Exponential Shifts Toward Discipleship – From Leading to Being Led

Sometimes, those of us in church leadership can be tempted to focus more on leading than on the church. If we’re not careful, we can lose our bearings a little bit and begin to drift into organizational models that reflect the current best business practices more than they reflect the heart of Jesus. Now, there’s nothing sinister about studying sociology and learning how groups of people think and work and act together in an effort to lead our particular group (the church) well. There’s nothing wrong with using all of our abilities to formulate and cast vision and build systems that support that vision.


Leadership is not the same thing as discipleship.

Larry Osborne talked about how leadership is concerned with getting to the front of the line, or even getting others to the front of the line, while Jesus always had compassion on and patience with those were struggling to keep up, or just not quite ready yet. Being a disciple of Jesus means going to the back of the line with him. Alan & Deb Hirsch pointed out that we lead the way (not just point the way) by going where Jesus goes. We follow Him.

Before we can make disciples, we have to continually be sure we are being led by the Spirit as disciples.

Don’t accidentally stop serving Jesus because you’re serving the church. Focus on following Jesus more than leading people.

-Craig Groeschel

Groeschel also points out the following obstacles to following Jesus:

  • Concern with what people think at the expense of what God thinks.
  • Concern with public image at the expense of private devotion.
  • Concern with bring people in at the expense of honoring God and transforming lives.

The bottom line here is that church leadership should focus first on following Jesus, then on leading well. If we stop following Jesus, we aren’t going anywhere worth leading anyone else to anyway.


I’ve outlined each of the shifts presented at Exponential 2013 in the following posts, but if you want to get a firsthand look for yourself, check out the very first Exponential West in October in southern CA or look into some of the free ebooks available on Exponential’s site.

“Exponential Shifts Toward Discipleship” Series

  1. Exponential Recap – Discipleshift
  2. From Reaching to Making
  3. From Leading to Being Led
  4. From Teaching to Modeling
  5. From Assimilating to Creating Community
  6. From Attracting to Deploying
  7. Exponential Recap – Drift Happens, Shift is On Purpose

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