We need more leaders.
We’ve tried it all, but we can’t get people to step up.
I end up doing everything because we don’t have enough leaders.
A lack of leaders is the visible problem in your church, but we want to address the root cause. After all, if you simply put a Band-Aid on the symptom, you’ll never be able to truly experience a healthy and growing church.
If you’re struggling to recruit or develop leaders in your church, it’s time to look under the hood.
Here are four deep reasons people might not be leading in your church.
#1 – Mission confusion.
Every church shares the same purpose: making disciples.
We say it in different ways and express it with different language, but our root purpose is the same. Every church in every setting is called to make disciples.
Most Christians will fundamentally agree with the purpose of your church.
And that’s why it may not be enough to inspire leaders to serve.
Some people in your church (and I think it could be as many as half) aren’t motivated by purpose because it doesn’t seem tangible. It’s this eternal thing always out there, always calling us forward. But because it’s an eternal mission, there’s sometimes not a sense of urgency.
Leaders need to know the eternal purpose, but they need to know the one thing you’re doing about it RIGHT NOW.
They need to know the clear and present mission.
Here are some questions to help you drill down on this:
- What specifically is your church trying to do?
- Who is your church trying to reach?
- What is the top priority in this next season of ministry?
- What is the time-sensitive opportunity before us?
- What is at stake if we don’t accomplish this?
These are the kinds of questions you must answer for leaders. They don’t have generic answers; they require specificity. They aren’t eternal; they have deadlines.
If you want leaders to serve in your church, you need to cast a clear, compelling and CURRENT vision.
#2 – Having an outdated structure.
The structure of your church can help or hinder your growth. Carey Nieuwhof says, “If you want your church to grow, you need to structure bigger to grow bigger.”
An outdated structure doesn’t just hinder growth in the church, it hinders growth in people. It prevents leaders from leading.
Leaders don’t want to serve in a stifling environment where there is little freedom. They don’t want to operate in a committee-driven culture where decisions are made at the top and pushed down through the ranks. They don’t want to operate in a bureaucracy where results aren’t visible.
When you look at the structure of your church, particularly your staff, board or committee involvement, ask yourself if that structure enables leaders to lead or prevents leaders from making decisions.
Leaders make messes. Leaders try things. Leaders don’t always follow the checklist.
So if your structure doesn’t allow for leaders to shine, you’ll probably always struggle to involve leaders.
Brandon Cox says churches with unhealthy structures have too many committees, vote on too many issues, lack simple parameters for decision-making, spread authority out randomly, and move slowly to allow everyone’s turf to remain safe.
Conversely, he says a healthy structure is built on high trust in leaders, gives responsibility away whenever possible, has fewer committees, votes on few issues and adapts to change more quickly.
Structure is not a quick-fix issue and it won’t be solved with a free eBook or webinar. In order to address your structure issues, you must be willing to get your hands dirty and have courageous conversations.
You must move into the process knowing the structure that allowed your church to flourish in the past may be the very thing holding you back from the next season of growth. You must realize that if your church is structured for your current size, you might need to make preemptive changes. The right time to re-structure is BEFORE you need it.
Structure isn’t just about growth or organization. It’s about freeing up leaders to lead.