Healthy Leaders, Thriving Churches, Flourishing Cities

Edwin Copeland, Director, Church United

In the intricate tapestry that is a local church and ministry network, the well-being of its leaders is of paramount importance. These leaders are entrusted with the sacred responsibility of shepherding their congregations and organizations and serve as the backbone of any vibrant and thriving community. Investing in the holistic health and wholeness of these leaders has cascading positive effects on the leaders themselves, their families, the congregations and constituents they serve, and the overall witness and impact of the Christian community in the region.

Lasting change, transformation, spiritual witness along with the transmission of faith to the next generation are all tied to the spiritual, relational, emotional and mental health of those serving on our spiritual frontlines. That’s why we have developed a theory of change for lasting unity and collaboration that begins with investing in healthy leaders. Using a continuum-of-care approach that includes preventive care, intensive care and awareness, we begin by focusing upstream offering soul care cohorts for senior pastors, executive pastors, youth pastors, worship leaders, women in ministry leadership and pastors’ wives. We’ve partnered with leading best in class local organizations like Live the Life South Florida to invest in the marriages of local pastors and church staff teams, hosting marriage retreats and enrichment events. As part of the ecosystem of the National Christian Foundation of South Florida, we’ve partnered with generous donors and patrons to provide scholarship funds for counseling and mental health care and host an annual soul care conference gleaning from leading national voices.

Let me be clear, we are not a pastoral care agency or counseling service. However, we do believe that to see our vision realized requires us to reverse engineer what’s needed to see lasting change, unity and ministry collaboration. That process begins with significant investment and emphasis on soul care.

 

Integrity and authenticity

Scripture makes it abundantly clear that our ministry call and impact are validated and sustained by Jesus’ core principle in Matthew 23: entering into life with Jesus yourself. At the end of the day what you win people with is what you win them to. When we win people with character and spiritual vibrancy, any “growth” or “impact” tactic works. You can have the best growth or impact strategy and even find success in it and yet miss the Kingdom. In this next season we must continue to fight for and cultivate environments where authenticity and spiritual integrity are valued and protected ahead of gifting and perceived metrics of success.

 

Pastors and staff worship and pray together at a Church United gathering

Modeling vs. leading

Let’s be honest: we don’t lack information or resources on cultivating spiritual health and vibrancy, but we all too often lack models. Models of leaders, ministries, organizations and churches where soul care isn’t just a value on a wall or website. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were filled with knowledge and leadership principles and yet Jesus called them blind guides. They raised up leaders to look like them and apprentice the things they valued. In the end, they presided over a people who chanted “crucify Him” when a no name Disruptor from Nazareth challenged their value systems and beliefs of what spiritual success looked like.

Jesus modeled something different – a sermon on the mount that led to a life characterized by the fruits of the Spirit. Our world and this next generation are starving for models that demonstrate what life in the Kingdom of those apprenticing the way of Jesus looks like – that it’s not only essential but also achievable. At Church United, we believe that the emphasis of Soul Care and personal spiritual growth not only encourages local leaders, but also encourages those in our pews and organizational influence to invest in their own soul health, creating a ripple effect throughout the entire region.

 

Resilience in ministry

Ministry leaders are not immune to the challenge and pressures of life. In fact, given the increasingly divisive nature of our political and social environments, coupled with the cost of living and everyday pressures of life – our pastors and ministry leaders often face substantial emotional, spiritual and psychological stress as they try to navigate the complexities of ministry and pastoral engagement. We believe that prioritizing the soul health of leaders in our community not only leads to sustained collaboration and Kingdom impact but also long-term resilience in ministry. A spiritually healthy leader will lead a spiritually healthy church and organization and be better equipped to handle the myriad of challenges, setbacks and emotions they face each day.

 

Sustainable leadership and kingdom impact

Leaders that approach ministry from a place of spiritual health and wholeness are more attuned to the guidance of the Holy Spirit which leads to inspired, collaborative and impactful ministry initiatives. Sustainable ministry leadership is rooted in the health of a leader’s soul. Burnout and fatigue are real and present threats to effective leadership. Church United is betting the farm on our theory of change: healthy leaders, thriving churches, flourishing cities. The order of that theory matters. That’s why we are investing in tools and environments that foster and promote the spiritual health of our local leaders’ souls, marriages and leadership. Change never happens in isolation. We begin by calling local leaders out of isolation and into community. We will never move from a mindset of competition to one of co-laboring without spaces to discover the unique gifts, callings, and stories of one another.

 

Conclusion

The good news? We’re on a 30-year journey of transformation – not a three-year flash-in-the-pan photo-op. We believe we’re just getting started and invite every local pastor and ministry leader to join us on the journey. If you’re a local pastor or church staff member and are interested in joining one of our many soul care offerings, learn more at churchunitedfl.com or write us a note at [email protected]

 

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