How would you like to see your church’s leadership triple in a year?
Can you imagine the leverage that could be created to advance the kingdom if the local church multiplied leaders? Not only is this a glorious future, but it is also Christ’s mission mandate. The church is called to reach the lost, make disciples, and develop leaders for the glory of Christ (Mt. 28:18-20, Eph. 4:11-16). The hope of the world is the local church, and the hope of the local church is leadership. Develop spiritual leaders and you’ll change the world for Christ. Leaders need to be developing leaders and prospective leaders need to be developed.
Dashboard indicators provide essential information about your car. The most important pieces of information are highlighted to alert a driver about a vehicle’s condition. In regard to a church leadership development culture, two of the most important indicators are:
- The percentage of staff that have been hired from within the local church, and
- The percentage of staff and leaders that have an apprentice (an assistant whom they are training). The higher the percentage, the more likely there is a healthy leadership development culture.
How can you create a healthy leadership culture in the local church?
Paul provides a snapshot in his swansong address to Timothy, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Here is a blueprint that helps to explain the influence and success of the church at Ephesus, and provides the essence of creating a leadership development culture. There are four links in a leadership chain described here: Paul, Timothy, faithful leaders, and others who will receive. Thus, a leadership model could be detailed from Paul’s exhortation to the church.
Each leader should develop an apprentice (an assistant whom they are training). The apprentice should be equipped and empowered to identify, recruit, and train a prospective leader who has the capacity to do the same with others. This will result in exponential leadership development in the church and advancement of the kingdom.
To whom does the term “leader” apply?
Leadership simply relates to influence and can therefore be described broadly. The term “leader” would certainly be applied to pastors, elders and deacons. In addition, anyone who has the title “leader” in their role such as an usher, greeter, children’s ministry, women’s, men’s, prayer, hospitality, or youth leader should be included. Furthermore, community group (small group) leaders should be included as leaders for this purpose.
How do leaders train an apprentice? Paul chose to take Timothy along on his second missionary trip. “Paul wanted him (Timothy) to join them on their journey” (Acts 16:3). The process assumes that the leader will mentor the apprentice(s) to develop biblical knowledge and character, to share their faith, and perform ministry task(s). Along the journey, the mentorship training could be distilled to five (5) reproducible steps:
- I do, you watch, and we talk.
- I do, you help, and we talk.
- You do, I help, and we talk.
- You do, I watch, and we talk.
- You do and someone else watches.
In the first step, the mentor leader models a behavior such as personal evangelism, prayer, Bible reading, or greeting visitors, which the apprentice observes. They later discuss the training and provide opportunity to discuss questions, challenges, and ideas. The second step involves the apprentice in an assisting role. For example, if the apprentice is learning how to greet visitors for a weekend gathering, the leader and apprentice both participate in welcoming the guests. Or if the apprentice is learning to teach the Bible, the leader can model teaching and then have the assistant teach a short devotional study. Again there should be a debriefing time afterwards. In the third step, the apprentice takes the lead, and the leader assists. In the fourth phase, the leader is simply an observer as the apprentice performs the tasks. Nevertheless, the mentor and apprentice engage in feedback and discuss the process after steps three and four. In the fifth step, the apprentice has been sufficiently equipped that he or she is empowered to identify, recruit, and begin the same process with a prospective leader.
Within a year, leadership in the local church would likely triple. This expanded base of leadership creates an infrastructure for reaching the lost, making disciples, and developing more leaders for the glory of Christ. So let our leadership development thrive in this season of ministry.