I was recently asked to sit with the core team of a young Vineyard church and help them think about how to develop leaders. They all agreed that leadership was a high calling and therefore should be taken seriously but they held differed on how to actually go about producing leaders. They held differing opinions on things like: Who gets to lead and at what point does one get a chance to lead? Some on the team advocated a conservative, cautious approach while others were in favor of a more open approach in the Vineyard spirit of “everyone gets to play”. Both views were valid both sides agreed they wanted to get it right.
After listening to them I referred them to the excellent tool Vineyard USA has produced. It’s a booklet called “Launching Leaders” that unpacks the classic IRTDMN (Identify, Recruit, Train, Deploy, Monitor, and Nurture) approach to raising-up and developing leaders. I told them that for my money there was no better practical guide to follow. Then I shared with them a simple, main and plain perspective that I thought would be helpful.
I told them that whenever I’ve been faced with a ministry-matter where there are differing opinions, all seemingly equally good, I turn to Jesus and take a look at what he did and how he did it. In the case of leadership in God’s community, although he taught and modeled servant-leadership, Jesus focused even more on the larger issue of discipleship. My take on this is that the basic underlying issue we need to get right above all else, including leadership, is discipleship.
In other words as I see it, everything starts with making disciples. The Great Commission doesn’t say go and make leaders. Jesus said, “Go make disciples”. Disciples are the basic building block of the kingdom here “on earth as it is in heaven”. If you want a church, make disciples. If we want leaders make disciples. Only disciples become spiritual leaders. Disciples contain all the raw material needed to become good leaders. If you make producing disciples that produce disciples your focus you’ll end up with more leaders than you can shake a stick at. So many in fact you’ll end up sending them out and giving them away to bless others.
The advice I left with the team was simple: First, before wrestling with the issue of leadership development I recommended they work out a clear pathway for producing disciples. Second, and even more important, they should take an honest look at themselves to make sure they were on a healthy path of discipleship because the bottom-line is that only genuine Jesus-following disciples can produce disciples that lead.