When small groups don’t get off the ground, volunteers begin to quit, and ministries fall apart, it almost always can be traced back to the leader. John Maxwell was right when he said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
Leadership is so crucial to the success of your church, yet it’s sometimes hard for people to grasp, especially within a rural setting. People who attend small town churches are often fearful of the word “leader” because they believe it elevates certain people over others. When that happens people’s feelings can get hurt. We have to constantly fight this mindset.
Leadership isn’t about being served. It’s about serving others. The higher you rise in leadership, the more people you serve. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” The desire to become a leader should be fueled by a desire to serve others.
In our church we’ve instituted a leadership pipeline. The leadership pipeline is a system used to identify and develop leaders at all different levels within your church. You can find out more of the details here.
Here’s what the levels look like in our church.
Attenders – those who attend our church but aren’t serving
Volunteers – those serving in any ministry of our church
Team Leaders – those who oversee one service of a ministry
Senior Team Leaders – those who oversee an entire ministry
Directors – those who oversee multiple ministries
Staff – those who get paid to oversee everything and everyone else
The language is slightly different among our small group ministry, but the concept is the same.
Non-Attenders – those who have never attended a group
Attender – those who are attending groups
Group Leader – those who lead a group
Group Coach – those who coach other group leaders
Group Director – those who coach the coaches
Each level within the pipeline brings with it a different set of tasks and responsibilities, which creates a natural progression for leaders to move up the pipeline as they prove themselves.
While leadership in a small town church has proved to be a work in progress, the leadership pipeline has been a great help. When we begin looking for a new director for our First Impressions ministry, we start by looking at the senior team leaders within that ministry. When we look for a new group coach, we start by looking at successful group leaders.
I’d love to hear what type of leadership system you’re using in your church as well. Please let us know in the comments section below. Are you using a leadership pipeline? Do you believe it’s been successful? Why or why not?