vibrant leadership


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What is vibrant leadership? This is the first question that comes to mind when I hear this enigmatic term. Nailing down a definition for vibrant leadership can be like that cliché about nailing Jell-O to a wall.

It is hard to define, but most of us know when it is present and when it is not present in our congregations and work environments. Study, reflection, and practice in a fostering environment are required to develop a defendable and sustainable mental image of vibrant leadership.

Is vibrant leadership similar to what older folk like me saw modeled by the quiet shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine, David Carradine’s character in the 1972 Kung Fu[ref]Spielman, E., Thorpe, J., & Miller, H. (1972, February 22). Kung Fu. Episodes 1-62, Burbank, California; ABC.[/ref] series? Or is it like the leadership modeled for later generations by Vin Diesel’s boisterous character in the Fast and Furious[ref]Moritz, N. H., Diesel, V., Fottrell, M., & Morgan, C. (2009). Fast & Furious [Film]. Universal City, CA; Universal Pictures.[/ref] franchise, Dominic Toretto? Is it neither or a little of both?

Vibrant leadership is the manifestation of leadership God embedded in each Believer to fulfill His Purposes in His Creation (within and outside the Church). Consequently, every Believer is called to be and can be a vibrant leader. Os Guinness puts it this way, “Calling is not only a matter of being and doing what we are but also of becoming what we are not yet but are called by God to be.”[ref]Guinness, O. (2003). The Call. Thomas Nelson. p. 60.[/ref]

Every Believer is called to be and can be a vibrant leader. – Santiago Chavez Click To Tweet


Reggie McNeal explains, “This is why spiritual leadership is at once so complicated and so simple. Spiritual leadership is so critical because what is at stake are human beings made in the image of God and the world they leave behind for others to inhabit.”[ref]McNeal, R. (2011). A Work of the Heart. Jossey-Bass. p. 187.[/ref]

A leader that hopes to manifest God’s vibrant leadership releases their heart over to God for Him to work upon it and through it. Solomon’s vital prayer “… give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.” (1 Kings 3:9)[ref]Scriptures from New International Version (NIV), unless otherwise stated.[/ref], is actually a prayer for a listening heart.

The arduous heart work essential to vibrant leadership is the work of developing a heart with “ears” to hear God (Mark 4:23). Releasing our heart into God’s hands can be the most difficult part of the process towards vibrant leadership.


Sometimes, as Believers we may feel that we are not sufficiently educated or trained to hear God’s voice. A better approach may exist: Grenz and Olson write, “A misconception is growing among Christians that a great gulf exists between ‘ordinary Christians’ and ‘theologians’…We (Grenz and Olson) want to close the gap by showing that everyone – especially every Christian – is a theologian…”

As an apprentice of Jesus, direction from God and vibrant leadership are available to every sincerely seeking Believer. As image-bearers of the One True God, we can lead our own minds and hearts to a defendable Bible-based understanding of the will of God for our spheres of influence near and far.


“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Vibrant leadership in our congregations fosters a vibrant Church, which manifests the marvelous potential of the Body of Christ in the context it is planted. Elders Whaid Rose and Israel Steinmetz summarized in the conclusion of their book describing a vibrant church for the twenty-first century in consideration of Galatians 2:20:

This is a Vision of a Vibrant 21st Century Church. A church that answers the call for this time and this place in history. God had a plan when he allowed you to be born when and where he did. If he had wanted you living in the first or tenth or sixteenth or twentieth centuries, he would have allowed you to be born at that time.  But you have been called to the kingdom for such a time as this (Esth 4:14).[ref]Steinmetz, I., & Rose, W. (2019). Vibrant Church: Biblical Reflections & Practical Tools for a Vibrant 21st Century Church. The Artios Center for Vibrant Leadership. p. 253.[/ref]


Greg Ogden takes us to a desirable level in his book, Unfinished Business with the subtitle Returning the Ministry to the People. Throughout his book he presents arguments for a shift by the Church from a hierarchical institutional model towards Jesus’ holarchical equipping model.

In a hierarchy, participants can be compared and evaluated on the basis of position, rank, relative power, seniority, and the like. But in a holarchy each person’s value comes from his or her individuality and uniqueness and the capacity to engage and interact with others to make the fruits of that uniqueness available.[ref]Spangler, David (October 30, 2008). “A Vision of Holarchy”. Seven Pillars Review. Archived from the original on 2012-02-18. Retrieved 2015-04-29.[/ref]

Ogden writes “We all occupy the same level ground at the feet of the one Teacher, Jesus Christ…”[ref]Ogden, G. (2003). Unfinished Business: Returning the Ministry to the People of God. Zondervan. p. 224.[/ref] and “The lesson of Jesus’ model is that servanthood comes out of the security of knowing we are God’s children. That security set us free to be servants.”[ref]Ibid. p. 225.[/ref]


Vibrant leadership in a congregation set up as an equipping model liberates a Pastor from being the subject matter expert of everything ecclesiastical and doing everything (setting him up for burnout) to being more like the conductor of a majestic orchestra.

Vibrant leadership in a congregation set up as an equipping model empowers each Believer to present their contribution to the worship of Our God. Like an orchestra’s conductor, the pastor knows a great deal about each instrument, but does not play each instrument himself.

Instead, he trusts the individual musician’s God-given spiritual gifts to contribute to the masterful worship being elevated to the Glory of the Highest by the entire congregation as all its components harmonize.

Artios Christian College is here to help you learn more about vibrant leadership!

    • Register for LEA 111 Essentials of Vibrant Leadership here.
    • Check out the NEXT term course schedule here.
    • Visit the Artios Christian College website here.
    • Visit the Artios Center for Vibrant Leadership here.
Santiago Chavez

Santiago has been married to his best friend, Lourdes, for 32 years. They live in Maryland and have three adult children. They worship and serve with our Lanham congregation. Santiago currently serves as Artios Christian College Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs in Spanish.