Revolutionary Leadership by Tri Robinson

When you grow up with something, it is easy to forget about it and for it to become ‘normal’….

The leadership model taught by Tri Robinson at the Vineyard Boise is one such item that became ‘normal’ in my life. I had stopped thinking about it and just did it as it was engrained into my life and became second nature.

Yet as I traveled around the country and talked to different pastors and leaders, I slowly begun to realize that the way I did things, nay, the leadership structure I caught from Tri was different… and, even more amazing, it was a structure that allowed for the shifts in church life promoted by folks in the emerging and missional church.

Having noticed this difference, and having fairly recently become a senior pastor, I decided to go back and re-read Tri’s book leadership book, “Revolutionary Leadership.” In doing so I realized the main differences in Tri’s leadership structure:

“I realized that the church is truly a living body that wants to mature, but in order to do so it must be in a constant state of change. I learned that healthy church growth requires a structure that will continually facilitate transition. It requires a senior pastor who is willing to continually facilitate transition. It requires a senior pastor who is willing to give up the controlling entrepreneurial spirit and give away authority and responsibility to competent, willing people.”

As you have probably realized, the above principle of creating a church structure to “continually facilitate transition” is a tough one. Yet it is one that I believe can be implanted into a church through an ongoing Synergy Cycle comprising of three main principles:

A vision is cast based upon what God is doing, the culture of the church develops around that vision or invitation to join with God in His mission, and then structure is developed to support and foster the culture and vision God gave to that church…. then repeat the cycle as the body changes and shifts according to the guidance of our Lord.

As you follow this cycle, it is very important to continue to go in the order given: vision => culture =>structure.  Going the other way – vision then structure – will result in church programs, offices, doctrines and whatnot that are forced upon the church body and propped up by the church leadership. In a nutshell, going backwards can cause a human driven church instead of a Holy Spirit driven church.

At this point, I’m going to forgo the book review (abet there is a LOT more to Tri’s book – practically as well as theologically) and briefly mention some of my personal experiences with this leadership model.

In the Spring of 2006 my wife and I joined the Payette River Vineyard (originally named the Sweet Vineyard) church planting team at Tri’s request as simple peons doing whatever needed to be done. As the years went by the Lord placed us into various leadership roles in the church, ending, as you all know, with us becoming the senior pastors in February 2011.

During this time there were many, many instances in which the church body screamed out for structure – programs, ministry opportunities , elders, etc.  Yet, both Tri and the Holy Spirit cautioned us (i.e. the previous pastors, Emily and myself) again setting anything up. Instead we were told to wait and let the body grow and develop its own culture according to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Once the church’s culture became evident, then it was time to create the structure to support and encourage the culture and vision placed in the church by God.

This was very, very, very hard to do as everything and everyone pulled at us to create structure, make decisions or start programs… However despite all the pain and struggles of waiting, I can truthfully say that it was worth it. The Lord has definitely birthed something in the PRV church that is perfect for the community in which it is located.

This doesn’t mean that we can stop moving forward or adjusting the structure we have. Far from it!! Life is NEVER stagnate; it is always moving and changing – meaning that we have to continue to push into Jesus and follow His vision for our local body, allowing the Holy Spirit to developed and change our culture according to His will, and then adjust our structure to support what Jesus is going in our lives, community and fellowship.

As Tri said, “healthy church growth requires a structure that will continually facilitate transition.”

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