The SLI Story

Ultimately SLI has been driven by the need to help church leaders find and keep joy in their ministries and thereby overcome ministry burnout.  Our story has evolved as the need to train church leadership teams in adaptive leadership has taken new forms since we began in the year 2000.

There were many elements that contributed to the start of SLI but at the heart of this beginning were two lay persons with extensive leadership experience who built deep relationships with their pastor. Over the years they were exposed to spiritual formation practices, ongoing learning, and the practice of leadership in their local church. God’s presence and gifts were put into motion as a community of believers began to dream of what could be.

The on-ramp to the first project was filled with many Gideon like tests, the final catalyst occurred as the founders were praying “please God send us a sign that this dream of SLI is not crazy”. It was in that moment that a young pastor unwittingly asked for help, and the ministry began.

The passion for God and the passion to create healthy leadership cultures drove the development of the L3 model of Loving, Learning, and Leading. This model simply mirrored the elements that brought SLI into existence in an intentional way. From the very first project on, SLI has considered itself a learning organization. Now with hundreds of projects affecting thousands of churches across 18 denominations, in diverse cultures all over the world, SLI’s ability to learn and grow has become quite significant.  

We have come to define spiritual leadership as a servant ministry where sound leadership principles are integrated with Scriptural principles.  Spiritual leaders are committed to discerning and doing the will of God in community through the help of the Holy Spirit and based on spiritual gifts.  It is not autocratic, authoritarian nor dictatorial in nature.

SLI’s story is a God story, where ministries of all different types find joy in helping people discover their callings as disciples of Jesus Christ and where leaders leave isolation, distraction and frustration.  It is striking how often people share how much they wish they had found our Loving, Learning, and Leading model (L3) early in their ministry and how often people’s ministry is totally renewed in the process.

We hope that you will join us in this movement. As people entrusted to guide others, we hope you can join us as we learn how to develop our gifts and walk more closely with God. What will result is an increasing number of deployed spiritual leaders living interdependently in community around the world. We believe, with God and this L3 approach, that we will see God’s vision realized as the world experiences immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.

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A dream began: that the right mix of spiritual principles with leadership principles could help churches get better and better at their main purpose: making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

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