Elevation Church // Leadership Development Culture
A couple weekends ago it was my privilege to spend a weekend with Elevation Church. It was stretching experience on many levels. This week I’m blogging about a few things that I experienced that I don’t think get covered enough about this church.
Elevation has exploded over the last 5 years. It’s gone from 18 people to 11,000 in that time. That sort of growth is unprecedented. There is a tangible sense in the air that these folks could literally change the world. (In fact . . they have a documentary called “This is How We Change The World.”)
Unfortunately . . . that sort of growth brings out all the haters in the church. [evidence #1] [evidence #2] But I would say the biggest “untold” story that I saw in the time I spent was the leadership development culture that clearly Elevation is developing. You don’t grow at the rate that have unless you are amazing at identifying, developing and releasing leaders.
I gotta be honest. It humbled me.
Some of the things I saw that totally rocked my socks on the leadership development side of things at Elevation:
- Aggressive and Intentional Internship // We interacted with a number of amazing interns over our time at Elevation. This isn’t the run of the mill “cheap labor in exchange for a weekly devotional time with the pastor” sort of program. They are pouring into this students in a significant way. [Check out the Spring 2012 Schedule.] These leaders are also released into significant areas of leadership within the church as well . . . gaining experience and development that no “traditional church leadership training program” provides. [Peak in at the various roles these people are serving in!] I love the “future focus” of this. (So much to learn here.)
- Low Staff to Community Ratio // At Liquid Church we have 1 staff for every 66 people in our church. We’d like to get that closer to 1 staff member for every 100 people. I’ve worked in churches with the 1:100 ratio . . . and felt great about that. At Elevation . . . the ratio is nearly 1:160! (Wowsers . . .swallow hard.) That means that volunteers leaders are running significant parts of the mission on a regular basis. That means that they are able to keep their finances in endeavors exterior to the church. (In 2011 they gave away $2,000,000 to local mission organizations.) You don’t get to anything near that ratio without a firm commitment to battling back the “professionalization” of the church. You only do it by being firmly entrenched in developing leaders at every level.
- “Off handed” Comments // I like structures and systems. (Shocker.) But what struck me more was how leadership development is bleeding out at every turn as I interacted with people. From the “stump speech” we got from one the key leaders on why their guest services experience isn’t about getting “returning guests” but about “welcoming prodigals home” . . . to the Associate Campus Pastor who I asked what his greatest challenge for 2012 was and his answer being was “how do I develop my core of volunteers to have the same catalytic force of the 18 people who launched this entire church 5 years ago?” . . . to the high school student I got to chat with who volunteers every Sunday morning as a direct support to a key staff member that I asked why he does that and he answered “I want to lead in this church someday so I want to see what that looks like up close” . . . it was everywhere we went.
But one of my deepest impressions as I left was . . . “wow . . . we really have to turn up the heat on leadership development.”
What about you? Have you been to Elevation? I’d be interested in your impression on their leadership development culture. [Drop a comment here!]