Leadership in a Disciple-Making Movement: Part 1: What is Servant Leadership?

servant leadership

The world celebrates strong leaders. Watching the news the other night, I heard a poll referenced. It was about two leaders. The poll asked, “Who is the stronger leader?” The show went on to discuss these two leaders; casting the one considered weaker in a negative light. Is strong, decisive leadership what is always needed? Is that how Jesus taught that we should lead?

When Church Planting Movements (CPMs) were first talked about, I read about the characteristics of a movement. One was that they were led by strong, charismatic leaders with apostolic giftings. This is not completely incorrect. Time and wisdom, however, have changed how we think about that.

Strong leaders are not always good leaders, and good leadership is not always the most charismatic.

C Anderson
Leadership in a Disciple-Making Movement: Part 1: What is Servant Leadership? Click To Tweet

The well-known book on leadership, Good to Great, mentions this fact. The author, Jim Collins, describes what he calls Level 5 leaders. They are those who have a “compelling modesty” and are more committed to the organization’s success than to their own.

In the book’s extensive research, they found that charismatic leaders were good. But they didn’t rise to the same level (what Collins calls great leaders) because their egos got in the way. The same is definitely true in movements. read more

Five Ministry Gifts – Part 3 on DMM Leadership Development

Five Fold Gifts

Some people have all the fun,” my kids would say. “Why don’t we get to have fun too??” When we look at gifts in others, a similar question can creep into our hearts. “Why do they get all the spiritual gifts?” God gives His gifts generously. He told us to desire the gifts of His Spirit. Five of those gifts are described in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

In my last article, I wrote about the dangers of ministerial titles. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul mentions five important ministry gifts.

And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as [a]pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the [b]saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the [c]knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature [d]which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

– Eph 4:11-13 NASB

I also like the way Eugene Peterson translated this in the Message Bible.

He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ. read more

What Does Spiritual Leadership in a Movement Look Like? Elders, Bishops, Deacons and So On

leadership in movements

Countless questions and controversies happen around the topic of Biblical eldership in churches. Denominations split over these issues and the divisions caused. Twitter and other social media recently blew up with angry posts about whether women could serve as elders. A prominent female Bible teacher I know of recently left her fellowship over this issue. She joined another group leaving a wake of debate behind.

The intention of this article is not to stir up controversy. Nor do I want to engage in heated theological debates on this.

Many people shy away from this topic because it can cause strong reactions. When I surveyed various leaders about this, many were silent. David Watson responded and said he will be writing about this in his next book. I’ll look forward to reading it.

For Whom Will These Articles Be Most Helpful

In this blog series, I will seek to provide insights by looking at scripture (apostolic instructions and practices). I will also relate what leaders of large movements (and those who train them) are saying about eldership. read more

How To Motivate the Passive (And Yourself) to Multiply Disciples


Our world is saturated with easy life marketing. “Use this product, ___________ (fill in the blank) and your life will be easier.” This is part of why shifting from a church member/attendee approach can be challenging. We like things to be easy. The easier, the better. But this is not the way of Jesus. He said it’s the easy path that leads to destruction, and the hard road to life eternal (Matt. 7:13).

As Disciple Making Movement practitioners we ask the question. How do we motivate those we are sharing Jesus with, to choose a difficult path? What about those we are trying to inspire to join us in working to see a movement of disciples released?

The attraction of the easy path is real. To motivate people toward something difficult, they need to feel either pain or great hope.

Without that, there is no doubt. They will revert to the easier, less demanding (but less fruitful) system of doing church. Simply being a church member who shows up a few hours a week and is entertained. This is far easier than living the life of an obedient disciple. Why not put that reality out on the table? Then, we can look at this issue clearly. read more

Is Suffering and Pain Part of the Path to Movements? Why?


I woke early. After prayer, I glanced at my phone and found a difficult message. A dear friend and colleague lost his battle with COVID 19. My heart was broken for the many who loved him. His death is a great loss to the movement where he played a vital role. Suffering and death are part of our lives. What role do they play in pioneering movements?

I’ll be honest. Suffering is not often talked about when we cast vision for Disciple Making Movements (DMMs).

We speak of rapid growth and multiplication. The urgent need of the unreached will only be addressed through a more organic approach, we say. All true. There is a cost to movements. It must be counted and embrace by any who would seriously pursue them.

Not An Easy Price

Only His sustaining grace can enable us to identify (in suffering) with the One who paid the ultimate price.

The Bible says Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). As His followers, should we not expect to do the same?

Suffering plays a vital role in our lives as we develop into the kinds of leaders we must be to launch movements. Pain and loss develop humility and compassion within us. They transform us into His likeness. read more

Why Preachers Should Preach Far Less and Train Much More


The call to preach the gospel” was highly esteemed in my childhood home. I come from a family of preachers and am grateful for my ministerial heritage.

I enjoy preaching, and some would say I’m decent at it.

As I grew more focused on Disciple Making Movements, I had to change how I work. My calling is to multiply disciple makers and catalyze movements among the yet to be reached millions on our planet. This requires I do more than preach to people. I must train disciples to be disciple makers. I need to train them until they are equipped enough that they can train others also.

It’s not been easy to put aside my preacher role. But that is what this vision demands.

Letting Go of the Perks

There are significant perks that come with being a preacher with a title. When I stood on a stage and hundreds (or thousands) of people listened to my words, I knew people were impacted by my message.

But did they become disciples who could make more disciples? It’s a tough question.

Most often my preaching did not result in disciples who could make disciples. I’ve motivated people through preaching, but I’ve not trained them to multiply. read more

Don’t Let Your Hands Hang Limp- Overcoming Fear

overcoming fear

Fear can be a hidden emotion. It manifests as anger, anxiety, or passivity. Like a deer that sees a car coming toward it, we freeze. It is not wrong to fear, but we can find ways of overcoming that fear. We can move courageously forward through our fear.

Fear paralyzes, but love activates.

As you think about the past week, have you been active in making disciples? Or passive?

When you notice yourself growing spiritually inactive, examine the cause. Is fear playing a role? Maybe you’ve been active, but you notice it’s difficult to motivate your disciples toward action.

His Love Activates Us

God’s personal and unconditional love is the source of a Jesus follower’s courage and hope. As we take in the reality of His great affection for us, we find strength. Knowing the Mighty One delights in us empowers us to reach out with His love toward others.

“Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you…

Zephaniah 3:16-17a NIV. italics added.

Lead Them to The Lover of Their Souls

How do I get the disciples in my group to be more active?” she asked in a coaching call. It’s a common question. We start the first group of disciples and it’s going well. But they don’t want to share the story or scripture with others. They seem paralyzed by fear. For some, it’s fear of persecution from their families or neighbors, for others, it is fear of rejection. The pandemic doesn’t help. read more

Movement Leaders Move in the Power of the Spirit


Growing up in a Pentecostal tradition, as a teenager, I enjoyed debating theology with Baptist friends. We had long, somewhat heated discussions, about what it meant to be “Spirit-filled.” Looking back at our arguments with the wisdom of years, I see we were both right. This is not an either/or issue, nor is that question worth fighting about. These kinds of debates take our focus off the lost. Instead, let us simply agree that all Disciple Making Movement leaders must learn to move in the power of God’s Spirit.

Like New Testament apostles, movement leaders; cast out demons, heal the sick, and rely on the supernatural power of God. God’s miraculous intervention is a norm in DMMs. This is not to say that every person prayed for is healed. Nor do these leaders look for demons under every bush.

They do, however, embrace a New Testament understanding of signs and wonders. They believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are exercised today. There may be one or two out there, but I know of no present-day Disciple Making Movement, nor one from history, where this is not true. read more

Will You Leave a Lasting Legacy?


Passing the baton to others is easier to talk about than to do.  Fears prevent us from trusting our disciples and handing over true authority to them. Without the passing on of both authority and tasks, we will not be able to multiply disciples.

This week I had the privilege of training together with an African movement leader who has seen many generations of disciples.  We learned much from this man of God. Below is an excerpt from one of his sessions.

“and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”

2 Tim 2:2

To Timothy, you therefore my son be strong in the grace that is in Christ. So firstly is to be strong, OK? And the second thing he said, the things which you have heard from me, in the presence of many witnesses, entrust this to faithful men. Give this to the faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Now Timothy is getting instruction from Paul, which is like Paul spending much time with Timothy. He is discipling Timothy in whatever he has seen Paul doing.

Timothy also should do that, and he must also find the faithful men, who can also do the same job, which Timothy has been doing. So this is, I think, something very important for us as the missionaries when we are scattering seeds. read more

What Kind of Person Does God Trust With Abundant Fruit?

leaders God uses

We long for more than we see today. Though many new movements are being started across the globe, we hunger for more. We look at the world, or at our current ministry, and feel a holy dissatisfaction with the status quo. This longing, even discontentment comes from the Father’s heart. It is there because God has more for us. Millions remain unreached and we are called to impact them in greater ways than we have yet seen.

You may be an existing movement leader who has already seen many generations. Or, you might be someone just beginning to catalyze movements. With our eyes on the ripe harvest, we must always look for more. How do we become the kind of people who God can trust with those greater fruits?

More Than Skills & Strategy

As DMM practitioners we often focus on skills and strategy. This has merit. It is necessary. What is just as important, is focusing on becoming the kind of people God can use greatly.

Most likely you’ve seen it happen. Someone with charisma, gifting and much potential crashes and burns as the movement begins to expand rapidly. They become proud, or their marriage suffers, or they begin to control things. Perhaps even worse, we see things like moral failure in the lives of those who God has powerfully used. This public failures in the lives of significant spiritual leaders are devastating to many. read more