Leadership Lessons: Michael Fletcher

As I was going through my files over the weekend, I came across notes I had taken at various conferences and workshops. One set was from a session with Michael Fletcher, the Senior Pastor at Manna Church in Fayetteville, NC. Fletcher is one of those rare leaders who has stuck with a church for the long term (34 years) AND has effectively led it through various stages of growth (from 350 members in 1985 to 7,200 in 2012).

During a learning community for the Innovative Church Community in North Carolina, Fletcher shared these “10 Commandments of Growth Leadership.”

  1. Feed the well. “If you aren’t growing, neither will the church.”
  2. Become & remain a student. “Be a student of Scripture, to feed the soul; a student of people — the higher emotional intelligence you have, the fewer problems you’ll have — and a student of church.
  3. Catch a vision from God that will fulfill His calling on the church. “Vision comes from God, not from people. Wrestling with God is the hardest work a pastor needs to do”
  4. When learning from others, ask why, not what. Leaders are big on “what” and little on “why.’
  5. The point of leadership is to empower people to fulfill their calling. “Pastors ask, ‘Lord, send me leaders. Send me people with money.’ Your view of people is backwards. The people are here. You’ve just gotta build ’em….The gap between me and God is significant; the gap between me and the flakiest guy in the church is not that big.”
  6. Test the soil for 4 crucial elements: a) Understanding of the Kingdom of God; b) Environment of grace; c) Sense of destiny, both personal and corporate; d) An outreach culture. Your church won’t grow if you don’t have those elements.
  7. Create an environment where failure is not fatal. “It’s more valuable to know what you aren’t than to know who you are. The only way to find out is to try and fail….Money is never a problem; God has a lot of it. We have a vision problem….Lead people with a closed fists and they will do everything they can to get out of it. Lead with an open hand, and they will do everything they can to stay in it.”
  8. Build infrastructure for the next level now. “You don’t grow a church; you build a church, and it grows as a result. Your growth will always come back down to the size of your infrastructure.”
  9. Leadership builds a church, not preaching. “That’s a law. Preaching is just a tool.”
  10. Value the Presence of God (the Holy Spirit) highest of all. “The only difference between us and dead religion is not our model, not our theology, not our style. It’s a person.”

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