Figure It Out


Written by Burt Braunius /
August 25, 2014

At the recent Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels told stories about a phrase that his father used with him as a boy. The phrase was, “Figure it out.” Hybels was put into situations like learning to sail, learning to ski, and learning to make sales calls with the words, “figure it out.”

The phrase captures a key leadership concept. It is a way of saying, “Solve this problem,” or “Discover how to move forward in this situation.” For more on this topic from the Harvard Business Review, click here.

Yesterday Chris Briggs was commissioned as a Commissioned Pastor. He is an example of at least two “figure it out” situations. The first has to do with his lead pastor, Dr. Sherwin Branson; the second is about Chris himself.

In 2009, Sherwin Brantsen, Pastor of Laketon Bethel Church (Muskegon, MI), was faced with a major issue. The church incurred significant indebtedness in response to growth and a building program just as our nation entered a recession. The church needed additional staff but lacked funds to hire them.

Dr. Brantsen’s response was to create a training program for a small group of lay pastoral leaders whom he referred to as Commissioned Pastoral Assistants. He wrote a proposal that included the following:

“We have an interesting problem that is as old as Laketon Bethel: lots of pastoral work to do but no money to hire more than one pastor. It has always been like this, but the situation is exacerbated by our current economic burp… The positions I would create will be voluntary and unpaid.  I would propose calling the people involved ‘Commissioned Pastoral Assistants,’”

This group was trained and commissioned.  One of the participants in the group was Chris Briggs, a machinist by trade and a lay pastor by calling. With encouragement from Pastor Brantsen, Chris applied to Classes Muskegon and Church Leadership Center for admission to the Commissioned Pastor program.

Church Leadership Center worked with the Classis to create a training plan for Chris. The training plan recognized Chris’ training as a Commissioned Pastoral Assistant and determined that Chris already met Commissioned Pastor requirements in the areas of maturity of faith; personal integrity; Reformed theology; government/standards/liturgy; nature and administration of the sacraments; preaching; and pastoral ethics and practices.

Additional courses and activities were developed by CLC for Chris to complete the remaining competencies; i.e., maturity of faith, personal integrity, understanding of the Old and New Testaments and biblical interpretation, church history, and capability to minister within the church.

During the past two-and-a-half years, Chris figured out how to take courses while continuing to serve the Church, working full time, and helping the Classis move forward with their process of examining and commissioning Chris as their first Commissioned Pastor.

Congratulations to Sherwin and Chris! They “figured it out”… to Sherwin for figuring out how to raise up church leaders… to Chris for figuring out how to move himself and his Classis through Commissioned Pastor training. Chris was commissioned on Sunday, August 24, 2014 and is pictured here.

When it comes to leadership development, Church Leadership Center can also help you “figure it out.” We work in partnership with pastors, churches, and other ministry groups to prepare congregational leaders for advanced levels of service. We do this by means of assessment interviews and reports; personalized training plans, classes, and certification so that participants are able to increase their effectiveness in all areas of church life. Click here for more information. To view videos about Commissioned Pastors and those who support them, click here. To read previous blogs, click here.

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