One of the unspoken responsibilities for Executive Pastors is creating environments where leaders in the church are developed and new leaders are attracted to join the team. Most churches that are audited come up short in the training department and yet they are first in line for help in generating more volunteers. Churches by definition fit the criteria for being a volunteer organization. However, volunteers need leadership—and in great amounts.
So let’s just ask the question: Do you have ongoing training programs for the leaders in your church? Volunteer leaders? Paid leaders? Men? Women? I have yet to find an Executive Pastor that honestly says that they are doing enough (I certainly need to improve!)
Here’s the deal. If we don’t provide this much-needed training, who will? One of the things that makes Executive Pastors unique is that we have the opportunity to have our hand on the pulse of all areas of the church. We have the freedom to roam all across the org chart, evaluating how ministries and leaders are aligning with the vision and identifying what resources are needed. We are able to come alongside leaders and hear their challenges, encouraging them in their service.
Leaders are just people trying to do their job; they are in constant need of encouragement, training, and skill development. Read the following and see if it ignites the catalyst function in you; it should cause you to strive to improve the leadership development opportunities in your church.
Leaders need a clear and functional description of their responsibilities.
One of my primary focuses for the next sixty days will be to review every job description, including mine. Then I will meet with each leader and see what changes they would like to make, together evaluating how they are doing. The result is a notebook that I will keep by my desk to review, as well as to remind me how to pray for my leaders.
Leaders need opportunities to develop their skills.
There are 101 workshops and conferences around the country that encourage leaders to attend—and you should. However, you can also photocopy a page out of a leadership book and ask your leaders to read it, discussing it later over coffee. In addition, you can put together a list of the core leadership skills you believe that all leaders need and have your leaders evaluate themselves. Don’t forget to invite leaders to comment on the leadership skills they would encourage you to work on. This simple invitation creates a relationship that is conducive for mentoring.
Leaders need to hear from successful leaders.
Your city is filled with Christian businessmen/women who are doing a great job. Invite them to attend your staff meeting/leadership gathering/team meeting to offer training on a particular leadership skill (i.e. vision casting or ministry evaluation). I have found that most business people are happy to share their leadership knowledge and accept a free lunch as payment. During the weeks following the talk, it will be easy to ask your leaders, “What did you think about what so-and-so said?” From there, you can learn together.
Leaders need opportunities to participate in a think tank on leadership issues.
As XP’s, we can provide opportunities for leaders to dialogue about the very definition of leadership or discuss a particular leadership skill. The following idea is so simple that I hate to mention it, but it works: Invite leaders together and pose the question “What is leadership?” Write the answers on a marker board. Follow up with “What are some examples in our church of great leadership?” Finally, see if you can get the group to identify the five essential skills that leaders must use and develop. This will easily take an hour and spark hundreds of conversations for the weeks following.
The key is that we, as Executive Pastors, are being intentional about providing leaders a sense that their church is an excellent place to grow and be challenged. This culture tends to attract highly capable leaders and highly capable leaders tend to attract large amounts of volunteers … and we’re off to the races!
Take some time in the next few weeks to block off a half-day leadership training, in order to advance the leadership culture in your church.