By: Bill Easum
I’m constantly asked what it takes to raise up more leaders or, to put it biblically, to make more mature disciples. And that’s good because leadership/discipleship multiplication is one of the most important ministries church leaders can undertake. It is fundamental both to developing a missional church and building the Kingdom.
The problem arises when people ask me the next question, “Where do I find the curriculum for leadership development?” My stock answer is, “You are the curriculum,” to which I often get a blank stare. But it’s true. Leadership development doesn’t consist nearly as much of a course to be taken as an on-the-job experience observing the actions of a mentor who is the curriculum. As Jesus demonstrated throughout his entire ministry, leadership development is mostly hanging out with someone worth watching.
Every leadership multiplication system I’ve seen is arranged around a few basic assumptions. Let’s take a quick look at them.
Leadership Multiplication Assumptions
Leadership multiplication is based on the following assumptions:
• Leadership development has to be part of the DNA of all staff.
• Some system of discovering and deploying people into ministry has to be in place.
• Every leadership culture has four categories of people: apprentices, players, coaches, and scouts.
• Leadership and discipleship are two sides of the same coin.
• A person’s potential is not fixed and can be cultivated.
• Every person in a church has the potential to be leader.
• Not all leaders function at some level.
• Every organization has multiple levels of leaders.
• Each level of leadership requires a different skill set, value toward work, and application of time.
• Everyone needs a coach to become the kind of leader God designed them to be.
• Process is more important than programs.
• Transforming people into what God intended them to be is more important than merely taking care of people.
Now let’s take a look at these assumptions to see how they assist the development of a leadership culture.
Leadership Development Is in the DNA of Every Staff Person
Leadership development has to ooze out of every pore of the lead pastor and every paid and unpaid leader of the church. I’m not talking about it being one of the programs of the church. It is “the” ministry of the church. It is what everyone sweats blood and tears over every waking moment because they realize it is the key to building the Kingdom rather than merely building a church. In a leadership multiplication system, no one leads without at least one apprentice.
A System in Place for Discovering and Deploying
As a church grows, it has to develop some form of systematically discovering and deploying new leaders into ministry. No matter where I’ve consulted, when I find a great leadership culture, it includes some variation of the following: identification, enlisting, equipping, deploying, coaching, and celebration. The church develops some systematic way of achieving each of the six systems. In a large church, identify, enlisting, and equipping are the hardest parts of a system, whereas in a small church. deploying, coaching, and celebrating are the hardest parts.
The Cast of Characters
Every leadership culture has four categories of people: apprentices, players, coaches, and scouts. Let’s take a look at all four. Apprentices come from all levels of spiritual maturity. The one thing they all have in common is they are willing to learn a new skill and be held accountable for using that skill in on-the-job training. Players are those who play the game, and everyone is allowed to play the game (ministry) at some level. Scouts and coaches are usually paid staff. Staff is expected to scout everyone they meet and to coach those who are willing to step up to plate and swing at some form of ministry. They then coach the person to be the best player they can be.
Leadership Development and Discipleship Are One in the Same
Everyone is looked upon as a potential leader, even first-time visitors. In some cases, becoming a leader may mean becoming a Christian, thus discipleship and leadership are part of the same ministry. This is especially true for most effective church plants where a number of their new people come from the ranks of non-believers. So, don’t be fooled into thinking leadership development and evangelism aren’t twins, because they are. For churches, leadership development also means spiritual growth. Never forget that. So, if your church has a number of new converts, part of your leadership culture has to include opportunities for them to grow in the faith. Jesus taught us that hands-on ministry is the classroom for both leadership development and discipleship.
A Person’s Potential Is Not Fixed and Can Be Cultivated
In a leadership culture, you have to think of every person as a potential leader at some level, so you need to have different levels of leadership and think how to move people along the leadership journey. Scouts and coaches are always asking, “Where does the person fit today in the leadership journey and how can I move them along?
Every Person Has the Potential to be a Leader
Believing every person can be a leader changes everything about the game. It means that you see people as God sees them – a gift to creation just waiting to blossom into all they can be. This understanding of God’s gift to humanity underpins any form of effective leadership multiplication. If we truly believe this, a totally new world of possibilities opens up for a church.
The key is to understand there are various levels of leadership, and, though not everyone is cut out to be a key player, whatever that means in your church, every position is an essential ingredient to the Kingdom.
Each level of leadership requires a different skill set, value toward work, and application of time. Since each of these changes are different based on the size of the church, all I can say in this brief article is that as a person moves along their leadership journey, what is required of them changes dramatically.
Everyone Needs a Coach
Since leadership development doesn’t happen so much as in a course as in on-the-job training, a coach is essential for most people to reach their maximum leadership potential. Things are changing faster than most pastors have the time to assimilate. A coach can help keep them abreast of how the changes are affecting their leadership.
Bob Logan, founder of Coachnet Global, says multiplication happens when we apply the each one disciple one method. A leader comes alongside a person, disciples them, and they go do the same. One disciple becomes two, then four, then sixteen, then sixty-four and so on, until you have a multiplication movement underway.
Process Over Program
Most established church people are caught in a program paradigm. So, when I talk about scouting for people as part of leadership development, they invariably think that I’m talking about looking for people to fill the ministry or organizational slots the church needs.
But, what I’m talking about is a life-long process of developing leaders, not to do programs, but to become the people God intended them to be. Part of the basic culture of the church is to grow people, not programs. When your people grow, the Kingdom grows.
The church may not even need the people being mentored at the moment. The leadership they can provide might not even be within their church. The journey they find themselves on in the future might not even be present at the moment within or without the church.
Consider the churches that plant church and give people away to plant those churches, or the churches that develop multiple sites throughout the city. The only reason they can achieve such multiplication is because they have a culture of developing leaders. They develop leaders whether or not they need them because they want to see people grow in their faith, not because they want better programs.
Transformation Over Care Giving
Every leadership development process I’ve seen values transforming people over taking care of them. The kicker is you can’t transform people if they aren’t being cared for to begin with. But, you can take care of people without transforming them. The key is in what you value the most: transformation or care giving. Merely giving care to healthy people never results in them becoming all they can become. Leadership develop has to go way beyond care giving. And, even though it involves taking care of people, the desired end result is always leadership and discipleship.
Leadership multiplication doesn’t just happen. It has to be cultivated and following these assumptions will start your church on the journey.
Bill Easum is president of 21st Century Strategies, Inc. a full service church consulting group since 1987 whose mission is to equip Christian for global impact. You can learn more about 21st Century Strategies at www.churchconsultations.com. He is a consultant, author, ex-pastor, futurist, husband, and father, who enjoys releasing Billfish. You can reach him at email@example.com and keep up with him at his blog, www.billeasum.com.