When many of us are tasked with developing leaders in our respective areas of influence, we respond with hesitancy. “I don’t have time to train someone else, I can do it faster myself.” “Who would even want to learn this skill or system?” “Where would I even begin?” So we agree that it is a good idea in theory, but never move to practice because it’s just too hard. (Oh, that’s just me, OK)
Leadership as Discipleship
But as followers of Jesus, called to make disciples as we go, we don’t have the luxury of just nodding our heads in agreement and never taking action. For the Christian, leadership development is directly tied up in discipleship because all of life is tied up in discipleship. Whether it’s in our families, our businesses, or our church, investing in the character and abilities of the people in our spheres of influence strengthens and equips the body of Christ for her work. When we teach, train, and develop the people around us to be better leaders, we are equipping them to be better disciples who make disciples. We cannot separate the two.
How does that affect us at New City? We believe the Bible teaches that we are disciples who make disciples wherever we go, and we desire to see the Kingdom of God transform everything in our reach. How does that happen? Through people. You and me. The men and women who fill our building each Sunday. We are called to change the world through the power of the Holy Spirit – right where we are, with the gifts and abilities we have. In school, at work, at home. Developing leaders means we are intentionally investing in people, pointing out their strengths and weaknesses, and helping them to grow in their capacity to reach people. We desire to develop leaders because we desire to see people changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Leadership is synonymous with discipleship.
In recent weeks, our staff and elders have been thinking through how to build this into our systems and processes so that we can’t help but develop leaders. We are working on ways to make this kind of equipping so natural in our church that we are all being discipled and discipling in different areas all the time. We are putting structures in place that will keep us accountable to this goal of growing leaders so that we aren’t able to consign it to a good idea without any real practical application.
Making it Practical
Our "pipeline" for each ministry at New City looks like this:
In the area for which I am primarily responsible, New City Kids, we see a few levels of leadership opportunities:
- Lead Self: Volunteer | Loves and cares for our kids and supports the gospel-centered teaching in the classrooms
- Lead Others: Teacher | Organizes lessons and engages kids with the gospel in a way they can understand
- Lead Leaders: Class Coaches and Team Leaders | Class Coaches help give direction and support to those teaching each age group, and Team Leaders organize and administer effective systems to welcome people in
- Lead Ministry: Children’s Director | Guides the mission and vision of the ministry and supports the leaders
Some of these levels of leadership are already in place and just need greater support and direction. Others will be brand new opportunities for our people to stretch themselves, step into new areas of leadership and responsibility, and grow as disciples of Christ. At all of these levels, we desire to see New City Kids team members grow in their understanding and love of the gospel. We want the ministry of our kids classes to serve not only the kids and their parents, but the many faithful volunteers by helping them to live in light of the gospel. The goal is not to move everyone all the way through the pipeline, like finishing a course or training program, but to put concrete systems in place that allow us to disciple our people in every area. Some will move through each level of the pipeline, but the people who don’t are still leading the ministry and growing in Christ.
I’ll be honest. It’s tempting to keep all of the responsibility for myself. To hoard the areas of leadership because I fear letting go of control. But the truth is that this is God’s ministry at New City, I am just a steward. And if I fail to steward well the people in my sphere of influence, I miss the opportunity to make disciples who make disciples. God is not limited by our failures, but he has chosen to advance his kingdom through his people. We get to participate in the amazing work of redemption and restoration that God is doing in the world and in Macon, GA, and he is calling many more to join in that work. The stakes are too high to not develop leaders.