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Part 5: Hubs, Leadership and Finance

04.23.15 | Advance Global | by PJ Smyth

    This document looks at the main “engineering” issues of Hubs, Leadership, and Finance.

    Hubs

    What is a hub?

    Hubs seemed to be a New Testament reality, with the places like Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus and Thessalonica emerging as centres for gospel advance. A Hub is a group of Advance churches partnering together to plant and strengthen churches around leadership, usually in a geographical area such as a town, city, state, or nation.

    What kind of things do hubs do?

    Churches in a Hub will work to plant and strengthen churches together through doing things such as training elders and leaders, collaborating on certain ministries, gathering for high moments, pooling finance for the Hub mission, and serving society together. Some hubs may even collaborate for a preaching series every now and again to help train preachers and speak to their town/city with one voice for a few weeks.

    What characterises Hub relationships?

    Firstly, a conviction that we are more compelling and effective together, and a determination to leverage the power of the ‘body’ at an inter-church level.

    Secondly, high levels of trust and active promotion of each other’s churches free us to partner in daring ways together.

    Thirdly, we pursue joint action with local buy in. Local elders must not abdicate to the Hub. Whilst a certain church may take the lead in a particular collaboration, local elders from the other churches stay engaged.

    Who leads a hub?

    We have three levels of hub leadership:

    A Hub Host organises and hosts certain hub events on behalf of an externally based Hub Leader. A Hub Host will:

    1. Be trusted by the external Hub Leader
    2. Have administrative and hosting skills
    3. Be open to taking more responsibility in the future and to receiving training to that end

    A Hub Coordinator coordinates most aspects of the Hub on behalf of an externally based Hub Leader. A Hub Coordinator will:

    1. Be a strong carrier of Advance values
    2. Be relationally well connected in Advance
    3. Have a record of local fruitfulness
    4. Be received as something of a pastor amongst pastors
    5. Facilitate incoming trans-local input

    A Hub Leader is recognised as a mature trans-local minister by the churches in the hub. He will display growing characteristics in the following areas:

    1. A father bringing security to pastors and churches
    2. A foundation layer of doctrine and values
    3. Gifted to take the mission further to new ground
    4. A producer of future leaders

    What are the goals of a Hub?

    Firstly, Hubs provide a structure for churches to work together in an area.

    Secondly, Hubs provide a wineskin for trans-local gifts to emerge. Our goal is to develop and multiply trans-local ministers and teams, whether these are resident in hubs or serving hubs from the outside.

    How might a national strategy emerge?

    A national strategy would emerge through the collaboration of Hubs in that nation. When inter-hub collaboration hits a certain level, it may require a coordinator or a leader from amongst the Hub Leaders.

    Leadership

    Why do we use “hub” language?

    We believe that Ephesians 4 ministries exist today for the maturation and extension of the church. However, contemporary disagreements regarding these ministries mean we need to carefully contextualize and explain our use of specific terms. For example, Ephesians 4 ministry today would not write scripture, or lay the foundation of the universal church, or act with the kind of authority appropriate to those who had been personally commissioned by Christ. Rather, they would seek to imitate the New Testament apostolic pattern in terms of planting and strengthening local churches and helping churches partner together for mutual benefit and gospel advance.

    Given that in certain contexts some of the Ephesians 4 gifts are more contentious than others, the Advance leadership team will seek to audit their language in such a way as to promote unity while still being faithful to their convictions.

    We believe that Ephesians 4-type ministries today are more functional than positional, and therefore trans-local ministry is invited rather than imposed.

    Respecting the freedom of local elders to view and describe trans-local / Ephesians 4 ministry differently to fit their understanding and context, Advance has opted for widespread use of “hub” language and “trans-local” language, particularly in contexts where more direct apostolic language is unhelpful. However, as relationships and understanding strengthen we prefer to use biblical terminology whenever possible.

    What are the challenges associated with disowning Ephesians 4 gifts today?

    We must not overstate the importance of the modern-day version of Ephesians 4 ministries or try and make everything fit through that template. However, if we disown Ephesians 4 ministries, then we eliminate the only truly biblical template for sustained planting and strengthening of churches, leaving us with the unnerving scenario of having to invent our own specification and vocabulary for who is suitable to help churches and how they should do that. While we recognize the potential for presumption and misunderstanding in referring to the operation of all the Ephesians 4 gifts, we are equally aware that over-emphasizing the pastor-teacher gift to the expense of the more catalytic gifts usually results in limited success in terms of the Great Commission.

    Why do we talk mostly about influence instead of authority? 

    Paul had a unique measure of authority over his churches, mainly due to his Big-A status - eyewitness of the resurrected Christ, a scripture writer, and an original layer of the unchanging foundation of the Church), but also due to his Small-A status as the founder and father of various local churches. Paul would sometimes appeal to the church direct, as opposed to via the elders (Galatians and Corinthians). However, it is noteworthy how often Paul would appeal and implore on the basis of relationship and his role in their lives, rather than ordering them on the basis of his Big-A status.

    Apostolic ministry today would not have the same authority over churches, because apostolic ministry today is not Big-A. Andrew Wilson helpfully speaks to the level of authority today in http://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/apostolic-authority-how-does-it-work.

    Apostolic ministry today feels properly empowered to influence local churches through the invitation of the local elders, their confidence in God’s Word, and the gifting of the Holy Spirit.

    Principle v. Practice and General v. Detail

    Trans-local ministers would feel confident promoting timeless biblical principles from the Word of God, but would avoid getting prescriptive about how these principles and beliefs are outworked in a local congregation, for that is the realm of the local elders.

    For example, our Statement of Faith is fairly short and simple and tries to only cover the primary doctrines, but deliberately stops short of trying to cover every eventuality. When an eldership team that is exploring partnership with Advance says, “But what do you believe about such and such a detail of that doctrine?” we would reply, “We have no position on that detail of that doctrine, although every partner church would surely have their own position on that. Why don’t you contact a few of them to get some input to help your eldership team work that one out.”

    Similarly with our values: we have five foundational, imperative values with brief definitions for each, and of course the local application of these five is up to the local elders depending on their convictions and context. And then, because churches who are exploring partnership with Advance so often ask for a little more indication of the kind of “feel” that Advance partner churches may have, we mention another 15 broad church characteristics that we see in the New Testament.

    If trans-local ministry is invited, does that mean a “standing invite”?

    Yes. It must do otherwise it is a bit of farce. Think of when the Galatians drifted into legalism. They were so far into legalism they didn’t even know they were in legalism. They were so in trouble they didn’t even know they were in trouble. But because they had given Paul a standing invite, Paul and his team kept a loving eye on them and got involved as soon as they discerned their drift. The Galatian elders must have slept well at night knowing that someone who loved them had got their back. By becoming a partner church, the local elders are making this kind of standing invitation to the Advance team, usually represented by one or two men in particular.

    Can a local church initiate within Advance? Can a local church decline a request from Advance?

    Here are three quick New Testament case studies that give a good feel for how this kind of thing should work:

    Scenario 1: When Paul asked Titus to help the churches in Crete, Titus agreed.[1] This is a straightforward scenario where trans-local leadership asked and Titus agreed.

    Scenario 2: Paul “…strongly urged Apollos to visit you, but it was not at all his will to come now. But he will come when he has opportunity.”[2] Note that trans-local leader felt comfortable to strongly urge Apollos, but not to push beyond what Apollos felt he could do in good conscience. And note that Apollos declined the request. And note that it seems they both maintained a great attitude, including Apollos saying that he would help when he was able to.

    Scenario 3: “When Apollos wished to visit Achaia, the brothers encouraged him…and when he arrived he greatly helped those who had believed”.[3] In this instance, the same Apollos wanted to himself initiate helping Corinth. But rather than acting independently, it appears he ran his idea by “the brothers” to see if they felt it was a good idea, and they encouraged him to go for it. This is a good mix of initiative and brotherhood.

    Does Advance primarily exist to serve churches?

    Yes, but without nuance this can lead to a reductionist view of partnership. Today, like New Testament times, our goal is mature local churches, and because maturity involves unselfish participation in wider mission, churches need to be provoked to acts of service that might sometimes seem to the short-term cost of the local mission. For example, Paul asked Rome to help get the gospel to Spain which no doubt would have involved them redirecting some resources away from the local mission. Similarly, Paul was fearless in recruiting money from churches, money that no doubt could have been well spent at home base. And the elders of the Lystra church sowed Timothy to the wider mission, although he would surely have been of benefit at home base (Acts 16). All these examples, although ultimately serving the local church, involved a short-term cost of some sort to the local church.

    What types of teams are there in Advance?

    Although the Bible never actually uses the word team, the concept is certainly in the Bible. God himself is a team, Jesus usually had a team around him and sent his disciples out in teams of two, local elderships are teams, and the Apostle Paul was constantly working with teams of different shapes and sizes.[4] Paul often enlarged his team when working into particular cities to include other men and women that he often referred to as “fellow workers”.[5] Common sense and experience also makes valid reasons for team including accountability, friendship, strength and breadth of gifting, and sustainability, and when finances were involved, the plurality of accountability was stressed.[6] To this end, we take leadership and team seriously, sometimes even foregoing opportunities for speedy advance for the sake of strength of team such as Paul did in 2 Cor 2:12-13.

    The Advance leadership ethos is about partnering not promotion, serving not being served, and giving not taking. Leaders serve the mission and not the other way around. Leaders emerge as their character, gifting, and capacity for “chemistry” is revealed.

    We have a small team that guides our global mission. We have Hub Teams in various nations and regions. In nations where there are multiple hubs who want to work together, a national team may develop. We have various Task Teams that are formed as required to initiate or maintain certain initiatives.

    Finance

    Scripture leaves churches a fair degree of latitude in how they choose to finance their shared mission. We have opted for three guiding principles.

    Three Guiding Principles

    1. Excellence in grace of giving: Part of the role of a movement is to help provoke churches to excellence in the grace of giving (2 Cor 8:7) for both their local mission and our wider mission, and to coordinate the effective spending of money for the wider mission. 
    1. We give mostly to planting and strengthening: We give the majority of our pooled finance to church planting and strengthening. There may be times when movement funds are given to crisis relief or ministry to the poor, but we believe these areas are better handled at local church level, or sometimes hub level. 
    1. Empowerment of both partner churches and the movement leadership: If the movement asks local elders for too much money then local elderships may not have enough in their war chest to give to causes that they wish to give to, and/or they might feel personally disconnected from where the movement money is going. Conversely, if local churches don’t give enough to the movement war chest then the movement can be hamstrung when it needs to act fast or it needs to embark on an initiative for which it is impractical or inappropriate to canvas multiple local churches. Therefore, we need a way forward that both empowers and resources both local elders and the movement. To this end we do things as follows:

    Three Action Points

    1. We encourage partner churches to sow at least 10% of their monthly income towards church planting and the poor, under the oversight of their local eldership team. We understand it may take some churches time to work up to this level, but we warmly encourage churches in this direction.
    2. We ask partner churches to sow an amount to their Hub Mission (also from within their 10% if they like). This amount is determined by each Hub and might be a percentage or an ad hoc amount according to the vision of the Hub. Note that because the Hub is closer to home than the global mission, the local church will have a much greater say in where the money goes, and be closely connected with where the money goes. Hubs finance their own church plants, gatherings, training programs, travel/hosting costs of incoming speakers/leaders whether from inside or outside of Advance. Some hubs might pay a portion of the salary of their hub leader or coordinator. In the event of a hub / emerging hub not being able to pay their own way, the Hub Leader will use his initiative and/or approach other Hubs or churches for assistance.
    3. We ask partner churches to sow 2% of their monthly income to our Global Mission (from within their 10% if they like). This money is used for:

     Direct planting or strengthening initiatives that either we want to do together as Hubs from around the world, or that is beyond the reasonable reach of a single hub or group of hubs. Current examples include partly financing church plants in Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, and our Hub launch in the UK. It is hoped that all three of these costs will be absorbed into Hubs in due course.

    Indirect planting or strengthening initiatives that serve all/most hubs around the world, such as a resource rich website, administration and accounting, and a very limited number of salaries (currently, PJ Smyth and Stephen Jack are have a portion of their salaries paid from this fund, as does Dave Adams who runs ACPC).

    The team that guides our global mission oversees this fund. They endeavour to keep an approximate 50-50 split between direct and indirect planting and strengthening initiatives. In the event of excess building up in this account, surplus will be given to direct planting and strengthening initiatives.

     

    Five Other Things To Note

    We have high levels of accountability for global and hub funds, including detailed and transparent annual reports and audits where appropriate.

    We encourage partner churches to pay their own way in terms of travel, conferences and other costs associated with our mission. We encourage eldership teams to have a line item in the budget to fund the travel of the lead couple and other elder couples to Advance gatherings and initiatives, and to consider spending in this area a priority because the health of the lead couple and the elder couples is the single most important investment that church can make. Churches that need assistance are encouraged to ask for help from other partner churches because we are in this together, and love to help each other out.

    Under normal circumstances the travel costs of Advance leaders are paid for by the local church that they are part of, and in the event of being employed or partially employed by Advance, ideally a portion (or all) of their salary is paid by the local church that they are part of. This is to keep central salaries at a minimum and keep Advance leaders and their salaries earthed in the reality of local church and meaningful relationships.

    We try to make all Advance events self-funding.

    Honorariums: Whilst we encourage a culture of honour and generosity that we see in the Bible, we have no Advance policy on this. It is up to hubs/churches to do as they see fit.

    [1] Titus 1:5

    [2] 1 Cor 16:12

    [3] Acts 18:27

    [4] Acts 13; 16:6,10; 17:14-15; 18:7-8; 18:18-19; 19:22; 19:29 & 20:1-6

    [5] Priscilla and Aquila (Rom 16:3; Acts 18:19), Andronicus and Junius (Rom 16:7), Urbanus (Rom 16:9), Euodia and Syntyche (Phil 4:2), Clement (Phil 4:3), and Artemas and Tychicus (Titus 3:12). This pattern of teamwork was also modelled by other apostles (Acts 3:1, 10:23, 8:14, 15:39).

    [6] Acts 4:34-35; 6:1-6, 11:27-30, 2 Cor 8:16-22