Why We Need More Entrepreneurial Church Leaders, Not More Shepherds

I realize I might be opening up a controversial conversation. But I think it has to be said.

And I hope you’ll hear me out.

If the church is going to reverse some trends and maximize potential, we need more entrepreneurial pastors, not more shepherds.

There’s too much at stake to ignore this conversation.

We’re (Quite Literally) Missing the Boat

If you’re a Christian, for certain the reason you have the faith you have is because Jesus died and rose again. That’s the absolute foundation of our faith.

But would you ever have heard about Jesus if a rabbi named Saul hadn’t sailed all over the known world telling every Jewish and non-Jewish person he could find about Jesus, planting churches almost everywhere he went?

The Apostle Paul, as he became known, left a huge impact not just on the church, but on millions of lives (and on human history) because he possessed the spiritual gift of apostleship.

What’s an apostle? To put it into today’s idiom, an apostle is a spiritual entrepreneur. (Here’s a great article from Leadership Journal about apostleship in the church today.)

A shepherd cares for a (usually) small group. An apostle launches dozens, hundreds or thousands of new communities of Christ-followers.

The church today is flooded with leaders who fit the shepherd model, caring for people who are already assembled, managing what’s been built and helping to meet people’s needs. (This is also a spiritual gift.)

But we have far too few leaders who have the spiritual gift of apostleship.

I believe this helps explain the malaise in much of the Western church in which the vast majority of churches are plateaued or declining.

We quite literally need people to get in a boat (or a car or a plane) and start new things, shake up the old and lead into a better tomorrow.

 

Is This Just Another Slam of Small Churches….?

Is this another slam against small churches?

Well…yes and no.

I love what Karl Vaters has said about small churches.  Karl pastors in Orange County California, where everyone has a megachurch it seems. He leads a smaller church.

According to Karl,

90% of the churches in the world have less than 200 people.

80% have less than 100 people.

And he asks a great question. What if [having a lot of small churches] is not a problem; what if that’s a strategy God wants to use?”

Interesting. You could hear this as a justification for keeping churches small (a justification I’ve heard far too many times).

But hear him out. He adds a crucial caveat:

I’m not interested in someone who says “We have these few. That’s all we ever want. That’s all we ever need.” If that’s your attitude, God bless you (I don’t think he will.)

I want people who want to innovate…who realize that maybe because of their gifting it works better in a small setting. But it’s not about settling. Never settle. Never settle.

Couldn’t agree more. Thank you Karl! (Here’s his whole interview.)

I just wonder if part of that innovation is going to come from people (even in small churches) with the gift of apostleship. If the church as a whole is going to grow, this has to become an all-skate.

 

5 Things Entrepreneurial Leaders Bring

There are at least gifts crucial skills (gifts) entrepreneurial leaders bring to the table:

1. The willingness to risk

The early church took incredible risks. People risked their health, safety, financial security and their very lives for the sake of the Gospel.

In a time when too many churches are trying to figure out how to survive, we need leaders who will change the question to how the church is going to thrive.

You can’t do that without risk. Being willing to risk what you have today is the best way to get to a different tomorrow.

 

2. Experimentation

Have you ever asked yourself what it would have been like to be in the New Testament church?

It was an audacious experiment that God was completely behind. Everything changed in a generation; the place of worship, who worshipped, where people worshipped, how they worshipped, how they connected to each other, how they gave and how they forgave.

There isn’t a single element of everyday life that looked the same after a decade of life in the church.

If the church is going to grow, it’s going to have to change. (I wrote about 11 characteristics of future churches here.)

 

3. A restless discontent with the status quo

Entrepreneurs and apostles are never satisfied. While it can be frustrating to work with someone who is never satisfied, it’s an essential gift in birthing what’s new and expanding a current mission.

Entrepreneurs are not only discontent with what others have created; they’re soon discontent with what they’ve helped create.

Paul died in prison longing to do more. Why do we make fun of church leaders today who have the same sense of urgency?

 

4. Boldness

If you search the New Testament, you’ll see boldness as a hallmark of early church leaders.

You can hardly describe the church culture of many churches today as bold. Anemic, maybe. Bold, no.

And when people become bold, people criticize them for being arrogant or in it for themselves. Well, sometimes yes. But often no. They’re just exercising a God-given gift. Paul, after all, was no stranger to that criticism.

After all, boldness moved the cause of Christ forward in a remarkable way, changing millions of lives.

 

5. A bias for action

We have plenty of thinkers in the church and not nearly enough doers.

Entrepreneurs bring a bias for action that is often astonishing. Spiritual entrepreneurs accomplish things nobody else accomplishes because they do things nobody else is willing to do.

If you think about the (much criticized) innovations in today’s church (video venues, multisite churches, online campuses etc.) you realize that you open yourself to a world of criticism when you start bold new things. So what?

 

Not the Only Thing, But a Missing Thing

I’m not saying the gift of apostleship is the only thing, but it is a missing thing.

Conventional seminaries are mostly addicted to producing shepherds. If all we get have is shepherds stepping into leadership, then what you get is people who will (mostly) care for small groups of people.

Organizationally, it makes some sense to hire leaders and have shepherd volunteer. That’s what we’ve done at Connexus. You can care for hundreds, or thousands, of people through volunteer shepherd (we call them small group leaders) and let the leaders lead.

Do we need the gift of shepherding? Absolutely.

But we’re desperately missing the gift of spiritual entrepreneurship in the church today.

 

Don’t Just Leave a Comment, Tap Someone on the Shoulder

Feel free to leave a comment, but please don’t stop there.

The church has plenty of opinions but not nearly enough capable leaders.

So here’s my challenge…why don’t you tap an entrepreneur you know on the shoulder today and ask him or her, ‘have you ever considered ministry’?

Think about it.

Who do you know who might be in business today who could be in ministry tomorrow? My guess is that there are people who are running businesses and leading in organizations who have the gifts for ministry but have never thought about ministry.

And maybe they’ve never thought about ministry because they’ve never seen anyone with their gift set use it for ministry. (You know that’s one way calls often happen, right? God uses human conversations to stir massive redirections of people’s lives.)

So while I am very interested in what you think (please comment), seriously, don’t just leave a comment, tap someone on the shoulder.

Did you find this post helpful?

Did you like this post? Never miss another one again by subscribing!
 
  • Lance

    C.S. Lewis – “While we believe that good is something to be invented, we demand of our rulers such qualities as ‘vision’, ‘dynamism’, ‘creativity’, and the like. If we returned to the objective view we should demand qualities much rarer, and much more beneficial—virtue, knowledge, diligence and skill. ‘Vision’ is for sale, or claims to be for sale, everywhere. But give me a man who will do a day’s work for a day’s pay, who will refuse bribes, who will not make up his facts, and who has learned his job.”

    I think Lewis would find our incessant search for the entrepreneurial solutions in the church a participation in the cultural soup of subjectivism. We are better than that. Jesus has given us a participation in the very life of the Triune God.

    • http://www.careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      He has for sure Lance. Thank you. But apostleship is very much a gift that the Holy Spirit has given the church as well. It is underdeveloped in the current church. And you can be an apostle deeply rooted in the Triune God.

  • Kelly

    Carey, I am hoping you can help with this, since you started this discussion a few months ago. I posted this question back in March, but never got a response, so I’ll try again:

    Does you have an advice for a ministry-minded entrepreneur who is NOT called to be a senior pastor? Several times, we went to small churches, hoping to help, with the idea that even small churches deserve good pastors and good leadership. But we ran into roadblocks when the leaders were either: completely unmotivated, wasteful, and/or primarily concerned about job security and keeping themselves (and their family on payroll).
    Entrepreneurs on the other hand, get things done (and often expose waste in the process), try to define the mission (or get the mission defined by the one in charge), set goals and work toward those goals. That doesn’t go over well with many churches.

    So how can we get involved in an entrepreneurial-minded ministry? Where can I find one? I’ve tried contacting one of those para-church organizations, where they help connect high capacity ministry leaders. But they only allow people to join who are already serving at a church of 3000 people. And my emails to them go unanswered.

    I really feel like there is no place for my spouse and I in most churches. We are experienced, successful and driven. We have tried getting “plugged in” at a big church and waiting for an opportunity to arise, but unless someone is specifically hired to be a change agent and lead on a higher level, it always ends badly. So what next? Where can a entrepreneurial non senior pastor go to serve and use his giftings? Our passion in life is ministry, and it breaks my heart to see my husband’s abilities, talents, and many years of experience going unused because he doesn’t fit into the typical pastor mold.

    Can you help?

    • Douglas Crumbly

      Kelly, thanks fir your comments. I also believe many gifted leaders go unused because of the same reason. Would love to see more entrepreneurs in the church I lead. Blessings!

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Kelly…first, let me just say I’m sorry I missed your comment. I apologize.

      Secondly, that’s a real shame. We are always looking for leaders where I serve, and it’s too bad that hasn’t been your experience.

      I’m going to be dead level honest here. First, I really have no idea why. It could be that you have just targeted some bad churches or that your offers have been lost in the shuffle.

      What I look for is people who are willing to serve wherever – setting up gear, handing out programs etc. Our teams often sense quickly if someone has greater gifting, and then we tap them on the shoulder and get to know them and ask them if they’d like more. To me and to our team, a leader’s willingness to serve in a ‘lower’ place of leadership is an indication they’re ready for a higher level of service. You and your husband may have been doing this and never gotten the tap on the shoulder, but if not, I suggest it. So I would say jump in and see what happens.

      Now, for the last part of the dead level honest part. Sometimes people think they are a gift to leadership but they aren’t. Either the fit isn’t right, or they might be mistaken in their self assessment. There is NOTHING in your comment that would lead me to believe this, but quite honestly, this has happened more than once in the environments in which I’ve served. The best way to tell if that’s the case is to get some people around you who will tell you the truth and see if that’s an accurate assessment of your situation. Again, I have ZERO reason to believe it is in your case, but it happens.

      Hope that helps. My best advice knowing what I know about your situation is to jump in somewhere at an ‘entry-level’ post and see what happens.

      Hope this helps! Thanks for asking Kelly.

  • Scott Pollard

    The problem is a lot of entrepreneurs are really good when things are exciting and new but they get bored and don’t know how to maintain the health of what they have started.

    • Carey Nieuwhof

      Thanks for this point Scott. Have you read E-Myth Revisited? Great book on this point. And I agree, some people are starters. But when the body of Christ moves in and all the gifts are at work, others can help manage and finish was entrepreneurs start. It’s the entreprenuer gift set that’s missing in many circles these days.

  • http://www.douglascrumbly.com Douglas Crumbly

    Thank you Carey! I read your blog often. This is a great article.

    • Carey Nieuwhof

      Hey Douglas, thanks!

  • Eugene

    Thank you very much for your sharing! just a thought: Have we confined the receipient of shepherding to be Christians within the church? how does a shepherd that sheperd the community beyond the four walls of a church looks like?

    • Carey Nieuwhof

      Eugene…great question. I think we have in the church today in some circles, but it needn’t be that way…nor should it be that way. When the shepherding gift gets outside the walls, it too becomes outward focused and part of the church’s mandate for evangelism. Outsiders need shepherding too.

  • BH

    Fantastic! Love, love, love it. The challenge is that even if/when entrepreneurial leaders are found, are churches willing & able to invest in outrageous visions, new manifestations of church, before they reach a crisis point (or even after they reach a crisis point). I’d love a follow-up article on how to help churches move to a place where they want to invest in the vision.

  • http://twitter.com/jasonheppner Jason Heppner

    awesome work here carey! thank you for sharing. great thoughts to chew on and implement sooner rather than later. actually, screw later. now is the time!

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Love the sense of urgency Jason.—

      • http://prophetsandpopstars.com prophetsandpopstars

        It’s awesome to see my staff interacting here. Thanks Jason!

        I wonder if it’s an issue of development as I spend a lot of time thinking about this. Sheep farms need shepherds to care for them, but they need entreprenuers to continue and grow. Perhaps this is where we jump into the five fold ministry conversation.

        I’ll stop before I write a post. Peace out! Thanks, Carey.

  • Pingback: Why we need more shepherds | Teddy Ray()

  • I Love Shepherds

    Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you. — Luke 10:20
    As Christian workers, worldliness is not our snare, sin is not our snare, but spiritual wantoning is, viz.: taking the pattern and print of the religious age we live in, making eyes at spiritual success. Never court anything other than the approval of God, go “without the camp, bearing His reproach.” Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have the commercial view – so many souls saved and sanctified, thank God, now it is all right. Our work begins where God’s grace has laid the foundation; we are not to save souls, but to disciple them. Salvation and sanctification are the work of God’s sovereign grace; our work as His disciples is to disciple lives until they are wholly yielded to God. One life wholly devoted to God is of more value to God than one hundred lives simply awakened by His Spirit. As workers for God we must reproduce our own kind spiritually, and that will be God’s witness to us as workers. God brings us to a standard of life by His grace, and we are responsible for reproducing that standard in others.

    Unless the worker lives a life hidden with Christ in God, he is apt to become an irritating dictator instead of an indwelling disciple. Many of us are dictators, we dictate to people and to meetings. Jesus never dictates to us in that way. Whenever Our Lord talked about discipleship, He always prefaced it with an “IF,” never with an emphatic assertion – “You must.” Discipleship carries an option with it.

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      I love your emphasis on God’s grace. Thank you. You are so right, that’s the foundation of everything the authentic church, and authentic leadership, is built on.

      But I also think that true spiritual entrepreneurs are not dictators. Not at all. They reflect the same heart you share. It’s just expressed differently through their work in terms of building the church. But they have the same heart.

  • Pastor E A Green

    Wow! What an interesting take on the apostleship. You seem to have missed a few things. You present it as shining example of marvelous entrepreneurial success. Somehow, you skipped all that went along with that “successful” ministry you reference – like persecution, beatings, shipwrecks, riots, death threats, stoning, hunger, thirst, cold, abandonment, all hell breaking loose everywhere he went – oh yeah, and the chopping block. Is this the “entrepreneur/apostle” your telling us we need? I don’t think so.

    The point, is this. God’s ways are not ours. Take Gideon, for example. 28,000 down to 300 – what an entrepreneur this guy was! But God doesn’t get glory from our expertise on church planting and growth, gaudy numbers, and the church we thought up in our heads. More time in the Word, prayer, and service in the House of God is what the Bible teaches. We need apostles and shepherds who look and talk like Jesus, not like us. That’s what the Word teaches, and that’s what matters.

  • Pastor E A Green

    Your take on the church is interesting, and sadly unbiblical. You have taken your definitions and defined the Body of Christ, instead of actually letting the Bible speak for itself. God never describes Himself as an “entrepeneur,” and He is never concerned about meeting your standards for success. It seems you have a clear idea of what the ideal church is, yet The Lord is not the least bit interested in what you (or I) think is ideal.

    You start from a fallacy that the Church is broken, and you know how to fix it. That, quite frankly, is the kind of arrogance that nullifies everything you say. The last time I checked, God is still on the throne, and He doesn’t need us to tell Him how the Church should really work. If you can get pass the church as you see it, and truly see the Body of Christ, you’ll realize it is not up to us to figure anything out – but to obey the and Word of The Lord, walk in the light, and share the Good News of the Christ wherever and whenever The Lord leads.

    Childlike faith says The Lord knows who are His, and He will not lose even one. Entrepreneurship says, “It won’t happen unless we figure it out and make it so.” Good luck with that!

    • vincenta123

      Pastor Green
      I agree with much of your sentiment, mainly on the need to keep things biblically centred.
      Where I really disagree with you is that in your apparent haste to ‘correct’ the above article, you’ve not distilled the essence of what’s really been said. For example you seem to have stumbled, like others, over the use of the word ‘entrepreneur’…rather than appreciate the spiritual concepts CN was trying to capture by using that specific word. I suggest you read through the comments and some of CN’s clarifications for a better understanding.
      Also, to me it did not seem that CN is trying to ‘fix’ a broken church. There are MANY issues with the Lord’s bride, insular shepherds and lack of recognising the gift of apostleship are only two of them and the above article says as much.
      I’m sure CN could have written the above article using ‘safer’ more ‘Christian’ language…yet he chose not to and he got my attention and that of others who may/may not have looked in (for better or worse) on that discussion!

      Sometimes we stumble more over language than actual content.

      The modern church certainly has to be VERY careful with worldliness (as had every church in every age) but that does not mean using secular paradigms to illustrate spiritual truths is a no-no. Our Lord used this framework repeatedly in His parables to help people understand the Kingdom of God better.

      • Pastor E A Green

        Vincent,
        Thank you for your response. I did not “stumble” over language. I fully understand what “entrepreneur” means – and its meaning has nothing to do with apostles. CN’s assretion that the church does not need more shepherds is small-minded at best, seeing The Lord give pastors to the church to equip, lead, teach, mature, and serve His purposes for His beloved children. Do we truly need less of these servants.

        Perhaps we are guilty of casting aspersions on pastors because of our own personal experiences, which can lead to the kind of anti-pastor bitterness I detect in CN’s article. Pastors have been the most positve spiritual influences in my life, in spite of their humanity – and they are an essential part of God’s plan to purifu His bride and prepare her for His return. Let’s stop trying to re-shape the church in our image. Experts, paradigms, entrepreneurialism, etc. will never accomplish what Holy Spirit filled Christians wiil, when they have been well pastored.

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      “You start from a fallacy that the Church is broken, and you know how to fix it. That, quite frankly, is the kind of arrogance that nullifies everything you say.”

      E.A….so glad you’ve got this all figured out. Best wishes.

      • Pastor E A Green

        Your position and position on how you see church are understandable. However, your disdain for pastors is obvious and regrettable. Best wishes back to you.

        • vincenta123

          I don’t think CN disdains pastors/shepherds in general at all. He’s just shone some light on how, by not fully embracing Apostolic gifting (and therefore Apostolic thinking etc), shepherds can become insular, risk averse and maintenance focused.
          That’s not denigration of the pastoral gifting, it’s a call to healthier more biblical church planting and pastoring. ALL the Eph 4:11 gifts should be released throughout the body of Christ in a healthy balance for a healthy church.

          • Pastor E A Green

            CN’s statement that we don’t need more shepherds speaks for itself. It is an erroneous and unbiblical foundation for his argument. Therefore, everything he (and you) build on it is also unbiblical and erroneous.

            True shepherds are God’s gift to the Body, not entrepreneurs. Btw, it’s ok to admit you’re wrong.

          • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

            I don’t want to get into an argument about what I believe or don’t believe, but I think I know what I think. It’s not that we don’t need shepherds. We do. It’s a legitimate spiritual gift. But so is apostleship (spiritual entrepreneurship). Shepherding is, in my view, plentiful in the church. Apostleship not nearly so. That’s why I wrote this piece.

          • vincenta123

            Shepherds are God’s gifts all right, but they’re not His ONLY gift. They’re certainly not called to express their ministry in exclusivity but in a complimentary context.

          • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

            Absolutely Vincenta. Couldn’t agree more. —
            Sent from Mailbox

  • Pingback: On Being Sent – Apostleship | Draughting Theology()

  • http://www.thechristianonfire.com rcortezsd

    I am going to have to disagree with this post.

    We are not all called to build a Walmart but we are all called to build.

    Although I do believe that all those quality’s are useful for any type of business however, I think we have lost the whole purpose of the church.

    I think this is because of our western mentality. We measure success by how much we have. But according to the Bible you can have a allot and still be a failure. Yes even have a mega church and still fail.

    Jesus was not attracted to mega churches. He had a church of more than 5,000 at one time but at the end of his ministry he ended up with 120. Now to us we would label that failure. But Jesus was not after quantity but quality.

    If you read the rebukes of the 6 churches in the book of Revelations, non of them had anything to do with numbers. It had to do with worldliness and falling away. And the dangers with mega churches is that they can get so caught up with numbers and use that as a validation for there success when in reality the church is just growing fat and not up.

    We should all try to strive to grow and make no excuse for it but don’t forget that shepherd is a biblical term and not Entrepreneur. So if you have a small church or large church, don’t forget the main thing. Getting your people to heaven not getting people to your church.

    (angry preacher! LOL) – Ruben Cortez

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Ruben…seems like you have quite a stated opinion about megachurches. Thanks for the humour at the end. :) I don’t think the spiritual gift of apostleship was designed to create Walmarts, but it has been used in every generation to lead thousands of people into a growing relationship with Jesus.

      • http://www.thechristianonfire.com rcortezsd

        Great post though! Thanks for sharing. God Bless!

  • Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg()

  • Bob

    In our congregations there is an great many leaders, the key word you use is “capable” “Capable Leaders” are always trying to be better leaders and create empowering organizations where the right thing is done for the right reason. Great leaders have all had Good Mentors and mentors that demonstrated how not to do something. Capable Leaders have been empowered at times to expand their leadership skills. Moses, had a mentor that helped him find a way to work through his doubts. Maybe it is good mentors and empowers our churches really need. If you ask the children in your congregations who can lead the parade of palm waving children you will find many that feel they have the gift of leadership. That feeling maybe suppressed by the very people that should be nurturing and empowering it as our children grow. Are we really looking for leaders or are we seeking managers for our programs. We need to let our leaders lead and help them to find better ways to lead.

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      I agree Bob. We need leaders to lead, managers to manage and so on.

  • Chris Lema

    I will tell you, and I know you wrote about some of this recently in another post, that one of the hardest challenges the US church faces today is that the context and constructs within the church are much more aligned towards shepherding than to apostleship.

    Folks that want to get in boats, that don’t have perfect plans, that just want to do something, that are willing to take risks – those kinds of folks (and I’m speaking from very personal experience) end up having to develop two sets of skills to function in the larger church body.

    First, they must keep that entrepreneurial / apostleship bent going. They have to stay on fire. They have to keep spinning new ideas and trying things while assembling small teams to help them.

    But that’s not work, because it’s in our DNA. No, it’s the other work that’s much harder.

    Because at the same time, they must learn to shape their message into language that sounds less aggressive – because any change to the status quo can be felt as an accusation or indictment. They must learn to deal with bureaucracy, red tape and other ways to say “meetings, process, and procedure.” They must learn to deal with people who are slow and model tons of grace with those who consistently drop the ball.

    Eventually those entrepreneurs either step into leadership to really make things happen, or more likely, they walk away – aware that the organization isn’t prepared for them.

    I helped start 5 software companies over a period of ten years. I also helped church plants over the same decade. It was very similar in terms of the entrepreneurial risks, and skills needed. But I’ll tell you that in the business context, the skills were embraced. In the church context, it was a challenge.

    I think you’re right on when it comes to the need for more apostleship. But unless it comes from the very top, with full support from the executive leadership and (elder) board, it’s hard to make things happen.

    Fortunately, my story resulted in working alongside a senior pastor that really knew how to leverage entrepreneurs and so my second decade in volunteer ministry was wildly different and a blast!

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Chris..thank you so much for this. It’s so helpful to see the frustration of an entrepreneur spelled out so clearly. It’s often not for lack of desire than the contribution of entrepreneurs is thwarted…that’s for sure. So glad you’ve found a fit and I hope and pray church leaders and leaders of all organizations can make more room for entrepreneurial leaders.

  • Mark Dance

    I appreciate your use of modern metaphors to help communicate these timeless truths. That is exactly what the biblical writers did to communicate to their contemporaries.

    I am praying for an opportunity this week to have that conversation with a potential leader who wants to help expand the kingdom through his or her gifts. *hopefully my use of the term “leader” doesn’t offend anyone:-)

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Love this Mark!

    • Bob

      Every conversation you have is with a potential leader.

  • LoveGodCleanHouse

    God – there is nothing worse than using the hypercapitalist euphamism “entrepreneur” for something as sacred as apostleship. Can we re-frame the dialogue please? It’s not a marketplace for souls. If you want to avoid being “misread” then use clearer language.

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Thanks for your point, but I disagree. If you’re going to keep the gift of apostleship misunderstood in this culture, don’t tie it to a term people understand. If you want the gift to be leveraged, use analogies that help people find their calling. Apostleship actually is spiritual entrepreneurship.

  • http://PATRICKWEAVERMINISTRIES.COM patrick

    Truth and nothing but the truth. That is what lead me to the ministry. I agree with the validity of small churches and certainly, they serve a vital importance to the furtherance of the gospel but one usually assumes that small is a design rather than a default/consequence. The lack of entrepreneurial leaders in the church today does more to reflect the problem than affect the problem. This generation is unreachable, nearly, with the lack of innovation and boldness that is representative of the Apostle approach. The abundance of Sheppard’s have served and will continue to serve as expressions of God’s will for the people to be guided but shepherding is not synonymous with corporate leadership; the Apostle is the CEO of Vision, Church Business, Market Place Strategy, Faith Brand Manager and Ministries. How we lost the boldness of the Apostle method is more than disheartening, especially given that the church has the best product in the world. I believe we are quickly approaching the time where entrepreneurial leadership is not only going to be the standard — regardless of the size of church, but it will be the only way that churches survive and thrive in the 21st Century.

  • Rev. Fay Blevins

    I think this is a well-written article that speaks truth to the current church culture in the U.S. I graduated seminary 4 years ago next month. I was on fire and had great energy and hope to help lead and transform a congregation. The leadership and I, with the support of the congregation, followed a denominationally sponsored transformation program. We were doing fair, amidst the natural anxiety that occurs when settled congregation take a real look at themselves. I went on maternity leave and was asked not to come back. The leadership got scared and took an easy (and unethical) way out of doing the work needed to be relevant and thriving.
    I truly believe most pastors, especially in the Congregationalist traditions, have to balance their call to transformative ministry and supporting their families. Many are beaten down and refuse to put their families through financial ruin. I don’t blame them. My family had been fortunate not to be ruined, but it was a possibility. I think safety nets need to be in place to safeguard ministerial families from the penalties suffered when congregations aren’t faithful.
    But I will keep working towards living out the transformative and life-giving power of the gospel.

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      So appreciate your faithfulness and perspective Fay!

  • Deacon Dan

    I think you are setting up an unnecessary distinction to make your point. Jesus calls himself the good shepherd, but never the good apostle or the good spiritual entrepreneur. At the same time, what do his parables about shepherding tell us? Go after the flock who are not of this fold. Leave the 99 to get the 1. So biblically, at least, the shepherd is not a stagnant manager.

    Even in the life of Paul, is there any doubt that he was both apostle and shepherd?

    Do we have too many shepherds who don’t realize they also need to be apostles? Sure. But is the answer to encourage leaders to be apostles without also being shepherds? As Paul would say, “Hell no!”

    It’s a both/and kind of thing. Sure, some leaders are more gifted in one than another, but that doesn’t mean they should settle. Be bold; be both.

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Dan…I think Paul shepherded the leaders closest to him, another characteristic of an apostolic leader. I think the shepherding gift refers to people who are more likely to want to care for ‘everyone’, which limits their span of care.

      On another note, I’m not sure Paul actually said what you suggested he said.

      • Deacon Dan

        Thank for the reply, Carey!

        Going by your characteristics of shepherd and apostle, I have a hard time reconciling how Jesus himself would fit into this model. Really, he’s both – he cares for a small group, and he also goes boldly to preach and to harvest – but the primary image given to us is of him as shepherd.

        That’s why I squirm a little bit at what seems to me to be a very narrow definition of shepherd. Did Paul shepherd the leaders closest to him? Absolutely. But many of his letters are addressed to whole communities, and deal with specific pastoral issues – that’s why I think we have to place him in both categories.

        In the end, I guess it’s more of a minor quibble – I definitely agree we need to encourage and pray for more leaders with the gift of apostolic boldness and vision. But why not both? They’re not exclusive categories, which is the sense that I get from this post.

        As an aside, I stick by my (rough) translation of ‘me genoito’. : )

        I’m glad I came across this article; I’ll definitely be adding your site to my RSS feed!

  • BishopAndrewGeralesGentry

    To use the term “entrepreneur” which sounds very much like a natural source of fertilizer is a disservice to the Gospel and to Jesus himself! It is exactly why so called ” American evangelical” is another name for counterfeit Christianity. Instead of throwing out the money changers in the Temple it invites them in and helps them set up the tables! You cannot serve Riches and God as Jesus tells us. Jesus is NOT an American CEO! If you use the market place and all its terminology you become the market place and as St Paul’s warns us “the love of money is the root of all evil”!

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      I think you might have missed the whole part about apostleship. And this actually has nothing to do with making money. Sorry.

      • BishopAndrewGeralesGentry

        You have missed my point that by using the language of the market place you become the market place intentionally or not. What you are suggesting about leadership is nothing more than branding and advertising not witnessing. Using your standard Jesus was most definitely not an “entrepreneur” and neither should we be. Jesus is The Shepherd we are but sheep dogs!

        • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

          Thanks, but again, I think we can be so captive to church culture we miss the point. Apostle was a term that simply meant “sent one”. We’ve spiritualized it beyond it’s original intent.

  • Pingback: Letting Go of “Leadership” | Paradoxical Thoughts()

  • Pingback: Praxis Communities | Apostles as Spiritual Entrepreuners()

  • Matt Brough

    Once again a great post Carey. Sadly, one of the things I see time and again in smaller churches is shepherd-types ignoring the critically important apostolic role. On the flip side, I know a lot of pastors who are more leadership oriented (or think they are) and feel “stuck” in a small church with people who “don’t understand.” They have no problem making bold pronouncements, they have great ideas, but no one follows because they spend very little time shepherding anyone. The apostolic leader needs to remember that they are also shepherding people, and the shepherd needs a reminder, as you have done so well in your post, that ministry always has an apostolic direction – if that makes any sense.
    Also glad to see you showing love to Karl Vaters. He has awesome stuff on his blog on a regular basis.

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Thanks Matt! I agree…ministry always has an apostolic direction.

  • jayson

    Carey. I think you are right on with this one. I have
    witnessed another issue related to the topic you raise here. Many of the
    churches who do actually start with
    entrepreneurial pioneers seem to have a hard time keeping these leaders around.
    As they grow the necessity for structure and systems could be stifling the
    possibility of risk and experimentation and as a result they move on…

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      That’s such a great point. As organizations become more and more successful, they risk less and conserve more. So entrepreneurs leave.

  • Chris

    Carey, I’m an Associate Pastor at a church where my Senior Pastor is everything you just described as an Apostle. He definitely is an entrepreneur. And this is why we work well together. While we both have that entrepreneurial personality, him more so than me, and both are shepherds, I more so than him, we are able to not only grow our church, but maintain its health. You’ve got to have both, in my opinion. But if you only have a shepherd leading the way, you will only have extremely healthy status quo members. You’ve got to have someone driving that is willing to take risks, be bold, and step out. However, if you ignore the health of your congregation, there won’t be anything for anyone to come to. So I think it’s a balance that you’ve got to find. Not all pastors out there are both or can be both. I’m blessed an fortunate to be in a ministry partnership with a guy that is and in a church that’s open to that.

  • CJ Clymer

    Another great resource on this topic is JR Woodward’s book called “Creating a Missional Culture.” I love the way he puts the 5 ministry gifts in Ephesians. He calls the Apostles “Dream Awakeners”, Prophets “Heart Revealers”, Evangelist “Story Tellers”, Pastors “Soul Healers” and Teachers “Light Givers. He talks about how these 5 ministry gifts when used together help create culture. I know for the people in our church, repainting the gifts the way he does really helped move people toward who they are called to be. I am a Pastor of one of those small churches that 3 years ago was ready to close the doors and God is changing the culture of the church through people embracing who they are in Christ. Reading this book and reading articles like yours has brought such personal freedom, because it allows me to be me in ministry. Thanks for adding to the conversation

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Thanks for sharing the resource!

  • Joe Robideaux

    Yeah, this is good. A church planters training I attended a few years back showed a spectrum where on one end was apostle and the other was pastor. The presenter said everyone has a little of each in you but defined the difference between the 2 very similarly to what you described here in the article. I found it fascinating that nearly everyone around me was really struggling with the idea of anything that would call for something to be seen as different or distinct from the traditional role of pastor. It was incredibly freeing for me personally because I had been feeling for a while that I wasn’t called to be a “maintainer” but also feeling people would judge me for saying that. I think the role of apostle is absolutely something we need to reintroduce in today’s church and be intentional about defining it and celebrating it.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    Love love love this article and couldn’t agree more. God uses all types of people and “the church” needs to as well from a leadership perspective. P.S., best line of this post could possibly be this: “If the church as a whole is going to grow, this has to become an all-skate.” Lol. Well played sir.

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Thank you so much Daniel!

  • Thomas Arth

    I think all that some congregations want is a shepherd. I try to be the cheerleader and rally people to reach out, to invite. I try to be the optimist who sees the potential rather than retreats into thinking that decline is inevitable. But unfortunately I don’t see the people coming along with that vision. They’re happy to do what we’ve always done and be what we’ve always been. They’re good and faithful servants, I just think they’re satisfied with the status quo and all they want is a shepherd to tend the flock. I don’t know if I have the gift of apostleship or if I even have the energy to be more than the shepherd they want. Sometimes it makes me sad that the decline they see as inevitable will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Other times I am encouraged by the faith and love that I see in them and wonder if a shepherd is all they need and is enough for this congregation.

  • Rev. Heather Sims

    As a United Methodist pastor of 16 years, I am proud to say that our leadership and many of our pastors are moving in this direction!! Unfortunately, what I have found personally is that I came into ministry with the gifts of apostleship but over time those have been beaten down with the expectation of the congregation to be their shepherd. In time the congregation’s expectations can be molded but if you move to a new church ever 3-4 years a pastor has difficulty 1. Making lasting change in this mindset of the members (because they go go back to old ways as soon as you are gone), and 2. Because it may only be in your last year of serving a congregation that you get to exercise those gifts, therefore they become weak. But with all that said…we MUST forge ahead bravely, or we die!! So let’s move forward as pastors, let’s move forward as lay people!!

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Love your attitude and heart Heather. Such a great point about short term tenure. I fully agree.

  • http://www.lawrencewilson.com/p/about-me.html Lawrence W. Wilson

    Carey, are you familiar with “The Permanent Revolution” by Hirsch and Catchim? The authors make a similar argument to yours, but add the idea of Pauline apostleship (working on the frontier) and Petrine apostleship (solidifying the center). I agree with Karl that this isn’t a matter of apostle vs. shepherd. It’s about getting all pastors to take the role of creative leadership seriously. BTW, a (rare) critique of your thought here: I don’t agree that this idea hasn’t penetrated the church. I don’t know of a pastor who isn’t working frantically to adapt his or her leadership to the changing context.

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Lawrence, thanks for this. And no, I’m not. I’ll have to look it up. And thanks for the feedback. Sadly, I do know some pastors who aren’t working even close to frantically to do anything. I’m glad you know different pastors. :)

  • Pingback: #Trending Tuesday | Culture and The Church - Entrepreneurial Church Leaders, God's Not Dead Movie, and Malaysian Airlines | Eyes of a Believer()

  • Nic Burleson

    Carey – I follow your blog pretty regularly and want to thank you for your wisdom and insight. I think you KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK with this! Fantastic insight my brother!

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Too kind. Thank you Nic!

  • http://NewSmallChurch.com/ Karl Vaters

    Thanks for this post, Carey. I especially appreciate your kind words about my take on the value of small churches. I totally agree that we need more entrepreneurs and pioneers in the church. But I’d go one step further and say we don’t need fewer shepherds and more entrepreneurs. We need more entrepreneurial shepherds. Pastors of churches of all sizes should be taking more bold risks, trying more innovative experiments and pioneering new methods and ideas.

    Small churches, because of our size, have a smaller turning radius, giving us a greater capability to adapt and innovate. Unfortunately, that’s not the reputation smaller churches have. So I say “let’s get on the ball, small church pastors! Our fingers are on the entrepreneurial trigger! It’s time to foster an innovative, pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit in your church, no matter what size it is!”

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Agreed. Thank you again Karl. Appreciate the way you encourage and push all church leaders, regardless of church size. I wish more small churches would turn on a dime and become hotbeds of innovation. I really do. That’s how we started, so it’s close to my heart.

    • Lachie Walker

      I agree with your take Karl relating to entrepreneurial
      shepherds. How can you lead people without a shepherd heart, whatever the scale or risk? I think of Jesus who is described as the Good Shepherd who definitely didn’t just maintain status quo. He rocked just about everyone’s boat who came in contact with him. And that wasn’t even about growing a church, it was a personal response to each individual.

      Maybe the entrepreneurial spirit is actually just being obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading and being about our Father’s business.

      • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

        I think one of the confusion points might be the assumption that entrepreneurs aren’t nice people. They often are. Shepherding isn’t be kind…it’s caring for people. Entrepreneurship or apostleship is the gift of growing things. Both demand a measure of kindness and grace.

  • http://drgrcevich.wordpress.com/ Stephen Grcevich MD

    Carey, tremendous post! I’m blessed to be part of a church that views entrepreneurship as a core value and has provided extraordinary support to myself and others who felt called to pursue a vision for ministry. The organization I serve has the opportunity to interface with hundreds of churches in North America. Unfortunately, the entrepreneurial culture you describe is, in my experience, EXTREMELY RARE.

    Here’s the “elephant in the living room”…there are lots of folks serving on church staffs who feel very threatened by the active involvement of folks with this gift set. Entrepreneurs come from a culture with high performance expectations. Sadly, many of our churches don’t have the same high expectations and are steeped in a culture that tolerates mediocrity. When accomplished, highly motivated and mature Christ followers are introduced into ministry organizations and start to bear fruit, the underperformers who (tragically) are doing ministry because they lack a better way of supporting their families get exposed pretty quickly. Other staff members are often very protective of their ministry colleagues and will push back against efforts to allow church members with spiritual maturity and records of accomplishment to join in ministry. The lack of viable alternatives for earning a living for those serving ineffectively in professional ministry is a major (if not the primary reason) that mature Christians with the gift set you describe are excluded from church leadership.

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Stephen, thank you. And I couldn’t agree more. That’s a whole separate blog post I think. I agree we tolerate mediocrity in the church that we wouldn’t accept anywhere else.

    • Anon

      Does anyone have an advice for a ministry-minded entrepreneur who is NOT called to be a senior pastor? I ask because several times we have been on the entrepreneur end of the situation you describe. We went to small churches, hoping to help, with the idea that even small churches deserve good pastors and good leadership. But we ran into roadblocks when the leaders above us were either: completely unmotivated, wasteful, and/or primarily concerned about job security and keeping themselves (and their family on payroll). Entrepreneurs get things done (and often expose waste in the process), try to define the mission (or get the mission defined by the one in charge), set goals and work toward those goals. That doesn’t go over well with many churches. This is a foreign concept to most churches and pastors.

      So how can we get involved in an entrepreneurial-minded ministry? Where can we find one? I’ve tried contacting one of those para-church organizations, where they help connect high capacity ministry leaders. But they only allow people to join who are already serving at a church of 3000 people.

      I really feel like there is no place for us in most churches. We are experienced, successful and driven. We have tried getting “plugged in” at a big church and waiting for an opportunity to arise, but unless someone is specifically hired to be a change agent and lead on a higher level, it always ends badly. So what next? Where can a entrepreneurial non senior pastor go to serve?

    • http://PATRICKWEAVERMINISTRIES.COM patrick

      Exactly Stephen!

  • Ron

    I’m standing in my office clapping and cheering right now, even put a fist pump in there! Every church leader needs to read this post! I have already passed it on to the staff I lead! I couldn’t agree more…we need more risk takers! The church has the greatest message in the world. We must stop playing it safe!

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Hurray Ron. Thanks!

  • Martin

    Thanks for this. I really don’t think you will find as much “push back” from the “Shepherds” as you might think. We all know this. The real issue, as I see it, is “Apostle” is a gift – you either have it or you don’t. I have two concerns – one is that those who don’t have it will feel as though they must “do the work of an apostle” anyway (though we can all still take more risks and be bold and experiment); and two, that the matter of discerning the gift is more than just identifying a successful entrepreneur. We really miss the boat if we miss our calling.

    • http://careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

      Thanks Martin!