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Fall 1991 · Vol. 20 No. 2 · pp. 72–88 

Church Growth Leadership Theory and Mennonite Brethren Theology

Responses by John E. Toews 20/2 (1991): 89–98; and Isaac Block 20/2 (1991): 98–101.

James R. Nikkel

“Church Growth” is essentially a new way to describe evangelism and mission. Donald McGavran is credited with founding the Church Growth Movement (CGM). In many ways it is a leadership movement in that it calls the church leaders to concerted action and to new ways of thinking about evangelism and missions. For McGavran, Church Growth means “all that is involved in bringing men and women who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ into fellowship with Him and into responsible church membership.” 1 Peter Wagner holds that Church Growth is “simultaneously a theological conviction and an applied science, striving to combine the eternal principles of God’s Word with the best insights of contemporary social and behavioral sciences, employing as its initial frame of reference, the foundation work done by Donald McGavran.” 2 McGavran was relentless in his efforts to refocus leaders, schools and churches to the priorities of making disciples of all nations.

The Church Growth Movement has helped churches make a paradigm shift from maintenance to growth.

The CGM is suggesting that the church needs to undergo a major reorientation. There are those who feel that most of what is happening in the present {73} church is based on past relevancies and needs to be completely overhauled. Those in this school of thought feel that change is the only option. The worship patterns need to change, and so do organization structures, leadership styles, music, prayer, evangelism and training methods.

The object of this paper is to explore some of the commonalities that exist between Mennonite Brethren and CGM leadership theologies and practices. An attempt will be made to harmonize Mennonite Brethren leadership theology with Church Growth theory.


The pattern of congregational government among Mennonite Brethren varies. The smaller the church, the more congregational the practice. The larger the church, the more centralized the decision-making process tends to become. The older, more traditional churches seem to be more congregational while the more recent church plants tend to go with a governance by church elders. Those churches that are more intentional about their growth and church planning tend to have a more centralized form of governance. Still, Mennonite Brethren have thought of themselves as having a strong biblical pattern of leadership, one that incorporates several significant components.

Leadership Sharing. Mennonite Brethren have tried to minimize the distinction between clergy and laity. The Church Growth leaders also strongly affirm the involvement of the congregation in ministry. Both bodies affirm, for example, that leadership in the New Testament churches was multiple rather than single (Acts 6); that decentralization of ministry allowed each to serve according to spiritual giftedness (Eph. 4); that the relationship between leaders was akin to a conference brotherhood (Acts 15); that some leaders, not unlike our current conference area ministers, worked in the interest of a number of churches (2 Cor. 8:18-19); that a spirit of mutuality and of submission to one another in love and respect is basic (Rom. 12); and that greatness means servanthood (Matt. 20:26-28).

Leadership Humility. Leadership among Mennonite Brethren has also reflected an attempt to live within the {74} paradox of strength and weakness. Mennonite Brethren describe their leaders as servant leaders who lead from a position of humility. The CGM has been weak on these biblical leadership assumptions. Yet from the Scripture it is clear that the work of Christ is at its best when one ministers from a position of dependency and weakness (2 Cor. 11:16-12:10). The disciples were convinced that true leadership had to do with self denial and of losing one’s life to find it (Matt. 10:38). A willingness to suffer for Christ and to become like him in his death is a requisite (Phil. 3:10). God uses the weak to confound the wise (1 Cor. 1:18-2:5). In the early church, leaders made themselves accountable to the congregation for the work that God had done through them (Acts 14:29).

Leadership Honor. The New Testament portrays a model of leadership that holds leaders in honor; it is a style which is less than totally congregational. For example, Christians are instructed to obey their leaders and to submit to their authority (Heb. 13:17). The leaders (elders) who direct the affairs of the church are to be considered worthy of double honor (1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13), and are to be financially supported (1 Cor. 9:14). Leaders are described as shepherds of God’s flock who serve as overseers and caregivers of the body but in a “non-lording” way (1 Pet. 5:2-3; Acts 20:28). Church Growth leaders have been more ready to emphasize singular status of leaders than Mennonite Brethren with their theology of equality.

Leadership Qualification. Important to the Mennonite Brethren understanding of leadership has been the character and spirituality of church leaders. They have taken seriously the biblical qualifications for ministers, deacons and elders. Somewhat in contrast, the focus in Church Growth is more often on being technically qualified. The Scriptural directives for a leader’s qualifications are clustered in Paul’s letters (1 Tim. 3:2-10). Among other items leaders are to be above reproach, gentle, not lovers of money, and able to manage their own family well. They must first be tested; theirs must be a firm grasp of the gospel teachings. It is the church which discerns these qualifications (Acts 6).

Leadership Modeling. For Mennonite Brethren no leadership model has been as powerful as that modeled by Christ and his followers. We learn from Christ about a relational, informal style in small groups which turned into more {75} assertive and directive leadership in task situations such as the feeding of the five thousand and the sending out of the seventy. Christ gave more leadership time to his primary leaders, Peter, James and John than to the larger group. He balanced his time between individuals, small groups and large group involvements. In Peter and Paul we see aggressive extrovert leadership while in Barnabas and Timothy we find a more subdued style. All were focused on reaching their world for Christ. James, the pastor from Jerusalem exerts considerable influence-strong leadership-in solving a difficult church situation (Acts 15). The overriding impression from the New Testament leaders is that they were oriented towards the great commission, highly motivated as stewards of the gospel, and as co-laborers with Christ, often at risk to themselves, extending the kingdom of God.

Leadership Heritage. Basic to the Mennonite Brethren theology of leadership is their strong mission evangelism heritage. Herein is a strong link with Church Growth leadership theories. Mennonite Brethren stand in the tradition of the Anabaptist missionary vision. 3 The denominational statement of faith reads, “We believe that the command to make disciples of all nations is the primary task of the church. Every member has the responsibility to be a witness to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and to call men to be reconciled to God.” 4 The church leadership manual (1985) defines ordination by the “laying on of hands as an act by the local church and conference, of affirming those called by God for the ministry of the gospel. 5 Denominational leaders would readily agree with Darrel Robins: “The mission of the church is to reach people and disciple them so they can reach other people and disciple them. This is the mission of Jesus. Consequently this is the mission of the local church.” 6

This strong biblical basis for an understanding of leadership has resulted in considerable church growth impact as illustrated by a large overseas constituency and a strong network of North American church extension committees involved in church planting. Moreover, the Vision Statement adopted in 1990 reflects a desire to see significant growth of our conference by the year 2000. Besides, a growing number of Mennonite Brethren are giving significant leadership to the CGM in both the USA and Canada. {76}


Good leadership theology along with a considerable track record of growth does not mean all is well. There are some sobering realities that face church leaders today. The growth of Mennonite Brethren is affected by changing trends and historical realities.

The Reality of Small Church Dominance

The dominance of small churches needs to be of concern to us as a conference. According to the 90-91 planner directory of the Mennonite Brethren Churches, we have a total of 333 churches, 202 in Canada and 131 in the U.S.

In this listing, 40% of the churches count a membership of fifty or less, and 70% of the churches have a membership of less than 150. A total of 63% of the U.S. churches and 56% of the Canadian churches have a membership of 100 or less. Of the 333 churches, only 30% have a membership of more than 150, and 78% have a membership of 200 or less. Only 10% of the churches in Canada and the U.S. have a membership of 350 or more. The fact that 78.6% of the U.S. churches and 75.7% of the Canadian churches have a membership of less than 200 raises some serious questions about our theology of leadership and church growth practice. Is the fact that we are a denomination of small churches the result of a deliberate small church design, or is it a product of our leadership theology?

The majority of our churches have not been able to break the 200 barrier, as Wagner describes it. Does this say something about our vision and plans for growth, or about our pastoral training approaches? Could it be that our emphasis in congregationalism, shared ministry, family network and heritage has produced a certain size of congregation? Isaac Block suggests that “Quite possibly the small church in which the pastor functions as an enabler among the people is the optimum size for a church when theological considerations are taken into account.” 7

The small church reality and slow growth of many churches could well be related to the shortage of evangelism leaders within our churches generally. We have not been able to maintain the balance of Ephesians 4:11 which names {77} evangelists among apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers to prepare God’s people for the work of service. It seems as though the role and presence of evangelists is virtually non-existent in our conferences. There is clearly a need for more practicing evangelists, more evangelism training and stronger Church Growth pastoral leadership within our conference of churches.

The Reality of Change

In a 1989 survey taken in five provinces involving 187 pastors/leaders from 67 M.B. churches at regional meetings called by the Board of Evangelism to assess church growth trends in Canada, the church leaders provided information that suggests changes are coming. 8 The survey points, among other things, toward stronger leadership.

1. Items about clarifying leadership, evangelism and outreach, a unified vision, and renewal in prayer kept recurring as the most crucial issues facing the Mennonite Brethren denomination today.

2. Intercessory prayer, commitment to the task, renewal and revival, strong leadership training and modeling were listed as some of the major issues in experiencing healthy evangelism growth.

3. As to Church Growth, 80% strongly agree that the church needs to set goals for consistent growth; 89% strongly agree that for the church to grow the laity needs to be mobilized around the vision of its leaders; 90% strongly agree that for the church to grow consistently, it needs to be prepared to evaluate and change programs; and 78% strongly agree that for consistent growth, a church needs to have a written philosophy of ministry.

4. In order to reach the 25-40 age bracket, 78% strongly agree that the church needs to change its music and worship toward a more contemporary style.

5. In light of the rapid growth and mission expansion of charismatic churches, 58 percent agree that the Mennonite Brethren Church should consider a more charismatic approach to theology and practice.

This survey pushes in the direction of change. In some ways it serves as a notice of motion to a more intentional leadership style, more aggressive evangelism and more contemporary and charismatic worship format. {78}

The Reality of Baby Boomers

There is a growing group of emerging leaders between the ages of 25 and 45 who are not institutionally oriented. Elaborate conference structures and church committees are not that important to them. They are part of the generation with little tolerance for theory and tradition. They have little ownership in the institutions created by their parents and have a need to create new structures and ministries.

This anti-institution baby boomer mood is reinforced by a parallel trend which John Naisbitt calls horizontal rather than institutional resourcing. He observes that the top down authoritarian management style is yielding to a networking style of management where people learn from one another horizontally, where everyone is a resource for everyone else. 9 Church Growth pastors are often seen in groups sharing their experiences and innovations. This leadership trend is clearly in the direction of less structure and fewer layers of oversight.

The newer leadership models, music styles and worship formats are also age-related. Generally, congregations are following the traditional pre-war understandings, while the baby boomer leadership mind-set is tuned more to the post-war contemporary information age. For many churches and leaders, the changes called for represent a quantum leap. Much of what was held important by the past generation of leaders is of little consequence to some of the younger leaders.

The Reality of Leadership Elders

Growing churches tend to move toward a unified church governance structure led by spiritually qualified elders. This pattern toward leadership by elders in churches today is in many ways a return to the early years of the Mennonite Brethren Church. In the Centennial celebration address in 1960, John A. Toews talked about a need to change the elected democratic church governance structures of the day. The representative administrative councils, he said, are “no substitute for spiritual and biblical leadership. If church leadership is an administrative function, the congregation loses its character as a spiritual community and sinks to the level of a secular organization.” He notes that formerly “in our Mennonite Brethren congregations the church council as a rule consisted of ministers and deacons.” 10 However, with the current trend {79} toward a more centralized eldership governance structure, some see a theological conflict. The more democratic type of elected committees and church councils are considered by some to be more in keeping with our traditional interpretation of the priesthood of all believers and servanthood leadership.

The Reality of Leadership Authority

There is confusion and uncertainty among churches today about leadership authority. For some the solution is easy: the congregation is the group vested with authority on church matters. The Church Growth advocates see the call to the ministry of the pastor and the endowment of spiritual gifts as license for authoritative action. Ralph Lebold describes how leadership authority in a church comes about:

  • Transcendent conferred charismatic authority given as a sacred gift that comes with the call of God to fulfill the mission purposes.
  • Professional, rational, legal authority that comes by way of training and ministry readiness.
  • Pragmatic earned authority that comes by way of results, quality of one’s work and recognized service.
  • Routinized congregationally endorsed authority that comes through discerned positions, gifts, personality, relationship, leadership and office. 11

Menno Epp points out that authority and power are both gifts of God to be exercised responsibly within the church. But it is the way these are used that makes the difference. When the body is edified and when the great commission of Christ is being fulfilled, then authority and power have been exercised appropriately. When mutuality is lost and persons in the church feel a sense of an over/under relationship because of the use of power/authority either by the congregation, parts of it, or by the leaders, then an injustice is perpetrated. Epp observes that it is not uncommon for the congregation or part of it to exercise lordship over the pastor. 12 Mennonite Brethren, however, have for the most part been able to maintain a workable balance.

The Reality of Leadership Heterogeneity

The pastor’s role has changed in the past three decades. Many churches have changed from multiple lay leadership to a single full-time paid pastor to a multiple full-time staff pastoral {80} system. In many churches the senior pastor’s role has become more of a management and leadership training role, quite removed from the people, which has introduced a new role of lay shepherding. These transitions have created uncertainties and conflict in some churches where the roles and expectations have not been clearly understood or accepted.

To a great extent our denomination has been influenced by a heritage of leadership practices. This homogeneity of leadership is fast changing. The majority of our leaders over the age of fifty are traditional ethnic Mennonite Brethren who have a special story to tell from another country, a story which is a mix of culture, theology and heritage. A new group of leaders is emerging with new stories and new visions. A growing number of leaders under fifty years of age today is Mennonite Brethren by choice. They are bringing new histories and a potential for new growth with their evangelism focus. These people have a story of their own which is just as important to them as the history of the ethnic German Russian experience. Rapid evangelism will only increase the mix and diversity of the heritage. The church in our urban secular society is no longer what J. A. Toews calls a “brotherhood in which there are no classes, no clergy and laity, no artificial distinctions but a fellowship of equals.” 13 For example, leaders vary greatly in ministry experience, leadership training and biblical understanding. The assumption of spiritual homogeneity with equal eligibility and access to church leadership positions for all by an election process is no longer valid. The principle of church leadership by spiritual qualifications and gifting needs to receive a higher priority in many churches.


One of the strengths of the Mennonite Brethren over the years has been their openness to learn and to assimilate various theologies and philosophies from the broader body of Christ. Much can be learned from the Church Growth leadership patterns, though there are also some tension points between the Church Growth leadership theories and Mennonite Brethren leadership theology and practice. I raise some cautions about the Church Growth movement, but also list learnings from it beneficial and important for us. {81}

Church Growth Cautions

Any movement of major proportions like the CGM also has its weaknesses and its excesses. For many leaders these shortcomings have unfortunately overshadowed the contributions. We need to evaluate the movement and ourselves on the following issues.

Leadership Accommodation. Church Growth leaders are often challenged on the basis of being too controlled or influenced by social and cultural factors. The CGM has sought on principle to harness the social sciences, especially sociology and cultural anthropology to develop appropriate strategies for the missionary task of the church. 14 This has been perceived by some as minimizing the Scriptures as the basic foundation for effective leadership guidance. There is a danger that social science theory rather than good theology becomes the guide for the program patterns of the church.

Leadership Successes. Church Growth has often been criticized for being too much at home with the North America culture with its mass production, consumer choices, and success mentality. John Howard Yoder suggests that this criticism detracts from the real issues, but nevertheless warns against the danger of communicating a para-message. 15 His concern is that elaborate church structures with parking lots full of new cars tell people something about stewardship and sacrifice that is more akin to a culture of affluence than the gospel of Jesus. There is a danger that Church Growth has contributed to making the Christian church a privilege of the middle class, unaffordable and inaccessible to the poor.

Leadership Numbers. There is a perception that Church Growth leaders, much like business accountants, are driven by the “bottom line” (numbers). The bottom line of attendance figures, some think, needs to show increases just as the business ledger shows profits. If the bottom line in attendance increases then the ratings of both the church and the pastor go up. The principle of “bigger is better” underlies such an understanding of church life. But the health of a church cannot be measured by head count only. Church Growth, according to some, has placed too much emphasis on numerical growth at the expense of discipleship quality. 16

Leadership Pragmatism. The CGM is strong on practical leadership skill and experience. It is not uncommon in larger {82} churches to have some of its pastoral staff recruited on the basis of business experience rather than theological qualifications. This practice, some fear, can on the long run threaten the spiritual stability and depth of the church. Some feel the movement has a major weakness in not qualifying church leadership on the basis of spiritually proven maturity. A more pragmatic business style of leadership may well provide organizational efficiency but could short change the church in its biblical mooring. Leadership technique is no substitute for leadership spirituality. Both the being and the doing of leadership need to reflect the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Leadership Dominance. To a large degree the leadership style of the CGM slants in the direction of the para-church leadership character. This leadership style is usually more action and goal-oriented than it is relational and congregational. It does not sufficiently concern itself with the needs of people but seeks more to answer the question of institutional purpose and focus. This style of leadership reflects western individualism and may well be out of step with the current more collaborative leadership style with which baby boomers are comfortable. Authoritative leadership can also be critiqued on the grounds of too little congregational process. The congregation is too easily viewed as sheep to be led and fed by their leaders. Church Growth has been found wanting by some as having produced a leadership style that underestimates the role and place of the congregation.

Leadership Boundaries. Church Growth leaders have also been criticized at times for setting leadership boundaries too tightly. Church Growth leaders are not likely to be involved in much inter-church or ecumenical activities. The leaders of large churches are in danger of not having enough time and commitment for their denomination. Church Growth leaders are careful to team up with activity that will contribute toward their church objectives. Part of the criticism is directed toward their self-sufficiency which is often interpreted as lack of interest beyond their own church. Clearly such expressions of leadership do not fit well in a brotherhood of interdependence and mutual submission.

Church Growth Lessons

Church Growth has had a major impact on Mennonite Brethren leaders. It has had for many pastors and church {83} leaders a revitalizing and renewing effect. It has identified areas where growth is needed.

Leadership Vision. The emphasis of vision among Church Growth leaders is noteworthy. There is hardly a book on leadership and Church Growth that does not emphasize vision as one of the most important aspects of an effective church leadership. Bruce Cook describes “personal vision as a mental picture of what we believe God is going to do in the future.” 17 Robert Dale says, “Our dreams are the first step in defining effective ministry. . . our vision rivets our attention. . . our vision becomes our passion, our magnetic pull, our spiritual and emotional glue, and our ownership of and stake in a cause. . . . A corporate vision gives a congregation a steady, enduring, sustaining and invigorating purpose.” 18 The heartbeat and passion of a Church Growth pastor is to see new people come to Christ and into the church.

Leadership Spirituality. The CGM has helped to stir up and revitalize the pastor’s office. The emphasis on discipline, hard work and good stewardship of time has reoriented many church leaders. Church Growth has introduced new organizing principles and new ways of sharing the ministry through groups and spiritual gifts. Principles of delegation have freed the pastor for more prayer, planning and prayer time. It has helped pastors to move more closely to the Peterson model that calls for praying, reading Scripture and giving spiritual direction as the central activities of the pastor. 19 The growing emphasis on worship as an evangelism opportunity has revitalized the spiritual life of many worship leaders.

Leadership Philosophy. The idea that each church needs to describe its ministry style and program boundaries is a very helpful concept. A written philosophy of ministry describing the ground rules of operation helps the church move in a consistent direction. Pastors such as James Kennedy, Frank Tillapaugh, Dale Galloway, Bill Hybells, and John Wimber have themselves become known for the philosophy of their church. At a time when ministry options are so diverse and needs abound, the church needs to define what it can and cannot do with the resources available. Church Growth philosophy sees the central purpose of the church to bring people to faith in Christ and into meaningful growth and ministry in the church and society.

Leadership Planning. Another contribution that Church {84} Growth has brought is the idea of careful planning, evaluation and goal setting. Growth in a church can be stimulated by strategic programming to meet the needs of the target group. Community research and establishing goals that are definable, measurable and controllable are important in moving a church into growth. Chaney and Lewis explain that “God-honoring, faith-stretching, need-meeting goals are bold affirmations of faith in a living, loving God.” 20 Carl George and Robert Logan describe the three stages of effective planning: 1) setting goals, 2) obtaining goal ownership, and 3) equipping people for the work to do their part in accomplishing the goals. 21 Annual leadership retreats and church growth seminars have helped Mennonite Brethren leaders develop a church planning model.

Leadership Context. Kenneth Callahan, one of the most effective spokesmen for missional leadership in a non-church society, calls on leadership to adjust to the non-church culture of the day. The problem, as he sees it, is that most churches still work from the model that the traffic in society is still moving toward the church. The leadership style for a society with a church culture is generally characterized as reactive, organizational, passive, institutional and professional. 22 But in a nation where most people are no longer regular churchgoers and society has become a non-church society, church leadership must be characterized as pro-active, relational, intentional and missional.

The church-culture leadership style wrongly assumes that 1) the pastor serves inside the church, 2) the laity minister in the world, and that 3) the world is seeking the church. 23 By contrast, leadership in the non-church culture is concerned with 1) specific concrete missional objectives, 2) pastoral and lay visitation in the community, 3) corporate dynamic worship, and 4) significant relational grouping. 24 Callahan observes that the spirit of leadership within the church culture is one of maintenance and routine while the spirit of mission leadership is one of outreach and “mission growth.”

Leadership Training. The CGM has produced its own idea of pastoral training and continuing education. It has introduced the short-term upgrading and retooling concept for pastors. Church Growth advocates have realized that pastors need and want to see practical working models for their ministry. Pastors today are flocking to three-day seminars in {85} the interest of seeing Church Growth work. Today church leaders are fatigued from church orthodoxy and mere doctrinal insights. They want practical models, vitality and evidence of effectiveness.

Leadership Transitions. Church Growth leaders are agreed that the size of the congregation determines the style and character of church leadership. Schaller suggests that a critical switch in leadership takes place when the leadership style shifts from a “shepherd mode to a rancher mode.” Experts suggest that churches will not likely break the 200 barrier unless leadership shifts to a ministry pattern of delegation and training. Most churches with a membership under 200 expect the pastor to have one-to-one shepherd type relationship with the membership. The rancher mode shifts the personal caring ministry to multiple under shepherds who provide the hands-on ministry usually through small group fellowships. The senior pastor is then free to provide an oversight ministry of leading and training the workers. Since most Mennonite Brethren churches are less than 200 we need to be open for lessons on breaking plateaus. I suggest a few:

  • The value system in the church needs to shift from everyone present in decision-making to everyone meaningfully involved in a person-to-person ministry.
  • The congregations need to accept ministry from lay leaders who have been trained by the pastor rather than expecting the pastor to do all the shepherding.
  • The congregation needs to be visitor-friendly and full accepting of people from various backgrounds. The family of God transcends the biological families.
  • The larger the church the more trusting the congregation needs to be of its leaders. Transitions from a single cell church to multiple cell churches require leadership trust and more eldership decision-making.

Leadership Conflicts. Invariably when a church breaks through to substantial growth the church develops two conflicting bodies of people. These Lyle Schaller has called the “pioneers” (original members) and the “homesteaders” (the new attenders). Logan and George have developed the “berry bucket” theory to help congregations understand and resolve the pioneer/homesteader conflict. 25 They describe the congregations as former berries and new berries. The former berries oppose innovation, salute tradition, and see the pastor as their {86} servant who follows their instructions. The new berries encourage change and see the pastor as the authority who gives them instructions. The former berries usually hold the elected positions while the new berries fill assigned ministry positions. As the new berry group grows in numbers the former berries feel threatened and begin to launch a defensive survival war against the pastor who is thought to be to blame for these new people. Questions of process, power, and leadership privilege then overshadow faithfulness to the great commission. The pastor becomes the lightning rod in the conflict and is often sacrificed on the basis of how he does things rather than being evaluated on whether the right things are being accomplished.

Overall, Church Growth leadership theories and practices are having a major influence on Mennonite Brethren leadership. Church Growth advocates have helped us to reestablish the priorities of the great commission and to give more effective leadership. For many a paradigm shift from church maintenance to church growth has taken place.


What then are some of the areas to which Mennonite Brethren need to give more attention in order to facilitate healthy church growth leadership?

1) Leadership Theology. The role of leaders in the church must be guided by Scripture. The CGM theories which have their own theological inadequacies have at the same time also pointed toward some of our own weaknesses.

2) Leadership Spirituality. A more careful leadership selection process within the congregation is needed to assure that the leaders are recruited more for their spiritual gifted-ness and demonstrated maturity than for their popular vote from the church floor.

3) Leadership Authority. Mennonite Brethren may need to evaluate their traditional congregational leadership patterns and consider moving more towards a semi-presbyterian model where spiritually gifted leaders are expected and permitted to give pro-active spiritual leadership.

4) Leadership Evangelism. Evangelism and church growth needs to have a more intentional place and a higher profile within the leadership of the church and in our training {87} institutions.

5) Leadership Change. Churches will need more leadership guidance in the congregations’ transition from small church leadership styles and governance patterns to larger church leadership models and governance patterns.

6) Leadership Impact. Church leaders will need to become more informed about the theological implications of social science, business and secular education models employed by the CGM. Even so, the contributions of CGM will no doubt continue to be one of the more major influences that shape leadership effectiveness for Mennonite Brethren.


  1. C. Peter Wagner, Your Church Can Grow. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1976, p. 12.
  2. C. Peter Wagner, “Principles and Procedures of Church Growth.” Fuller Theological Seminary. Seminar, 1978, p. 4.
  3. Cornelius Dyck, “Revisited: A Comparison of Anabaptist and Mennonite Brethren Origins.” A paper presented at the Symposium on Mennonite Brethren History, May 1-3, 1975.
  4. Confession of Faith of the General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, Article VII. Winnipeg: Kindred Press, 1976, p. 162.
  5. Gilbert Brandt, ed. Church Leadership Manual Winnipeg: Kindred Press, 1985, pp. 11-12.
  6. Darrell W. Robinson, Total Church Life Nashville: Broadman Press, 1985, p. 10.
  7. Isaac Block, “Church Size and Leadership Style” (1990), p. 9.
  8. Ike Bergen and James Nikkel, “Survey of M.B. leaders on Church Growth.” Fall, 1989.
  9. John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene, Re-Inventing the Corporation. New York: Warner Books, 1985, p. 62.
  10. John A. Toews, People of the Way. Winnipeg: Christian Press, 1981, p. 105.
  11. Ralph A. Lebold, “Free Church Understanding of Leadership.” A paper presented at the Institute for Church Ministries, Mennonite Brethren Bible College, February 28, 1990.
  12. Menno H. Epp, The Pastors Exit. Winnipeg: CMBC Publication, 1984, p. 7.
  13. John A. Toews, A History of the M.B. Church. Kansas: Mennonite Brethren Publishing House, 1975, p. 371.
  14. Donald McGavran and George Hunter III, Church Growth Strategies that Work. Nashville: Abingdon, p. 26.
  15. Wilbert R. Shenk, ed. The Challenge of Church Growth. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1973, p. 39.
  16. C. Wayne Zunkel, Church Growth Under Fire. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1987, p. 3.
  17. Bruce Cook, Faith Planning for More Effective Ministry. Leadership Dynamics International, 1986, p. 9. {88}
  18. Robert D. Dale, Keeping the Dream Alive. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1988, p. 12.
  19. Eugene H. Peterson, Working the Angles. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987, p. 2.
  20. Charles L. Chaney and Ron S. Lewis, Design for Church Growth. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1977, p. 168.
  21. Carl F. George and Robert E. Logan Leading and Managing Your Church. New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell, 1987, p. 16.
  22. Kenneth L. Callahan, Effective Church Leadership. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990, p. 145.
  23. Ibid, p. 10.
  24. Ibid, p. 164.
  25. Carl F. George and Robert E. Logan, Leading and Managing Your Church. p. 16.
Dr. James Nikkel is Executive Secretary of the Board of Evangelism, Canada.

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