4 Keys for Developing a Vibrant Church Life Filled with Multiplying Leaders

Churches should be run by teams of volunteers—those committed to work together for the cause of Christ, serving one another and the world, because they have been gifted and called to do so.

Yet, this is an ongoing struggle for many churches. Perhaps it is an ongoing struggle for EVERY church.

Recently, I shared with my own church the kind of things we looked for in our ministry teams. It’s not perfect—and we’re not perfect—but we are looking for ministry teams that will be in partnership with the staff, will take ownership of areas of ministry, will be part of the fellowship of the church, and will be involved in apprenticeship to raise up new people to serve with them.

These four things—partnership, ownership, fellowship, and apprenticeship—are key for a church that is serving one another and a hurting world in the name of Christ. As such, let’s explore them one at a time.

1. Partnership

The first step to becoming a part of a ministry team is to exercise partnership.

At the beginning, most volunteers will speak of their ministry as “helping” a staff member—you want them to move beyond that and see their role as leading the ministry as a partner with the staff. They become co-laborers.

For example, at Grace Church, the church plant at which I am the teaching pastor, we have lay leaders who assist with finances. They become key ministry leaders by altering their definition and expectation of their ministry. Rather than being a helper to me or the executive pastor, they become a partner with the specific staff member managing the financial area of ministry for Grace Church. It’s their ministry now—we are partners.

This shift in mentality will bolster leaders’ sense of responsibility and encourage forward thinking rather than simply taking orders. Partners in ministry take charge, working together to recruit other partners and to plan and oversee weekly responsibilities.

2. Ownership

The second facet of key leaders is their ability and propensity to take ownership.

When people see themselves in ministry as empowered, they eventually own their ministries. They learn about it so they can do it better (and leads others in that ministry). In order to be most effective, key leaders discuss the vision with staff members, read books about successful practices, attend conferences or training events, or contact ministry workers from other churches who have established similar ministry areas. As a result of their study, key leaders will be equipped to provide confident, informed leadership of their area.

Sometimes, lay leaders may feel uncomfortable taking ownership because they do not wish to overstep a staff member’s job description. Sometimes staff are too insecure to let a non-pastor own a ministry. However, staff members who understand the importance of raising up key leaders should express their desire for ministry partners to take ownership under their headship. Staff members and key leaders need to view their roles as partners with staff members equipping and key leaders owning.

3. Fellowship

The third important area within key leadership is that of fellowship.

Ministry team members within the church must be involved in the small group ministry of your church. Everyone who is serving needs to be in community—one is not exclusive of the other. Even pastors need to be in small groups.

Small groups are not simply a tack on to the important ministry that takes place in the worship service and preaching. Rather, people who do not move from sitting in rows on Sunday morning to sitting in circles in an authentic community will likely drop out of church, not grow spiritually, and not connect with others.

Without that connectivity, individuals can go through incredibly difficult times and remain isolated and without support. Thus, key leaders must lead the way into genuine community with other believers. Ministry teams must see it as normal to be involved in small groups. That’s the only way they’ll know the people with whom they are partnering in ministry.

4. Apprenticeship

In partnering, pastors equip lay leaders to do works of ministry. Through that partnership, ministry teams and key leaders take up ownership and say, “I will lead; I will own this area.” Ministry teams and key leaders then model and live out fellowship by being involved in community.

The final significant aspect of key leaders is apprenticeship.

As churches continue to grow, more and more ministry team members must participate in ministry and resolve to become key leaders. Otherwise, the foundational group of key leaders will be unable to sustain the growing numbers of people to whom they minister. For example, if an outreach team of three helps a church of 200 remember to do outreach by planning events and mobilizing strategies, an outreach team of five or six will be needed to minister to a church of 300. Similarly, as the number of attending families grows, so must the number of children’s ministry leaders.

Thus, churches must think in terms of multiplication of ministry teams and key leaders—more in partnership, ownership, and fellowship. As ministry team members commit to become key leaders, they should look for other individuals to come alongside and instruct in their specific ministry role. Since roles will expand as a church grows, key leaders must recruit and train new leaders to step into expanding roles.

Apprenticeship toward partnership, ownership, and fellowship will lead to a vibrant church life filled with multiplying leaders.

A Vision for Developing Leaders

Pastors, ministry teams, and key leaders must work together to create a healthy leadership culture in which ministry teams members partner with staff members to provide intentional leadership over an area of ministry.

Within that ministry, key leaders must take ownership over its implementation and its multiplication by practicing apprenticeship with promising volunteers. As key leaders engage in partnership, ownership, fellowship, and apprenticeship, they will afford their ministry area room to grow, and, as a result, do their part to ensure the continued growth of the church.

That helps us to move beyond church as a spectator sport and to look more like 1 Peter 4:10 where, “based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Read more from Ed here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

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How Churches Can Improve the Development and Training of Leaders

Today, I’m excited to welcome Barnabas Piper. Barnabas writes weekly for Worldmag.com, regularly reviews books for Leadership Journal, and blogs at BarnabasPiper.com. His first book, The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity will release in the summer of 2014 from David C. Cook. He lives in the Nashville area with his wife and two daughters.

Barnabas recently joined the Ministry Grid team at LifeWay, an online platform that helps churches in the area of leadership. Since Ministry Grid is launching in November, I thought it would be good to have Barnabas join me for a conversation in how churches can improve the development and training of leaders.

Trevin Wax: First off, Barnabas, tell us what your role is with Ministry Grid?

Barnabas Piper: I am the content marketing strategist for the Ministry Grid team. I work under Todd Adkins who is the Director of Leadership Development for Lifeway and the head of our team. My primary responsibilities are social media, the Ministry Grid blog, and developing news ways to use and share the wealth of content (video and written) we have.

Trevin Wax: In my experience, it seems like many pastors and church leaders think in terms of programs, and then they look for volunteers who can run the programs. Why is it important to train the people who serve in our churches, and how can this overcome an overly programmatic mindset for ministry?

Barnabas Piper: Programs can serve as valuable frameworks within churches, creating avenues for people to serve. But just as often they can limit a person’s effectiveness, kind of the way a menu tells what you can order at a restaurant but also limits your choices. Churches that have created a limited “menu” have essentially ruled out many people from using the unique gifts God has given them.

By emphasizing training – the development of gifts and calling to serve – churches are moving toward becoming a healthy body. Instead of having a limited number of pieces doing most of the work, it becomes a healthy whole with each person doing what God designed him or her to do.

Ministry Grid exists to help churches train every person and to do away with that limited menu of ministry options so that the whole church becomes a true body serving one another and ultimately serving Christ.

Ministry Grid

Trevin Wax: One of the aspects of Ministry Grid that encourages me is this idea of equipping people to do the work of the ministry. Too many times, we think of ministry as something the pastor does for the congregation, rather than something the pastor equips the congregation to do. What role does training play in this “equipping” function of the pastor?

Barnabas Piper: Ministry Grid is built with Ephesians 4:11-13 as the foundation. We believe God gave leaders in the church unique gifts and callings so that they could raise up, train, and equip the entire body of the church. That is when the church is healthiest – when everyone is equipped to serve and is doing so rather than standing idly by while the staff, elders, and deacons do all the heavy lifting.

Leaders should always be developing leaders rather than bearing the burden of responsibility on their own. Most leaders likely want to do this, and we are here to give them a means to do it well. The training aspect is putting the tools in the toolboxes and teaching people how to use them.

Many in the church would love to serve but don’t know how. Many aren’t sure what they’re good at. Training gives them the theological and practical resources needed to serve well and grow more.

Trevin Wax: What are the biggest obstacles to training leaders today? Time? Finances?

Barnabas Piper: If you asked pastors this question the majority would rattle off four answers in short order: time, money, lack of a system, or they just don’t know how. In preparing to launch Ministry Grid, our team consulted with hundreds of pastors, and these four obstacles came up over and over again no matter the size of the church, denomination, or demographics.

Trevin Wax: How does Ministry Grid seek to overcome some of these obstacles and assist pastors in training?

Barnabas Piper: Ministry Grid is a platform that is customizable for churches. This means we have eased the burden of creating a system by putting pieces in place that a church can rearrange to their needs without starting from scratch. It allows ministry leaders to assign training, track progress, and interact with trainees about what they’re learning. Since it is web based, users can watch the training videos any time that is convenient for them.

We have engaged hundreds of godly, skilled practitioners to give us training in areas of ministry from the parking lot to the pulpit. Each of them has proven his or ability and faithfulness and offers quality instruction in particular areas of ministry. This means individual churches and church leaders don’t need all the answers. However, if a church has training material they especially like or have developed themselves they can upload that and share or assign it through the Ministry Grid platform.

Cost is based on the average weekly attendance of the church and is an annual subscription. It comes out just a few cents per month per person in the church to make training available to all of them. Our goal is to make this accessible to churches of all sizes, and the pricing is scaled accordingly.

Trevin Wax: What’s the best way to get more information on Ministry Grid and how it might fit into your local congregation?

Barnabas Piper: Visit MinistryGrid.com. You can set up a free account that will allow you to preview the site and see a couple hundred videos for free. If you like what you see you can purchase a subscription for your church and gain access to over 1,800 videos, along with the full platform and learning management system.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trevin Wax

Trevin Wax

My name is Trevin Wax. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. My wife is Corina, and we have two children: Timothy (7) and Julia (3). Currently, I serve the church by working at LifeWay Christian Resources as managing editor of The Gospel Project, a gospel-centered small group curriculum for all ages that focuses on the grand narrative of Scripture. I have been blogging regularly at Kingdom People since October 2006. I frequently contribute articles to other publications, such as Christianity Today. I also enjoy traveling and speaking at different churches and conferences. My first book, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals, was published by Crossway Books in January 2010. (Click here for excerpts and more information.) My second book, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope(Moody Publishers) was released in April 2011.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.