For as long as I’ve been a coach, serving alongside senior church leaders, “staffing” has been one of the biggest challenges. There’s a continuous, ever-increasing need for people to lead stuff!
I’ve helped many to focus on identifying and developing leaders in their churches. Since the church focuses on reaching the lost, staff are often developing leaders and leading them to Christ at the same time. Or is it leading people to Christ and developing leaders at the same time? Regardless, fueling the church’s growth requires the church leader to get very good at identifying potential leaders, getting them across the line of faith, and plugging them into significant areas of ministry. I believe that God provides people with the necessary gifts and our job –as leaders– is to identify and cultivate those gifts.
The key is recognizing and cultivating an individual’s desire to serve through establishing progressively more “formal” employment relationships – internships. The difference between a “volunteer leader” and an “intern” is in how they are treated and the level of responsibility they are given. An “intern” (paid or unpaid) is treated more like a staff member and less like a volunteer. They have a church e-mail address, a phone, and access to everything –budget, church management software, and other tools and resources– a paid staff person does.
A “formal relationship” should be established, and the individual needs to meet a set of requirements. They go through a pretty extensive assessment process, including a formal application, a comprehensive questionnaire, a criminal background screening, reference checks, interviews, and other forms of assessment.
When a salary is needed or an increase in the level of accountability to the church, a “paid” internship might be the best solution. You would be surprised how far a relatively low hourly pay rate will go when it comes to commitment to the job and an increase in contribution. Paid interns must maintain “regular” hours and are asked to participate in all staff activities.
The necessity to continuously fill an increasing number of leadership needs in the churches I serve has resulted in the development of a 6 step process:
- Leadership Evangelism
- Volunteer Leader
- Unpaid Intern
- Paid Intern
- Part-Time Staff
- Full-Time Staff
Every ministry leader must continuously identify potential leaders, plugging them into significant leadership roles. The process begins with identifying individuals who look, talk, walk and act as leaders. This is done in many ways ranging from an introduction in the lobby on Sunday morning to a more “scientific” method of using workflow processes to identify and track potential leaders. Once a person has been identified, meeting with them to discover their leadership potential is the next step in the process. This is most often done with a specific leadership position(s) in mind. Over the course of a couple of meetings, the ministry leader works on discovering the potential leader’s personality, passion, and, if they’ve been baptized, spiritual gifts. Of course, if they have not yet crossed the line of faith, working with them on taking that step becomes the focus.
So, the key is identifying leadership potential, discovering personality, passion, and gifts, and recognizing that potential through establishing progressively more “formal” employment relationships – internships.
If you have a leadership challenge you are trying to meet, don’t underestimate the power of a “hundred bucks.” Hire an intern, pay them $100 a week, give them an office and computer, and watch them develop into a “staff member.” Don’t underestimate how the power of giving someone “a seat at the leadership table” will call for premier levels of effort!