The use of the term Big People, has gained momentum in recent years, especially after Bill Johnson included it some years ago in a sermon. I love what it means, and believe that it is one of the key shifts which we need to see in church leadership: Raising Big People 1st, not building Big Churches 1st!

Here is the chapter from my soon to be published book: SENT.

Chapter 28. Big People

And on this rock, I will build my church.

Matthew 16:18

In Matthew 16, Jesus posed a question to his disciples: “Who do you say I am?” Peter responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter might not have realized it, but his acknowledgement of Jesus was the foundation for the rest of his life and ministry. Just a few verses later, in Matthew 16:18, Jesus’ statement, “and on this rock…”served as recognition of Peter’s stature in the Kingdom. I like to describe this stature as “big people.” Big people, like Peter, know who they are and who He is.

The concept of big people begins with a shift in emphasis from the “man of God” to raising a body of people to represent the King and His kingdom, whoever they are, whatever they do, and wherever they go. The man of God culture, mindset, and behaviors are rooted in a secular/ sacred divide and probably go back hundreds of years. You will, by now, know that I honor the holders of office in the church, but their assignment is to equip, empower, send, and encourage everyone to bring change to their life and sphere of influence.

The underlying belief that there was only one “big” person, leading other less spiritual people, was, to be fair, not always the fault of the leader or organization in which they resided. The problem, however, is that if the church embraces the idea that ministry within the church is the highest calling, then the people attending either see success as achieving a position in the church, or they forever feel inferior in their career or role in life. Raising big people is at the heart of the apostolic and a focus of Ephesians 4. The goal of each of the fivefold is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. I have always interpreted the work of the ministry as including every legitimate career.

Creating a culture that raises big people is becoming a more common experience within the church thanks to renewed emphasis in some key areas. Inner healing and the teaching of sonship increases our confidence in our identities. Destiny teaching and coaching assist people as they pursue relevance in their lives and the world. Additionally, schools of supernatural ministry train people to bring Heaven to earth alongside the teaching of the seven spheres of influence. These emphases are raising big people.

As we see in Matthew 16, big people know who they are. The journey of sonship creates a strong foundation of identity. From that foundation, big people understand why they are alive, realizing they carry a sense of destiny of calling and vocation. Related to that, they have an expectation of the impact their life will have, and they know where they are going. Another way of summarizing this is that they are sons and daughters of destiny, who know how to bring Heaven to earth and expand the influence of the kingdom.

Once again, this is modeled by Jesus, who said many times who He was, why He was here, and where He was going. Perhaps most famously of all, He articulated in John 3:16 that the impact of His life would be access to eternal life for all mankind.

The nature of the apostolic embraces many elements: Identity, empowerment, and, of course, the apostolic itself. All of these help create the soil in which big people can grow. Bill Johnson continually communicates his desire to raise big people rather than concentrate on a big church. The reality is that if you get the former, you may very likely get the latter, but it doesn’t work the other way around.

As a church, leading big people will change the vision and mission, affect the organizational structure, and require the creation of an empowering family culture. Most importantly, to lead big people, we need to be secure sons and daughters and lead from that place of security.