Spiritual Leadership

July 31, 2011

David Sorn

The apostle Paul traces his steps back to some of his previous churches and appoints leaders. David brings out some Biblical principles of leadership for our own lives.

Spiritual Leadership

July 31, 2011

David Sorn

The apostle Paul traces his steps back to some of his previous churches and appoints leaders. David brings out some Biblical principles of leadership for our own lives.



Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church

This morning we are talking about leadership.

Can I just say that I love leadership. I love it. I love it everywhere or anywhere.

I love it when I see it in sports.

When I see Peyton Manning out on the football field leading his team (Can we get an Amen for the end of the NFL lockout), I love it.

It’s leadership

When I see a young child leading other kids in how to play a game, I love it. It pumps me up to watch kid tell other kids who to play a yard game.

When I see a small business really excel because of strong leadership, I get excited.

“But where I get most excited is when I see strong spiritual leadership. People who are excellent, strategic, and inspiring leaders in the Body of Christ…the church.

Because that is ultimately where leadership is MOST important.

Because Football will cease…kick the can will one day cease…on earth anyway…but the spiritual things are eternal…and have eternal ramifications.


We are continuing in the Book of Acts today as a church.

Acts is the 5th book of the New Testament and the story of how the early church gets started after Jesus ascends into heaven.

Before we get to our passage today, let’s do a little, “Last time on….The Book of Acts.”

Our 2 spiritual leaders, Paul and Barnabas are tracking all over what is now modern day Turkey.


Last week, we saw that after many people came to Christ in Iconium, they were chased out of that city, and moved on to Lystra.

Then in Lystra, many more people came to Christ, but Paul was eventually stoned, and they moved on again to Derbe.

Which is where we join them today

(Act 14:21-28) – NIV

21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25 and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

SO, after Paul and Barnabas reach even more people in Lystra, they start to backtrack their original route

Except this time, instead of focusing on evangelism, they focus on discipleship

They do 4 things really:

ONE) They strengthen the disciples.

Probably in their teaching…and in their heart.

TWO) They exhort them to remain faithful.

They challenge them to stay committed to Jesus Christ. Probably their disciplines.

Working out in God’s Gym.

Study the Word. Stay in Prayer.

THREE) They warned them about upcoming hardship.

“Something they probably would have expected as new Christians more so than we often do today.”

For goodness sakes, the people of Lystra watched their leader Paul get stoned.

SO they knew what they were getting into.

We don’t always do this as well in America. We tend to overfocus on how good things will be.

But, our only guarantee is that Jesus will come into our lives, forgive our sins, show us love, transform us, and give us eternal life….

And please, somebody tell me that’s enough…cuz it’s enough.

But beyond that, nothing else is guaranteed. Suffering will come.

My colleague in ministry, Ron Sykes, who was the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Blaine, the other church plant in Blaine (they meet in Blaine High School) passed away this week at a young age from cancer.

He’s with Jesus now…but life w/o suffering is not guaranteed. Hardship will come.

AND FOUR) Barnabas and Paul set-up a leadership team in each of the churches.


Which…is SO important in churches.

ON the whole, churches will rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

And I want you to notice how the picked leaders.

Not by committee. Not by ballot. Not by public opinion.

They prayed. They fasted. They appointed.

Paul and his companions always APPOINTED elders everywhere they went

(Titus 1:5) – NIV

5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.

Elders are always appointed by spiritual leaders

In our church, we look at our “elders” as our House Leaders (The leaders of our House Groups…which we now have four of)

“Often, churches just call the people on their church board, “elders,” but that’s not really what elders do in Scripture.

Scripture tells us that elders:

Shepherd their people, lead, teach when necessary, protect the church from false teachers, watch doctrine, visit the sick and pray for them, and care for the local church.

And the people who do that in our church, are House Leaders.

Now we have a governing board, or will have one officially in October that oversees the Guiding Principles of this church, from missional accountability to financial accountability, to my accountability as the Lead Pastor.

But the real elders of the church, are the people who actually lead and shepherd the church.

It’s the House Leaders and in some cases, our staff.

And so many of you have benefited from these people’s leadership and interest in your life.

The leadership they give your house group and small group leaders.

The majority of you have people around you that care for you, and spiritually challenge you because of the work these House Leaders have done in leading their house groups.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy that elders are worthy of double honor, so if you haven’t thanked yours in a while…thank your House Leader for their leadership in your life today!


But even with great House Leaders in place, it’s still possible to weasel our way out of people actually leading our own personal lives.

But leadership IS SO important!

The very first month we opened this church, I had three people come on stage to illustrate an important leadership principle, and since most of you probably weren’t here yet back then, I want to show it to you again.

I asked some people earlier to help out in this illustration…if they could come on stage now, that would be great.

There’s a Biblical leadership principle that people have used for years that I think is quite helpful.

The principle is that every single believe needs a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy.

The idea was this:

Everyone needs a Paul (elder, wisdom, teacher) – That’s who Paul was

Everyone needs a Timothy (someone younger, someone you’re training)

Everyone needs a Barnabas (people like them…to encourage you on)

(let them sit down)

So let me straight up ask you: Do you have a Paul in your life? A Timothy? A Barnabas?


Let’s start with Paul. Who’s the Paul in your life? Who’s a spiritual leader who’s spurring you on to follow Christ more?

And “THIS”…Sunday morning…that can be a part of it.

It’s an important checkpoint anyway.

Church is like the spiritual dentist.

IF you don’t consistently visit your dentist…you’re gonna start dealing with some nasty decay.

And if you don’t have a consistent habit of checking in here…I can pretty much guarantee that spiritual decay will start to set in

But you want to strive for more than that.

You want to submit your life to a spiritual leader who is more involved with what is happening in your life. That’s CHURCH. That’s community.

Be thinking hard about House Groups this Fall. Be praying for the courage to do it if you are afraid.

If you want to grow spiritually, you always need to be following people in front of you!

How else will you grow?

There are some key people and things in front of you to follow:

ONE) You got God…we follow Him…we have a relationship w/ Him

TWO) His Word…. It’s like a manual for living. A fitness manual for God’s gym.

THREE) Sunday morning service … That’s like going to hear a lecture on getting fit every week

But here’s the problem with that, and why it’s not enough to really grow and mature spiritually.

There’s no real direct/involved spiritual leadership in your life.

Let me explain:

Let’s take the same 3 steps (Following God, the Bible, and going to a weekly event)…and transpose them onto a different event. A different goal.

2 weeks ago, when I was on vacation in lovely Walker, MN, I thought to myself…nothing would make this vacation more complete than a lunch trip to Hardee’s in Walker.

We had a Hardee’s in Cambridge growing up, and they’re tough to find nowadays. In fact, there are only 4 left in the metro, not that I looked or anything.

But who doesn’t love a Hot Ham and Cheese from Hardee’s topped off w/ some curly fries?? Am I right? Am I right?

So anyway, after my wife told me she wasn’t interested in visiting a restaurant with such terrible food, she told me maybe I could convince my 5 year old niece to go with me since she wouldn’t’ know any better yet. J

Which I successfully did.

But, now, back to my proposition earlier. Let’s take the same 3 steps (Following God, the Bible, and going to a weekly event), and transpose them onto a different event.

Let’s say, you, me, and 3 of our friends get the brilliant idea that we are going to bring Hardee’s back to our area, and we are each going to start a Hardee’s franchise in the North Metro

I’ll start one in Blaine

You’ll start one in Coon Rapids

And our friends are going to start one in Ham Lake. You know…to compete with the vast array of restaurants like….the Red ox Café J

And let’s say we do 3 similar things as to what people normally do spiritually (God, Bible, Weekly Seminar)

Let’s say we establish a relationship with the master…who in this metaphor, is the CEO of Hardee’s. NO idea who that is, but I’m sure he’s awesome.

Let’s say we then spend a significant amount of time reading the Hardee’s Franchising Manual each night before we go to bed. It sits on our nightstand.

And then finally, let’s say all 3 of us also attend a weekly seminar on how to start a Hardee’s.

Here’s the problem with that…and why it doesn’t ultimately guarantee success

Even after doing that, there’s no guarantee whatsoever that our individual restaurants are going to make it.

That’s a main principle of business…you can’t just send people off and hope they make it.

We all need INVOLVED leadership in our lives!

Think about this…why are there still some Hardee’s open and many have closed?

Some of it is demographics.. But a lot of it is managerial leadership. And A LOT of that has to do with coaching.

See if all you did was Meet the CEO, read a manual, and attend a seminar, you might actually really struggle to get your restaurant off the ground…curly fries and all.

But what you NEED is someone there to coach you along.

Someone who actually knows the ins and outs of YOUR OWN Hardee’s.

Someone who could coach you along and say…Hey…have you thought about marketing… Perhaps you should try the newspaper, it seems like most of your clientele is 70+

Someone who could coach you along and help you know what to do when a fryer breaks, what to do with a troubled employee, what to do to increase your business, how to make your restaurant appealing to your demographic.

But if all you do is attend seminars and read a manual…you’re gonna get stuck.

And I think a lot of Christians are stuck…because their spiritual development is only those first three things.

There really is NO ONE there to LEAD them through the tough parts of their life.

When the “fryer” in their life breaks…when the people around them give them trouble…when it feels like everything is falling apart…

It’s just tends to be us on our own, trying to figure it out. Hoping to glean some from a “weekly teaching” and hoping to “Apply” it to our situation

And lots of times the manual has answers. Sometimes the CEO himself speaks…sometimes you can glean something out or a weekly message…and those are GREAT places to go…but there not the only places to go.

And they don’t substitute for spiritual leadership in your life.

That’s why we see it all over in Acts

Not just to lead the church, but to lead actual people!

So I want to ask you, who’s leading you in your life?

And you can’t just say your pastor. J

For most of you, especially as our church has grown, I don’t KNOW what’s really happening in your life. I might never know. And that’s ok. Because of house groups, we’re not designed where that needs to happen.

I can’t be the spiritual leader of the ins and outs of your life for 200 or 300 or 400 people.

But we have plenty of people who can.

Who’s helping lead your life? Who’s giving you coaching in your life? Who are you following and talking to your life about that has been walking with Jesus Christ a little bit longer than you have? Who’s your guide on this path of life?

Who’s the “Paul” in your life that’s leading you?

And if you’re like, “David, I’m new here…I have no idea who that could even be.” My first challenge would be for you to a join a House Group (a group of 30 people this fall), and start there.


Of the three examples we gave earlier (Paul, Barnabas, & Timothy), a “Barnabas” is probably the easiest one to have in your life. A Christian friend. Someone who’s encouraging you along.

Slightly more difficult than having a “Barnabas” figure in your life, is having a “Timothy” figure. Someone you are leading. You are helping.

In fact, let me just ask you right now: Who are you leading right now? That’s not your kids?

Who are you helping along in their faith?

There’s always someone newer to the faith than you.

Even if you’ve only been a Christian for a year, we have people at this church that have been Christians for under a year.

Even if you’ve been a Christian for 3 months, there are people who don’t know Jesus yet.

There are always people we can be helping.

And the best thing we can do, as we’ve talked about A LOT this summer, is to change the focus of our spiritual development from being SO overly self-focused.

It’s not all about you.

How can you help other people know Jesus better?

Could you start a Bible study with friends where you studied the Word together?

Maybe God’s calling you to that?

Could you meet with some of our newer believers once a week or once a month and teach them more about God?

Could you just hang out with newer believers more? Invite them to your house? Invite them to hang out with your friends?

Could you start an accountability relationship with another Christian where you could hold each other accountable?

Could you agree to get prayer requests from three younger believers each week and commit to praying for them?

Could you commit to picking someone up to bring to House Groups each week this fall to ensure they learn more about Jesus? Could you commit to watching someone’s kids on another night, so THEY could go to a house group?


There are SO many people…so many timothy’s…particularly in a thriving church like this…that you could lead…you could serve.

And here’s the cool part…the more you give out…the more you will personally gain.

It’s ironic. It’s like 10,000 spoons and all you need is a knife.

Because when we try and spiritually grow by just focusing on us…by being a spiritual island that consumes…nothing really happens.

But when we submit to another person’s leadership…and when we serve others…

WE GROW! We grow like a chia pet at Christmas time…

It’s like they always say, the best way to learn something is to teach it.

The best way to fuel your faith w/ passion is to live it out. To serve. To disciple. To help others along. To lead others.

Because when you submit yourself to Christian community, and you live out the purpose of your faith…God moves. And it’s awesome!

So find a way a way to lead…find a way to serve…

Stop by the volunteer fair in the hallway today, fill out a card…

At MINIMUM, start with serving people here and join the movement of Renovation Church. Find a ministry to serve with here.

There are all sorts of places to serve.

We need you in other ways too.

Listen, we’re adding a 4th House Group this Fall on Wednesday nights because we already have the people to fill a whole nother house group.

But what we don’t have is a house to put it in.

We need someone to step up and say…I’ll step up…I’ll serve.

If you can do that…if you’re interested…put that on your connection card later…talk to me.

But the point is…let God use you to help change the world.

And then…get serious about asking God who’s your Paul? Who’s your Barnabas? Who’s your Timothy?

Who’s leading you? Who’s walking with you? Who are you leading?

And trust in God, that if you start to step out…He will provide those people.

Let’s pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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