7 Lessons for Leading a Growing Church

The following is a guest post by Pastor Derwin Gray. Derwin is the founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church.  After graduating from Brigham Young University, Gray played football in the NFL for five years. He graduated magna cum laude, earning a M.Div. with a concentration in apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary. He is an author of a number of books including Limitless Life.

Church leaders, I want to share with you some insights and suggestions that will encourage you in both your ministry and personal life. Whether you serve in outreach, on a worship team, kid’s ministry, or as a pastor, I want to invest in you, so that you may grow.

1. Love Jesus more than anything.

You might think, “Derwin, that’s obvious.” Here’s the thing: when we love Jesus more than anything else, His love starts to overflow, and this will grow our capacity to love our spouse, children, congregation, and those who have yet to receive the love of Christ.

2. Know your identity.

Know who you are and who you are not. The world does not need you trying to be someone else. Be who you are and relentlessly — through your life “in Christ” — develop who you are by embodying a lifestyle of prayer, reading, and humbling learning from other leaders. Be secure in your identity that’s in Christ.

3. Create a culture of excellence.

Excellence is the result of clear, compelling vision and intentionality. Therefore, a culture of excellence does not spring into existence out of nowhere. As leaders, we should create the mood so vision and intentionality can combine forces and create a culture of excellence.

4. Value people over production.

Every human is worthy of dignity, honor and respect. At Transformation Church, one of our core values that drives our discipleship is “People over production.” Whether there is success or failure, people are more valuable than what they produce. What does people over production really mean? Glad you asked! “People over production” does not mean you will not be held accountable to fulfill your role on a team, or that you’re excused from accomplishing your task on time. It does mean that leadership cares more about you being conformed into the image of Jesus than about what you produce. It also means that if your marriage is hurting, leadership will set you down from ministry to help strengthen your marriage.

5. Continue to learn and develop as a leader.

As leaders, we replicate who we are in those we lead. If you don’t like the culture of your organization — whether it’s an NFL football team, your family, or your church — don’t look around at others to blame. You, as the leader have created, through your leadership, what you perceive as a problem. As you expand and develop into a healthy leader, your influence will go viral throughout the organization you lead. The opposite is true as well. Unhealthy leadership goes viral throughout the organization just as easily.

6. Stay focused and guard your calling.

As leaders we should focus on and guard our calling from God. My calling is to love God, be a husband to Vicki, be Presley and Jeremiah’s father, pastor Transformation Church, and steward my leadership potential and leadership influence. Most days I am presented with good opportunities. However, if I say yes to all these opportunities, these “good opportunities” would pull me away from the great things God wants me to do. Define the great things by who God has called you to be and what He has called you to do, not in terms of whom God has called someone else to be.

7. Rest.

One of the greatest things a leader can do is rest. Perhaps you’re saying, “Pastor Derwin, how can you rest with all the demands that you have?” When I say the greatest thing a leader can do is rest, I mean rest from trying to do Jesus’ job by our own efforts or works. If we don’t rest, we’ll grow emotionally and physically weary, which will lead to sin. God’s rest is God’s GRACE! When we rest in Christ, God is going to build His Church through you, and bless you to be a great spouse and parent.

I pray that these insights and suggestions are helpful as you carry out the calling God has placed on your heart.