Daniel Im is one of the truly exceptional voices on the topic of leadership today. In addition to serving as Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship in Nashville TN, Daniel is the Founder of NewChurches.Com at Lifeway Christian Resources and the author of Planting Missional Churches (w/Ed Stetzer). Daniel’s highly anticipated newest book, No Silver Bullets was recently released (check back soon for a full review) and he was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions for Develop to Deploy about this new work. Enjoy.
1) How did “No Silver Bullets” as a project come about? Specifically, how did these 5 small shifts emerge in your own ministry contexts?
Daniel: After living and pastoring in six major cities across three countries, both in smaller sized congregations all the way up to a 50,000 person church, I kept on noticing this secret obsession come up time and time again—regardless of context, ethnicity, language, or size. We’re obsessed with the quick fix. We are seduced into believing that just because we can download a book, order our groceries, and look up anything online, that the same applies to spiritual formation.
I mean, if you want to mature in Christ, isn’t it just about reading a book or attending a class? Or if you want to grow your church, don’t you just have to do what that “successful” church down the road is doing?
No. No. No.
This obsession for the silver bullet is what drives us from one diet to another, from one fad to the next, and from conference to conference or book to book. We don’t want to put the hard work into figuring out and uncovering what is so that we can move to what needs to be.
If there’s no silver bullet in life, why would there be one in ministry?
This is the very issue that I seek to address and solve in No Silver Bullets. As a result, through each of the five small shifts, I unpack our assumptions (aka our “normals”) and then offer a few simple suggestions to help you discover what to implement in your life and your context so that you’re moving from stagnancy to growth—both personally and in your church.
2) Early in the book, you reference the dangerous craving we have in our culture for instant gratification. How does a need for instant gratification affect the way we develop leaders in the local church and how do we fight it intentionally?
Daniel: Instant gratification is a silent addiction that’s seeped into the way we seek God and relate to him. For example, if you come before the Lord with a particular prayer request, and our merciful and gracious Lord helps you discern what your next steps ought to be, what is our natural assumption regarding timing?
We assume that it’s now. But is that how God works?
Did Abraham become a blessing to the nations immediately after Genesis 12? Did David become king the moment Samuel anointed him? Did Simeon see Jesus immediately after he was promised that he would not see death until he first saw the Messiah (Luke 2:25-26)?
We can’t assume the timing is always now. However, this is what our cultural drive toward instant and on-demand is teaching and programming us to. We need to fight this at all costs by soaking ourselves in the Word of God, and by identifying God’s view and narrative on timing, over and above our cultural notion on it.
3) A key theme running through this book is the “direction” vs “destination” discipleship developmental concept. What are some warning signs to look for when our church discipleship/leadership development strategies are becoming too “destination” oriented?
Daniel: Like the dieting example I share in the book, every output goal needs an input goal. It’s fine and necessary to measure the particular outputs that you want to see increased in your context, like more leaders serving or more individuals in group life. However, if you don’t have a corresponding input goal (things that you can do) that will influence those output goals (the results you want to get), you will never see a breakthrough.
It’d be like waking up every morning and then weighing yourself on a scale, hoping that the very act of weighing yourself on the scale will cause you to lose weight. As silly as that may sound, we do the same thing weekly in our churches. We count our weekly attendance hoping that the very act of counting our weekly attendance will cause it to increase. If only this is how it worked…
Every output goal needs a corresponding input goal.
4) The 5th shift, Maturity to Missionary, is the shift that excited me the most! How can churches make sure our leadership/discipleship training equips Christians to serve with missional focus in their vocations? (Editors Note: the “Spiritual Disciplines through a Missional Lens” chart alone in this chapter is worth the price of the book)
Daniel: The most important thing to normalize and teach in your church is the very fact that all of us share the same primary calling. It doesn’t matter if you’re a poet, plumber, or pastor, we all have the same primary calling—to go and make disciples of all nations. The way you provide for your family is a secondary issue. After all, didn’t Jesus say that since God feeds the birds of the air and clothes the flowers in the field, that he would then also, and even more so, take care of you and I?
To normalize this, we need to audit how we view our roles and if there’s anything that we, as pastors do, that we don’t let everyone else do. The greater that list becomes, the harder it’s going to be to share and demonstrate that, at the foot of the cross, the level is flat.
In other words, make sure to lower yourself and don’t worry about “job security.” If you can train others to do what you’re doing, then you’re going to get to multiplication.
P.S. I’ve never met a person who has lost their job because they were reproducing leaders.