According to “Cairnway,” 1,246 paperback books with leadership in the title were published in 2017. “Counting all formats, Amazon offers 57,136 books with the word leadership in the title.” In a Google search, I found only a few articles or books on being good followers. Most of the time, leadership takes precedent. It’s what you hear in church. Based on a 4-day devotional from the Youversion app on Francis Chan’s “Letters to The Church,” I bought the book, hungry for being in awe of my position as a member of the Body of Christ. And this chapter set me down on my knees.
In fact, I posted on my Facebook, “I love this book, but I am not reading it from a spirit of trying to find someone else to blame; I am learning to be in awe of being a member of the body of Christ and to help bring about a spirit of unity by supporting, leading, and doing away with my own sense of ego, pride, and competition.” Too often, we hit the share button because we want someone else to see it. The lesson is for them, not for us. I want to learn Jesus’ version of leadership. (John 13:1-17).
Francis Chan says,
“Imagine how difficult it would be to coach a team where each player refuses to follow because he or she has a better plan than the coach. Welcome to the American Church in the twenty-first century. Let’s exercise some humility.”
My biggest struggle is getting rid of my sense of competition, especially when you are raising support to only have to work one full-time job. I’ve encountered people who believe they are the only ones doing it right. That attitude is in the name of their ministries, their words, and even in their defensiveness. To maintain a sense of unity, I seek to work with what is established and help others succeed in their ministry goals. In some situations, I become a leader; in others, I become a follower. Once upon a time, I hated how teachers would force me into group work. Now, I see value in collaboration, but don’t hold too tightly to your ideas as a leader. God is such a creative God. He dreams bigger than we do.
A good follower of Christ and a good leader is aware that people are always watching. With social media, this is acutely true. The more notoriety you get (like Francis Chan), the more critical and the more encouraging the comments. Chan struggled with so much criticism and flattery. As a Digital Engagement and Disciple-Making Coordinator with WorldVenture, I can understand that pressure, but not to his level. On an individual level, a person must show their faith and life online and treat their social media as an extension of their face-to-face life. They should be one and the same. You can, with social media, be both a leader and a follower. The church needs good followers.
It became quickly clear to me in 2014 how social media will play a big role in missions, but only if we can mobilize the congregation to follow. Francis Chan pastored a megachurch before God took him out of the country. In this first chapter, he talked about wanting people to live holy lives. Too many people had no interest in applying the Bible to their lives at his megachurch. They would come to church every week and go home without appearing to show the fruit of belief in their lives. He wanted his church to become groups of people who challenged each other to action (and they did!).
In 2014, I saw more than half of the church on social media platforms like Facebook, and I asked God, “What if we trained those people to reach unbelievers, the unreached, and to learn another culture, even a language, to become digital workers? What if each church had a digital team that grew every year that supported the mission and vision of their church and likewise, supported missionary organizations? Missionary organizations that also help to provide training material to support a church’s mission goals and their own?” I also saw over-worked pastors and missionaries and communications staff that didn’t just do communications, but a hundred other jobs. Most churches and missionary organizations do not have the budget to support someone trained in communications. Sometimes, churches and missionary organizations only see their social media as a marketing tool, rather than a tool that can be used for digital discipleship. Francis Chan said, “Another issue we saw was how everything had grown to be very dependent on one person.”
Right now, I am training a non-profit on social media and digital discipleship. A ministry is only as good as the heart and drive of its people. If all leadership has to do is provide relevant content and lead, the digital teams become a powerful tool to saturate the world with the Gospel. This alleviates the pressure of having to do everything. Lastly, Francis Chan says this,
“After giving a very strong rebuke to the church of Laodicea for being lukewarm, Jesus simply asked them to open the door. Before you get overwhelmed by all tht is wrong with the Church, rememeber that He is not placing an insurmountable burden on your shoulders. He is asking you to fellowship with Him and join Him in what He is doing. We should be filled with faith and anticipation…”
You are the church.
You are also online.