Valuable Leadership Lessons from Rural Nicaragua for Our Churches


This week I’ve had the privilege of traveling to Nicaragua with Living Water International (LWI).  We’ve partnered with them in variety of clean water projects.  We were in Nicaragua seeing some project areas that we might end up serving in the coming  years.

I was humbled again to interact with some of the most amazing leaders on the front line of the water crisis.  Nearly 1 Billion people still don’t have access to clean drinking water. Dirty water kills more people on earth than anything else. We have the solutions to solve this crisis. We just need more people engaged in the fight against dirty water. [Click here to watch this 3min video about the Clean Water Crisis.]

I was struck as we met with church and community leaders how similar the problems they face in motivating people are as the ones we face in our church. It would seem like some problems are universal in leading people whether you live in a rural village in one of the poorest countries in the world or an affluent suburb. Below are some quotes from leaders of problems they face in motivating people and what they do to overcome them … a chance for us to learn!

  • “People say they are too busy to get involved.”
    • I was struck when Maria (pictured far right above) talked about this hurtle. People everywhere think they are too busy to get plugged in.  Maria’s solution? Speak to their heart … draw them with the bigger vision of what you are asking them to engage with.
  • “The hardest part is walking up to a neighbors door and starting the conversation.”
    • Churches are often lead by extroverted leaders who can’t understand why their people can’t talk to folks outside of the church about the good things happening. The solution this group of leaders came up with was going with a friend to talk with their neighbors! Love it … how can encourage our people to work together to spread the message of Jesus?
  • “If you plan meetings last minute people won’t come. You need to give people a month’s notice.”
    • Leadership 101. Helping people to prepare ahead of time for meetings is critical. These leaders do this so they can spread the word about the upcoming meeting. Do we spring stuff on our people last minute too much?
  • “The men aren’t here … they just disagree with each other … when work needs to be done it’s women who do it.”
    • It’s seems like the universal abdication of leadership and service by men continues. I am struck how these global issues are being solved on the ground almost exclusively by women. Way to go Sistas! How can we support the women who lead amongst us?  How do we engage guys to get in the game to tackle some of the most important issues facing our generation?

It’s always a privilege to interact with leaders who are directly engaged in a world shaping endeavor. My notebook is open and soaking in so many lessons! I’d love to hear from you … what problems have you seen in a global context that resonates with your home situation?  What have you learned from leaders outside of your cultural context?  Leave a comment or two!

BONUS: People everywhere laugh when they talk about the bathroom! In a number of these conversations we were talking about diarrhea, gastrological sounds and all things move in your bowels! People laugh when they talk about these things … proving that inside all of us is a middle school student just waiting to pop out!  😉

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.