At the end of my last blog, I asked the question - 'What kind of leaders do we want to develop?' Here is the first blog in responding to that question.
When I visit the churches around the world, generally I see such a poor administration of leadership development. Rarely is it seen as a family raising kids. More frequently it is absent, or it is seen as a program / activity that the church is expected to have. For some it is a mish mash of bits and pieces whilst for others who have built highly relationally, leadership is a group of mates doing life together. But are they the right folks in the room to bring about change?
I am convinced. The greatest weakness in most churches is systematic, intentional leadership development. There are several reasons that are clearly observable. Here are a few:
1. Most churches do not have a theology for this evolution. It is therefore not a priority,
2. The pressure to pursue education has made that the highest virtue for many when seeking to expand the team,
3. Culturally, the hire - fire approach to leadership selection is so deeply flawed for many reasons but primarily it does not empower the sons in the house to "Eagerly desire the greater gifts"
4. Leadership development is handed from the lead guy to another pastor as a program in the calender.
5. We drift too easily from the biblical ingredients of leadership positions and qualifications to appointing leaders based on criteria that have no biblical requirements,
6. In smaller churches, many leaders are appointed for reasons of faithfulness, loyalty, sentiment or simply because they are mates. They may satisfy a short term desire not to be alone, however they may not be the key folks in the room to have the entrepreneurial conversations for growth,
May I suggest a better way? Leadership development is not a program but a lifestyle. It is not an activity as much as a conviction. It is not to be given away as much as it is to be imparted. It seems like we have to go back, with humility, to the text and rediscover the privilege of this lost art. Whether we look at Jesus or Paul, there are certain realities that are clearly evident that both apply with extraordinary effectiveness. I am persuaded that it is one of the primary weakness that need to be addressed if churches want to go beyond the 150 ceiling.
This blog cannot possibly cover all bases. However it can begin the process of change in your community. For the sake of simplicity allow me to present these thoughts in point form:
- Jesus chose 12 men to do life with. Paul chose several including Timothy to be as a son to him["To Timothy, my true son in the faith" 1 Tim 1:2] We cannot neglect nor diminish the desire for and the power of investing into "sons", one on one, face to face, bringing them in to our world, discipling them into leadership hereby multiplying ourselves,
- There is certainly place for group instruction [ "When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority...." Luke 9:1]. There is power in group training, discussion and doctrinal development. Leadership training 101 is absolutely essential. These times should be held regularly in our communities. Teaching through the three great Leadership Development books [poorly called the Pastoral Epistles - 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus], is a very powerful way to keep leadership fashioned around the gospel,
- May I strongly suggest all churches have a monthly Leaders meeting. A little teaching may be helpful here, but it is a very strategic gathering to process what God is saying and doing in the community and what the response must be. [Acts 13:1 - 3 "In the church at Antioch, there were prophets and teachers:... while they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said...]
- Over the years I have loved an "All Leaders Gathering". I am persuaded that "all believers are called to be leaders!" From the garden when man and woman were given a clear leadership mandate, to becoming more like Christ who is leadership, we have sought to get all leaders past, present and future into the room. During these gatherings, we endeavor to ensure that there is a weighty theological content, a strong visionary quotient to keep everyone on the same page and good God stories - accounts of what God is doing in the community- splashed with prayer. This is not preparing leadership for the church only but empowering all our folks to be leaders wherever they may be in the marketplace. I remember one of the men who use to attend these gatherings was CEO of his company. He would take notes at these times and present them to his board the next day - loaded with content but without too many texts - they were amazed at his presentations and this fashioned the soul of the company. [Acts 15 is a great example of this kind of gathering.]
- Lastly, the role of the Ephesians 4 giftings in developing the leaders in our communities cannot be overstated. From the reason for these gifts as stated in Ephesians 4, to the model we see in the book of Acts, what is clear that apostles particularly are there to train the leaders [Acts 20:17 - 38] help equip, select, appoint leaders [Acts 14:21 - 28; Titus 1:5]. Apostles are not the CEO of the church world. They are not "over all" but "first of all" - by example they lead the way in humble service, love and sacrifice. Their role we will discuss later.
I cannot stress the role of Leadership Development enough - especially if you want to go through the 150 mark. Creating a leadership culture inspires the community to be entrepreneurial, believing God for the new and unexpected, it empowers folks to be creative, bold, expansive and not simply repeat yesterday, tomorrow - which is 'death by management'. When we create that leadership culture, people take ownership of the future and buy into a dream worth investing our lives into.