How Oscar grows leaders

K001The next installment on how Oscar Muriu grows leaders for a church planting movement. How did it all begin?

In 1989 Nairobi Chapel was a dwindling, discouraged group of whites praying that God would show them what to do. They sought new leadership to help them reach the African students around them.

I was finishing my studies at Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology. Any given Sunday maybe ten, sometimes only four people were there! They probably figured, “He can't do much damage.”

Did you have a plan?

I was 27 years old so I didn't know what I was doing. I knew nothing about church leadership. My core prayer was, “Lord, give me 30 university students,” the number I believed was the critical mass needed to turn the place around.

How did you get involved in planting churches?

From the very beginning we started off with the intention to church plant. We figured that that's what the church is for.

We planted our first church within four years of starting. There are some things that if they don't start at the very beginning, it is very hard to build them into the DNA of the church later on. Church planting is one of those.

We got started with the first one and then decided to put together some goals and committed ourselves to plant seven churches by the end of the 1990s.

By about 1999 we needed new goals. We managed the seven churches and so we said, we can do this, we now have a track record and so let's scale this up.

Where did you find the right sort of people?

I started inviting young men and young women to come and join force alongside me. They'd come for a year and in that year I would recognize that someone has a gift that would be valuable to ministry, so what do I do with them now? So we invented a second level of leadership development.

Level One was an internship, you come, you work alongside the pastor, you get exposed to different areas of ministry. We'd rotate them between the ministries and provide coaching and training. They raised their financial support. We bring them before the congregation and tell the congregation what was going on and tell them please support this person.

By the end of the year we assessed them. For some of them we found their gift mix was such that they would do well to go back into their career. But others had a new sense of call in that year. They don't want to back into their career they wanted to go into ministry and the question was what do we do with them?

What did you come up with beyond the internship?

internsWe said okay let's have a two year program beyond the first year. It was a paid position with greater responsibility.

The first year was a year when they walked alongside the pastors and learned, the second year we would give them a pastoral group. Let's say for example they're responsible for the ministry to 13-15 year olds.

We tell them, the ball stops with you. What we need you to do is do everything we taught you in the first year. You now know how to set goals, you now know how to build teams, you know how to teach, we want you now to focus it on one group and this is your pastoral group.

The first year they didn't have authority, the authority was clearly delegated to them. In the second year they could make mid-level decisions without too much consultation.

We continue holding leadership classes with them, reflecting together on Scripture and helping them to grow in spiritual disciplines.

By the end of their third year, it's clear whether they were cut out for the pastorate as a team member or senior leader. We can also identify potential church planters or children's and youth workers.

More to follow in the next post. . .