Christ-like Leadership: A Gospel Imperative
“Church planting is moving at the speed of a bullet train with leadership development following on a bicycle.”1
We are living in an era of unprecedented change. What we may not realize is that this includes exciting Kingdom change—rapid church planting and multiplication, throughout the world.
If we are going to best equip the Body of Christ for future ministry, we need to equip leaders to engage every sector of society. Not only do we need more equipped pastors; we need Christian leaders who are equipped for the vast growing Church worldwide, serving in every sphere of society and every sector of the world. The church of the future must take forms that traditional equipping structures are not addressing.2
Christ-like Leadership: Experiential Learning with Character at the Center
Asian Access, the mission I serve, believes key attributes that leaders who will lead the Church effectively into the future will include:
- Men and women leading the church with vision, character, and competence.
- Leaders equipped to lead Christ-centered movements in countries where Christians are persecuted.
- Leaders less likely to have their ministries to end due to burnout or moral failure.
- Leaders with a vision for multiplication that will enfold new believers around the world.
The key to developing these kinds of leaders? Nurturing within them a deep, abiding love relationship with God. This paradigm shift revolutionizes their personal lives, family lives, and ministries. It is the foundation for becoming a more Christ-like leader. Transformation in any venue—nations, societies, communities, churches, even families—always begins with transformation in the lives of individuals. This transformation begins with the transformation of leaders.
Christ-like Leadership: Robust Spirituality, Authentic Discipleship
Leadership development must also be infused with robust spirituality, a spirituality that builds character, formed on the bedrock of living in a love relationship with Christ. Leaders like David Singh argue for a stronger spirituality following the models of Sadhu Sunder Singh and Narayana Vamana Tilak from India, who focused on the transforming encounter and relationship with Christ rather than prioritizing church expansion. “Regardless of what we call it, we have seen that authentic discipleship is crucial to sustain effective mission. Mission spirituality cannot exist without authentic discipleship.” 3
And as InterDev founder Phill Butler reminds us:
“Spiritual breakthroughs are not a game of guns and money. No human effort, expenditure of resources, or brilliant strategy will alone produce lasting spiritual change. Our partnerships must be informed and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit in order to be effective. The challenges of relationships, cultural and theological differences, technical and strategic issues, and sustainability can only be dealt with in a process rooted in prayer.” 4
Christ-like Leadership: The Asian Access Commitment
Asian Access is committed to developing men and women equipped to lead the Church of today, into the future. We do this by helping our leaders to realize four key outcomes in their lives:
- A deepening love relationship with God
- A growing Christlike character
- A vision to reproduce disciple-making leaders
- A passion to catalyze Christ-centered movements around the world
This is the type of leader longed for around the world--leadership infused with a strong spirituality that builds great character, based on the bedrock of living in a love relationship with Christ.
Ironically, we have learned through experience that accelerating Christ-like movements throughout the world can be a slow process, working patiently with small groups of leaders. In our commitment to this process, we are encouraged by the example of Jesus, who spent most of his three active years in ministry focused on 12 people. His investment in those 12 leaders resulted in the multibillion-strong, worldwide Body of Christ of whom we are all a part.
The example of Jesus’ work with His disciples, and their subsequent world-changing ministry, provides Asian Access with the inspiration to pursue what we believe to be our divine calling: Changing the few who change the many.
Rev. Joseph W. Handley, Jr., Ph.D.
President, Asian Access
This blog post is a condensed version of Joe's white paper posted here:
- The Primacy of Christ-like Leadership [white paper]
- What does it mean that Asian Access "changes the few who change the many"?
- An Asian Access Primer: "We're small, but then again, we're slow."
- Focusing on the four outcomes of Asian Access
 In January 2021 Dr. Manfred Kohl invited 15 key theologians and church leaders to explore how to begin such a new global initiative. It was during this meeting that Dr. Loots made his statement.
 Moynaugh, Michael. ‘An Introduction to Theology and Practice’, Church for Every Context, (SCM Press, 2012).
 Chan, Kim-kwong, ‘The Back to Jerusalem Movement: Mission Movement of the Christian Community in Mainland China’. In Ma, Wonsuk; Kenneth R., Ross (eds.). Mission Spirituality and Authentic Discipleship, (Oxford: Regnum, 2013), p. 237.
 Butler, Phill, Well Connected: Releasing Power, Restoring Hope through Kingdom Partnerships, (Waynesboro, GA: Authentic, 2006), p. 101.