How To Develop Leaders

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Developing and equipping leaders is one of the key challenges in small group ministry.  That is true for all of us, regardless of the system or strategy that you’ve chosen.  You may have an occasional leader who arrives fully formed…but for the most part, we all need to be in the development business.

There are two categories to the process: character and skill.  Let’s talk about how to build both into the development process.

Determine the Characteristics of a Leader

Like any journey, it helps to have a destination in mind when you begin.  In the case of leader development, it is essential to know what it will look like when you get there.  Rather than just getting into the car and driving…what if you knew where you were going?  I’ve found this diagram to be very helpful in thinking through this particular journey.

The essential first step is to give some description to the kind of leader you want to produce.  What are the characteristics of a skillful and Christ honoring leader?  You’ll want to spend some time thoroughly determining what character traits and what leadership skills you’d like your leaders to have.  For example, along with other characteristics, you might decide that you want your leaders to have an others first mindset (Phil. 2:4) and become a builder of leaders themselves.  A list of characteristics and skills becomes the preferred future for your leaders.

Where Are They Now?

The second step in building your development process is to give some thought to where your leaders are right now.  One step that is a no-brainer is to have them work through the Purpose Driven Health Assessment and then the Purpose Driven Health Plan.  I’ve detailed how to do this right here.  This will give you the beginnings of a helpful snapshot of where they are right now from a character standpoint.

The Probable Future

Granted, your leader roster represents the range of character and skill.  At the same time, it is easy to predict that unless they mature in Christ and unless they refine their skills…they’ll end up 10 years from now being pretty much the same leaders they are now.  This truth is represented in the diagram as their probable future.  As Albert Einstein pointed out, “The definition of crazy is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.”  If you want different results you’ll need to do some different things.

Developing a Plan That Will Develop Leaders

The last piece to this puzzle is to add steps that lead to the preferred future you’ve identified.  This will be a combination of character and skill development practices and events.  For example, you may plug in three leader development events over the course of a year and include skill training for guiding discussions, becoming an active listener, and the proactive development of multiple facilitators.  On the character side you may want to leverage your coaching relationships to model an others first mindset.

Recommended Resources

It may help your process to work through Leading Life-Changing Small Groups by Bill Donahue and Making Small Groups Work by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

(The diagram was developed by Glen Hiemstra in his book Turning the Future into Revenue)

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