Which Church Are You: Takeout or Home Cooking?


There is one common truth whether you are leading a new church plant or a well established church, you need leadership help. A question that plagues every pastor (I know that it has plagued me) is where will the leaders needed to help the church be found? While there are many (and I do mean many) theories regarding the development and deployment of leaders for the local church, I believe that most approaches to leadership development in the church fall into either of two categories, home cooking or takeout. In one approach the local church seeks to acquire leaders, while in the other approach the local church seeks to develop leaders. So which one are you?

Ordering Takeout Approach

When looking for leaders in the local church, senior leaders can act a lot like they are ordering takeout. Think about it for a moment. When you are hungry you have two options to satisfy your hunger. You can prepare a meal or you can order takeout. Let’s face it. We live in a takeout culture. The hurried pace at which we do everything makes takeout seem to be the most viable option for many people. Food companies have caught on to the craze and now offer almost any meal imaginable as an already prepared option. Grab, go, microwave, and consume. Many church leaders approach leadership development in the same way, expecting that the needed leaders will arrive at the front door (or front pew) of the church ready-made and primed for deployment. For the takeout leader waiting for developed leaders to appear is easier than developing them internally, in the same way that ordering takeout is easier than preparing a meal at home.

Home Cooking Approach

The other option for leadership development is home cooking. Sadly, we are probably nearing a time when few children will be able to remember real “home cooking.” Naturally, home cooking takes more time and planning than ordering takeout. In most cases however, home cooking tastes a whole lot better. Home cooking always begins with a plan. The cook knows beforehand just what is on the menu and then goes about procuring everything needed to make the meal from scratch. The home cooked meal is prepared with intentionality and forethought. The cook knows who the meal is being prepared for, what the intended diners need, like, and dislike. The home cook knows that meal will take a bit more time, but also knows that the outcome will be better appreciated by all exactly because of the thought that went into preparation.

So Which One Is Better?

Leadership development strategies in most local church will follow either a takeout or home cooking approach. Which one is better? Not to belabor the analogy, but if you’ve ever walked into a home where a from scratch meal has been planned and cooking all day long then you probably know already. In order for a local church to ensure that the leaders it deploys into ministry service have the DNA imprint of the ministry and are fit to serve in the particular churches unique context of ministry, home cooking is the way to go. Is it possible to have leaders who have been prepared for ministry leadership come alongside and successfully join the ministry effort of your local church? Absolutely it is. But the surest way to supply the kind of leaders that any local church needs is to develop them internally. Takeout is always good on occasion, but a diet filled with takeout isn’t healthy for anyone, including the local church.

Question: What is the go to ministry development approach in your local church…ordering takeout or home cooking? Why? What do you see as the pros or cons of either approach? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments. You can leave a comment by clicking here.