Developing spiritual leaders at the Elder Leadership Institute How can a triad o...
In my newsletter articles this past year I have been alternating between focusing on one of ECO’s values or one of the measures of a flourishing church. This month we will focus on our fifth flourishing church measure, “Generates Multiplying Leaders”. This measure defines that one of the qualities of a flourishing church is that it develops leaders who develop other leaders. The attached document shows the qualities of a flourishing church but also provides some questions for a church to evaluate their current health in each area.
The concept of leadership in the life of the church is relatively new and is met with mixed reactions. In Christendom, the concept of leadership (especially with the pastor) was foreign. We, especially within the Reformed tradition, have tended to view pastors as shepherds/teachers and discounted the need for leadership. In the 80’s and 90’s with the church growth movement, the pendulum began to swing, and leadership became a hot topic – especially in non-denominational circles. There could be appropriate criticism that the approach to leadership could be almost too corporate in nature. Therefore, Presbyterians tended to back away from the idea of leadership and primarily seek to reiterate simply a shepherd model.
I think a balanced approach is needed within our churches. We absolutely need pastors to exhibit leadership behavior in order to move their congregations toward the mission of Christ, and to do so with a humble and gracious posture. Much more could be said on this topic. One of the ways we have sought to clarify the qualities of leaders in a variety of capacities is through our leadership competences document.
Therefore, we might need to make a shift in our churches as to how we approach leadership. Instead of simply re-training the leadership behaviors of pastors, in addition we need to raise the bar on what it means to be an elder, deacon, Commissioned Lay Pastor, and various other roles within the church. For example, a church may nominate elders to serve and then hope that they will grow into the maturity and leadership needed in that role. What I see our churches now doing is trying to develop the whole congregation in their discipleship and potential leadership and then select elders from those who are already serving and exhibiting their gifts in that capacity.
I encourage you to look at the four questions associated with the “Generates Multiplying Leaders” measure and determine where you might make even some small changes that could have tremendous benefits. One pastor was challenged by the question of how he uses his time to equip leaders rather than doing ministry. He is beginning to take some steps to figure out where in his ministry he can help others do his job. Another pastor took the concept of the Flourishing Next Step and began to ask all of the leaders of her church what their individual next step should be in their own growth and development.
In ECO, “Generates Multiplying Leaders” is our main focus for the next 10 years. We are seeking to answer the following types of questions:
- How do we draw high potential leaders into our ordination process?
- How do we appropriately develop leaders so that they have the spiritual maturity, biblical and theological knowledge, and skills for ministry to lead churches in the 21st century?
- How do we re-train pastors to exhibit new leadership behaviors in order to minister well in a post-Christian context
- How do we raise the bar on what it means to be a lay leader and open new opportunities for development and deployment into ministry?
- How do we create a pipeline of church planters who will be successful?
These are all extremely challenging questions! I appreciate the willingness of our current leaders who help wrestle with these questions so that we can cultivate a healthy environment for leadership development. What Flourishing Next Step might God be calling your church to take in order to generate multiplying leaders?
These resources might be a starting place (or email us at email@example.com) :