"Select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain – and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens." (Exodus 18:21)
Moses saw the wisdom in his father-in-law’s advice. He broke the nation of Israel into small groups and community-size groups, and he commissioned leaders over them. He continued to be the primary vision-caster and the one ultimately responsible for the direction of the children of Israel, but he entrusted the day-to-day care and feeding of the people to trusted leaders. You might say that Moses created the first example of plurality of leadership or small groups.
The key to success for Moses’ effort is the same for any church today: leadership development.
Finding, training, and deploying effective leaders are essential to successfully building a church. It seems simple, but people often underestimate the importance of leadership.
While different churches handle staffing with a great variety of approaches, one role common to almost all successful models is that of pastor – the term most commonly used today to describe the leader who will convey the DNA of the church, recruit the core team, develop the new leaders, and carry on the ministry.
Here are some key DNA ingredients:
- practical life-giving messages
- a sense of God’s power in worship
- a relaxed nonthreatening atmosphere
- excellent children’s ministry, and
- relational small groups
Many people feel the success of the church rises and falls on the leadership of the pastor. The importance of the effective execution of this role cannot be overstated. Following are four tips for selecting and developing better pastors:
- Know what qualities you are looking for in a pastor. Churches with experience in developing pastors tell me they look for these qualities:
a. A leader who completely buys into the church’s vision and is loyal to its senior leadership
b. A team player with strong relational skills
c. A team builder who can reproduce vision in others
d. A pastor, someone with a desire and heart to shepherd groups and individuals
e. A flexible entrepreneur
- Develop an intentional and accessible process. It helps to develop a leadership pipeline that carries people from attender to member to small group leader – with continuing development to pastor. The process must thoroughly integrated use of an online strategy for greater access to the associated tools and tracking mechanisms. God has presented us the best technology today that man has ever known to accomplish this today.
- Remember that leadership development is more relational than anything else. One error that we often make when looking at leadership development is to mistake a program or class with building leaders. When Jesus developed the 12 men to whom He would entrust the most important mission of history, he didn't send them to a class or put them through a program. Jesus developed his leaders by hanging out with them, eating with them, and experiencing life with them. The most effective means of leadership development is sitting around a dinner table, sharing the ups and downs of life. One of the reasons that development must be relational is that one of the variables in growth is timing. “Mentoring is not dumping all you know onto the protégé,” says church management consultant Bob Biehl. “It’s finding the teachable moment to ask, 'What are your plans?' and 'How can I help?'" Most leaders grow on a need-to-know or need-to-grow basis. Unless you have a pastor who understands leadership and group dynamics, the growth stops. If a ministry doesn't have strong leaders, it falters. In short, churches face a leadership-making challenge because ministries cannot grow or stay healthy without leaders. Teachable reflection is one of the factors that leads to the formation of great leaders.
- Take advantage of the various communication tools available. Many of them are free via the Internet. Use videoconferencing and teleconferences to connect pastors and trainers located in different parts of the country. This saves travel costs and allows you to meet as often as needed, focus on upcoming concerns, and enhance the sense of community.
What say you? (Click "comments" below.)
[Based on an article by Greg Ligon]