One of the most important (even critical) issues church leaders face is the challenge of finding leaders to enable and fuel the growth of their ministries. Without a good supply of leaders, a church will find it very difficult to grow, increasing conversions and expanding its impact on the community and beyond. And, if the church is focused on reaching the unchurched, developing leaders often involves getting them across the line of faith first.
Over the years we’ve developed a process called Leadership Evangelism. It’s basically a leadership development process for churches that attract at least as many (if not more) non-believing leaders as they do Christian leaders.
This process summary will help you identify, develop, and deploy leaders in your church.
Leadership Evangelism is defined as identifying non-Christians who have already proven themselves as leaders before their involvement in the church, helping them cross the line of faith and become gifted spiritual leaders.
Church leaders should use the leadership evangelism process to identify and deploy leaders into ministry for the good of the church (Ephesians 4:11-13). The process begins with the intentional identification of potential leaders and ends with the deployment of a leader into the church’s ministry. Because the church is committed to conversion growth (as opposed to transfer growth) and the relatively short time people attend the church because of job mobility, leadership development must begin before a leader becomes a Christian … hence the term “Leadership Evangelism.”
Step 1 – Identify Leadership Evangelism Candidates
The church leader should regularly work to identify potential leaders, connecting with them intentionally to make an appointment to get to know them and begin the evaluation process. Potential leaders should be identified using several methods (regular database review, weekly first-time guest lists, lobby conversations, leadership event participants, etc.). Potential leaders will also make themselves known via communication cards, assimilation classes, etc.
The church leader should quickly assess the “classification” a potential leader fits into (A, B, or C) to spend time only with “A” leaders (leaders of leaders). Potential leaders who fit more in the B (leaders of non-leaders) or C (non-leaders) classification should be delegated to volunteer leaders for follow-up, development, and connection with a ministry team. The church leader should base their classification assessment on the available information (leadership in the marketplace, history of leading, input and critique of the ministry, etc.).
Step 2 – Schedule Meetings with Identified Candidates
Upon identifying an “A” leader, the church leader should meet with the potential leader. The meeting (breakfast, lunch, dinner, other?) is to continue the assessment process and determine the next steps with the candidate.
One of the first things to assess is firming up an initial decision about the candidate’s classification. If it is determined that the candidate would better fit into a B or C classification, again, they should be encouraged to meet with a volunteer leader of a specific area of ministry.
The church leader should ask the candidate about work history, family, spiritual journey, etc.
With the church’s emphasis on “conversion growth” much of the time, the candidate will be a non-Christian. Therefore, the conversation should quickly focus on where the candidate believes they are spiritually. Drawing the bridge will help the candidate to communicate where they believe they are with God.
Step 3 – Evaluate, Assess, and Develop Candidates
During future meetings, the focus is primarily on helping the candidate make a decision and cross the line of faith, identifying and challenging the barriers that keep them from making a decision for Christ.
Evaluation and assessment also include completing the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment and discussing what they are really “passionate” about. Once a candidate crosses the line of faith (is baptized), they should then be given the Spiritual Gifts Assessment to determine whether or not they have the spiritual gift of leadership in their gift mix (top 3 gifts).
The evaluation, assessment, and development processes continue via ongoing meetings (at least every 6 weeks) until the candidate has been connected to an area of ministry.
Step 4 – Connect Candidates with Volunteer Ministry Positions
Once the evaluation and assessment process has been completed, and the candidate has crossed the line of faith (baptism), the church leader should work with them to help them find a “fit” in a ministry area. In most cases, the candidate should be ready to take on some leadership assignment. It might be necessary to bring the candidate alongside the church leader in some leadership effort (Sunday morning, event, etc.) to help them find their best fit.
The key is intentionality and prioritizing. Church leaders must intentionally develop relationships with leaders in the church and do their best to spend their time with leaders who can lead others.