After talking with thousands of pastors and church leaders on ministry teams, some of the common statements I’ve heard are:
- “I have a great team. They are great people. But I still feel like I’m doing all the work.”
- “I’ve tried to put training in place for my staff or volunteers only to have them tell me they don’t have time for it.”
- “When I talk with my team about stepping up, they think I’m critical of them.”
- “I want to set expectations and follow up when they’re not being met, but I’m accused of micromanaging when I do so.”
- “When I describe high standards or ‘excellence’ there’s always someone who feels I’m being carnal and not in the spirit.”
In this post we’ll look at 8 proven steps every busy leader must follow to develop their team’s potential:
Schedule Collective Prayer Times
Schedule Leadership Development Time
Cast Your Vision
Identify a Leadership Barrier
Identify 2 Specific Actions to Overcome That Barrier
Help Them Articulate Their Obstacles
Start Making Changes
Select The Right Leadership Material
Have you ever heard these statements? Or maybe you’ve even thought them yourself…
I can tell you that if you don’t solve these statements or get them turned around in some way, they become the definition of serious pastor leadership barriers to you and the church. They become major obstacles to church growth.
The bottom line is … you want the church to grow, and that happens when your team owns their areas of ministry.
If it were easy, life would be great. But it takes work and a lot of investment.
How do you begin developing your team in a regular and ongoing way?
Let’s face it, you’re busy, funds are tight, and you only have so much energy. Pastors all the time are looking for ways to develop their teams in a short time frame, on a limited budget, without cutting into their sermon prep time and the time for all the other stuff of ministry.
The role of the pastor is so complex that when it comes to leading paid staff or volunteers it is easy to simply throw up the hands and say, “How in the world do I develop a systematic plan to get all this done? I really do want to do everything I can to remove leadership barriers to church growth.”
Here’s a great blog that literally walks you through How to Build Systems Even When You’re Not Systems-Oriented.
We know you cannot just hope it will happen. Those “hope” strategies fall woefully short of accomplishing what you want to accomplish all the time…
… and you cannot expect to have it all together simply by reading a blog post. Ultimately it requires intentional, consistent action that will result in long-term growth.Investing in church staff and volunteers takes long-term diligence and determination. Click To Tweet
The process I want to share with you here is exactly that — a strategy that will help you develop your team.
When considering areas for church growth, putting this process in place can be a critical component to the success of you and your team.
While some of the steps are interchangeable, I recommend you follow them sequentially. But before we jump into them, I have to warn you.
[Warning]: This takes long-term diligence and determination.
It is not for the feint-of-heart. If you begin the process of investing in your team (which you absolutely should do), please avoid the danger so many pastors face where they start off with great intentions and enthusiasm…
… and after a month or two, they fall back into the routine of everyday ministry. Intentional, consistent leadership development takes a back seat, and they’re no further ahead than they were prior to starting.
So here we go …
8 proven steps every busy leader must follow to develop their team’s potential
1. Schedule Collective Prayer Times
In part 2 , I wrote about the importance of starting this entire process off with prayer. In your private, personal time with God, set time aside to pray with specificity for each individual by name. This must be a regular and ongoing part of your personal prayer routine. Many pastors do this, and you should too.
However, collective prayer time is a piece that frequently gets only lip-service or cursory attention at the beginning of meetings. That is not what I am suggesting here. I recommend you set aside specific quantities of time for you and your team of leaders to pray together.
If you want your team to grow, it has to start with prayer. To not do so sets up multiple leadership barriers to church growth.
If you have paid staff, spend an entire day praying together once a month. You must lead and guide this time, breaking it up into segments that keep it flowing throughout the day.
While it might feel hard to invest, to “lose” an entire day, you don’t really lose at all by devoting an entire day to God. It is truly a spiritual investment.
Take a look right now at the upcoming quarter and schedule three specific times to come together for prayer.
If you have volunteer staff, craft a meaningful time of prayer together in any of your leadership trainings. Then do something with them two or three times a year where all of you come together for a guided time of prayer for an hour. Again, if you want to experience areas for church growth, put this prayer time on your annual calendar.
(NOTE: Is your church positioned for growth? Take the 3-Minute Church Growth Audit to find out! Click here)
2. Schedule Leadership Development Time
This can seem very routine, but you cannot overlook the importance of this simple act of scheduling leadership development with your team. Even 15-30 minutes tacked onto a staff meeting is a good start. Then you can increase that over time once you get in a groove.
These regular times together will give you a checkpoint to measure progress and will help your team keep leadership development at the forefront of their minds.
A number of pastors use the content of their membership in Leaders.Church to make this regular weekly invest. The content in the membership is literally turnkey ready for a pastor to use with their team.
Now… you might say, “I cannot afford the time to do this.” And that’s understandable, because it will require some time. But the way I look at it is, you cannot afford to NOT do this. It has to happen! Not doing this will become one of your major obstacles to church growth.
We established in the first blog of this series that everything rises and falls on leadership. The church’s growth is directly related to the leadership’s growth, namely you as the pastor.
So… want to see the church grow? Schedule leadership development time now. Get it on the calendar asap!The church's growth is directly related to the pastor's growth. Click To Tweet
3. Cast Your Vision
Proverbs 29:18 tells us “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” You as THE leader must chart the course for those you lead.
During your first scheduled leadership development time, talk about the near, mid- and long-term futures. Help them see the investment you want to make both through collective prayer and leadership development. Talk about how it will benefit them individually and the church as a whole.
This will subtly and sometimes not so subtly set the stage for you to challenge them. Some may long for this type of investment. Others may dread it. In either case, when you share the vision, you’ve communicated how individual growth is a necessity to the church’s growth.
It’s not infrequent where I hear a pastor say they don’t feel they’re very good at casting vision. And I get it. I will say, however, that casting vision is a learned skill. I encourage you to look to those in your network who seem to be able to communicate vision. Learn from them.
Ask questions and get better at casting vision. It is critical when asking how to grow the church that you regularly and systematically get better at casting vision.
If some of your team members really don’t want to grow, then they’ll eventually hop off the train. But most people will embrace it because that’s where the excitement happens.
After you’ve shared the vision of what you’d like to see happen, you need to have them…
4. Identify a Leadership Barrier
Your team members need to identify a barrier in their leadership they need to break through (i.e. an area to grow in). It may be one of the 8 Leadership Barriers, or it may be something different. The key is to find one area in which the team member can grow.
When people start making changes, it’s hard to change everything at once. It’s just too overwhelming for people, so they’ll revert back and tell themselves, “I’m not capable of making changes. It’ll be easier to stay the same.” And they’ll settle in where they are at…
… but that cannot happen if you want your team and the church to grow. Every one of your team members needs to identify pastoral leadership barriers.
Some barriers are very overt. Others are covert. But when you and they want to know how to lead the church, identifying their leadership barriers is key to moving forward.
Help them identify the top barrier that, if removed, would help them lead more effectively.Where there is no vision, the people perish... Proverbs 29:18 Click To Tweet
5. Identify 2 Specific Actions to Overcome That Barrier
This is where the rubber meets the road. It’s one thing to talk about identifying and overcoming leadership barriers to church growth, it’s another thing to actually create specific action plans to do the overcoming.
When I coach a pastor in removing obstacles to church growth, like their own leadership barriers, I always recommend they create two specific action steps. One is not enough. Three or more looks good on paper, but just becomes one more thing to put on the shelf.
For every barrier a person has, there is a way to overcome it. Sometimes it is low-hanging fruit that’s easy to overcome. Other times it takes a good amount of prayer, diligence, and discipline. The point is you have to be specific in noting the action that needs to be taken.
While you as the leader may immediately know how they can overcome their leadership barrier, you want them to identify the actions necessary. It is a lot easier for people to make progress when they come up with the action steps themselves, rather than being told the action steps. There’s a greater sense of ownership in this scenario.
6. Help Them Articulate Their Obstacles
The first key here is to articulate. In other words, it’s helpful for them to actually verbalize the area in which they seek growth. Now, this may not happen in a staff meeting or your leadership development training, although it could, but it may occur in a one-on-one follow-up.
You could also have them email it to you if you have multiple people with whom you’re helping articulate obstacles. In either case, the point is you want them to be able to express the leadership barrier they’re trying to overcome.
Additionally, you want to help them express the obstacles. People have leadership barriers because there are obstacles that get in the way of their growth. So, people have to figure out what those obstacles are.
Want to identify how to grow the church? Here’s a great place to start.
Leadership Barrier: You have to approve all decisions
Action Step #1: Write out which tasks only you can do, and which tasks can be delegated.
Action Step #2: Delegate one responsibility.
Obstacles: Fear it won’t get done right; Loss of control
(NOTE: Is your church positioned for growth? Take the 3-Minute Church Growth Audit to find out! Click here)
7. Start Making Changes
You have to start. That’s right. Nothing happens if you don’t start. I know there are all sorts of reasons for you not to start and for your team members not to start. But as the leaders you can’t let that happen.
Start making changes.
Growth won’t take place in a person’s leadership if nothing changes. And nothing will change if a person never starts. Every day this gets put off is another day of the same ol’ thing and you don’t want that since your team’s growth directly ties to your church’s growth.
One of the best ways to see your team remove pastoral leadership barriers is to model it for them. Do you show your team the changes you’re making in your leadership to be more effective? Are you even making changes in order to be better?
As your team makes changes, show them how they don’t have to make all the changes immediately. That will be overwhelming, and they’ll likely experience too much failure. You and they have to commit to the process. This is a journey. Stay on the path, and your team will finish the course well.
8. Select the Right Leadership Material
Most pastors don’t have the time and energy to come up with leadership material to talk with their team about. But it’s clear that investing in your team increases everyone’s leadership capacity. You need to invest in you, and you need to invest in them.
Consider studying a book together that is germane to that which you, as the leader, feels is critical to advancing the team and/or the church. Sometimes the book can be deeply spiritual in nature, but frequently it centers around best-practices in growing leadership.
There are a lot of great leadership training and development materials out there. There really are. I will say, a number of pastors of growing churches prefer joining the Leaders.Church Membership Site, where teams can watch the material together and immediately interact on it. This content is all designed to be easy to use with virtually no prep time. Nice!
The point is this … you have to choose something to use for regularly training your team (unless you come up with your own material). Most growing-church pastors, while spending all sorts of time determining how to lead the church, find using done-for-you material to be of great value.
Sounds like a little work, doesn’t it?
It does take work, no doubt. But remember, your job is to equip people to do ministry (Eph. 4:12). To equip them you need to invest in them.
Your job is not to do all the ministry yourself. And there are all sorts of areas for church growth. However, if it’s completely dependent on you, the church can only grow so far… and that won’t be very far at all.
When you raise the capacity of your team of leaders, the sky is the limit! You have the potential to reach even more people with the gospel. You will see the church grow.
This regular and systematic development process for your team requires your undivided attention. You cannot put this in place and walk away from it. In fact, if you do this right, you can get the system to do the thinking for you. We’ve created a helpful blog showing you how to do it.When you raise the capacity of your team of leaders, the sky is the limit! Click To Tweet
You have a lot of things demanding your attention all the time. However, if the process is going to work where your staff and volunteers develop in their own leadership and get better all the time, it takes time. You need to do this and must repeat it over and over again. You are THE leader to make this happen!
Now you may be thinking …
Yes, I agree but where will I actually find the time to do this?
It’s one of the big two for every pastor and church — Time and Money! So, assuming you have all the money you need… 🙂
… it is legitimate to pose that question. Where will the time come from?
Never mind Sundays keep coming around demanding a sermon every seven days. Then throw in a weekly or periodic bible study. And of course, no one on your team ever has to be told twice to do something. Stuff – Stuff – Stuff! It keeps happening and getting in the way all the time. And interruptions? Ha!
At the end of the day, you as the pastor/leader have to determine where your time is going to give you the best and greatest forward progress. You cannot do it all. You have time for those things that can move you forward… and developing your team members, helping them get better, will move you forward. Doing this step-by-step process will get you there.
You can’t be bogged down in all the minutia of ministry. Yes, I know all the “stuff” that needs to be done is still there. But, as the leader, you have to look the “stuff” in the face and say “no” to those things that will not move you forward. They only maintain where you’re at.
You’ll need to implement planned neglect. A bunch of stuff just won’t get done… and it won’t hurt you. To not develop your team members WILL hurt you.
Are you inquiring of how to grow the church? If you’ll follow the step-by-step process to develop your church team, you’ll be well on your way to seeing God do just that… Grow the Church!
Did you miss part 1 or 2?
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