Here I am at my fifth session of CECL — the Center for Excellence in Congregational Leadership — at the Green Lake Conference Center. It has been a good day so far, and the theme for this week is “Transformational Preaching.” You’ll have to listen to my sermons from here on out to tell me if this week’s lessons were any good!
I’m a part of a program called CECL which stands for the Center for Excellence in Congregational Leadership and one of my assignments for the next session was to answer briefly these questions:
Name, address, position etc— Also give me a couple sentences describing your leadership journey thus far. List your formal training, key conferences or opportunities, job history and key people. Perhaps areas of ministry where you have been especially fruitful— (squeeze all that into one paragraph???!!)
My name is Jeff Mikels, and I’m the pastor of Northwest Baptist Church and a church planter with Midwest Church Planting. Knowing from a young age that God had called me into the pastorate, I went from undergraduate school at Wheaton College directly to Denver Seminary. However, I did use my time in college to major in non-religious topics to round out my education somewhat—Math and Philosophy. My current pastorate is my first pastorate, but I’ve recently been to a church planter’s Assessment Center and am now making plans and raising support to start a new church in Lafayette, Indiana. I have been greatly influenced by my dad, my youth pastor, and a few significant professors.
How were you trained and developed into who you are and what you do? List mentor contributions, God’s shaping activity, seminary, conferences, books, experiences etc— I’m not interested in an exhaustive list, I’d rather hear which types had the biggest impact and how. What was least effective?
I’ve been a lone ranger for most of my ministry. From high school on, my ministry and my life in general has been basically crafted by myself. I had a youth pastor who mentored me for a year, and that was quite enriching. I have also had some close conversations with some really gifted professors, and I had a few years in seminary being mentored by a pastor friend of mine, but I haven’t had any really long term mentoring relationship with anyone. Now, as a church planter, I have been assigned a coach who will walk with me for the next three years of church planting, and I’m really looking forward to that.
How do you develop leaders? Describe your methodology. Do you have a history and a list of people that God has given to you over the years to develop? Is this a strength or weakness? How about for your church and/or denomination?
I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to leadership development. I have some thoughts and some theories, and I’ve worked on putting together some curriculum, but I’m just not confident in any of it. I’ve used canned curriculum before, but I haven’t really seen any power in any of it. I’m hungry to find something that feels natural yet purposeful with just enough guidance to give us a sense of clear progress.
One of the most remarkable stories in South Africa is that of a small, poor, township known as Soweto. In this unlikely locale, Mosa Sono leads a thriving congregation of over 8,000 with a commitment to present the gospel of Jesus in a way that touches the practical lives of hurting people.