Churches that multiply do not see their volunteers as hirelings to carry out grunt work so that the pastors can do the real work of ministry.
Churches that multiply live out Ephesians 4:11–13 and believe that every member is a minister.
This is because leadership development is not just about teaching people leadership principles, or giving church members a place to serve. Leadership development is about helping every member discover their God giving calling, grow in their skills and develop their competencies so that they can continue to grow in their kingdom impact.
For example, while some churches may just be glad to find nursery workers to fill an empty spot, churches that multiply place each nursery worker on a development path, where that volunteer is not only serving, but also growing in their character and competencies.
In other words, being a nursery worker is not the end; it’s rather the means to maturity in Christ and the development of one’s leadership skills.
In Multiplication Today, Movements Tomorrow: Practices, Barriers, and an Ecosystem, Ed Stetzer and I outline the practices of churches that multiply based on our State of Church Planting Research with NewChurches.com and LifeWay Research.
A commitment to leadership development was one of the six practices that multiplying churches lived out and embodied.
According to our research, churches that focus on leadership development are not only being biblically faithful in living out Ephesians 4:11–13, but they are fruitfully experiencing more commitments to Christ, reaching financial self-sufficiency faster, and more than likely multiplying within their first five years of existence.
In addition, our research on leadership development revealed the following:
• Church planters that mentored leaders of other new churches had a higher average worship attendance.
• Church planters who participated in, at least, a month-long leadership training course on church planting also experienced a higher average worship attendance.
• Church plants who had a leadership development plan for their membership saw a higher number of decisions made for Christ.
• Church plants who had a leadership development plan for their membership also became financially self-sufficient at a quicker rate.
There’s nothing in our research here that surprises us, given that we believe maturity generally leads to depth, width, reproduction and multiplication. But maturity doesn’t happen haphazardly—it requires intentionality. While I don’t think anyone will deny that leadership matters, what we are trying to point out is that developing a plan to develop leaders matters greatly.
It’s the difference between addition and multiplication.
So don’t wait until you get larger or more complex to focus on developing leaders. Make this a part of your DNA and culture from day one.
Daniel Im is the founder of NewChurches.com, a teaching pastor at The Fellowship church in Nashville and the director of church multiplication for LifeWay Christian Resources. This article originally appeared on NewChurches.com.