By Jim Pool
A team of three took off for Ethiopia recently, to spend five days investing in leaders: my wife and I, along with a young woman whose church is prayerfully considering the partnership, and she herself is discerning a possible gap year or longer in mission service after completing grad school.
We spent the first two days with the two key members of our emerging movement coordinating team. These are the guys who form the backbone of our developing national leadership team. When raising up a movement, we always want to work in the context of teams. It is from this team that God sets apart a leader, identified by their track record of faithful, fruitful ministry and service. Together we savored coffee, shared stories, witnessed national park waterfalls, reflected on the past, and planned for the future. In a country where Internet reliability doesn’t guarantee the luxuries of easy social media face time, these times of real face-to-face relationship are key.
*A "translocal leader" is someone with leadership responsibilities beyond their local church - like an area pastor, regional leader, Vineyard Missions communications coordinator.
We spent the next three days caring for our Ethiopia Vineyard Movement leadership team. This team consisted of members of the business board, area pastors, and emerging translocal leaders.* The “Leader Care” for the Ethiopia Partnership looks like creating space and time to pour into these men and women so that they might live and lead for the long haul in a soul-sustaining manner and their ministry would originate from a place of overflow and not overwork. The first day and a half we spent on “soul care” – which consists of exercises in spiritual formation, lectio divina, and contemplation. It was our desire to help these pastors encounter God for themselves in this process, guiding them through in such a way that they can pass it along to others.
The second half of our time with the leadership team we talked about ministry: worship, prayer, and compassion. Then we spent a couple of hours getting deep into the intricacies of finances, focusing together on how to develop a theology of stewardship.
At some point it dawned on me that we now have as many leaders of leaders as we first had churches.
We closed, as we began, with a time of worship. Three days were brimming with laughter, celebration, and sharing hard questions with each other. After nine years of this journey filled with hills and valleys and some tough roads, to be enveloped by the sound of sixteen leaders singing "Hallelujah" … well, it sinks into your soul. To stay forever. In that moment, I knew it was worth it all. In that moment, I knew I'd do it all over again. Gladly.