Friday, June 7, 2019: “A Call to Action”: The Rule of 21 Leaders. In an urban area in the southern part of the United States – particularly among Baptists – there exists an important and undeniable rule about the presence of leaders in congregations more than about three years old. I call it The Rule of 21 Leaders. This rule may not exist in other locations within the United States are even among other denominations in the urban South. But for Baptists in urban areas in the South it is an undeniable rule.
For a congregation to be viable, proactive, and have the essential leadership resources to function as an established congregation with (1) a God-given vision, (2) gospel-centered outreach to preChristians and unchurched persons, (3) programs-ministries-activities that enhance the discipleship of people connected with the congregation, and (4) essential administrative processes, and meeting in a building for which they are responsible, they must have 21 leaders.
These are not 21 warm bodies who occupy a seat in the worship center or a classroom on Sundays. These are people gifted and skilled, available and able, and passionate and equipped as servant leaders. These are the pastor plus 20 other laypersons – including staff – who think and act more focused the future of the congregation than the past.
Without this critical mass of leaders, congregations are likely to struggle in what is a highly competitive church environment. They will focus on the organizational side of their congregation because of their desire to survive and have programs and services their congregation has enjoyed in the past. They will diminish a focus on a God-given vision for the future and gospel-centered outreach.
At the same time, these are congregations composed of people of worth created in the image of God to live with joy and to love others unconditionally. To remain viable, however, they may need assistance in considering and addressing extreme transition and change in their context. Congregations who do not meet The Rule of 21 Leaders need a call to action to openly consider their situation and allow the churches-in-association of which they are a part to participate with them in their transformation.