When Jesus ascended with His work unfinished, He knew that no one person was going to be able to follow in His wake. The five kitbags each represent a specific skillset necessary for a church leadership team, like a sapper, sniper, commando, Navy SEAL, and heavy weapons expert. A church planter is never a splinter cell who acts alone, but the leader of a platoon of daredevil pathfinders. Church planting resembles a covert commando operation that travels covertly in small teams, creates an opening for other special teams, and gets the heck out of Dodge when the mission is accomplished.
Wimps need not apply.
Typically, church-planting teams have not been very specialized. If somebody plants a church, it’s assumed that he must be a pastor. What about the other four roles? Imagine Navy SEALs outfitted in full scuba gear getting ready to jump out of an airplane. They just don’t have the kit. Don’t get me wrong, a pastor may be called to plant, but he’s going to need to jump with an apostle. If a pastor isn’t particularly gifted on the evangelistic side of things, he’s going to need somebody on hand with the evangelism kitbag.
What good would it be if we were all Navy SEALs? I need a sapper. I’m gonna probably need a sniper as well. If you’ve seen Stallone’s The Expendables, you’ll know that the individuals in that team of elite mercenaries were recruited because of their special skills. So were you. When Jesus recruits leaders, He equips them like a Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Couture, Austin, Crews, Rourke, or Willis to assemble a super-team of highly specialized talents. We may be a Dirty Dozen crew of specialized ex-convicts, but we have skills. The Dirty Dozen impacted cinematic history because it concentrated on special teams. If it had been called The Dirty One, it would have conveyed an entirely different meaning, or it would have blown as a film.
Nobody wants to watch one guy doing everything. Nobody buys it, and it doesn’t work in real life. Because the church has assumed that all you need for simple shake-and-bake church planting is a pastor, the church has not learned to knit bands of special teams together, and rather than becoming the Expendables, they’ve often become the Disposables in terms of expanding the kingdom.
The church desperately needs to see the return of the A-Team.
The pastor-only club is killing the leadership of the church. Guys are burning out, losing their families, sabotaging their marriages, or simply going back to selling used cars. It’s time those of you in ministry got your life back.
Jones, P. (2013). Church zero: raising 1st century churches out of the ashes of the 21st century church. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.