A Process for Training up Leaders?
1Tim. 4:16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
If your church is like mine, there is a good system for nominating people to the “Board”. Whether it be a Deacon Board or Elder Board, every year or two there is a need to fill vacated positions. In order to do so, many church constitutions include clauses that state a specific process whereby church members can be nominated to the Leadership Team of the church.
As much as I like systems and processes in the local church, and even as I have been honing my administration skills and gifts, I find that such a nomination process insufficient to develop biblical qualified leaders with godly character. While the nomination process of leaders is necessary and should be codified in the Church By-Laws, we also desperately need a system by which members are carefully discerned for their leadership potential and given the necessary and appropriate training.
The fact of the matter is, while there is a process to nominate “leaders” to the Leadership Team, there also ought to be a process for training up leaders. There is no clause in the by-laws that require or provide training and equipping to potential church leaders. It’s pretty much wide open for any supposed Christian member of my church to get nominated. This can be problematic, leaving wide open the gate for just about anybody to be a “leader”—even one who is weak in godly character, who maybe a good manager in the workplace but not in the home, who not necessarily has had any direct contact with my ministry and thus may not be the right fit to “serve” my responsibilities.
B. Qualifications for Deacons and Deaconesses:
i. He or she must be loyal to God, His Word and be a full member.
ii. He or she must be a Christian for three years or more.
iii. He or she must bear a good witness among his or her family members.
iv. He or she must tithe of his or her income and be an example in these matters for other members.
v. He or she must have a sacrificial spirit in serving the Lord due to his or her love for the Lord.
If your church is like mine, we need need a more specific set of qualifications than those listed above. We need some categories by which we train and discern who potential leaders. In the days to come, I hope to develop this further. For now, I’m thinking along the lines of gospel growth. Does this man (or woman), show signs of gospel growth? Through personal relationships, prayer, teaching, modeling, and practical instruction, growth in the gospel ought to be visible in three aspects:
• Competency: the knowledge God’s Word and ability to prayerfully speak God’s Word to others in various ways.
• Conviction: the knowledge of God personally, understanding of the Bible, love of the gospel, personal conviction of kingdom principles.
• Character: the godly character and life that accords with sound doctrine.
At the end of the day, somebody who is competent in biblical knowledge may be godly according to their biblical knowledge, yet I would think that one with godly character and conviction about being the sacrificial spouse at home could be the better guy. Why? because biblical knowledge can be taught; competency in the Scriptures can be developed through teaching and study. Character and conviction on the other hand are much harder to teach and inculcate with a few months.
So here’s what I’m thinking: Let’s have a yearly systematic “boot camp” for potential church leaders. Something along the lines of 5 two-hour sessions. Let there be gospel preaching, teaching of theology, and yet also teaching on godliness in the home before service in the church. Let there be a clear-cut reminder of the difference between Elders and Deacons and what these potential leaders are stepping up to serve as. Let there be open and honest conversations about how leadership in the church is different yet similar to leadership in the workplace. Let’s have the honest dialog about what systems and structures are sucking the life out of the church, and what we can potentially do about them with the spirit-filled power that is at work in us.
More thoughts to come…