By Dave Ferguson

We like to say when we discovered Troy McMahon he was working the third shift making Hamburger Helper.  And it’s true!  But is also true that he was working at General Mills, and they had him on the fast-track to upper-management.  While he was successful in the marketplace, he also had a great passion for Jesus and helping people find their way back to God.  Troy is just one example of someone who over the course of several years went from being a small group apprentice leader, to moving through a leadership path, to leading a network of new churches, and today is on his way to launching a movement.   Let’s re-trace his steps on this simple leadership path:

leadership path

Troy was one of those people that stood out at COMMUNITY, and it was obvious that he was the kind of person who could influence others.  I asked Troy to join me for breakfast one morning to get to know him better, and it wasn’t long before we were having breakfast every Wednesday.  It was during these breakfasts that Troy and I developed a strong friendship talking about life, leadership, and God’s dream for the church we loved. Soon Troy became my apprentice small group leader and we began to meet regularly to not only guide our small group, but to also dream about the future of COMMUNITY.  Over the next several months Troy moved quickly through the leadership path:  he started to lead his own small group; developed apprentice leaders that became leaders and he began to coach them.

Within 18 months I asked Troy if he would consider quitting his job at General Mills to come on staff at COMMUNITY.  For Troy this next step meant leaving behind a high-paying and promising career in the corporate world for the adventure of a lifetime with a new church that had God-sized dreams.  Troy became our very first campus pastor.  When Troy called the first launch team meeting a whopping twelve people showed up.  We were hoping for more.  Fortunately, the launch team grew over the next several months to over one hundred people and we were all blown away when 552 people showed up at the first celebration service at this new campus!  I was excited for COMMUNITY and I was proud of Troy.  In a matter of five years Troy’s influence had expanded from impacting 10 people in a small group to now impacting 100’s and soon 1,000’s as a campus pastor.

One of the people that Troy influenced as campus pastor was Scott Knollenberg.  Scott and his new bride Michelle had just moved into the neighborhood where we planted this new campus.  Scott had recently finished his M.B.A., was quickly being promoted at Caterpillar, and he would tell you that his focus was entirely on advancing his career.  Scott would also tell you that he was far from God.  One Saturday at the sand volleyball court Scott met this new Campus Pastor, Troy McMahon.  They hit it off.  At Troy’s invitation, Scott came to one of our first celebration services and then joined Troy’s small group.  Within the next year Scott made a commitment to be a Christ follower, was baptized, turned down a promotion and transfer to stay in the neighborhood, and became Troy’s apprentice leader in his small group.

If we fast forward several years later, rather than moving through the ranks of corporate America, Scott has expanded his influence on the same leadership path as Troy.  This same guy who moved into the neighborhood and was far from God, has now walked this same leadership path and moved from being an apprentice leader, to a leader, to a coach, to a director on staff, and today he is the campus pastor where he met Troy.  This campus has reproduced two other campuses and a new church and reaches about a thousand people each weekend.  Think about what you just read – let it sink in.  God took someone who was far from Him with no experience and no seminary degree, and now he is helping hundreds and hundreds of people find their way back to God every week.

And Troy?  With our full support and blessing Troy moved his family to Kansas City with twenty other people from COMMUNITY to plant a NewThing church, Restore Community Church. Within the first nine months Restore was reaching more than 500 people each week and had reproduced a new church in Haiti, and recruited a network of new church pastors in the states.  Today, less than four years after their launch, Restore is one church with two locations soon to be three.  Troy is not only leading a reproducing church, but is a network leader for NewThing leading four other church planters and most recently reproduced his network of churches and is a movement leader.  He is now influencing thousands and within a few years he will be influencing tens of thousands.

That is Troy McMahon’s story.  It’s also Scott Knollenberg’s story.  I could have told you Kirsten Strand’s story.  I could have told you Mark Nelson’s story.  I also could have told you John Ciesniewski or Dave Dummitt’s story.  That is the point; as remarkable as Troy’s’ story is, it is not the exception.  There are now hundreds and thousands of people in reproducing churches who are now following this leadership path in anticipation of a movement.  Every one of them started where Troy started – as an apprentice.

Where are you and the people in your church on this leadership path?

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About Dave Ferguson

Dave Ferguson is the Lead Pastor of COMMUNITY, an innovative multi-site missional community who is passionate about “helping people find their way back to God”. CCC has grown from a few college friends to thousands every weekend meeting at thirteen locations throughout Chicago and was recognized as one of the most influential churches in America. Next to Jesus, Dave loves his wife Sue immensely and his three terrific kids Amy, Joshua and Caleb.

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