Churches that consistently produce leaders have a strong conviction to develop leaders, a healthy culture for leadership development, and helpful constructs to systematically and intentionally build leaders. All three are essential for leaders to be formed through the ministry of a local church.
Conviction is a God-initiated passion that fuels a leader and church. Conviction is at the center of the framework because without conviction to develop others, leadership development will not occur. Developing leaders must be a burning passion, a non-negotiable part of the vision of a local church and her leaders, or it will never become a reality. The essential task of developing others must not be at the mercy of other things, of lesser things in a local church.
“The essential task of developing others must not be at the mercy of other things.”
Once the church leaders share this conviction, this ambition must become part of the very culture of the church itself. Culture is the shared beliefs and values that drive the behavior of a group of people. The church that believes in and values the development of others collectively holds the conviction for leadership development. When development is in the culture, it is much more than an idea or program; it is part of the very core identity of the church.
Wise leaders implement constructs to help unlock the full potential of a church that seeks to be a center for developing leaders. By constructs, we mean the systems, processes, and programs developed to help develop leaders. Constructs provide necessary implementation and execution to the vision and passion of culture and conviction.
Because we have a proclivity to run to the practical for a quick fix and to find something we can quickly implement, most leaders will run to constructs when addressing leadership development problems in a church. While constructs are important, if you embrace and implement constructs without first developing a coherent and strong conviction and culture, you will only reap apathy or exhaustion.
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Constructs without Conviction = Apathy. The reason that many people in churches give blank stares to leadership development initiatives is because an overarching sense of conviction has not been fostered in the church. The pastors, the people, everyone has given up on the grand idea of discipling and deploying leaders. If a shared sense of conviction that God wants to raise up and release leaders in His Kingdom through His Church is lacking, apathy is sure to follow. If you want to know why churches have given up, look no further than lack of conviction.
Constructs without Culture = Exhaustion. Constructs are doomed to fail without strong conviction and a healthy culture. If a church attempts to execute constructs without a culture of leadership development, the systems will feel exhausting. The church longs for the “leadership flywheel” and seeks it through systems; but without a healthy culture those systems are merely seen as another set of things to do, a cumbersome hoop to jump through. And as staff attempts to implement, everyone grows weary. Every time the team aims to fill the leadership pipeline it feels as if they are pushing a boulder up a hill. An unhealthy culture breeds exhaustion.
Conviction without Constructs = Frustration. At the same time, if a team holds a deep conviction for development but lacks constructs to help develop leaders, frustration festers. Constructs are vitally important. Conviction and culture must be the starting point; but if constructs are not provided, then intentional and ongoing leadership development is merely wishful thinking. A vision without a strategy is nothing more than a fun whiteboard moment that rarely results in anything significant. There is nothing more frustrating than an unrealized vision, than a passion without any traction. A leader who isn’t passionate about leadership development will sleep better tonight than the one who is but lacks necessary constructs to help develop leaders. A leader without constructs often says, “We keep talking (louder and louder) about developing leaders, but nothing happens.”
Conviction, culture, and constructs. If any of the three are missing, leadership development will be stifled. Is one missing in your context? Does one or more need focus and attention?
Many churches do not develop leaders intentionally and consistently. When leaders emerge from some churches, it is often by accident. Something is missing. Something is off.
Authors Eric Geiger (author of bestselling Simple Church and Creature of the Word) and Kevin Peck argue that churches that consistently produce leaders have a strong conviction to develop leaders, a healthy culture for leadership development, and helpful constructs to systematically and intentionally build leaders. All three are essential for leaders to be formed through the ministry of a local church.
From the first recordings of history God has made it clear that He has designed creation to be led by His covenant people. More than that, He has decided what His people are to do with that leadership. Whether you are called to lead your home, in the marketplace, in God’s church, or in your community, if you are called by God you are called to lead others to worship the glory of God in Jesus Christ.