We’ve never found a church which tells us “Hey, we have all of the leaders we need to carry out all of the ministry we are called to do”. Every church, without exception, can benefit from sharpening its process for identifying and mobilizing leaders.
At Transforming Church, we use an assessment tool called the Transforming Church Insight. The TCI gathers basic demographic information from those participating in the survey. One question we ask is: What is your position/role at the church?
We then give them the following answer choices: 1. Pastor/Staff 2. Volunteer Leader 3. Member 4. Non-member.
In some churches, the percentage of people who self-select “Leader” is 20% or higher. But in far too many churches the percentage is so low that the actual number of those who self-select as leaders is less than the number of people on the church board! What this means is that the percentage of people in leadership positions who see themselves as leaders is very low.
There are two types of leaders in the church, those who have a position or title and those who actually live as leaders. Positional leadership alone is not leadership at all. Those in the church who are in leadership positions (board members, ministry team leaders, teachers, small group leaders, etc.) but who do not claim that leadership in the way they live are not leaders.
The church is full of these positional leaders who have not stepped up to claim it and live it. And the church suffers because of it.
We find that many potential church leaders run from the opportunity. There are many reasons people refuse to claim their leadership, including:
They do not see in themselves the gifts that others see.
The world constantly tells us how much we are lacking. We aren’t smart enough or experienced enough or pretty enough or . . . fill in the blank. To raise up leaders we must not only see the gifts in others, we need to help them see those gifts in themselves. Everyone has been given unique gifts and talents by God to be used in intentional ways. We must build people up even as we are recruiting them, for the world is busy tearing them down.
They have taken on leadership before and had no support or guidance.
Sadly, this is too often the case for many who have stepped up in church leadership. Leaders need support and guidance, training and partnership. Too often a staff member recruits someone and then fails to provide what the person needs to be successful. This is actually a failure of leadership on the staff’s part.
We must remember that leadership is about mobilizing people for ministry. Thus, when we place someone in a leadership position we must ensure that they have everything they need to be successful.
They think that only great and famous people are leaders.
Too often people think that only people like Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King Jr., or Billy Graham are leaders. We forget that the kindergarten teacher who helps a child learn to share is engaged in leadership. We forget that inviting a neighbor to worship is leadership. We forget that organizing the food drive is leadership. Anytime we mobilize someone else to be engaged in ministry we have engaged in leadership ourselves.
They think that they have to have all the answers to be a leader.
Leaders do not always need to have everything figured out. In fact, many times leaders will not have a clue as to what to do. In times like that, leaders gather others together to wrestle with the issues and problems they are facing. This act of gathering people and knowing what the issue is and what questions to begin asking is the very act of leadership that is required.
We need to intentionally build a culture of leadership in our churches, helping people claim and live into their roles as leaders. Here are some ways to do that, starting today!:
- Start by building up and encouraging leaders to see their God-given gifts and talents.
- Intentionally partner with and support the leaders in your church.
- Define leadership as not always doing great things, but doing small things with great purpose.
- Help people trust that leadership is not grounded in having the answers as much as it is grounded in the values and vision for what can be.
- Start calling people “leaders.”
For more on the Transforming Church Insight, and how it can give you insight into YOUR church, click here.
Thanks to TC Senior Consultant John Holm for ideas used in this post.