What do you look for to identify potential leaders? What are the "tells" that indicate this person is ready to make a move to lead others in the name of Jesus?
The Kairos SoCal Multiplying Church cohort spent a meeting looking at how to raise up leaders in our churches. We invited Eric Metcalf, campus pastor for the Lincoln Park campus of Community Christian Church in Chicago, IL to walk us through their training process. Eric gave us a focused, usable process for training leaders through an apprenticeship model.
Community Christian identifies apprentices by looking for 3 characteristics:
obert J. Clinton, one of my teachers and thought mentors at Fuller Theological Seminary drilled into my thinking the idea that developing leaders is both a central purpose and a critical skill of leaders. Yet it's disturbing how few churches and church leaders I observe practicing either.
This month five churches met in our SoCal Multiplying Church cohort to work on Developing A Leadership Pipeline. One question we addressed was how do we identify emerging leaders?
Drawing upon some of Bobby Clinton's material here is a quick tool set of ideas you can use to identify emerging leaders in your church:
1. Acts. Look for men and women, particularly those in their late teens and early twenties, who do leader acts. These may be simple things such as calling a group's attention to the activity at hand, organizing people, or giving a nudge to someone that engages them more deeply in the life of the church. Leadership acts are identifying markers of leadership potential. When you see someone doing leadership acts regularly you probably have an emerging leader at hand.
2. Tasks. Once you spot a potential leader the next step is to give that leader a leadership task to accomplish. A leadership task is a short activity that has a defined beginning, end, and a specific purpose to accomplish. A leadership task is not just doing something. It must be about leading others to do something. This is critical. Remember, leaders don't just do things; leaders lead people. The leadership task is not nearly as critical as how the potential leader addresses the task, engages others in doing the task, and how they process what they learn about leading others from the task. As a leader developer you should be able to observe the leader as they engage this task and once it's completed talk with them about it. How did they think it went? What did they observe, learn, gain from a leadership perspective? It's this debriefing conversation that turns the leadership task into a learning experience that helps potential leaders grow into actual leaders.
3. Stretch Assignments. Finally, if your emerging leader is making progress give him or her a stretch assignment. A stretch assignment is a longer, more complex expectation than a leadership task. A stretch assignment will often give the emerging leader responsibility for solving some sort of problem, like "would you organize a service project for our local school" or "would you lead a team to do follow up on guests from our Easter activities?" The emerging leader will have to evaluate the problem, come up with a solution, organize people to carry out the plan, and report on the outcomes. Stretch assignments tests an emerging leader's capabilities, skills at leading a team, and their willingness to take responsibility for something important.
With these 3 leadership items you can identify, test, and train emerging leaders who have the potential to be vital, life-giving leaders in your church.
You've probably done it again, made some new year's resolutions: lose a little weight, eat a little better, exercise a little more. It's time to do the same for your church. But before you launch into the generic church resolutions (add more people, gain more contributions, improve Bible classes, etc.) here's a quick tool that will give you a better perspective on what you might ought to give priority to.
This effective exercise was developed by Tom Paterson after whom the Paterson Center, a strategic planning training group, was named. It's called the 4 Helpful Lists; this exercise will help you identify the things you need to do to prioritize them over all the things you could do. You can use this little jewel at almost anytime: to set new year's resolutions, to evaluate an event or program, or just to get better perspective on what is happening.
Get your paper out and draw 5 columns. Starting from the left and working right you'll answer these four questions leaving the last column for perspectives gained.
Column 1: What's Right? We're somehow wired to focus on what's wrong rather than what's right. Get a positive jump and try to come up with as much as you can that's right about the situation, event, or current state. My rule of thumb is try to populate the what's right column with more bullet points than any of the other columns. As you plan your goal is to optimize what is right.
Column 2: What's Wrong? Now go to the what's wrong. Be specific and look for causes. Don't just put "people did not attend." Look for possible causes as to why they did not attend: "people did not attend because I did not give them enough advance notice to get this event on their calendars." Your goal is to eliminate what is wrong.
Column 3: What's Missing? This is perhaps the most difficult question to answer because we often do not see what is missing but we sure do feel it. Step back to gain some perspective altitude on what you're reviewing. Here's a few questions to help you get to what is missing. What kind of questions did people ask? Where did we (those organizing) feel a bit lost? Was there an obvious "oops" moment? The goal is to add what is missing.
Column 4: What's Confused? Isn't that a great question! What's confused? What didn't make sense? What did people not understand? How was clarity lost? The goal is to clarify to what is confused.
Column 5: Perspective Learnings. This is the goldmine moment of this exercise. You've been working at ground level with these four questions. Now spring up to the 5,000 foot level. Look across the column and ask yourself, "what am I learning about this?" My rule of thumb here is to force myself to identify at least four of these learning points. Here's some examples: We're scratching an itch our people feel. This is a good idea but we're not ready to implement it yet. To be done well this activity needs someone who will be responsible for it over the next year.
Making New Year's resolutions is good and helpful. I pray these Four Helpful Lists will help you put a plan to your resolutions.
Developing the leaders you need in your church is one of the most important tasks you will face as a church planter. There are a number of critical questions you will need to answer about leadership in your church, such as: Who should lead? How do I develop leaders? And, what are the key leadership roles? In this post we’re looking at the depth of your leadership, your leadership bench. If you are going to successfully lead a viable, sustainable church you will need to develop a 3-deep leadership system.
Levels of Leadership
In its most basic form a leadership system will have three levels of leadership. We’re not talking roles (like pastor, elder, teacher) nor functions (apostle, prophet, evangelist). We’re talking about levels of leading.
Leadership begins early in life for most people. The typical pathway is that we are good at something so others look to us to help get something done. Who was always captain of the school playground teams? It was the most athletic, the most capable, and the best players in the school. Because they could do something well the rest of us tended to look to them for leadership. They led by doing.
In a church this is your entry level for leaders. If someone is showing leadership potential (i.e., they seem to be able to do something well) give them a task to complete that is a one-off activity with a definite beginning, end, and purpose. If they complete the task well you’ve got a doer and a potential leader on your hands. On your seed team if a person is not a proven leader you at least want them to be doers. But doers are not necessarily leaders. Remember this mantra and repeat it often:
Leaders lead people; they don’t just do tasks
Level 1 – The Task Leader
If a person does the task well to help them grow into leadership stretch the task into an assignment, a repeating, ongoing task where the person must organize and direct others to do the task. This is when true leadership begins, when a new leader begins to lead others.
Task leaders typically lead small teams of people, from a few to a few dozen. This is the size of a small group, a Bible class, a youth group, or a missional community. Task leaders create energy. They bring activity and excitement. You might think of task leaders as people who can organize “parties” other people like to be at.
In a new church your task leaders are the people who will lead your financial team, your set-up and tear-down crew, and many of your service activities.
Level 2 – The Team Leader
Where the task leader knows how to get tasks done, the team leader is an organizer and problem-solver. Team leaders are leaders of leaders. They help your task leaders stay on task and get their jobs done.
As a church planter you definitely need some team leaders on your seed team. They will be your missional community leaders in the first year of your church plant. Your team leaders will help you gather your launch team of sixty people in at least two missional communities. In your first year of planting you will need to develop additional team leaders to lead new missional communities and to organize service activities.
Level 3 – The Planning Leader
The planning leader know what needs to be done, then recruits and equips the people needed to get the work done. Planning leaders are problem-solvers. They see the gaps, the places of need, and they take the responsibility to fill the gap.
Think of planning leaders as load-bearing walls in the developing structure of the new church. In a house the load bearing walls hold up the roof and keep the house together. In a church the load bearing leaders help you carry the weight of responsibility. The lack of planning leaders, leaders who can work at the third level of leadership, is a significant cause of church planter burnout. You’ve got to have people you can depend on to see the need, find the solution, and carry the responsibility to make sure what needs to get done does get done. Look for at least two people who are already planning leaders or who have definitie possibility to become planning leaders.
As your new church develops you and your planning leaders will form the lead team of the church. Typically you will be responsible for the missional community and outreach load while your other two leaders will carry the worship and children’s ministries. Without these planning leaders you will find everything coming back to you.
You and two planning leaders can probably grow the church to the 120 mark. When you get ready to bust through the 200-barrier you will need at least four of these planning leaders. As the lead planter you will need to grow these additional planning leaders in your second and third years
Example of 3-Deep Leadership in Missional Communities
Now let’s illustrate 3-deep leadership using missional communities (MC) as an example.
One-Deep. When you start your missional community activity typically you’ll begin by running a model MC for three to six months. During this time you’ll lead the MC with two team leaders as your assistant leaders. You’ll set the rhythms for your MCs and get people used to the MC idea. At this point you’re a task leader leading one deep. You are leading people in a missional community.
Two Deep. At the designated time you’ll end the example MC to begin two MCs, each led by your assistant leaders. Rather than you leading the MCs you are going to lead the MC leaders in a huddle format. While they meet and run their MCs weekly you’ll meet with them monthly to help them solve-problems, develop growth strategies, and gain confidence in discipling people. At this point you have a 2-deep leadership system. You are now acting as a team leader leading task leaders.
Three Deep. Now lets say you have three or more missional communities, each with its own leader, assistant leader, and so on. In order to resource and coordinate these MCs you appoint an MC coordinator who takes your role in leading the MC leaders. Your MC coordinator is a team leader who can really take on the missional communities while you lead the whole church. Now you have a 3-deep leadership system: level 1 task leaders lead their MCs, level 2 team leader(s) lead, train, and coordinate the MC leaders and you are leading the church as a planning leader. That’s a basic 3-deep leadership system.
You need to grow your leadership system while you’re growing the church numerically. If you are leading your new church personally, as a task leader, you’ll top out at about 60 people, well below the crowd size of 80. With a 2-deep leadership system with task and team leaders you’ll probably be able to stay above 80 but struggle to reach 120. With a 3-deep leadership system of task, team, and three planning leaders you should be able to reach 120 and can prepare yourself to break through the 200-barrier.
This week a church planter and I were coaching on networking strategies. How do you go about entering into a new community and finding those Persons of Peace?
Here's some ideas we came up with:
1. Ask people who know your community to help you understand it. These are people like realtors, school principals (particularly elementary schools), and police officers. Tell them who you are, what you are doing (this is your confession of faith as a planter), and how they can help you. If they agree they've begun to show signs of a person of peace because they are helping the mission.
2. Invite people to work alongside you in service events for your community. There are many good organizations, non-profits, and already existing activities in a community that always need help. You can become a resource for them (i.e., you're their person of peace). As you invite people into the activities of these already existing groups you also let them know you are doing this because you are starting a new church and you believe a church is a helping contributor to the community. When you do this you are building an identity and giving the people you invite the opportunity to connect with that identity. So, when someone asks, "Why are you here helping?" you want them to be able to say, "I was invited by Joe who is planting a new church here."
3. Organize special events that gather people, then let them know what you're doing as a church planter and invite them to next steps. The key, again, is to not hide anything. Be up front with who you are (a church planter, a Christian, a Jesus follower) and what you are doing (starting a new church). Take the mystery out of the picture. Give clear invitations to learn more. This provides people the opportunity to grow into becoming Persons of Peace.
My experience has been that most of the Persons of Peace with whom I have worked didn't come fully engaged. They learned about me and about my mission over time and with exposure. God gradually formed them into Persons of Peace.
I pray you keep your eyes open for those budding Persons of Peace in your community, your life, and your ministry. Receive them with joy. They are God's gifts to you for His glory.