The church is tasked with discovering new leaders. Paul and the early church counted on young and new leaders to keep the mission moving forward. It’s truly the task of the whole church to discover and develop leaders. However, whenever everyone is responsible it seems no one is; there must be a point person or small team that is tasked with helping new leadership emerge.
No current leader is excused from constantly and consistently finding and building more leaders. Pastors must work to build leadership in the staff, church boards and ministry area leaders. Youth pastors must build leaders in their volunteer teams and among students. Worship leaders must discover and nurture gifts of others who might lead in music and worship ministry. Children’s ministry workers may need more leaders than any other ministry in the church! It’s important for the leader to continue to discover and develop new leaders.
The importance of developing leaders is indeed overwhelming, but it’s one of our primary tasks in the church. New leaders can help add new insights, new energy, and new passion to an organization. New leaders open up new networks, help move the mission forward and help carry the load. New leaders are teachable, eager to learn and help build a new culture.
One thing we must do is fan the flame of leadership development in our own lives! It’s not easy work, but it’s so important. We must seek to discover and raise up new leaders in our ministry.
Here are some hints toward moving in the right direction of discovering new leaders:
When you are clear on where you need leaders, they will begin to emerge. Exercise: Write down everything that needs to be done and attach a name to it. If there is no one leading the area (and it truly needs to be done) then put your own name there. After the exercise is through, determine which area you will begin to seek to fill, strategically chipping away at your list until you have invited new leaders in and invested in them. If you are leading a church or ministry and you’re the primary leader, this exercise will be a great starting point. Get clarity on the leaders you need.
Ask teachers, leaders and staff to confidentially identify within their circles those who seem to be hungry for leadership. There may be someone in your church who you may not be connected to or that you may not readily identify as a potential leader, but others might notice something in them. Leaders are attracted to other leaders.
Survey New Church Members
The church often waits too long to incorporate new members into ministry. Invite them in as quickly as possible. Find out what they love to do. Find out what they enjoy and how they might serve. Survey new members to see where they might fit in to the ministry and mission of the congregation. This requires some intentional work.
Pray For Leaders
Pray that God would bring more leaders into your church or ministry. Pray for your current leaders.
Encourage Staff To Develop Leaders
Call on staff to identify their key leaders and how they are investing in each one personally. Ask this question with regularity: Who are you raising up in leadership?
Celebrate New Leaders Publicity
This begins with treating your current leaders well. Keep them in the loop, give them access, give them opportunity and ownership. Celebrate milestones. And when new leaders are discovered and begin in ministry, highlight those moments, seasons and ministries.
Most people you want to be your leaders will respond to a personal invitation, but they won’t volunteer. I’m not sure why this is, I just know it is. Be bold! Ask. Call. Think of the perfect leader for your team and go get them. Explore. Engage in big, bold and even prophetic questions. I remember sitting at lunch with a group of grade school boys at an inner city mission camp. As a conversation starter, I asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up. Five out of six said something along the lines of professional sports and one said something in the medical world. After a brief moment, I asked them all (and I’m not sure why I did), “Would any of you like to be a preacher?” They were quiet, and then one boy answered between bites, “I guess I could.” I’ve always wondered if that boy will become a preacher some day.
Develop Systems, But Stay Personal
It’s good to be intentional, but in my experience, leadership developing is typically personal, geographically close and seasonal. About the time you have a system, a new person emerges and an current leader sprouts wings and moves to a new role or season in life. Don’t get discouraged. Work with whom God sends. One definition of excellence is doing the very best with what you have. Develop systems for consistently bringing in new leaders, but don’t get caught up in the paper work. Personally keep connection with leaders.
Never forget, your ministry role is interim. Everyone’s is. Eventually, someone else will be taking your place. Who will be there to do so?