherds and evangelists, and prophets and apostles, and that their role is to equip the church so that we can do the ministry that God has called us into. So we know from Scripture the way that God wants us to lead, he's given us elders to give oversight to the church as a whole, and this is the way that we've functioned, that Scripture is our guide.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:37] We also look to Scripture for our guide of the qualities of the leaders. And that's the second thing I would say here if we're looking for leadership, we're looking for scripture as our guide, and then we're observing the qualities that are desired in those leadership roles. What are those? In this particular instance, verse 21, “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” So the kind of person they were looking for is someone that had been with them those previous three years, someone that had been in and out among the disciples, someone who had been following Jesus as well. They weren't looking for someone that had potential here, they were looking for someone that already was following after Jesus. Sometimes there are leadership roles where you want to be looking for people that they're already exhibiting these things, there are other leadership roles where we develop over time until we get to that spot. In this particular case, they're looking for someone that had been with them, and that was a witness of the resurrection. An apostle, by definition, is one who was an eyewitness to the life of Jesus, the death and resurrection of Jesus. So these were the qualities, that those things had to have been observed. "And they put forward two guys, two men, Joseph called Barsabbas, and Matthias.",0 in verse 23. They put these two guys forward, we don't know much about them, but it would just seem that they fit these qualifications of verses 21 and 22.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:26] Now, when I think about that at 121, our elders come out of the church body of 121, there's not an outside group of people that lead our church, it comes from within. Our staff, currently, it hasn't always been this way, but for the majority of the time it has been, every person that's currently on our staff was at 121 before they became a part of the staff at 121. It gives us the opportunity to observe what God is doing, we're not just looking at somebody, maybe they'll do this one day. Are they already serving? Are they already in the life of the church? What is their heart from what we can see? And so we look for things, look for qualities, and look for ways that people are serving. And so in the same way that they were making observations, we do the same.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:19] And if I could just encourage you today that if you see people in your life group, in your places where you serve, that you see as potential leaders of any kind, that you let us know. Too often people don't step up into leadership roles, someone has to kind of nudge them there, help them get there, so just help us do that together, we're all observing together. Who would we want to be our leaders for our kids, for our teenagers, for our adults? Who would we want that to be? And let's pass those on to each other.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:56] Our life group leaders, and every leadership role that's a volunteer role in our church, it emerges out of our church. The same pattern right here, Scriptures, our guide, we're observing qualities, observing what's going on, and then the third thing to consider is prayer for the specific leader. We've been talking about prayer already in Acts, they're in the midst of praying, they take this pause and say we need to fill this leadership gap, and now they pray.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:29] Verse 24, "They prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 25to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” Now they prayed in a very specific way, sometimes we're not quite sure how to pray, and I think one of the best ways to pray is to see how they prayed specifically in scripture.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:56] Now we can make observations, you can make observations in your workspace if you're responsible for different leadership roles. In the community and different organizations, you observe people, and then you put forward people that you think would be good leaders of particular organizations. But we don't always get it right, do we? Judas hung out with the disciples for three years, and they didn't catch the character flaw, they're the sin in him. So we can see things, we can observe things, we can notice things about people, and think they would be great. But notice the prayer. Lord, you know the heart, I don't know your heart at the end of the day, I've got a good guess at a lot of people, hopefully, you have a good guess at mine, at the end of the day only God knows the depths and recesses of our hearts. And so we pray and ask God, Lord, you know the heart, you know. And it's very specific, which one of these two, we've brought these two, which one of these two do you want to occupy this ministry? That's about as specific as you can get. So that's their prayer, God knows the heart.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:29] First Samuel 16:7 says you look at the outward appearance, and you say, you know what, this person looks a particular way, so they would be great for that leadership role. Or this person...We are just looking at the external side. And the Lord says, no, no, no, no, you're looking at the wrong thing. I don't look at the external and think, well, that's kind of the perfect leader, I look at the heart. we're after the heart. So pray to him and say, OK, well, Jesus spent all night praying, he hung out with his disciples, how did he choose Judas? I don't know why, but there are bad leaders and hurtful leaders. And I'm just going to keep it specific to inside the church, not just our church, but the church as a whole, there are awful people leading in churches out there and there are good, clear-minded people leading. Why that happens, I don't know that I know exactly how to answer that question. But I do know this, I know in Daniel, the word says that God removes and places leaders, he does that in governments, he does that in the church, he has purposes. He's a sovereign God, and he's providential, meaning he takes both bad and good and accomplishes his purposes through it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:01] The one place I know to anchor in well from Scripture when there's bad leadership going on is when Joseph's 11 brothers sold him, basically trafficked him, and then he was in prison for several years. They end up being restored, Joseph gets into a place of leadership, Egypt, there's a famine, he ends up taking care of his brothers and his family. But then the dad dies, and something happens when a dad is not in the picture. In this case, the brothers got really concerned that now Joseph would get revenge because their dad was gone. But Joseph said in Genesis 50:20, to his brothers, "What you meant for evil, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." I just know that God redeems bad leadership as well. I think it's much more conducive to walk inside of good, clear-minded leadership, not leadership that's operating out of a stupor, and we can't for the life of us, figure out how decision making is happening here. We pray, and then we trust God to lead us where he wants us to go.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:30] And then finally it says, "They drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. An Old Testament way of making decisions is by casting lots, and they would take pebbles or rocks and mark them a particular way, and then just imagine Yahtzee for a minute, and take them and then throw them. And whichever marked pebble it fell on, whatever they determined, then they believed after they'd prayed that that was God's way of showing them who it was, Mathias is the replacement. This is the last time we see lots in the Bible. Why is that? The Spirit of God is about to come in chapter 2, and now we have the Spirit within us to be our internal guide to lead us and answer to prayer.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:25] Well, I wanted us to think practically about this leadership side as well from this, and I've asked Lorraine Holland, and Jessica Howard, and Jordan Hill, to do a panel kind of conversation with us about the leadership at 121 and the way it would play out here. And so we look at this pattern of Scripture is our guide, and looking at qualities that are observed, and then praying. I just want to let you know what the opportunities are, and our prayer today has been that in light of this passage, that God would encourage and affirm those of you who are already leading, that there's some kind of stirring within anyone that you might take a step towards that after you hear what you hear. And then if you see people that you think are potential leaders that you would let us know what that is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:19] Here's how I want to ask you to do that when we're done in a few minutes. There's a card in the seatback, and if you don't mind getting that card, and if someone comes to mind while we're talking, that you think, you know what, this person really ought to be leading. And I think after hearing this, I'm going to give them that little nudge by letting these three know who that is. Or you step in and say, do you know what, in light of this, I'm ready to go, and just tell me what I need to do next. All right.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:50] So, Lorraine, I want you to get us rolling. When we think about what we're looking for in leaders, what would you say, as a team, you all are looking for, and what we're looking for as a church?

Lorraine Holland: [00:41:04] Well, like Ross said in his sermon, we don't know someone's heart, but we do see an overflow of the gospel being lived out in someone's life. We see them wrestling with sin, we see just them loving people the way Jesus loves us. We see an extension of them talking about the gospel, that they would be filled up, that they would have a desire for the people around them to know the Lord and to walk more intimately with them. We would see the Lord stirring their heart to want to step into that leadership, whatever God is calling them to do. And I think one of the things our church does really well, is our life group leaders all have unique giftings, and we know that God wires us in different ways, and he gifts us in different ways, and that the Lord can use those different gifting things in the context of leadership. And for some, that might be hospitality, somebody might have a gift of wanting to welcome people in and wanting to love people the way God loves them. And for others that might be gifting as a Bible teacher, that they would have just a rich understanding of Scripture and application of the word. And so often in life groups, we see God gifting to people who come together and lead a group together. And so I want to encourage you, the Lord has uniquely wired all of us, and calls us all to step into kingdom work regardless of our personalities, regardless of where we are, that God can use us to build his kingdom. Do you want to add to that?

Jordan Hill: [00:42:44] Yeah, that was really well said, I think one thing too, especially as we've been talking about it now for the third service, and as we continue to talk about it, just that idea of prayer, and is God moving on in your heart on your life to do this? And that's some of my favorite times, is that we just hear about like, hey, this person really is interested in leading a group. Because that's so fun, because it's like, that's what God's doing, and we can't take any credit for that. And then as we talk about it, like we see in Ephesians 4, our calling is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. And so it's like we want to take our jobs seriously to equip for whatever God might call our church body to step into the work of ministry. You know, and it might be leading a life group, it might be leading a kid's life group, we hope it's a life group leader, but we're good either way with whatever God is calling you into. And so what we want to do is just try to equip our body the best we can so that whenever God calls you into the work of ministry, that we're ready to go.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:54] All right, Lorraine, you know my question, so extrovert or introvert, is it just extroverts that leads these groups or not?

Lorraine Holland: [00:44:01] Absolutely not. We know that God has given us all different personalities, and we know that the Lord calls us in to do the good work that he is prepared in advance for us to do. And we see that, whether somebody is an introvert or an extrovert, we see that the Lord is going to equip them. I mean, that is something that it is our privilege to do. If you feel like the Lord is calling you into ministry, we would love to come alongside of you, we would love to point to you in whatever direction the Lord has for you. Regardless of your personality, regardless of your gifting, God is calling us to share the gospel, he is calling us to help make disciples.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:45] I love it. I think sometimes when we talk about this, sometimes people might think, you know, if they asked me to do this, then they're just going to kind of like expect me to keep going and do it. But, Jessica, would you describe this kind of the process that you lead people through, and the way you just kind of walk with them starting with where they are and then getting them to the point where they're ready to lead?

Jessica Howard: [00:45:05] Sure, I think one of the unique things about being here at 121 and getting the opportunity to walk with people is really that we get to sit down with you, we get to hear your story, we get to hear what Christ is doing in your life, how he's moving you forward. We get to hear the ways in which he is guiding and leading you to start a group, or to walk alongside somebody else to lead, or to even be a part of embarking on a journey for a while, and what that looks like. So I love that, that is unique for 121, and that we get to do that with each of you it is a gift and it is an honor that we are in that position to do so.

Jessica Howard: [00:45:52] I would also say prayer is huge, prayer on our side as a staff, and then prayer with you and the Lord. And it's so neat to watch and see what God does in and through that. I met with somebody last week where a lady was just praying about, where do I step out next? What does that need to look like? Do I need to lead a women's group? And then later that evening, I get a text saying that her husband came to her, they are wanting to start a couple’s group in their area, and open it up to what God has, and so they're prayerfully considering what that needs to look like. So being able to see what God does in and through that.

Jessica Howard: [00:46:34] Discernment, discernment on your part for where the Lord is leading you, how he is uniquely gifted you, and what that needs to look like. And then discernment from the staff and coming back to prayer and what the Lord has.

Jessica Howard: [00:46:48] Then we've launched a new curriculum for our new leaders, which allows you to just go through a part of The Eight Ways, which is our discipleship foundation here at 121. So sharing your story, what is Christ doing? For those who don't believe yet, what is He stirring in that? And then we get to dive into his word together, we get to hold each other accountable. I think when we hear about the word leader, some of us take a step back from that and we go, I'm not equipped for that, I'm not ready for that. And we're not, but God is, and he gives us the ability and the strength and the wisdom to be able to move forward in that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:31] Awesome, thank you. Jordan, help us from a future opportunity side, if someone is stirred a little bit, kind of how is that unfolding for us?

Jordan Hill: [00:47:41] Absolutely. You've heard it probably here, or maybe you haven't heard it and this is your first time, we're glad you're here. God has laid on us a vision for Vision 2025, and there are several different initiatives on there, but one of those being that we want to see a live group pop-up, a life group established, in every neighborhood that makes up our body at 121. And we want to see that because that means worship is happening where worship previously was not happening. So that's why we do it, we do life groups because we're called to make disciples, and we're called to go out and make disciples. So that's why we do life groups, and we see that when we establish a life group, it's an opportunity for somebody who is not in Christian community, who maybe doesn't even know anything about the gospel, it's an opportunity for them to hop into a place where it's a safe environment, where they can ask questions, they can dive in the word.

Jordan Hill: [00:48:34] And so one of the things that we're doing is we're just currently looking at all our different cities, and we're praying, and we're seeing where are our opportunities that God might call us to. Here is a map that we have of Grapevine, and what I love is there are several different, might be hard to see from your perspective, but we've got several different orange dots on here, and these are current life groups that we have. Praise God, there's a lot of orange dots there, that's amazing. What gets me excited as well, is there are several neighborhoods of people that we know, there's some of y'all who are in this service right now and you live here, and that's an empty space. And that's exciting because now we just can pray and say, OK, is God potentially calling you to establish a life group in your neighborhood? I think it's really exciting, based off of the demographics of what makes up our body. And then also, if you think about like this, like God really did something in 2020, and especially if maybe you hopped on whatever real estate boom or market, I'm not an expert, so I don't know what to call it, but you might have moved and you're still a part of our body. Well, now we have an opportunity to establish, again, a life group where there was not one there previously. And so those are just some opportunities because, again, I think this is the future of evangelism.

Jordan Hill: [00:49:58] We're going to have a group start-up in Colleyville in January. And as I was meeting with the guy, he said, hey, my son's a part of this Cub Scout troop, and we've got several friends in there who aren't believers. We've got a family who we are really close with it, they're Muslim. And another family, the guy is a very staunch outspoken agnostic. And he just said, hey, can I invite them to the life group? I was like, yeah, absolutely. Like, that's huge, that's it right there. Because one of the things, and he even said it, and I totally agree with him, they're not coming on a Sunday morning, they're just not. But what they will do is they'll come into their home because they know them, and that is how we can hopefully, that's why we do The Eight Ways is that we can pass it on to people. And I just really believe that's the future of reaching people, reaching the lost, is inviting them into our home, opening up God's word with them, they're seeing examples of what does the Christian life look like. Because, as Ross has even mentioned, right, they're hearing a lot about what does it look like, but in reality, that's not it, and so we have a chance to reach neighbors who don't know Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:51:10] I love that you said that because I think the life groups, and I want to make sure this is clear, when we talk about people deconstructing their faith, just that part, what better place to be able to come and ask your questions than in the context of Christian community? We need to be able to ask those in community together, it's being in God's word, it is prayer, and then how do we walk in this together, and that we don't freak out when we wonder if they believe the Bible anymore or not. Let's sit down and walk through that, it's a discipling opportunity for us on any kind of question, it's a great opportunity and moment, and the life group context is a phenomenal way to do that. Is there anything else you think we missed, that you want to say

Jessica Howard: [00:51:54] Yeah, I think along with that, Ross, just in thinking of opportunities, it's a process, it is a process of learning our entire lives until Christs' return. And so I can look back and think just personally accepting Christ at 13, but not being discipled until my late 20s when I first came to 121, and somebody teaching me how to pray, somebody teaching me how to study his word. It is a process where we learn from one another, we talk about that all the time, and how our leaders just pour back into us and teach us, and it's just going to be a continual opportunity to do so. And the vision of 2025, and how the leadership team, and Ross, knowing everything that was going to happen and where it brought us to today. It's pretty incredible

Jordan Hill: [00:52:44] This just hit me, I didn't realize that I was a part, before I came on staff, I was a part of a life group where, Ross, you plugged me in. You were part of a life group, right? Similar to you? We were all just part of a life group, and then God called us out.

Ross Sawyers: [00:52:59] You too may be sitting in one of these chairs one day. You might, don't laugh. I'd like for Jessica to pray for us here in a second. And I just want to go back to those cards that I mentioned earlier, if there's anybody that came to mind when you leave today, you can put it in that box on your way out or you could find us in the hallway, everybody's available out there. And I mentioned the 20 somethings earlier as well, God is raising up a number of people with a heartbeat for that, to mentor, to lead groups, whatever. Lisa and I are going to jump in for a season of time on what God is already doing here. And so if you have a 20 something, you know a 20 something, send them our way, it's pretty exciting what God is starting to launch, and what we're doing in the coming months. So that would just be one area that if God is stirring you, that you might consider being a part of. So Jessica, if lead us, and then we'll have a little quiet space when she's done for you to kind of pray these things, and then Jordan will wrap us up after that.

Jessica Howard: [00:54:04] Heavenly Father, we thank you for the opportunity to come and worship you this morning, we thank you for the ways in which you are guiding us, and leading us, and directing us. And Lord, I just thank you so much for the people that you have here today, the people you're bringing, the leaders that are here today, the leaders that are being stirred up to be called out and step of obedience and a step of faith. Lord, I pray that you would give guidance, give your wisdom. As we read in scripture today, God, I pray that you know everyone's heart, and that you would stir the hearts and the minds of those that you have prepared, Lord, and that we would come alongside them. God, I thank you for the opportunity that we get to be a part of your kingdom, and what it is that you're doing, and how you're moving this church and this community forward. Lord, how you have church plants across the country, and how we get to pray for those that are global workers across the world. We are thankful to be a part of what it is that you're doing, Lord, and I pray that you would just continue to go before us, give us your knowledge, and depth of insight. It's in your name, we pray, amen.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051