Every church, every ministry, and every leader faces the need for more leaders at some point. And every leader needs to learn how to reproduce themselves by raising up more leaders. But the great news is that God has already given us the people we need to be leaders in our churches. Our job is to recognize and invest in them so they can become the leaders that God has always intended them to be.
We’ve been talking about this process, which is described in greater detail in the “Launching Leaders” booklet or pdf, on the blog in the last several months. In previous articles, we’ve already talked about identifying new leaders and recruiting them to start using their leadership gifts alongside you. This time, we want to take a little time to think about how we train new leaders.
Some of you probably know how to train new leaders almost instinctively. That’s wonderful. For most of us, though, it’s a skill we have to learn. But whether we’re naturals at it or not, we can all benefit from intentionally working to become more effective at raising up and empowering new leaders. As you work with newly recruited leaders, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind:
1. Put yourself in their shoes.
Remember what it was like when you were first learning how to pray for someone out loud? Lead a worship song? Preach a sermon? Go out to do street evangelism? Remember how hard and scary and exciting some of these things were at first and be sensitive to what new leaders might be feeling as you invite them to try some of these skills for the first time.
2. Always explain what you are doing.
Never assume the people you are training know why you are doing something a certain way. It’s a great practice to make a habit of explaining everything—you help instill Vineyard vision and values to people new to your community, and by the time you’ve identified someone as a potential leader, you will likely have already reinforced those things for them multiple times.
3. Invest in relationship with them.
Leaders you are training can often become your friends, but regardless of how your personalities mesh, the people you are training need to trust you enough to take the risks you ask of them. They’ll also be much more likely to receive criticism and correction from you, if they trust that you truly know them and care about them.
4. Keep them just challenged enough.
This is a balancing act. If you don’t push them beyond where they are comfortable, they won’t grow much, and they’ll likely get bored and may quit in favor of something more interesting. However, especially at first, if you aren’t sensitive to what they can realistically do, they can get overwhelmed or burned out long before they have developed into full-fledged leaders.
5. Stay engaged all the way through.
Most of us gravitate toward a certain phase or aspect of training more than others. You may start out with a lot of enthusiasm, but struggle to have a long-term plan of how to develop the person you are working with. Or you want to get a task off your plate, and so you rush to release your new leader to do the ministry on their own. Keep in mind that you are helping your leaders develop a healthy and mature character in Christ, not just getting them to do a job for you.
What other tips do you have for training new leaders? What other challenges have you encountered in the process? Comment below!