Five Steps to Find and Develop Leaders

Five Steps to Find and Develop Leaders in Your Church
Lion tamers carry a stool when they enter a cage of lions. William H. Hinson says that the stool causes the animal to try to focus on all four legs at once. In the attempt to do so, a kind of paralysis overwhelms the animal. It becomes tame, weak, and disabled because its attention is fragmented.1

A similar scenario concerning leadership issues is played out in churches daily. Like a lion whose attention is fragmented, the church too often is paralyzed by the inability to find and develop leaders. However, there are some steps for locating leaders in your church.

Beyond Paralysis to Intentional Action
1. Know your reason for existence.
Why does your church exist? I believe that every New Testament church exists to make followers of Jesus Christ. Effective leaders must willingly and obediently learn from our Lord themselves. When a leader has been with Jesus, his heart and soul become impassioned about the things of God.

Too often, people have risen to positions in church leadership because of the length of time they have been members or due to some expertise in the marketplace. These attributes enhance decision-making in ministry. However, length of church membership does not always transform the hearts of people; sometimes it hardens us unaware. Likewise, business practices in the marketplace are helpful, but only if the expertise is sanctified for the Master's use.

2. Enlist leaders to a process, not a program.
Churches tend to forget that programs are never intended to last forever. So when a church enlists leaders to a particular program, it is not surprising that the program may endear itself to those leaders. It is not long before they lead the church to become wrapped up in this program. As a result, programs may control a growing portion of limited budget dollars, valuable calendar dates, and time from God's people to implement them. Imagine if a church has five "pet" programs. Can you see the dilemma, the confusion, a program-based church faces?

There is a better way. Staff members can enlist leaders to a process of ministry that is based on a strategic plan ... a plan that has been birthed in the prayer closet; a plan that is based on the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) and great commandment (Matt. 22:37-39); a ministry plan that captures the hearts of people to rise up in the name of Jesus; a plan that stirs people to share their faith boldly, live their lives purely, give of their wealth sacrificially, and serve the Lord faithfully.

3. Train leaders with high expectations.
Leaders rise to the occasion. Because they are leaders they need a challenge. If an organization rises and falls upon leadership (and it does), then a church should expect the best from leaders or potential leaders.

For example, building an effective Bible study ministry means finding leaders who are willing to follow the basics of working in a class, department, or age-grade division. Some churches expect their Sunday School teachers and workers to sign a covenant with their church that outlines what they will do and how they will perform over the next 12 months.

However, an expectation without proper training is discouraging for leaders. Addressing this need means providing ongoing skills and personal development.

4. Focus leaders on the important, not the urgent.
Churches that focus on urgent matters tend to jeopardize momentum. Also, like a lion looking at chair legs, leaders who focus on urgent things are in danger of losing their heart and passion for Jesus. Helping leaders overcome urgent thinking occurs when pastors keep reminding them of important matters.

The most important thing any leader can learn is how to abide in Christ. This abiding relationship includes a daily routine of spending time with God, saturating one's mind with the Word of God; remaining properly connected to the fellowship of a local church; and sharing a vibrant witness for Jesus.

5. Develop for the long term, and train for the immediate.
One system for locating and developing leaders many churches choose is called The BodyLife Journey: Guiding Believers into Ministry. The goal of this equipping process is to move members from "mothballs" into ministry.

Developing leaders may become one of the richest blessings a pastor, staff, and church may experience. It all begins with an unswerving commitment to the Lord Jesus and to people.

1 John Maxwell, Developing the Leader Within You (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993), 31.

by John S. Powers on Monday, March 26, 2012