August 3, 2023

Sharing a “Win”


Leadership Development at Evergreen Church, Peachtree City, GA

Rev. Austin Blaszczynski

Each year when elder nomination season rolls around, we are left with the same questions and concerns. Oftentimes in our churches we end up with people who are willing to serve and have dedicated time, talent, and treasures to the Church, but they haven’t been equipped or empowered to serve as the spiritual leaders of the church that elders are supposed to be. This means we spend a large amount of time training elders once they have been elected. It sometimes feels like our elders finally understand what it means to serve and lead as they near the end of their elected terms. At Evergreen Church, we began asking two questions resulting from our observations about elder nomination and training: (1) How do we train elders to effectively serve their role? and (2) How do we create a pipeline for identifying and raising up leaders in the church? 

After some time of prayer and dreaming, we landed on a leadership development process that echoes many strands from ECO’s ordination process. The core conviction behind developing a robust framework for training leaders in the church is that leadership in the Church, including serving as ordained officers, is as significant of a calling as being called into pastoral ministry. Calling elders, deacons, and others into significant leadership positions requires us to help individuals understand their own unique gifts while holistically nurturing and growing disciples of Jesus. 

This past winter we started a leadership development cohort with our current elders. The cohort journey is bookended by two “retreats.” In retreat #1, participants develop a personalized discipleship and development plan (map) that helps them live into their strengths while developing and strengthening their weaknesses. Retreat #2 is designed to help participants reflect on their growth as they write their own ministry call statement. In between these retreats, participants work on their map objectives and participate in different skills workshops.

We have seen the Lord work in powerful ways by helping participants craft their own personalized development plans. These maps are created by using a variety of assessments and having conversations about what God is doing in their lives. As a result, our elders are not just naming their unique gifts, but they are using them to serve the church and display the Good News of Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven to our city and beyond. This resulted in one of our elders discerning a call into ministry and enrolling in the Flourish Institute of Theology. Another elder, who has been reluctantly serving, found his voice and is using his prophetic gifts to help our session set its missional principle. When people discover their wiring, we are able to empower and equip them to live into their strengths.

This fall we are launching a version of this leadership development journey to potential leaders in our church. This will be a key element for our leadership pipeline and will help give us a framework for the selection and continued development of our officers. When we have churches full of lay leaders who are equipped and ready to serve in all kinds of ministry endeavors, I believe we will be more effective in our disciple-making endeavors. 
If your church is looking for a way to equip and empower leaders in your church, we would love to share our resources and help. Contact me at austin@evergreenchurchga.org

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