by Chuck Lord
About 20 years ago, two lay members of St. Luke, Craig Robertson and Greg Survant, started meeting with Pastor Gene Strange at McDonald’s on Tuesday mornings for coffee and spiritual mentoring. They learned a lot from Gene, one example was that by the time he met them at 6:30 he had already spent enough time with the Lord to be well equipped spiritually for the day.
It turned out that Craig and Greg also had gifts and experience to offer Gene, and those gifts centered around leading a healthy organization. And so a dream began – that the right mix of spiritual principles with leadership principles could help churches get better and better at their main purpose: making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Next God appointed Pastor Steve Martyn, who brought a model for spiritual formation in community – groups of 5-7 who held each other lovingly accountable to deepen their daily walk with Christ, and doing so long enough that their devotional life habits became second nature. Over 70 people took the plunge, and St. Luke is spiritually richer for those leaders having made that investment.
Craig and Greg then melded that model together with their own insights on leadership formation, and in 2000 began a nonprofit called Spiritual Leadership, Inc. or “SLI.”
To apply this model at St. Luke, God brought Pastor Debbie Wallace-Padgett, whose love of working through others provided the perfect environment for the new SLI model. Thus was born St. Luke’s current leadership system, with a covenant Servant Leadership Team setting vision and guiding the way, while another team of hired Directors leads the day-to day-ministries.
Craig and Greg have now built their own team, including others from St. Luke – Bryan Sims, Ron Crandall, and Chuck Lord – to offer this model to others. SLI now has over 40 certified coaches and has been invited to help in many United Methodist conferences across the country and abroad – in small churches, large churches, districts, right up to Bishops and their cabinets.
And so we celebrate one more way that, through St. Luke, God has affirmed He is ready to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).