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In all new church plants, one of the biggest concerns or dilemmas is trying to figure out how to get people who visit your church to become committed disciples who will take on the role of leadership.
Usually the linear process is: bring visitors in, reach out to them, integrate them to the church, and equip them to reproduce themselves.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with the process, but we do need to avoid the two extremes. On one hand, we bring people on to leadership too early. I have seen this time after time and the end result is always the same – disaster. Either they were not ready in terms of maturity or they were never tested to see if they had the DNA of the church (a.k.a. “vision of the house”).
The other extreme is to make the leadership bar so high that no one can meet up to the standards. This impedes the leadership pipeline that should be pumping out leaders for growth to fulfill the mission.
Is there a fine balance? Can we come to a comfortable middle ground?
Everett L. Wilson, in his article “4 Criteria to Know When Someone is Ready to Lead” offers some good insights. Even though, Wilson gives some general principles to follow, they are nevertheless pretty helpful in casting a net into a bigger pool of people. But not everyone in the net will pan out. We need the discernment and the discipleship process already in place to raise up leaders who are “home grown.”
Nothing beats home-grown leadership. In fact, our church is a testimony of the important value of home-grown leadership.
Here is Wilson’s article on the four criteria to know when someone is ready to lead:
Understands informal social rules. It takes time for a person to understand how a church works—officially (by-laws and constitution) and unofficially. A basic competence in church dynamics is essential. In some churches, for example, raising your voice in a committee meeting is taboo; in others, it’s expected. No matter what the qualifications, someone who cares about and seeks involvement in church life is a greater asset than someone who is unconcerned or too busy.
Knows the people. Christians may be ready for leadership when they indicate that they understand the people in the fellowship. A new member who has not established a network of relationships within the church is probably not ready for leadership. This is not the same as people skills. A person may be brusque but also understanding and caring.
Agrees with the church’s general philosophy of ministry. When dealing with newcomers who haven’t had many opportunities to reveal their philosophies, look at their behaviors. If your church is running a stewardship campaign, don’t appoint someone to the committee who has not pledged.