A primary responsibility of a leader is to develop other leaders. If you are a leader in your congregation, either a pastor or lay leader, someone invested themselves into your life and leadership. You had to have had the drive, the call, and the desire to be a leader but there were people who helped you learn what you needed to know and experience what you needed to experience to make that a reality in your life. Now, as a leader you have the responsibility to help other potential leaders develop and grow into the calling God has for their lives. While this is true of all size churches, it is especially important in the smaller church.
People from small churches often call asking if I know of someone who could lead their youth group. Typically, this will be a church that has 6-10 young people of various age levels, and people are concerned if the church doesn't do something for them they will lose interest in the church. Such churches often say they could afford to pay maybe $100.00 for someone to lead this. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find someone to fill such a position from outside that church. My response is to usually ask if there isn't someone in the church who could do that. Sometimes there have been persons who have been doing that work, but they are getting tired and want to step aside; other times the answer is that the church doesn't have anyone who can lead such a youth group.
My personal belief is that God has the people in a local church to do the work that needs to be done. If there are young people in the congregation there usually one or two people who could lead the ministry for those young people, but they often need training. One of the reasons people get tired and want to step aside is that they've done all they know to do. They believe there is so much more that could be done, but they don't know how or what. They are both frustrated that they cannot do more, and they are concerned that the young people are being hurt by their lack of knowledge and skills. With the proper amount of training their knowledge and skill levels can improve, and a renewed energy can occur in the work they are doing.
In the smaller church most of your staff will be volunteers from within the congregation, and there is nothing wrong with that. They already know the history of the church and they have bought into the ministry philosophy of that congregation. They are a known entity in the church so they bring instant credibility to their work. The only thing that is lacking is they need training, and it is the responsibility of the leaders to provide that training.
This does not mean you have to personally train them, but you do have to help them identify the training they feel they most need and where such training can be obtained. Begin to coach them to learn where they feel the lack the knowledge they need to lead their ministry. Once that has been determined look around at the training opportunities that might be available in your area. Are there workshops coming up they could attend? Are there other churches that are doing with excellence what they want to do with their ministry? Take them to those churches and talk to the ones leading those ministries. Does your judicatory or denomination offer courses that could help them develop as a leader? It is also important that you arrange for the church to pay for these training opportunities. Every church should have money set aside in its budget for continuing education for both the pastor and for lay leaders. This is an investment your church is making in its future.
Two final thoughts. If the church will pay $100.00 a week for someone from the outside to lead that ministry, there is no reason they shouldn't pay a church member the same amount of money for the same work. Even a small stipend demonstrates that people believe this is important work, and it shows that the congregation supports this ministry. Along with that salary, give your volunteer staff a lot of encouragement. People want to know that others notice their efforts, and when they hear their leaders thank them for their work and that they are doing a good job, it provides that extra boost we all sometimes need.
What will you do in 2013 to intentionally develop the leaders in your church?