How Churches Should Develop Leaders

Leadership-picUnfortunately, churches are very good at wasting leaders.

By wasting leaders I mean wasting them for the purposes of the kingdom of God to meet needs in the local church.

It’s a natural sequence of events, not motivated by malice, but it happens far too often.

The pastor or other staffers are trained to look for people in their church with leadership qualities: those who are zealous for God, who embrace responsibility, are competent, and want to initiate change.

However, when they find them, they give them more and more responsibility in the church. “Hey can you lead this group?” “Can you help out on Sunday morning.” “Can you sit on this committee.”  This is natural. In fact, Jesus said that those who are faithful in a very little thing will be faithful in much. Luke 16:10. This is why successful people are busy people. But when churches do this with their leaders they make a grave error.

Typically, those with obvious leadership abilities are already busy in their jobs and their communities because they are leaders. When a church puts additional leadership demands on such people in the church they are by necessity taking these leaders away from the world. In doing so, they often simply make busy people busier.

This is one of the main reasons the Church has not been more effective in changing the world. The local church, like a giant vacuum, is sucking the best leaders out of the world where Christian leadership is needed more to make them influential in a group who need their leadership less. In short, the local church is making busy Christians busier instead of making them more effective for the kingdom of God.

This is a modern monastery mentality. Monasteries sucked leadership out of the world in the Middle Ages. As Walter Rauschenbusch said of monasticism, “God alone knows where the race might be today if the natural leaders had not so long been made childless by their own goodness.”

Instead, churches should look for those in the church who need to develop as leaders, train them in the local church, and then encourage them to utilize those skills in their workplace and communities. Second, churches should teach those who are already leaders in their workplaces and communities how to leverage those leadership skills in the world for the kingdom of God.

Instead of making busy leaders busier, the local church needs to make busy leaders more effective for the kingdom of God. And instead of overlooking those who don’t have leadership skills,  the local church should develop them in the church so they too can be change-makers in the world.  GS