The Leadership Development Paradigm Shift

In yesterdays post I explained the drawbacks of the Program Oriented approach to leadership development.  When I was in my second year as Leadership Development Pastor at Seacoast these drawbacks were affecting our ability to develop leaders at the same pace as our growth rate.  In my frustration I kept thinking, “There has to be a better way”.

One morning I read Ephesians 4:11-12.  “He has given prophets, apostles, teachers- preachers, evangelists to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry so that the church may be built up.”  God prompted me to pause and began to challenge my thinking.  I had read this verse a thousand times and I thought, “I know God, it’s my job as a pastor to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.”  But then it hit me – look at who he is talking about.  He says prophets, apostles, evangelist, teachers, preachers…these weren’t paid positions in the church they were lay leaders.  Paul is saying it’s their job to equip others to do the work of the ministry.  That morning I wrote out a paraphrase of that verse, “He has given leaders to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.”

This was revolutionary to my thinking.  Anyone in the church who wears the title leader is responsible for raising up new leaders.  Suddenly I began to ask What if?  What if we took Ephesians 4:11-12 seriously? What if we looked to our campus pastor to train up future campus pastors, what if we looked to our assistant pastors to raise up future assistant pastors, what if we looked to our coaches to raise up future coaches and small group leaders to raise up small group leaders.  We had always made Leadership Training Church-Centric.  But what if we did what Paul suggested in Ephesians 4 and decentralized leadership training?  What if we moved away from the Program Oriented approach and moved to a People Oriented approach to leadership development by empowering our current leaders to raise up leaders?

I became convinced of the power of the People Oriented approach when I put the math to it.  We had 10 Campus Pastors, around 25 pastors, 40 coaches and 300 small group leaders.  That was a potential of 375 leadership developers!  Compare that to the three we used in our Program Oriented approach.

Think about this:  What could happen in your church over the next 3 years if 20% of your leaders began to reproduce themselves today?  What are the first steps you will take toward a People Oriented approach to Leadership Development?

11 Replies to “The Leadership Development Paradigm Shift”

  1. im diggin the insight Mac, the power of people oriented approach is a call we should all be responding to.

    Also, the blog looks great! B told me you were getting one but i thought he said you were still working on it? anyway, found it, and its great, ill enjoy reading it.

    1. Hey Michael, thanks for stopping by the blog. I want to do a post on OE really soon. They are doing a great job cranking out leaders down there. I am hearing great things about you and how you have grown. Keep it up.

    1. Hey Pete thanks for the subscribe. I read your blog every day. Great stuff. Really enjoyed meeting you and your team a few months ago. Great group of people you have working with you.

  2. I really appreciate your logic here. With the potential to produce so many leaders in a small amount of time, has there been any issues of new leaders being underutilized or has this increased the pace of new ministry development?

  3. Hey Shawn, We have been using the People Oriented approach for a little over 2 years. Because it was such a huge paradigm shift at first it was slow to catch. I told the staff over time as people begin to get it we will begin to reach a tipping point where it helps us keep pace with growth and hopefully outpace the growth. We feel we are now reaching a sort of tipping point. We are seeing leaders who had been raised up through mentoring now turning around and mentoring others. This is really cool to see…a leaders “grandchildren”. Because Seacoast is so large I anticipate the full paradigm shift to take at least 3-4 years.

  4. I like the premise but I am not sure I think it will be successful. Training leaders is a skill and many lay leaders might be good at their role in their church but not necessarily good at training others. I know a lot of good preachers that have terrible relationship skills. Are they really going to be successful developing future leaders?

  5. You are exactly right. There are some who are good at what they do but cannot train others to do it. We try to address this two ways. First the training is provided through an online delievery system. We use our best teachers to present the material online. Then the person mentoring the learner has the opportunity to discuss and debrief what they learned. This makes them more of a facilitator that shares their experience rather than a teacher. Second, we only expect 25% of our leaders to actually mentor someone. We realize some do not have the gifting, the desire or perhaps the margin in their lives at the time. We have found if 25% are mentoring it helps keep pace with the growth rate we need. THis works out mathmatically…but is not always the reality for us of course. The People Oriented approach does have its drawbacks as well, but seems to be more of a biblical approach. Thanks for your comment…good thinking.

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