The Priority of Developing Leaders, Part 1

Who wants more great leaders in your church? (I see that hand! And that one, thank you! And there are more!)

The good news is that we inherit some great leaders when we arrive at our church or when new members join, ready to serve. The even better news is that there are great new leaders in your church waiting for you to develop them.

Why is the ability to develop new leaders “better” news? Here are two reasons:

  1. Leaders you recruit and train are in tune with your priorities and direction from day one, often even more than other great leaders already in place.

  2. God has called you to equip the saints for ministry (Eph. 4:11-16), and there is a special kind of joy when you see a new leader realize their calling.

We all know we need a constant flow of new leaders in our churches, but it’s possible you are in one of these two boats:

  1. I’m rowing as fast as I can just to keep from sinking. I don’t have time to add leadership development to my schedule.
    If you’re in Boat 1, consider…

    1. Reordering your daily priorities to match your need for new leaders. Block off 15 minutes every Monday to pray for new leaders. Take an hour each Tuesday to send personal notes to current leaders expressing appreciation.

    2. Readjust your thinking from “finding time” to inviting others into the time you already have. Begin with one or two potential leaders. Invite one of them to make a hospital or prospect visit with you. Meet another for lunch and begin the conversation about how God has designed them for ministry as part of the body of Christ. Let them know you’d like to help them discover their role, whatever it may be. Meet again to continue the conversation and invite them to try out a specific opportunity or two. Start small. Make it personal. Spark their interest in God’s work in their life and let it grow from there.
  2. My boat is full of non-leaders. They’ve all rowed before and just want to relax and enjoy the cruise now.
    If you are in Boat 2…

    1. Get clarity on what God wants in and through your church in this season. Some of that clarity may come from listening carefully to those “non-leaders.” If something is God’s will for your church, He will reveal it to more than one person.
    2. Remember that your church members may not be lazy or disobedient. It could be that many simply…
      1. Need a fresh vision of God at work in their lives. How can you and they discern this together and begin charting the journey?
      2. Need a different assignment from the one they had in years past. Could it be that God would use them to start something new in your community or church family?
      3. May have left a previous role feeling used or devalued. How can you help restore them to meaningful and appreciated service?
    3. Be careful not to pigeonhole people based on their past but ask God to reenergize them. Be willing to enter their worlds to listen and be attentive as God does his work.

“Leadership is not something you do to people, it’s something you do with them.” - Ken Blanchard, “Renewing Your Church through Vision and Planning”

Developing leaders has always been a challenge. Just ask Jesus. And it has always been the job of church leaders like you. See Ephesians 4 again.

Stepping into the lives of others to help them see (or see again) God’s design for them is a job that requires patience, humility, and vision. It can have its share of disappointments, but also offers deep and lasting joy. Resolve to accept the challenge this year. The future of your church depends on it.

More on this next month.

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