By Rev. Brian Wong
Photo by niko photos on unsplash
GROWING THE LEADERSHIP-TREE
Intentional, Systematic Leadership Development for Church Health
12 Jul 2023
There is a correlation between church health and leadership development when churches pay intentional & long-term attention to developing leaders. Personally, as a church leader who has been involved in leadership roles of various kinds – cell group leadership, ministry leadership, eldership and now the lead pastor of the church, I see systematic leadership development contributing to overall health of the church more than ever!
Let’s think of leadership development as growing a tree that bears much fruits. We begin by having a sound leadership theology: that’s the root, the foundation.
Theology guides our focus, shows us where we should place our priorities through God’s perspective. With a sound biblical anchor, the church leader then nurtures the leadership tree to produce several aspects of church health.
Firstly, there needs to be a theological vision that guides leadership development: that peoples at all levels be developed toward spiritual maturity, not only at the leadership level.
This is seen in the teaching from Hebrews,
“Therefore, let us, leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1).
As we invest in developing people at all levels, some will go on to become leaders as God gives them the noble call to lead (1 Timothy 3:1). As we invest, people feel valued and encouraged to contribute their gifts and talents to God’s kingdom in the church. This sense of belonging will be high when church members know they are discipled intentionally.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, members in my church did not stop serving, in fact, new leaders and ministries emerged during that time. I saw through that time that having a strong leadership theology led to a more vibrant and thriving church community.
“Though leaders might not have all answers, the display of unity is a powerful testimony of leadership maturity; the result of relationships built over time.”
Intentional leadership development also encompasses equipping leaders with necessary skills and competencies to minister with relevance. Trained leaders are better equipped to provide pastoral care, offer guidance and support, and address the diverse needs and challenges that arise. Covid19 posed a huge leadership challenge and tested the quality of leaders in the church. The church faced an unprecedented scenario where “Business-as-usual” is thrown out, mental wellness issues rising to a disconcerting level and members not returning to church thereafter. These were some, amongst many, challenges faced by church leaders, me included. Many church leaders were ill-prepared to deal with such new uncharted territory. What held leaders together in such uncertain environment was the leadership community built within the church. Though leaders might not have all answers, the display of unity is a powerful testimony of leadership maturity; the result of relationships built over time. Leadership development is not merely the transfer of knowledge and skills, but also about training leaders to stick together when times are hard.
“Disruption” was the buzzword during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. We saw how disruptions created many problems at multiple levels, affecting peoples’ lives. During the pandemic, a church leader had to think about minimizing disruptions by ensuring healthy leadership succession at all leadership levels–a church is healthy when leadership continuity is NOT disrupted.
How do we build potentials intentionally, identify and nurture them?
How do we prepare them to be emerging leaders?
How does the church forecast and plan for future leadership needs?
These are questions that every serious Christian leader must ask and seek God for the church he is leading!
Raising leaders take time.
My personal leadership transition to the role of the Lead Pastor took four to five years. The transition was intentional as we allowed God to prepare, not only me, but the whole church for the transition.
“The best way to navigate this void is through intentional and systematic leadership development! God provides leaders but we partner with Him to raise them.”
I realise that many churches face a void in leadership succession. The best way to navigate this void is through intentional and systematic leadership development! God provides leaders but we partner with Him to raise them. When church leaders are intentional about systematic leadership development, it impacts the health of the church in positive ways: strengthening leadership, promoting spiritual growth, enhancing ministry effectiveness, enabling successful succession planning, and future-proof the church. These outcomes contribute to a healthy and thriving church community that is better equipped to fulfil her God-given mission.
So, I encourage you as a church leader and member: understand and value the importance of leadership development!
God raises leaders to lead.
They are a special gift to the Body of Christ.
The fruit & outcome of a healthy leadership tree is growth, and growth honours and pleases the Lord!
Leadership Coaching by Churchlife Resources
Leadership is one gift with several facets. It is a gift that is received, and also grown. Identifying this gift, integrating it with contemporary skills, and building it upon a foundation of godly character, we, as believers, can allow God to hone our spiritual leadership Edge for deeper spiritual impact!
Churchlife Resources would like to invite you to journey with us unpack each of the multiple Facets of Leadership through Biblical contemporary perspectives, and examining them in terms of skill sets and godly character traits. Through this, we can learn and grow our influence and impact for the Lord Jesus Christ!
Rev. Brian Wong is part of the Associates Team in Churchlife Resources. He has a M.A in Leadership and is passionate about mentoring and leadership development in churches.