By Amy Thompson
How do we raise up leaders in our churches? This question is on my mind a lot as the vitality of our churches is dependent on it. It is especially on my mind as we move into the fall when the discussions begin about asking individuals to serve in positions and on teams within our church. As I have served in the local church, I know that sometimes in the fall we find ourselves searching to find people so we can fill in the blanks on all the paperwork. When we are focused on filling in the blanks, we miss the mark.
As the Book of Discipline outlines, the Committee on Nominations and Leadership Development is charged with identifying, developing, deploying, evaluating and monitoring Christian spiritual leadership for the local congregation. The work of raising up leaders is more than the work that the committee completes in the late summer and fall when identifying individuals to serve within the church. Most of our churches know this committee as the Nominations team, and we leave out the second piece of leadership development. Leadership development requires an intentional plan in identifying, equipping, and mentoring individuals as they live into their call.
As a church, no matter the size of your church, I encourage you to begin conversations about a plan for intentional leadership development. Engage in our connectional system to help you discover ways to implement a leadership development plan. We have some churches within our conference that have been in the process of creating and implementing leadership development. As an individual, I encourage you to invest in your personal faith development, explore your passions, complete a spiritual gifts inventory and pray about where God is calling you to serve.
If you serve on the Nominations and Leadership Development committee, consider these suggestions to help you in the process. Notice individuals within your church. You have the opportunity to see someone’s passions and interests which will guide you as you meet to discuss the needs of your church. The job of noticing belongs to laity and clergy. Do not depend on your pastor to lift up all the names. You were chosen to serve on this committee because of your gifts and connections within the church, so start noticing others. Pray over the names and the areas of opportunities to serve. When asking someone to serve, share the commitment, expectations and what you see in the person that led the committee to invite this person to serve in this position. Extend the invitation to serve through a face to face conversation or in a phone call. If you choose a phone call, give yourself plenty of time to be present and available to answer any questions. Provide time for discernment so the individual can pray and explore his or her willingness to serve.
To live into the work of this committee and leadership development, the real challenge comes after charge conference as churches work to develop and coach leaders that are serving and identify more leaders to train and deploy. I challenge church leadership teams or administrative councils to begin with two questions: How do we encourage individuals to explore where God is calling them to serve? What areas of leadership do we as a council or leadership team need to explore in this coming year? The mission of the church is dependent on responding to our call and growing in leadership.