Four Counterintuitive Truths About Finding New Leaders

Four Counterintuitive Truths About Finding New Leaders

There are four counterintuitive truths about finding new small group leaders. They are not obvious. But like a Magic Eye picture, once you see them for yourself you’ll never see finding new leaders the same way again.

The best potential leaders are often reluctant. In reality, they are almost always reluctant. When you ask for volunteers to lead they will rarely respond. They probably don’t know that many of the best stories in the Bible are about reluctant leaders (Moses, Gideon, Jonah, Elijah, etc.). They probably don’t know that all of the best stories in the Bible are about people who were chosen (Paul, Jesus’ 12 disciples, Abraham, Moses, David, etc.).

  • Note: The most eager volunteers are often motivated by the wrong things (i.e., they like to “teach,” they look for power, they need a pedestal, etc.).

The best potential leaders are almost always busy people. They aren’t sitting at home watching TV. They aren’t looking for additional activities. Their calendars are already full, and much of what they are doing is at least pseudo fulfilling.

  • Note: Think twice about people with lots of free time. There is often a reason they are available.

Many of your best and most healthy groups are actually full of potential leaders. Some of your best potential leaders are naturally drawn to community and will find ways to connect (even when a church makes it difficult). When you ask these potential leaders if they would leave their group to lead a new group they will often tell you they are serving elsewhere and their group is where they are cared for, get fed or are in community.

  • Note: They can sometimes be persuaded to leave their group temporarily to help start a new group with the assurance that they can return.

Some of your best potential leaders love your church but are only thinly connected. They only attend your weekend service. They pull in the parking lot, check their children in to their classes and slide into their seats in your auditorium. Seventy-five minutes later they’re pulling out of your parking lot on their way to lunch. They are satisfied with the experience. Not fulfilled, because in order for them to truly be fulfilled they need to use their leadership gifts. But they don’t know that. And you don’t know them.

  • Note: In growing churches most of the best potential leaders are in this category. They are reluctant to volunteer. They are busy people. They are mostly satisfied with their experience. And you don’t know them.

Have you observed these counterintuitive truths before? Or are they new to you? I believe once you begin to see them clearly, you will look at finding new leaders differently. You will see the task in a new way.

The explanation for the success of two important strategies

These four counterintuitive truths about finding new leaders explain the futility of the hand-picked and training course models. They also explain why strategies like the small group connection and the host strategy work so well. See also, Top 10 Articles on Identifying and Recruiting New Small Group Leaders.

This article originally appeared here.

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Mark Howell
Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and