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Preparing to Lead

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Rev. Peter F. Clements

Rev. Peter Clements serves as the President of Church Extension Plan

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Growth Tools, Transition

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Article originally published on January 06, 2017

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The story of the US men’s track and field team at the recent Rio Olympic Games can provide a real lesson in executing a successful leadership transition.  Team USA had finally broken the streak. Having not medaled in the event since 2004, they crossed the finish line in third place of the 4x100 relay, which Usain Bolt and Jamaica won. However, they were disqualified shortly after the race because of a faulty pass of the baton between the first and second runner.  Sprinter Mike Rodgers passed the baton to Justin Gatlin on the first exchange, but it happened just outside of the exchange zone.  This lesson of not properly handing off the baton can be applied to leadership in ministry transition.  It illustrates the necessity of having a clear vision for the future in preparing to lead, one which embraces the past, engages His purpose, and empowers the future.

Embrace the Past

In looking forward to the next season of ministry at Church Extension Plan (CEP), it is important to celebrate the legacy of leadership that has brought the organization to where it is today.  The leadership of Patrick Clements over the past 33 years as President has been marked by amazing ministry growth and a clear commitment to modeling the concept of being a partner in ministry.  It is important for organizations in transition to reflect upon what has made them great, the successes that have led to their growth, and the challenges that have been won to position them to accomplish their mission.  At CEP, we stand on the shoulders of the stellar leadership example that has allowed the ministry to be defined by the stories of all the churches and individuals that we have been blessed to serve.  After all, those stories comprise the character and persona of Church Extension Plan.  The culture of partnership that has come to define CEP was cultivated over years of building relationships and enabling faith-focused individuals to connect their financial resources to making a genuine ministry impact in kingdom work in its most effective form, in support of the local church.  As we seek to build a bridge to the next generation of leaders, it is imperative to harness the successes of the past and the culture of the present to be a guide for what God has in store for the future.

Engage His Purpose

"You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything."  II Timothy 2:3-7 ESV

Having provided an excellent guide for Christian leadership in his urging of Timothy to train others has he had been trained, Paul illustrated the kind of people we ought to be in order the properly answer the mission to which we have been called.  As soldiers, we should be wholly committed to the responsibility of leading an organization whose aim is the advancement of the cause of Christ, not distracted by unnecessary pursuits, and willing to deal with the challenges and hardship that are inherent.  As athletes, we should be self-disciplined to operate strategically and in alignment with the ministry vision and in clear collaboration as a team so that we may attain the “prize” of success and fulfillment of our purpose.  Finally, as farmers we should be devoted to hard work performed as unto the Lord, with an eye toward reaping a good harvest in the form of seeing personal holiness and new converts in the ministries to whom we are blessed to serve.  CEP has, for decades, emphasized the importance of building relationships in making the organization to what it is today.  The current reality is that every church that we have worked with or seek to work with has a story – and there is great value in the uniqueness of that story.  As we listen to pastors share their stories or, perhaps, help them to articulate a story that they may not recognize as compelling, we make a real and lasting connection.  More importantly, we demonstrate the personification of CEP – that is, a collection of meaningful stories of kingdom impact.

Empower the Future

In looking forward to the bright future of Church Extension Plan and the ministries and individuals that we are privileged to serve, it cannot be overemphasized the value that culture and continuity will bring to the pursuit of continued excellence.  The leadership transition that has ushered in an exciting new era of impact for CEP is poised to build upon a culture of partnership, while embracing new ideals that will meet the needs of the next generation of leaders in the Assemblies of God with personal, tailored solutions.  Creating a new culture that embodies the principles of a relationship-first approach, which is a hallmark of successful ministry growth, in new ways that meet the needs of today’s leaders is something that we clearly look forward to, and it energizes the leadership at CEP.  Therefore, we “press on to take hold of that to which God has called us.”  I am firmly persuaded that, with God’s help, the best days for Church Extension Plan are those that are directly ahead of us.
 
Preparing to Lead
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