Developing future workers for future growth...

Plan ahead for growth.  Don't wait for it to happen before you do something to your organizational structure.  I call it "the pyramid principle."  The structure can only reach as high as the base allows it.  A tall pyramid on a small foundation will easily topple over.  Churches that are growing because of the personality of the pastor or the gifts of a limited number, will reach a certain height and fall over.  I have seen pastors with great charisma take a church to higher heights than they've ever reached before, but because the structure didn't grow WITH the new growth, it didn't last.

What can we do to grow our leadership team?  A few things...

1.  Pray.  Pray God would make you a leader.  Pray that He would help you spot leadership qualities in others.  Pray that God would send you people OR help you identify people from within, who you should spend more time equipping for leadership.  The more you grow, the more selective you will have to be in the amount of time you give people.  You want to spend the greatest amount of time, effort, and sacrifice on those in your inner circle.

2.  Develop assistants for future teacher roles.  A few years back, my staff discussed the idea of mothering a church plant in a nearby community.  To do this effectively (mothering a church-plant), you should send people who live in the target-area, who possess an evangelistic spirit and leadership gifts, and make them a part of the new plant.  I realized this would need some extra work that I hadn't done.  I would need to be ready to absorb the losses of those leaders and teachers at the "mother" church.  I asked our CE Board to begin asking assistant teachers to stay in the class they assist full-time.  Until this time, the assistant only visited the class when the teacher had to be away. 

This accomplished several things:
  • It added to the teacher's ability to manage a growing class.  The teacher could teach while the assistant helped with crowd-control (record keeping, rowdy students, bathroom trips, etc.)
  • It acquainted the assistant with the dynamics of the class.  The assistant already knew the unique needs of each student, could relate to them because they had already invested time in them, and maintained a seamless transition from teacher to assistant.
  • It prepared the assistant to take over a class.  This was the primary aim.  The assistant got to watch a trained, successful teacher in action.  Mentoring often occurred without the two people even knowing it.
The greatest accomplishment of this approach is that you are doubling your teaching staff every 2 or 3 years.  If someone moves away, or worse dies, the class doesn't have to stop and the pastor doesn't have to put an unknown commodity at the helm.  Should your church develop a vision to mother another church, you can be sure to send discipled/trained workers to the daughter plant.

3.  Pull people into your leadership loop.  Be willing to let go.  Often pastors have a difficult time with delegating because they have been burned or because they have experienced what I call "reverse delegation;" where the delegatee ends up giving the task back to the delegator.  Other times we fail to delegate because we just don't trust our people enough to do a good job with the task.  We might struggle with perfectionism and find ourselves wanting to hold on to things because others won't do it as well.  And others of us are timid and are afraid to ask for help - thinking it reveals some sort of weakness in us.  You have got to let go of tasks other people can do.  Be looking for people who are willing to serve but don't already have a ministry.  Ask them specifically, "Are you computer savvy?  Do you know how to use a word processor?  Would you consider giving 30 minutes to and hour to doing our bulletin?"  You will be turned down sometimes.  But other times, people are praying you will ask them to do something.  Remember this: Christians cannot be what God designed them to be IF they are not serving.

4.  Don't do too much.  Too many smaller Free Will Baptist Churches think they need to offer the same program options as the big church down the street.  In an earlier blog I told you to "do two or three things really well."  Don't start 2 programs at the same time unless you have a large pool of workers. Starting a class isn't enough - you have to have a teacher and an assistant.  If your leadership circle has too many ministries they have to lead, the work will be less than excellent OR they will grow discouraged and quit.  A layman should only have 1 or 2 ministries (generally speaking).  The more jobs a person has, the less opportunities others have to serve and the more likely the ministry offered will be less quality.

5.  Keep your finger on the pulse.  As a pastor, you must keep your fingers in everything going on.  Have regular meetings with your workers to encourage them, equip them, and PRAISE them.  People will work themselves to death for a pastor who knows how to edify and lead them.  Stay positive.  Think ahead of those under your charge.  PLAN for growth!

Next time, I want to talk to you about 'when to pull the plug on a ministry.'

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