There’s Got to be a Better Way

For years I struggled with the best method for developing leaders. You know what I mean?  You get frustrated that the church has a shortage of leaders so you decide to hold a training class.  You work hard outlining a course, putting together notebooks, advertising it, only to be disappointed by the turn out.  The people you hoped would come didn’t.  The people you hoped wouldn’t come did.  After completing eight weeks of sessions you get a sinking feeling there was a lot of information but little transformation that took place.

This classroom method is what I used when I first came to Seacoast Church in 2004. We held leadership classes on Wednesday nights at 7:00 at the church.   It became evident very quickly that this approach wasn’t producing enough leaders in a rapid growth environment.   As we evaluated we saw 6 drawbacks to what we call the Program Oriented Approach to Leadership Development.

Drawback #1 Distance – It was difficult for many people to drive back to the church on another night of the week to participate in leadership training classes.

Drawback #2 Busyness – Rarely did a student attend 100% of the sessions.  Because they would miss a session or two they would miss critical elements in their development as a leader. 

Drawback #3 Timing– in the fall we would start classes in September that would run through November.  Inevitably we would have potential leaders come to us in October wanting to go through leadership training.  Of course the only option was to tell them to return in January for the winter sessions. 

Drawback #4 Relational Loyalty – Our pastors would send potential leaders to the classes and by the completion of the class the participants had developed a relational loyalty to the teacher who poured into them, not the pastor they would be serving under.

Drawback #5 Artificial learning environment – In the classes we would simulate leadership situations.  It was fun, but nothing replaces learning in real life situations.  People learn to swim in the water not the classroom.  In the same way leaders learn to lead in real leadership situations.    

Drawback #6 Self-selected leadership – We would announce the beginning of new leadership classes to the entire church.  This would draw out a few people, but many times it would not bring out the people you would want as leaders.  Leaders need to develop the discipline of raising up leaders.  Public announcements for leadership undermine this value.

After looking at these drawbacks I really began to question: Is there a better way to do leadership development?  Join me over the next few days of posts as I share about the paradigm shift we made in our approach to leadership development.

What frustrations are you experiencing with your approach to leadership development?

5 Replies to “There’s Got to be a Better Way”

  1. When I developed the Celebrate Recovery ministry in a church in Va., we also used to announcement approach. Although this method brought out people I would never have chosen as leaders, I did learn alot by this method. Many times the people that we choose as leaders for a specific ministry are not the ones God would have chosen. As we spent many weeks in training , I fould that the ones who stuck through the training, for the most part, were exactly the ones that were able to make a difference in the lives we were targeting. Many staff members were sceptical because these people were not the most influential people in their eyes, yet in the end, they had the life experience and passion needed to reach the undesirables that came to the meeting. Careful thought and prayer, however, should be given to those who will be of greatest influence. The top leaders of a ministry must be hand chosen to make sure they have the ability to lead leaders. These leaders should have experience and training as well as a proven anointing. As you can tell…this is one of my FAVORITE subjects. Go Mac, go!

  2. now where have I heard this before!?!…lol. Good stuff, Mac! I have learned so much for this one principle.

    The classroom approach has never made sense to me. I feel that most adult leaders want to know what they need to know when they need to know it!…what?…lol. Downloading alot of info on leaders never really develops them, it usually just gives them a lot of good information that they soon forget.

  3. I agree Melanie, we need to train our leaders the discipline of selecting an apprentice. Knowing how to select and who to select are essential. I think we overlook many potential leaders in the church when we look for the wrong things in people.

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