About a decade ago, I came across a book entitled The Starfish and the Spider. As I read it, I realized their concept of a starfish organization is the movement of church planting as described by Luke in the book of Acts. Most of Western Civilization church models have been built upon a legacy of spider institutionalism and bound by consumeristic financial systems. The result is the decreasing influence of the church upon society.
In the old model, the pastor is treated as a C.E.O. In fact, I have heard many pastors describe their roles in such terms.
A movement, which the early church was described as, requires the role of an apostolic and evangelistic pastor who serves as a catalyst. (For those of you who just rolled your eyes at the jargon—an apostle is one who shares the gospel and an evangelist is one who recruits others to further the movement.).
This section of Starfish/Spider, especially regarding mapping, eerily articulates exactly how my brain functions. It’s the spirit that equips the individual members of the church, but the pastor can be the catalyst that helps to spur it on by tapping into these tools:
- Genuine Interest in Others: A catalyst needs to have a genuine love to meet anyone and everyone to hear their stories. Young Life equipped me to not talk about myself, but to ask about others. Rather than wanting something from them, we should want something for them.
- Loose Connections: A catalyst thrives on meeting new people every day. The stories of the lost coin and sheep and sons, show us that leaders notice who is missing. This requires a loose connection, because a pastor must be able to move from person to person. Rather than absorbing the pain, grief, sorrows and joys of their congregants, they become conduits that seek to connect them to Jesus Christ.
- Mapping: A catalyst creates a map of resources around us. This way the catalyst can make the necessary connections for the individual to fulfill his/her purpose. Acts 17:26 tells us that God has built his mission around personal relationships to help others find their way back to Him.
- Desire to Help: We naturally want to turn inward and worry about ourselves, but the persistent call is for us to turn outward because “The greatest among you will be your servant.”
- Passion: Catalysts have a “relentless belief in their ideologies.” Most people assume this is core to pastors, but many pastors struggle with a compulsive unbelief that causes them to “lead” with an attitude of skepticism and suspicion.
- Meet People Where They Are: This is the key to a catalyst. Rather than waiting for people to arrive, they must meet people on their terms and space. This gives them a fuller picture of who God has designed them to be. As pastors, if we are not meeting people in their offices rather than the church facility, we are not catalyzing their faith in their places of influence.
- Emotional Intelligence: Catalysts must be emotionally sensitive to notice when they are agitating the system too much or when they are not pushing enough. By viewing the church as an organic body rather than a sterile institution, means the pastor must be aware of the overall emotional health of the system.
By viewing ourselves as catalysts instead of C.E.O.s, pastors move from the spotlight to the equipment room. They encourage, support and spur their community one step faster and further out in mission to Jesus Christ.