Over the past few weeks our EFCC Blog has focused on “rebuilding.” Last week our Executive Director, Bill Taylor, talked about the foundation and Cornerstone of our rebuilding, a reminder needed before we “get to practical suggestions.” Well, today I want to offer just one practical suggestion from the model of our Cornerstone – Jesus. This is, I believe, an essential step in building and rebuilding, especially as we consider the work of the Church.
That essential step is this: invest in your key leaders. I know you have heard this before. But I believe it is even more vital, formative, and non-negotiable than ever. I am also convinced it is something everyone of us can do if we just give it the attention it deserves.
You see, it matters little how great a strategy you might build if you don’t have a healthy team of leaders who own it and work it.
It doesn’t matter how great your facility, your technology, your plan, and even your budget is; without strong leaders who are united to each other, AND to the vision, you will not be able to rebuild much of anything.
I know this is not rocket science. Of course, as the leadership guy I will talk about the importance of “growing leaders.” But I simply cannot overemphasize this. Do you have good leaders already? Wonderful, you still need to invest in them. Do you have a good relationship with your leaders? That is great, but you need to keep working on that relationship. Do you need more good leaders? Start now investing and growing them. In fact, I think we need to stop just looking for people who already shine as leaders and broaden our search to potential leaders who have yet to show their leadership chops.
This means we need to shift our gaze to younger people. Invest, empower, and release the young people in your church. Give them opportunities, responsibilities, appropriate authority, exposure, prayer support, and friendship. I am pretty sure if Timothy joined any of our churches, he would lower the average age of the leadership. The biblical model is clearly there for us to invest early. At whatever age you are presently looking for leaders, I would suggest you start investing in people younger than that.
Beyond the call to invest in young people let me say this to pastors: build deeply into your leadership board. Invest in them as a group and invest in them individually. Spend time with them. Visit them in their workplace. Invite their families into your home. They are key. The New Testament speaks often about the role of elders in the leadership of the church. And you have the privilege of being their shepherd.
And Elders, invest deeply in your ministry staff. They need you more than you know. They are not superhuman, they are often wounded, tired, confused, but still committed. Pray for them. Find ways to bless them. Get to know, and care for, their families.
And if you are not a pastor or Board member, I would encourage you to find someone around you that you can invest in. If you are retired, take a young person under your wing. If you are an older couple, take a young couple under your wing.
You first step in strategy when it comes to rebuilding is to invest in the key people around you, building into the leaders. I wanted to write about the need to develop trust as you rebuild. I thought about talking about the benefit in starting program/events as trials and experiments rather than waiting for the perfect and risk-free plan to come along.
But I resisted those temptations to instead say that rebuilding is about people first, not programs. Many teams and relationships have been stressed, fractured, distracted, and disconnected over the past few years. So, start rebuilding there, with the key leaders of your ministry.
When I look at the example of Jesus, I marvel at how he invested specially in the key followers he called, building relationships with them long before they even understood what he would be asking of them. Let’s follow his example. We will never be sorry when we do that in the service of His bride, the church.
EFCC Leadership Catalyst