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30 Jun 2016

How to Develop Effective Leaders in Your Church

Raul Rivera

A common struggle amongst pastors is picking the right leaders. This is true for both new pastors and seasoned pastors. And who can blame you?

It is not only difficult to identify good leaders, it can be even more difficult to develop good leaders. Who you choose to fill the leadership roles in your church matters.

With some guidance and wisdom from John Maxwell’s book, “Developing Leaders Around You”, we will look at how you can identify potential leaders in your church. In addition, we will explore how to equip and develop individuals into the type of leaders that will help carry forth the dream and vision God has given you.

Ready? Let’s go!

Why is developing leaders important?

It may or may not come as a surprise, but developing a strong leadership team should be one of your highest priorities when starting a ministry. However, I know that this is not always the easiest of processes for pastors.

It is never easy to put your dreams, vision, and ideas into someone else’s hands. But in reality, you cannot fulfill on your own all that God has called you to do.

Shepherding a ministry has many moving parts. From IRS and state regulations to leasing or buying a building, and organizing meetings and planning for services, eventually you begin to feel like you have taken on too much!

This is precisely one of the many reasons why it is imperative that we learn, together, how to choose our leadership teams wisely and with great care.

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Naturally, when you are considering whom you will chose, it feels most optimal to call on your family members and close friends. After all, they do know you the best, and you have much history with them!

You certainly want them to play their part in the calling that God has given you. While it is okay for family members to serve on your church’s board of directors, the problem lies when your board is entirely, or mainly, made up of family members. Let me explain.

According to IRS Publication 4221-PC, “The governing board should include independent members and should not be dominated by employees or others who are not independent because of business or family relationships.”

In essence, your church’s board of directors needs to be balanced. This means that your church’s board of directors should consist of more unrelated individuals than related, and more uncompensated individuals than compensated. The importance of this is to guard against insider transactions that could result in misuse of charitable assets.

Identifying potential leaders

Something important to remember when considering whom you will ask to serve with you in your ministry, is that you want to pick people who are best suited for the task at hand.

Although you may not feel like it, you are the CEO of your ministry and as such, it is your responsibility to implement leaders that will take on the vision God has given you.

Consider the following example:

Mark has a masters degree in History. He has studied nearly every time period. When it comes to historical topics and facts, he is like a human encyclopedia. There is no doubting his brilliance and keen attention to detail.

Now, what would you think if Mark went in for a job interview to be an accountant? I would have to think that no matter how brilliant he is, he would never get the job. Not because he lacks intelligence or dedication, but because he is not suited for the tasks required of accountants.

This same mentality applies when considering and developing leaders in your church. Even people closest to you may not be natural-born leaders. What is important here is to ask yourself, “What sort of qualities am I looking for in people?”

As a pastor, it is your responsibility to implement leaders that will take on the vision God has given you.

John Maxwell gives us a list of 10 qualities that we need in order to develop the best leaders around us.

Top 10 qualities:

  1. Character: Character flaws cannot be ignored because they can eventually make a leader ineffective.
  2. Influence: What is the leader’s level of influence? Who influences this leader? Who does he/she influence?
  3. Positive attitude: One's attitude can effect many aspects of life.
  4. Excellent people skills: A great leader knows how to make others feel welcome and comfortable in their own skin. He/she can also ask great, sometimes probing questions, without coming across as being negative.
  5. Evident gifts: Things like spiritual gifting and the like.
  6. Proven track record: A proven leader will always have a proven track record.
  7. Confidence: It is a fact that people are attracted to other people who convey a certain degree of confidence.
  8. Self-discipline: When it comes to self-discipline, there are two areas to consider; how someone handles his emotions and how he uses his time in a day.
  9. Effective communication skills: Things like: a genuine concern for people, ability to focus on the responder, ability to communicate with different kinds of people, eye contact and a warm smile.
  10. Discontent with the status quo: A leader who loves the status quo soon becomes a follower.

Whether you are a seasoned pastor with plenty of quality leaders, or a young pastor with a small handful of leaders, I challenge you to continually assess your leaders using the 10 characteristics mentioned above.

Equipping your leaders

As a pastor, a dedication to educating, encouraging, and equipping your leaders will create longevity in your relationships with your team and a strong foundation on which the ministry can stand.

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It can be easy to focus on the big picture and put off simple tasks like a weekly leadership meeting or a time of group prayer. But John Maxwell lays out a few guidelines to help us understand the importance of equipping the people we are serving with and how to put it into practice.

How to equip for excellence

1) Develop a personal relationship: All good mentoring relationships begin with a personal relationship. Think of a time someone may have mentored you. Equipping potential leaders takes time and commitment.

2) Share your dreams: It is important for potential leaders to know what sort of dreams you have in your heart for the church. This allows them to buy-in to the dream God has given you. It also helps them to know that you are a real person, their peer, and not just their leader.

3) Set goals for growth: Your leaders cannot thrive without some achievable goals. According to Maxwell’s book, there are a few simple rules to follow when setting goals for growth. Things like: making the goal attainable, appropriate, and measurable. This is vital because nothing can be more demotivating to a potential leader than a seemingly unachievable goal or expectation.

4) Train your people: No matter what you want to teach people, it will be best taught by being an example, by mentoring and counseling the individuals, monitoring their progress and goals, and motivating by encouraging and spending quality time together.

5) Give them the "Big Three”: According to Maxwell, “The Big Three” are, accountability, authority and responsibility. Your leaders will continuously feel motivated to grow and accept challenges as they are given more responsibility and authority. However, this cannot be done without proper accountability. Weekly meetings and follow up sessions will play a huge part in utilizing “The Big Three.”

6) Follow-up: Factors determining follow-up include things like: discussing the importance of one’s task, the demands of the work itself, the newness of the work (i.e is this something the ministry has done before? If so, what tips can you give the leaders?), the newness of the worker, and the responsibility of the worker.

Developing potential leaders

Imagine a tool belt loaded with everything you could possibly need to build a house. Someone graciously gave the tools to you, then sat with you for weeks and showed you exactly how to use each one and the purpose of the individual tools. Imagine that the person even went the extra mile and gave you an exact blue print of the house itself and studied it with you for another couple of weeks.

Sounds like you are ready to build the house, right?!

The problem with this is that I never mentioned one small detail: You have never built a house before! No matter the tools, if the person who gave them to you is not there to help you, how can building this house be possible?

This exact analogy holds true when it comes to the difference between equipping vs. developing the leaders around you.

Maxwell states that, “Developing the leaders you have nurtured and equipped means making sure that they fulfill their potential for the long-term, not just while they are with you.”

This is, however, one of the hardest things to accomplish in raising a team of people. It is also why many pastors neglect to do it at all. But if you do achieve this, then the rewards are manifold because you can “create a legacy of leaders who can develop future generations of leaders after you.”

It is impossible to give you all the rich wisdom that Maxwell has eloquently laid out in his book, “Developing the Leaders Around You”. But in summation, there are 3 extremely valuable guidelines that he lists as a basis for continuing the development between you and your leaders.

Development guidelines:

  1. Find your potential leaders’ motivations and harness them. Ask yourself what they want, if they have a way of getting it, and make sure the rewards are adequate. Increase their motivation so that they then push themselves to become the leaders they know they can be.
  2. Be a good listener. Listening to your leadership team(s) only adds to your personal success as a leader and, likewise, to their own development. When you listen to their ideas, you give them an opportunity to increase their contribution, to feel needed, and to feel respected.
  3. Develop a plan for their personal growth. Help your leaders develop their own plans for personal growth. A personal growth plan has four main ingredients: setting aside time for daily growth, filing quickly what you learn, applying quickly what you learn, and following your plan consistently for at least one year.

Leadership starts with you!

Identifying, equipping, and developing leaders around you is not always the easiest of tasks. But it is a necessary task, and your time, energy, and efforts in developing leaders at your church will pay off. But it all begins with you!

You must continually work on and tend to the leadership skills you have in order to lead others. There are many ways that this can be accomplished. One of those ways is by attending our Ultimate Church Structure Conference. This is actually a good opportunity for you and your church leaders to grow together.

Here you will experience new vision, gain insight and knowledge, receive encouragement and prayer, and be able to refresh yourself and your team in order to run the race that Christ has set out for you.

If you want to participate in an easy way to grow with the leaders in your church, then I encourage you to click on the link below and register today to attend one of the conferences nearest you.

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Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Raul Rivera

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About the Author

Church Planter. Speaker. Author. CEO. Raul Rivera has had ample experience in the church planting world. His current venture, StartCHURCH, has helped 1000's of churches to start right. Raul has compiled an array of manuals and software tools that help churches stay compliant with the IRS. He also hosts over 35 national conferences per year, training pastors on how to launch their churches. Raul is married to his wife Genel, and they and their five children live in Atlanta, GA.