This is 25 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School
A growing church needs to continually develop new leaders. The number one reason I hear for not starting new groups is, “We don’t have enough leaders.” Do you have enough leaders? How do you develop new leaders? Do you have a process or pathway for developing new leaders?
Developing leaders is a two-pronged process: 1) disciple-making, and 2) skill development. An intentional process for disciple-making will produce maturing believers who are experiencing the power of Spirit-filled living and are ready to serve based on their Spirit-giftedness. Following are ideas for helping these maturing believers find a place of leadership and develop leadership skills.
Personal enlistment is the key to recruiting new leaders. Announcements are fine to create awareness, but most people won’t respond to an impersonal announcement. And often those who do respond are not the ones you really want. The goal is not to “fill slots” but to help people find places of ministry. Get to know people. Discover their gifts and passions. Prayerfully consider where God would have them serve. Ask them personally when you can honestly say, “I think you’re the right person to serve in this place.” Be honest in your enlistment. Give them all the information they will need about their places of service. Challenge people. If “there’s nothing to it,” why would they want to do it? Challenge them with a vision for what could be done for the Lord. And don’t put people on the spot. Give them time to pray about their response (There are a number of excellent previous blogs on the Enlistment Process).
Every leadership position has a set of skills which are required for the leader to be effective. For a leader in Sunday School these include skills in reaching their people group, ministering to their people group, and teaching their people group. How do you equip your leaders? Letting them serve as apprentices is effective. They get on-the-job training from skilled leaders. One-on-one training can be effective. I’ve trained a number of leaders like this over the years, but it produces leaders in smaller numbers. Classroom training for potential leaders works well. As a young adult I learned a lot in a potential teacher class led by Mildred Wade. “Turbo groups” are another approach. You enlist a group of potential leaders for a small group with the expectation that when the group finishes, they will enlist and lead their own groups.
If you want people to do their best for the Lord, you have to turn them loose. You have to give them freedom to serve their ways, which will not necessarily be your way. Sure you want clear goals and guidelines for what is acceptable. However, when you enlist maturing believers to lead, you must trust that they can follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit just as you do. Empower leaders. Give them freedom to lead and serve in the ways God has gifted them.
Inexperienced leaders can easily become discouraged. Things don’t always go well. You need to keep in touch, ask how things are going, and encourage leaders to keep moving forward. Even experienced leaders need encouragement. Often Satan’s attacks are strongest against the most effective leaders. Your words of encouragement can help your leaders stand strong.
Your church cannot grow without new leaders. What’s your next step to develop new leaders?
Bob Wood is a State Missionary with the Baptist State Convention of Michigan, assisting churches to become more intentional and effective in making disciples