Sculpting a Vision of Servant Leadership


By Nathan Esser


Senior Pastor Nathan Esser

First Presbyterian Church, Sioux Falls

This past year, a planning retreat was held at Swan Lake Christian Camp in Viborg, SD.  Swan Lake is a beautiful place and provided Session opportunities to examine several challenges throughout the church and community and discern ways God is leading us.  We contracted with Margaret Sumption, a Sioux Falls consultant, to help facilitate discussion and create a three-year strategic plan. In the months following the retreat, we established 3 strategic priorities.

The strategic priorities are:

Strategic Priority 1: Equip members to be the Visible Face of Christ in the world.

Strategic Priority 2: Build the next generation of programs to implement the mission statement of the church.

Strategic Priority 3: Insure a Thriving Future
Serving with one another at the Mobile Food Pantry.

Serving with one another at the Mobile Food Pantry.

These opportunities create space to bless others and enjoy the company of friends.

These opportunities create space to bless others and enjoy the company of friends.


Each Strategic priority breaks down into two objectives.  Each objective includes several action steps to help us meet the related objectives.  The action steps are assigned to ministry teams.  Each ministry team must discern how God is leading them to respond and take action.  In short, the plan describes the “what” and the ministry teams describe the “how.”

The overall strategic plan is wrapped with a church-wide emphasis on servant leadership. 

A leadership team consisting of a member from the Session and the Deacons, along with the Pastoral Staff and Congregational Care Coordinator, will design and implement servant leadership education.  The first year of the program will focus on Elders and Deacons.  The following year, ministry teams will participate in the servant leadership program. 

We hope each person having completed the program will be able to articulate and demonstrate a personal understanding of servant leadership. A well-articulated, strategic and measurable plan is not enough.  By the power, inspiration and call of the Holy Spirit, the plans and hopes for our church are brought to life through you.   We need you.  Don’t wait for someone to ask you for help or to become involved; put yourself in a position to be an instrument of God’s grace. 

Nathan is the senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Sioux Falls. He can be reached at