A final “invariable mark” of church planting movements is that they have devised ways of developing and deploying large numbers of leaders to meet pressing needs. Unlike the marks of prayer and benevolence, this is a very deliberate, even programmatic, activity. This is not to say that leadership development came first and then the movement. Often, in the early days of these movements, they were confronted with the reality of 1000s or even 10,000s coming to Christ and they simply had to find ways of developing and deploying leaders very rapidly.
And as you can imagine, this means that church planting movements almost exclusively develop their leaders from within the movement. Beside the fact that there is often no time to conduct outside searches for leaders, developing leaders from within is wise because there are built in mechanisms for testing a person’s theology and character, for training him in the basics of the movement, for ensuring that the “DNA” of the movement is a part of his philosophy of ministry, and therefore for building trust with other leaders.
Of course, the downside of developing and deploying leaders so quickly is that some slip through the cracks and cause more problems than they solve. But in the midst of rapidly growing church planting movements, this seems to me a necessary risk.
Presently in the U.S.A. we have the luxury of sending people off to seminary for a number of years before they are deployed in pastoral ministry. But imagine if 10,000 people came to Christ in your city this month, and then another 10,000 the next month—would you or your church or your movement be ready and willing to adapt quickly to meet the leadership needs?
Frankly, we would all have to be.
Oh Lord, may we someday be confronted with this problem as you glorify your name by saving the lost in masse!