This article is an excerpt from Jonathan Hayashi’s book, Ordinary Radicals.
How Can We Know If We Are Developing? To answer this, we must ask the right question:
Did we build these people, or did we buy these people?
If we have bought most of the staff, then we have an issue. Sometimes, it’s necessary to hire staff to start the discipleship process. However, if the church is healthy, it should be reproducing from within, so the people will thrive in that context. (Note: Taking a healthy church audit may bring conviction.)
Three Forms of Leadership Development
1. Dumping = telling and commanding
Dumping is an old-school style of commanding people and telling them to do the task. They don’t care about the people but just want to check them off their list.
When Jesus said to go and make disciples, I don’t think He meant send them to school. It seems like the best way to make disciples is like the bygone days of apprenticeship—very relational, hands-on, and life- invested.
2. Delegating = teaching and training
Delegating is a knowledge transfer through a traditional form of education. As you can already tell, that’s a good attempt, but you haven’t reached the goal.
Dumping information doesn’t produce transformation. An effective disciple-maker knows how to take discipleship from theory to practice, form the classroom to the living room.
3. Developing = modeling and coaching
Developing is when mentors are watching, interacting, and showing church leadership how to be servant leaders. This type of leadership development knows how someone got to where they are in their leadership and spiritual growth. This functions best in a relational environment. These leaders invest time in others, not as a project but as people.
In this process, they discover what discipleship and leadership are all about – development, not a transaction. Knowledge transfer is a transaction; however, development and discipleship are an overlap of knowledge, experience, and coaching.
The Need for Leadership Development
In seminary, students take a lot of homiletic (biblical exposition) classes on how to deliver sermons. But there are not many classes on leadership. You may be a solid communicator, but if you can’t lead well, you’ll severely cripple your congregation. In the last decade of church ministry, more and more leaders have stated the need for leadership classes in seminary. Every church needs leaders. Good leaders don’t just magically show up at the front door of our churches.
We must be thinking critically through the process of kingdom ministry. The process of recruiting and equipping is probably more important than we actually think. Too often, our leaders are desperate for recruitment. We must move from desperation to inspiration. We need a change of mindset. Recruiting is more than gathering warm bodies to make the system work. Recruiting is training up leaders who will train up more leaders.
Leadership Pipeline with a Discipleship Pathway
Does your church have an intentional development plan to disciple and deploy believers to live out the Great Commission? Does that happen haphazardly? When someone comes to your church, would they see evidence of the Great Commission in the congregants’ lives?
Of course, Jesus was the greatest at developing leaders. His life was characterized by discipleship. He constantly poured his life and soul into a handful of disciples. He taught them to be disciple-makers and trusted that future generations would hear the good news because of their witness.
We Christians (disciples) have been given the joy and privilege of leadership development and equipping the saints. Your success as a disciple of Christ is not something you do; it is someone you disciple to also become a disciple-maker. Effective ministry is not gauged by how many ministries we execute but how well we equip others to partake in ministry.
Our greatest fear should not be failure. It should be succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter. The greatest challenge in discipleship is never a lack of talented leaders or money. It is us. It is often our selfish desire to control and our own unwillingness to release that prevent multiplication. Some leaders may need a little heart check.