“Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45
At VOUS, we believe in leadership. While we are all called to serve one another, God has placed unique gifts within each of us that empower us to play our individual parts like no one else can. Being a leader doesn’t exclude service, and being a servant doesn’t exclude leadership. In the kingdom of God, the two go hand in hand. Jesus is the most effective leader in the history of the world, and he made it clear to his followers that he came not to be served but to serve. In serving others, he impacted our world in a way that is impossible to measure.
As church leaders, we see it as our responsibility to pave a path that will enable people in our congregation to move forward on their journey of faith and grow in their servant leadership. It is enlightening to teach people that they are called to serve. It is empowering to provide them with a process for serving. Our process for spiritual formation follows four key steps:
The first step—Encounter—is all about developing a personal relationship with God. Without this step, the rest of the process would be pointless and powerless. The next step—Establish—is to get connected to community by joining a small group. We are convinced that commitment lasts better in community. The third step—Equip—is focused on discovering the uniqueness of your personality and spiritual gifts so that, in the final step—Empower—you can join a team and use your gifts to make a difference in the lives of others.
This process is the outline for our Growth Track—a four-step class that we teach every Sunday at VOUS. Our four steps follow the four “Es” described above. But this is not just a one-time experience to complete and move on. It is an ongoing process of learning, serving, and growing that we seek to foster within our community. Our Sunday services are designed for an encounter with God. Our Crews are designed to establish community. Our Team Nights are designed to equip servant leaders. Our Growth Track is designed to empower people to serve. Our church is structured and programmed around these four objectives. Even VOUS Conference follows this same pattern, with sessions that lead to God encounters and our breakouts and Friends + Family network that establish community and equip and empower leaders. You get the idea. We are passionate about this process.
The agents that drive the process are our incredible servant leaders. We say it all the time, VOUS Church is staff led but it is servant leader run. Our staff provides the vision and support for our teams, but it is our servant leaders who run with the vision and carry out the work of ministry in our church. Without hundreds of faithful servant leaders bringing their best week in and week out, what we do would simply not be possible. We are so thankful for each and every one of them.
Part of our strategy for empowering our servant leaders to lead is creating leadership layers that clarify lines of responsibility and communication. Our four-layer leadership structure for teams is as follows:
Department coordinators oversee groups of teams and provide strategic guidance for team leaders. This is a high-level role that can be occupied by a staff member or a high-capacity servant leader. Team leaders lead individual teams and develop other leaders. Service leaders support team leaders in overseeing servant leaders and accomplishing team goals. Servant leaders execute the ministry plan provided by their oversight. Together, these four leadership layers drive the work we do at VOUS Church. For more on this subject, check out the resource attached to the bottom of this article.
At VOUS, our goal is not just to serve people. Our goal is to empower people to serve others. We are not just here to do the work of ministry, we are here to equip others for the work of ministry. For us, that work is a great privilege and a great joy. We take it seriously and seek to enjoy every step of the journey. If you desire to see people grow and flourish in your church, our encouragement to you would be to work to develop a clear leadership structure and empower people to find their place within it. Don’t rob people of the opportunity to lead by only serving them. Invite them into the work of serving with you and watch God impact their lives as they impact the lives of others.