Monday, August 18, 2014

Need Leaders?...Prepare.

So if the first thing you do when you need leaders is pray. 

But, what do you do next? 

Next, it’s important to have an on-boarding plan to receive the leaders you’ve prayed for.  This requires preparation.

When preparing to receive new leaders, there are 5 Key Pieces of Preparation that should be documented.

#1:  Prepare the Why
What kind of team is it that you are recruiting to?  Children’s Ministry?  Technology?  Guest Services?  Life Groups?  The first thing new members of the team are going to want to know is “what’s the point?”  Why should they give their time after working a 40-hour work week?  What is it that the team is trying to accomplish together?  And how does their place in service help move the mission of the entire organization forward?

Team goals should always be aligned with the common overall mission of the church or organization.  I’ve been doing some of this work at Medford First in my first three months here.  Our church’s mission is to “Lift up Jesus so all are drawn to follow Him”.  When it comes to the purpose of our life groups we are beginning to define the goal as “Helping people connect to each other so they can continue to follow Jesus”. 

As a new life group leader steps up to serve I don’t want to them to feel like they are plugging a hole or serving out of obligation because our church needs life groups or it’s just what people do.  The hope is that they would feel inspired to help people connect and continue following Jesus, and be encouraged to be a part of a team of leaders that helps make that happen.  This can’t be communicated to leaders without taking the time to “Prepare the Why”.

#2:  Prepare the Path
In an initial meeting with a leader, more than likely you will find people completely nervous that you would even consider them to be a leader.  It’s a prime opportunity though to cast a little vision for all they could grow into and become.  Leaders flourish and grow when they can see the growth path in front of them. 

In general I’ve used this basic path when creating teams:
Apprentice Leader à Leader à Coach à Ministry Director à Staff

Apprentice Leader:  learning the role and building trust

Leader:  leading in the role and building trust

Coach:  leading other leaders and providing care to leaders

Ministry Director:  leading other coaches, providing care to coaches, and directing the ministry

Staff:  leading other directors, providing care to directors, building systems towards effective ministry.  Has more information.

This is a development path, where everyone starts at the same level.  As they grow, a conversation is had with that team member inviting them to take their next steps in leadership.  A few quick rules of thumb that I learned the hard way:
1.  Everyone (no matter their experience) starts as and apprentice leader.  Experience may move them quicker through the leadership path than some others, but everyone starts at step one.  Trust isn’t built in day, it takes time, and the currency of leadership is trust.  So, for that reason, everyone starts as an apprentice leader.

2.   Develop people through the whole path – don’t let them skip steps.  Every time I’ve let someone skip a step it’s come back to bite me in one-way or another.  Either the person is placed in a higher level of leadership fails and quits.  Or you find yourself having to go back and retrain in the level that they skipped because they needed that experience to be able to preform at the level you skipped them up to.

3.  Don’t ever give someone leadership just to fill a gap on the pathway.  Leadership development takes time.  While you may really need 10 coaches and only have 5, placing someone in a coaching role too soon will only hurt that leader and the trust your leaders place in you.  Developing leaders takes time.  Filling roles is a quick fix.  Settling on filling roles over developing leaders will break down over time.  Developing leaders will build up over time.  Don’t settle for the immediate at the cost of long-term sustainable team growth.  Again, learned this the hard way.

As you document the path for leadership development you will have documented a vision for each and every leader you meet with.

#3:  Prepare Job Descriptions
Ever hear a leader say something like “Our volunteers just don’t get it.” or “They should know better.” or “good luck with that, our people won’t ever…” 

Odds are the leader has failed to clearly define the expectations of their leaders in which they can succeed.  Taking the time to prepare job descriptions for your leaders will save you the leader a lot of headaches down the road.

I firmly believe that no one should ever get asked to do anything without some kind of written, clear job expectation in hand.  Especially as they volunteer and give of their precious time.  No one volunteers time wanting to fail, they just need to know what is expected of them so they can succeed. 

Job descriptions should be kept simple.  What’s the end goal they are expected to meet?  What time are they expected to be there?  What’s the basic role?  Who do they report to?  Who’s responsible for their pastoral care?  What can they expect from you?  All questions that should be answered in a prepared job description.

#4:  Prepare Policy and Procedures
Does the ministry area you lead have specific policy and procedures?  If so, write them down and spend time in that initial interview walking through them with incoming apprentice leaders.  Let them know what they can expect before the first day on the job.

How do we handle child safety?  What are the basic “rules” for healthy life group discussion?  Can student ministry leaders friend students on facebook?  Where do they show up on the first day?

Not sure where to start on documenting policy and procedures?  Go online and research other ministries.  Or, contact someone who does it well and get their stuff as a starting point.

Each time I’ve met with an upcoming leader over policy and procedures I’ve basically said, “Next we are going to walk through some basic policies and procedures, a lot of this is going to seem like ‘no duh’ to you but we hope that all of our leaders understand how we handle certain situations before they get into the first day on the job.  If you have questions as we go through this, feel free to stop and ask”

The goal is after an initial meeting with an incoming apprentice leader is to have them walk away feeling they can trust you, feeling prepared, and feeling really excited.

#5:  Prepare by Knowing Your Greatest Need
So, if you are leading an area that has multiple ways to plug in as an apprentice leader (for instance, children’s ministry has all kinds of age groups, etc.) it’s always great to go into an initial volunteer meeting knowing your greatest need.

Most of the time, 9 times out of 10 leaders will tell you “just put me where I’m needed most”.  People really want to have a big impact with their lives and so they will often forgo personal preference for greatest need.  Be prepared for that, knowing your greatest need.  This also goes back to trusting God, he knows your greatest need and he’s going to send you what you need.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  Matthew 7:11

Prepare by knowing your greatest need, pray specifically for that need, and be prepared to present that need to those interested in serving.

Need Leaders?  Pray.  Then Prepare.

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