A question I hear often is, “Where can my church find new leaders?” Usually it comes from persons in smaller churches in need of Sunday School or ministry leadership. But occasionally I hear it from larger churches seeking staff - fully-funded or bivocational. I know of several churches in and around the BBA that for a while have sought youth or worship leaders.

Clearly ministry leadership is a critical issue for congregations. For years John Maxwell said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Small or struggling congregations especially feel the pressure. To grow or even sustain a ministry, effective leadership is required for several key tasks. But potential leaders are more likely drawn to the church when it is growing. Thus leadership is a limiting factor.

Of course, even the healthiest congregations say, “Hey, we need more leaders.” So what’s a church to do?

There are no easy answers. I used to pray that the Lord would send ready-made leaders to my church, full of vision and able to take on our greatest needs. And while this has worked a couple of times across 30 years, such people often come with their own agendas or issues that cause more problems than they solve (yes, I still believe Luke 10:2).

The best solution I have found is to develop leaders in-house. Healthy congregations provide discipleship ministries that not only equip members for Christian living; they also seek out and develop potential leaders. And not only for roles that are traditionally lay-led. A growing trend in church staffing is for vocational ministry and pastoral roles to be filled in-house.

I can imagine the eye-rolls as you read this. I occasionally hear complaints about the declining level of commitment in the church. My response: Member commitment is proportional to church expectations. Perhaps if we offered more meaningful ministry and less politics, members would want to do more.

And there’s the time factor. “I need staffing now! I can’t wait for someone to grow into the role.” This is true. But if no one is walking in to do the job, then you may as well make this time count by raising up someone.

The bottom line is that part of our God-given assignment is the development and deployment of leaders for ministry. As I repeatedly learned on the mission field, “The resources are in the harvest.”

So, what’s your leadership development strategy? If I can help, or if you would like to talk through this subject, send a note or give me a call.


Bro. Jim