Multiplying Kingdom Leaders

In this article, Kirk Yamaguchi, pastor of the Canyon View Vineyard in Grand Junction, CO, shares his journey of raising up and multiplying leaders within his church.


Kirk Yamaguchi

Pastor, Canyon View Vineyard, Grand Junction, CO

Phil Strout recently wrote: “We are in a season as a Movement where leadership multiplication is on everyone’s minds… We’re talking about multiplying Christlike leaders for a world in need.”

Phil’s challenge resonates with what I’ve learned over the years as a pastor. The $100 dollar question is how do you create a culture that allows the cream to rise to the surface?

Creating A Culture For Developing Leaders

Admittedly, I’m not a leadership guru. It’s only by God’s grace that I’ve survived 21 years as a Vineyard pastor. My wife, Jane and I planted a Vineyard church out of our living room 21 years ago in Canon City, CO and we didn’t have a clue what we were doing – seriously! Eleven years ago we were called to Grand Junction, CO to assume the helm of Canyon View Vineyard Church. Somehow we’ve uncovered a few nuggets of gold along the way about growing leaders.

In all honesty my life as a leader resembles the saying, “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.” In the very beginning of our church plant in Canon City we had a couple that came from a different stream that held a very high view of leadership. They continually raised the bar so high, I don’t think Jesus would have qualified to lead anything. Needless to say they didn’t hang out very long with us.

The Kirk And Jane Show

It was during that season a pastor friend visited our church one Sunday. Afterwards I asked him what he thought. He said he was concerned for us because we didn’t have any leaders. In other words, it was the Kirk and Jane show, and that wasn’t cutting it. Needless to say I began to pray for leaders. Praying in leaders… novel ideal, huh?

The second thing I discovered was you have to create a culture in your church that allows the diamonds in the rough to become uncovered. Over the past few years we have found a wonderful tool that not only allows everyone to play but has helped us to identify, train and deploy leaders effectively. Through our relationship with friends of Project Amazon (PAZ) from Brazil, they helped us to incorporate their “cell group” ministry into our church.

What We Watch For

In our pilot cell group, I hand picked some people to come and help us learn how to do a cell group. One of the characteristics of a cell group is the leader is just a facilitator and different people sign up to lead the different steps of the meeting each week. This actually allowed us to discover a couple of things about the members of our group.

First we began to notice that a couple of people were very willing to step up and volunteer like leading the group discussion from the Sermon on Sunday. So after they signed up I would chat with them and tell them to just do it the way Jane and I showed them (modeling). I would answer their questions and encourage them.

The second thing we’d watch for is if they would actually show up the next week and be prepared. Afterwards I’d give them feedback on how they did and gave them a little pointer of what they could do to make it even better next time. This revealed if they were eager to learn and grow.

Faithful, Available, And Teachable (FAT)

This process allowed us to see who the FAT people were; faithful, available and teachable. As these individuals consistently showed their true character over time, I then asked if they’d be willing to meet with me weekly for one on one discipleship.

During that time we went through our discipleship manual from PAZ (with PAZ’s permission). This assured that we were on the same page theologically. During discipleship I also began to talk to them about the possibility of leading a cell group when our cell group grew to 16 people and multiplied.

By God’s grace we have multiplied our cell group six times over the past four years and our church now has 56 cell groups that are lead by these diamonds in the rough.  

Multiplying Leaders Through Cell Groups

Cell groups have helped us to lower the bar and give individuals a safe, nurturing environment to learn and grow as young leaders. Now we’re watching those that are growing their cell groups, raising up new leaders and multiplying.

Could God be uncovering the ones that are called to a larger footprint of leadership through this process? I am amazed at how impactful these cell leaders have become.

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To learn more about the Canyon View Vineyard in Grand Junction, CO, visit their website here.