Leading a Healthy Church Culture - Lesson 14

Discussion of Luke 5:1-11

In this lesson on the leadership motif, the focus is on Luke chapter 5. Jesus is standing by the lake with a crowd of people listening to the word of God. He uses Simon's boat to talk to the people and then asks Simon to cast his nets. Simon, who had fished all night without success, initially resists but eventually agrees. To his amazement, he catches a large number of fish. Simon recognizes that Jesus is someone special and his life is transformed from that moment. The lesson also discusses the four pillars of Christian leadership, which include relationship, influence, follower potential, and common purpose.

Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Lesson 14
Watching Now
Discussion of Luke 5:1-11

Lesson: Discussion of Luke 5:1-11

I. Luke Chapter 5

A. Jesus Stands by the Lake

B. Jesus Uses Simon's Boat

C. Jesus Tells Simon to Cast his Nets

D. Miraculous Catch of Fish

E. Simon's Reaction

F. Peter's Transformation

II. Four Pillars of Christian Leadership

A. Relationship

B. Influence

C. Follower Potential

D. Common Purpose

  • This lesson covers the importance and characteristics of a healthy church culture, the biblical foundation of church culture, diagnosing the health of a church culture, and cultivating a healthy church culture through prioritizing relationships, creating a safe environment, nurturing spiritual growth, empowering the congregation, and celebrating God's work.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the characteristics, and importance of a healthy church culture, how to diagnose and address unhealthy church culture through biblical leadership and communication, and how to cultivate a healthy church culture.
  • You will gain insight into how to lead a healthy church culture by learning about the importance of healthy leadership, building healthy relationships, establishing healthy structures, and implementing healthy practices.
  • In this lesson, the class discusses a fictional case study called "The Shadow of a Leader," which describes the decline of a Christian leader named Dr. Robert Avella, who became obsessed with power and control over time, causing damage to the ministry and losing trust in his team, as they reflect on the early and later stages of his leadership.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the challenges and pitfalls of leadership, particularly when leaders lose focus on their spiritual values, become driven by fear and control, and lack accountability and community support. By understanding these factors, you can recognize and address toxic leadership in various contexts.
  • By engaging with this lesson, you will gain insight into the complex dynamics of power and control in leadership, the prevalence of misused power within the Christian church, and the critical importance of fostering accountability and community to maintain a healthy balance of power.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' unique leadership style in the context of the foot-washing event in John 13:1-17, highlighting principles such as leading from a secure sense of self, addressing the deepest needs of followers, and paying it forward through service to others.
  • This lesson teaches you about the significance of developing a Christ-centered church culture, including the exploration of culture's components and the positive and negative aspects it can have within a church setting. You will also learn about the role of leadership in building a healthy church culture, adapting to change, and overcoming challenges.
  • This lesson provides insight into church culture by examining its components, revealing how assumptions and values impact products and practices, and discussing the importance of addressing these core beliefs and assumptions for lasting change.
  • This lesson examines assumptions and worldviews in church leadership by comparing different mental constructs and their influence on leadership values and roles, while also exploring the machine metaphor's impact on organizational life and the new generation's response to this worldview.
  • In this lesson, you learn the importance of cultivating and nourishing people in a garden model of leadership, comparing it to the machine model, and discovering how various biblical metaphors shape the understanding of the church. Emphasizing core beliefs and values, you realize effective leadership focuses on following Christ and maintaining the right attitudes.
  • You will gain insights into the importance of leadership in creating a healthy church culture, including the role of leadership in setting the tone and creating an environment that fosters spiritual growth, discipleship, and healthy relationships. You will also learn about the characteristics of a healthy church culture, practical steps for building a healthy church culture, and the challenges and obstacles to building a healthy church culture.
  • By studying this lesson, you will gain knowledge and insight into the importance of creating a healthy church culture and practical steps for doing so, including the role of leaders in modeling and promoting a healthy culture, building relationships, developing a shared vision, fostering communication, and encouraging accountability.
  • This lesson covers Luke 5, gleaning lessons regarding Jesus' leadership and the four pillars of Christian leadership, which are relationship, influence, follower potential, and common purpose.
  • As you go through the lesson, you will learn about the four primary handles for developing a healthy church culture, which are stories, rituals, symbols, and power structures, and how they shape the values that become the real values within a culture.
  • By understanding the importance of what we measure, we can determine what is significant to us. Measuring something objectively makes it valuable, while not measuring something can result in losing its importance. The example of churches measuring attendance and donations is used to highlight this point, and the lesson suggests that churches should also measure other important aspects like outreach, discipleship, and community service.
  • This lesson discusses how Jesus prepared his disciples to establish the church, and how his actions and values during his time with them set the groundwork for the culture of the church; you are encouraged to explore the principles Jesus instilled in his disciples by examining specific stories, such as the healing of the demon-possessed man and the clearing of the temple.
  • Learn to lead a healthy church culture by analyzing current values, identifying actual values, and creating a strategy matrix to establish and support desired values using four embedding mechanisms.

This course is one of many taught by Dr. Rick Sessoms. It can be taken as a stand alone course, or as a part of the Christ-Centered Leadership Certificate. 

Recommended Books

Christ-Centered Leadership at Work: Called to Serve on Mondays

Christ-Centered Leadership at Work: Called to Serve on Mondays

Jim DeVries, a successful entrepreneur, and Rick Sessoms, an acknowledged leadership educator, join together to challenge existing and potential leaders to impact our...

Christ-Centered Leadership at Work: Called to Serve on Mondays
Leading with Story: Cultivating Christ-centered Leaders in a Storycentric Generation

Leading with Story: Cultivating Christ-centered Leaders in a Storycentric Generation

Eighty percent of the world's people--including seventy percent of Americans--are storycentric communicators; that is, they prefer to learn and are most likely to be...

Leading with Story: Cultivating Christ-centered Leaders in a Storycentric Generation

Dr. Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Discussion of Luke 5:1-11
Lesson Transcript

As a way of getting into the discussion tonight, I want to look at a passage with you that has become a really special passage to me as I think about Jesus’ leadership in this motif, and you can't see that real well, but those are what we call the four pillars of Christ-centered leadership, about relationship, about influence, about follower potential, and about common purpose. Let me read for you, and there are so many places in Scripture that we can see these principles that Jesus taught and lived, but one special one is in Luke chapter five, when he called the first disciples, and let me read this text to you, and then let me unpack it for just a few moments. Luke tells us, “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. (verse four) When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’  Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So, they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord, I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’ So, they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed him.”  

This is an incredible account of Jesus calling his first disciples, and as the text goes, as he finished his teaching, Jesus said to Simon, put out in the deep and let down your nets again. Simon and his coworkers had worked all night, and it had been a very, very fishless night. Time after time, they'd thrown their nets into that black, dark water and held the ropes as their nets sank, and all night long they waited for a tug that the fish, if you've done any net fishing, do, that would signal their haul for the catch. But all night it didn't happen. At morning's dawn, the boat was still empty. After loaning their boat to Jesus for an impromptu teaching session, Simon was preparing to go home. He was tired. He had fished all night. Jesus engaged him. He said Simon, push out and let down the nets one more time. 

Now, if we could read between the lines, Simon may have thought, at least this is what I would have thought, quite frankly, and I'm not inspired, but this is what I would have thought: I would have thought in my mind, what in the world do you think we've been doing all night? I mean, we have let down this net dozens, if not hundreds of times. My back aches. My hands are blistered. Rabbi, I see you mean well and you're a pretty good preacher, and I'm happy to loan you my boat for the sermon. Why do preachers think they know everything? You know, it's one of those kind of things. Regardless, though, of what Simon was thinking, he did as Jesus asks. He could have said, look, we're the fishermen, you're the preacher. Stick to preaching. We'll stick to fishing. But instead, he let down the nets once more, and approximately every fish in Lake Gennesaret jumped into the nets. 

To lead people, leaders understand people's needs, first point, and they discover those needs through relating to them. Jesus demonstrated first his concern for Simon, the man, the fisherman. Now, when Simon recognized the power of this one who was sharing the boat with him, what did he do? 

STUDENT:  He got down on his knees and said go away. I'm in holy presence.

Now, again, I'm not inspired, but if I were him, I would have said, let's think about this. Maybe we should go into business together, Jesus and Simon, Incorporated. What do you think? That would have been my first reaction. But instead, Peter immediately fell to his knees, as Jim has rightly said, and said, Lord, go away from me, for I am a sinful man, and although Simon had an accurate view of himself (because that's true, right? that's a true statement, there could never have been a more true statement, particularly as he was face to face with the Son of the Almighty God), Jesus saw Simon, however, as a follower of great worth, and of priceless potential, and to enlist people in a vision, Jesus shows us that leaders see the potential in others and enable them to see the possibilities within themselves that the future holds. And so he said to Simon, Simon, you're not only going to catch fish, I want to give you a dream that you haven't even begun to think about. You're going to catch men, and he led him into a future. 

Max De Pree is one of my favorite leaders. He told the story of his granddaughter who was born with special challenges. I don't know if you've heard this story he told, but one day, his granddaughter came to see him and said, Grandpa, would you like to see me run? She was about three years old at this time. And De Pree said, “I’ve got to tell you, my heart jumped. I thought to myself, this little girl can hardly walk. How is she going to run? She has special needs,” but like good grandparents, De Pree said, “Yes, I'd like to see you run.” And so he said she walked over to one side of the room and started to run across the room, right across in front of his desk, and directly into the side of the refrigerator, and it knocked her on her back, and there she lay, spread eagled on the floor with a big grin on her face, and De Pree said to her, “Honey, you've got to learn to stop.” And she looked up to him with a big smile and said, “Yeah, but Grandpa, I'm learning to run!” Isn't that great? The human potential with a dream remains a mystery, more than you and I can imagine, but that potential is also very, very fragile, and in that moment, Simon was fragile as well. 

Some years ago, I was invited to speak at a very small church, which I often do and I like to do. As was the custom of that church, I was in the pastor's home for lunch; he invited me for the noon meal after the service, and we sat down at the table, and I could tell that this lunch was different than the usual lunch. I mean, they had out the special plates and, you know, they didn't have the paper napkins, they had the folded kind, and all that, and I could also see that the three children had been told to keep their mouths shut beforehand, not to do anything that would embarrass them while the guest preacher was there. And I particularly recall the older boy. He was a tall, lanky kid, but I remember him particularly because he had cerebral palsy. And after a bit of silence, I said to him, “Alan (I remember his name was Alan), what subjects do you like in high school? I was just trying to have conversation, and with a smile, he immediately said “Algebra. I love algebra.” Well, I asked him, “What do you want to do after you graduate from high school?” And with some hesitation, he kind of responded, “Well, someday I'd kind of like to be a math teacher.” I said, “So, where would you like to go to college?” At that moment, his father interrupted. He said, “Alan's not going to college. He's handicapped. He can't go to college.” And I could feel the hope drain away from that boy in that moment. 

What leaders really believe about people becomes evident. Jesus knew that ordinary people make great disciples, and so he said to Simon, “Don't be afraid. From now on, you will catch men.” What a dream. You've been catching fish. Now you'll catch people. And like all effective leaders, Jesus communicated with a familiar image that Simon understood vividly with his mind's eye. He described what the results would look like even before they started the project. So, when Jesus called Simon to fish for men, Luke recorded that they pulled up their boats, left everything, and followed Jesus. Now think about that. Was it because Jesus had positional authority, positional power over them? Was it because he was the big boss? Well, the answer is no. He had no positional earthly authority at all. Effective leaders seldom command: they most often inspire. And so inspired was Simon's catching men that Jesus’ purpose became his purpose too, and it says that Simon left all. And people personally sacrifice when they have embraced the purpose, particularly the purposes of God. So, I find this to be an absolutely phenomenal story that captures these pillars in an amazing way, not because these pillars are so critical, but because Jesus so demonstrated these things over and over and over again during his earthly ministry. 

Reflections? Thoughts? What strikes you there? What grabs you about this approach to leadership? 

STUDENT:  You've got to realize the work potential in people.

The potential issue. 

STUDENT:  You just have so much relational clout with them that they would follow and just sort of after that one experience, there's just certain people that you just trust and are excited to be around and want to follow them, like you said, not because of any sort of particular authority they have over you, just because of that relational clout they have. 

STUDENT: Jesus took him so much further beyond what he'd done fishing, then show him the greatest fishing trip, but then to show him how it’s even more than that, but to start with his familiar territory, that it’s inspiring after all, and see the potential, the unknown potential, really, of what he could do. 

STUDENT:  This leadership approach is very other-oriented. It's not self-oriented as a leader, but it's very other-oriented.

STUDENT: It's not command and control. I really appreciate your statement about the human potential as a mystery, but it's very fragile. I think we can forget that when we're trying to get a particular result and trying to command and control, however well-intended the command and control may be. 

So, true. It just reminds me, I was sitting with a former colleague just a few weeks ago in a restaurant. We were just talking, and he's been battling with some sickness and has struggled in his career, and I just stated to him at one point, “Steve, you’ve got to get yourself well, because there's a lot more that God has for you to do.” And when I stated those words, he just began to weep uncontrollably sitting there in that restaurant, openly in front of everyone because he needed those words, that sense of hope, that sense of potential, because quite frankly, he's in a pretty oppressive environment, and he isn't hearing those words of the potential that resides within him, and just simple words like that created that kind of response. So, it's real among us.

Log in to take this quiz.