Leadership Development

Keys for Identifying, Developing and Retaining Volunteer Leaders

By June 14, 2019 No Comments

I was recently with a church staff in an affluent, well-educated East Coast suburb. They were trying to shift their church model from “hired staff” managing volunteers to where staff’s primary role would be developing members to lead in ministries inside and outside the church.

As we worked together on this shift, we discovered the staff had been basically operating by asking congregants to help them do the ministry. As inevitably happens, many of the volunteers got tired of being “helpers” and the staff would run around trying to find someone else to replace them.

The staff was also growing tired and felt that they were employees at Nordstroms serving consumers, struggling to get some of their “customers” to help get their jobs done. As we met together, the church leadership, who desperately wanted things to change, asked what things they needed to do to help shift their model.

Here are the top 5 things we worked on to help shift to a leadership development culture.

1) Re-imagining staff roles. While it may be a small thing, we added leadership development as the first item on all their job descriptions and the first thing that would be on their performance reviews. We had to get staff’s attention that this was going to be a shift- from primarily doing to  “discovering, developing and deploying spiritual leaders”. They were now going to be evaluated on how they did in shifting the culture that they had created and allowed to foster.

2) Re-equip the staff for a new approach to recruiting. Staff had to shift from recruiting doers to recruiting leaders. What we have discovered is that doers respond to tasks, but leaders respond to vision. If you wanted to recruit a leader, you have to approach them with a particular vision and ask them if they wanted to step up to own and give leadership to that vision. The staff’s role would shift to equipping them to lead rather than primarily equipping them to do.  We asked staff to work on a 1-minute pitch that would help them frame the vision of what their ministry was all about. They had to pitch the kingdom impact someone could have through their ministry, asking them to take ownership of that vision.

3) Frame what good potential leaders look like.

The staff needed to know “What does a good potential leader look like in our context? What are the raw materials you look for when fishing for leaders?” What I encountered as I asked that question were blank faces followed by 5 different ideas from 5 different people. Churches that do a great job in recruiting, developing and retaining leaders have effectively determined together what they’re looking for. Once you do that, your staff have a better chance of identifying good potential leaders.

4) Outline the development process. This church didn’t have a clear process for developing and nurturing leaders. They had to through some questions:

  • Do we want to have an apprenticing/coaching model?
  • Do we want a class model?
  • Do we want quarterly leader development meetings?
  • What’s our content we’re going to use to supplement our apprenticing and coaching? Why that content?

5) Start Tracking Results. Most churches don’t measure leadership development. Churches that have anchored leadership development in their culture have figured out how to count to know if they’re making progress. Some churches set goals on the number of leaders needed in each staff area. Some churches track the percentage of their staff that has at least one volunteer leader they’re developing. Once this church started measuring staff, departments and themselves as a whole, they began to see significant progress.

Do you see your church in this story? As a leader are you challenged to discover, develop, and deploy the quality of volunteers necessary to accomplish the vision of your church? Is your staff growing tired of “doing” rather than leading the ministry of the church?

Here’s how I can help…

I’m inviting you to join a FREE webinar titled “Latest Trends in Leadership Development: How to Discover, Develop, and Deploy Spiritual Leaders for Your Church.”

During our 55 minutes together we will:

  • Take a deep dive into the new 10 Things Great Leadership Development Churches Do resource (if you haven’t already, download it here)
  • Answer the most common questions about new trends in leadership development, based on your pre-webinar submissions
  • Discuss three things all leaders must be good at to be a great leadership development church.
  • Share how a few pioneering churches are leveraging data to identify and develop more potential leaders.

We will be hosting two webinars: one for churches under 1000 and one for churches over 1000 in average weekend worship attendance. This will allow us to address questions that are unique to churches of different sizes. Here are the two webinar offerings:

Tuesday, June 25th at 1 PM Central – Designed for churches OVER 1000 in WWA

To register for this webinar, tap or click on the button below.

Wednesday, June 26th at 1 PM Central – Designed for churches UNDER 1000 in WWA

To register for this webinar, tap or click on the button below.

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Tim Nations

Author Tim Nations

Tim Nations serves as the Director of Facilitation and Leadership Community Director at Leadership Network. He has been a Lead Facilitator for various Leadership Community meetings and InnovationLabs since 2006. Tim has served in full-time ministry in churches across the north Texas area for over 15 years.

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