Leadership is more than simply making business decisions. It is essential that their character, maturity level, and values are aligned with the Bible and the church as well.
Pastors assume many roles within their church. Not only are they responsible for creating and delivering a sermon each week, but they are also in charge of staff and equipping and training leaders so the work of the Kingdom does not fall squarely on one person's shoulders. Creating leaders is not always easy. Pastors must be strategic and prayerful in deciding who to make leaders. Leadership is an important position, and if not used correctly (or it falls into the wrong hands), jealousy can creep in and create strife within the body. For example, leaders with little emotional maturity will wield their power in that position of authority. They will care more about being in charge and having people listen to them than they will about making decisions for the best of the congregation. Pastors can’t simply put their friends in positions, but rather those best suited for the job.
Here are five ways to establish leadership in your church:
1. Identify Them
The first part of establishing leadership in the church is to identify leaders. Leaders should fit certain criteria to assume and maintain the role of a leader in your church. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 speaks to the role of leaders in the church: “Here is a trustworthy saying: “Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”
Although this is a great starting point, these are not the only requirements necessary for being a leader. Watch how they interact with members of your church. Are they concerned about others? Are they willing to jump in and help when needed? Are they willing to serve sacrificially? Leaders should be humble and love everyone within their church. Pastors need to interact equally with the most popular in the church and with the outcast. The person that loves both might be a good fit as a leader within your church.
2. Meet with Them
Once the pastor has identified someone as a leader, you should commit to meeting with him on a regular basis. It is imperative that the pastor gets to know a person they believe might be a good fit for leadership. It's crucial for them to know not only their personal story but also their personal spiritual life. Do they have sin that's keeping them from being in leadership? Do they do the work necessary to commune with God and others? What is their prayer life like? Do they have an intimate walk with God? How do they handle conflict? Leadership is more than simply making business decisions. It is essential that their character, maturity level, and values are aligned with the Bible and the church as well. If, after one year, the pastor still believes this person could be a good fit for leadership, they can begin the process of training them so they can fill that role within the church.
3. Train Them
Simply because someone has leadership qualities does not mean they're necessarily ready for leadership. Throughout Scripture, the disciples never did life alone. They were always paired with another person to do the life of ministry. In the same way, leaders must be trained by someone else. It does not necessarily have to fall on the pastor's shoulders, but a pastor should constantly be training leaders to act as mentors so that those leaders can train other leaders. The current leadership should make a list of books they want to go through with the potential leader. They can either read the books together with your leadership team or have the leader go through them on his or her own. The books chosen should reflect the current direction of the church, as well as work on aspects of a leader’s character, leadership style, and overall well-being. The objective of pinpointing leaders is not to fill positions but rather to create well-adjusted, whole leaders that can help propel the vision of the church forward.
Having said this, leaders are not meant to be “yes men” who simply agree with everything the pastor says. As they interact with your team, be sure they're able to express differing opinions, ideas, and even doubts about their theological views. It is important to have a group of leaders who all think differently about a situation. This will help round out your leadership team and ensure decisions are made with the best intentions and the purest of hearts.
4. Cast the Vision
Before you place someone in a leadership position, be sure the pastor casts the vision for where they want to see the church head. Make sure that vision is cast both at leadership meetings and at the pulpit as well. Be sure every member of the congregation (including the leaders) understands where the church will be in one year, five years, and even ten years.
Stuck churches, ones struggling with attendance or not witnessing conversions, often don't know what their vision is. A pastor must take a strong position on what the vision will be despite opposition. It is not uncommon for people to leave once they hear the church's vision is changing and doesn't match their preferences or comforts. This is particularly hard when the vision changes from a self-centered direction to a more other-centered or God-centered direction. Members want programs that meet their needs. Sometimes they leave if those programs are taken away. Potential leaders need to understand that this is common and, at times, necessary.
"Where there is no vision, the people perish..." Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
5. Bless Them
Once your leader understands the vision of the church, is ready to make decisions for the good of the church, works well with other leaders, and has been trained for a significant time, they are prepared to be in a leadership position. Churches should honor the leaders that they place in this position by praying over them. Have the new leader come up to the altar and have the pastor and leaders pray over them. This helps the congregation know who the new leaders are and who they can go to if they have a prayer request. The leadership, in turn, feels empowered and enabled to do the work of vision-casting and training disciples.
A pastor has the great privilege of creating and replicating leaders. By identifying, training, equipping, casting vision, and blessing, all churches would have enough leaders to function in a healthy and safe place where people can be fed the Word of God and be equipped to do the work of the Kingdom.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Brian A. Jackson
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.