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When You Have No Leaders

We all want more leaders. I don’t think there is any pastor or leader who wouldn’t appreciate more help! But sometimes you step in to a situation or ministry where there is no structure or no leadership team to help you, and that can be really intimidating. I want to share with you a few simple principles to get started raising leaders, especially if you have no leaders right now. Here’s 3 things to STOP doing and 2 things to START doing, to begin raising a leadership team.

Stop complaining

The biggest problem for people that have no leaders is the temptation to complain about it ALL THE TIME! It’s not easy to do ministry when you don’t have a team or don’t know where to start, but complaining won’t fix anything. In fact, the reason you are there as a leader is to raise leaders and build teams! That’s what you’re there for! If there were already an abundance of leaders and teams, you wouldn’t have anything to do. So make a decision to get your perspective right and get to work.

Stop comparing

The second unproductive tendency we have when trying to raise leaders is to constantly compare the people and leaders that we have with those in other ministries. But God hasn’t given you those people and He hasn’t called you to lead those people. God has placed you in a specific role for a unique purpose; not to duplicate what others have done. Comparison will cause you to keep trying to force people to be like someone else, but leadership is about discipling them to be who God has called them to be. Start with the people you have, and start working to build the team that you need.

Stop Doing Stuff Alone

One really simple and practical way to raise leaders is simply to make a decision to stop doing things by yourself. If you have an errand to run, bring a young person with you. If you’re going to pray for someone, bring a young person with you. Whatever you’re needing to do, or plan, or set up, make sure to bring someone with you! The time you spend with the people who are willing to come with you will be invaluable in developing them to be leaders later. While they’re with you, they’ll see how you do things, they’ll catch your heart, and you’ll build relationship and trust which all works toward them being ready to take on more structured roles later. The great thing about this is that there are no pre-requisites. Everyone qualifies to tag along and help, so it actually allows you to develop people you might normally overlook for specific leadership roles.

Now let’s look at a couple of things you should start doing.

Start With Structure

This may seem like strange advice, but if you have no leaders one of the best ways to start is to decide on a leadership structure. That might seem a bit backward, and maybe you’re thinking “wait, I don’t even have any leaders how am I supposed to make a structure?!”. But the reality is, the challenge of raising leaders is knowing what leaders you are trying to raise. Forming a structure forces you to be specific about what leaders you are needing/looking.

Think about the things that need to get done in your youth ministry. A great place to start is just to list out all the things that you are currently doing or needing to do and put those in to broad categories. In the beginning, your name may fill most of the roles, but now you know exactly what kind of leader you are trying to raise to help with the ministry.

Start creating low risk opportunities

Don’t expect everyone to show up immediately ready to take on high-level responsibility. Leadership is developed in people, so we need to find simple ways to allow people to serve and grow in leadership capacity. One practical way to approach this is to look at that structure you created, and divide the big categories in to smaller, individual tasks.

For instance, you may have a need in the pastoral areas of your youth ministry and what you want is someone to head up all the pastoral care, counselling, and follow up. Now take a look at what the individual tasks of that ministry role are–perhaps giving follow up phone calls, pastoral visits, prayer for people during youth service. Proactively give some of the tasks to young people whom you can work on to raise as leaders. You may not have a pastoral care assistant, but perhaps you could ask someone to give a follow up call to one or two people. Once they are faithful in that task, move them to one of the other tasks in that role. This doesn’t require titles or positions, and essentially once they have mastered those tasks, you have developed the leader you need. At first you may start with many people doing the tasks of the ministry, while you are in the leadership role, but as you move along you can slowly start raising the leaders you need to help you in the ministry.

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