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A Sustainable Strategy for Leadership Development

Tony Portell

Tony Portell

Pastor, Life Church Indianapolis
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Teacher talking at a group of young adults

Doing constant leadership development in a real world, dynamically changing church environment, where urgent needs often replace long term priorities, is always a challenge. Like with any growing organization, we desperately needed an incubator for new leaders. We want to do leadership development well, not just because these people will serve in many areas of ministry in our churches, but because we want to help them grow and flourish and say yes to Jesus.

The process that we use to do this is called IRTDMN: identifying, recruiting, training, deploying, monitoring and nurturing leaders. If you want to read more information on IRTDMN, here’s an article on Taking the First Steps Of Launching Leaders.

IRTMDN is a great roadmap to follow, but you won’t get you very far if you don’t have a strategy for how you’re going to make it sustainable. I’m sharing some ways our staff is implementing IRTDMN and some questions to help you think about how this could work in your ministry. 

Identifying
Though all of our staff uses this framework, each department or ministry has created their own strategy. We know the way potential leaders are identified for Children’s Ministry is different than our worship team. Our Children’s Pastor reaches out to parents, while our Worship Pastor holds regular open auditions. Each ministry has the freedom to find out what works for them.

Where and how will you begin to identify potential leaders for your ministries?

Recruiting
We recruit by painting a picture of what God sees in the person you are inviting into leadership. Ask yourself, what has God shown me that is within this person waiting to be developed and released? Give them a picture of the process and the relational commitment you are making to them.

What kind of language will you use to invite potential leaders?

Training
We have developed a basic video training of common values of our church for potential leaders to watch. By starting here, potential leaders can study basic information at their own pace and we can determine who is committed to serving without a great deal of initial time investment. Then they are trained specifically in tasks for each department.

What kind of training do you want all of your leaders to go through? How will you begin to develop it?

Deploying & Monitoring
We deploy those who have completed some of the basic training and then they work alongside other leaders as we get to know them. Each department has different written markers by which they monitor the development of the people serving under them.

What markers would you use to monitor the progress of a leader?

Nurturing
Finally, nurturing is my primary task as a senior leader. Rather than focusing on how volunteers are at doing a task, I get to focus on them. I ask them questions like, how is their personal life and how is their marriage and family?

Who is pouring into your leaders?

Accountability
Monthly, in our staff meetings, we report on a list of people we have in some stage of leadership development. Every department leader has the responsibility to have people in the various stages of leadership development and to give an update on where they are, how they are responding, and their next steps. We pray for these leaders and encourage them whenever we see them.

What kind of accountability structures do you have in place to inspire you to keep at leadership development?

IRTDMN is a process that is useful no matter where your church is at. You just have to find out what specific strategies work for your church and ministries. Then keep at it, asking God for the grace to keep moving forward.

Take The Next Step

Are you ready to take the next step with your plant?

Tony Portell serves as the Lead Pastor of Life Church a Vineyard Church in Indianapolis with campuses in Indy and Brownsburg. He has planted four churches prior to Life Church which was adopted into the Vineyard in 2007.

He has degrees in counseling and biblical studies. He serves as a chaplain for the Indianapolis Fire Department and with the State of Indiana’s Crisis Response Team. He is passionate about church planting and equipping leaders to find and fulfill their place in God’s Kingdom. He and his beautiful wife Lori reside in Indianapolis and has two grown children, Clayton, and Faith.

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