Michael Fletcher: Empowering Leadership

Empowering Leadership
(Thomas Nelson, 2018)

WHO: Michael Fletcher, senior pastor of Manna Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

HE SAYS: “I believe the church is called by God to develop people and by and large build its own staff from the people who are being developed in the house.”

THE BIG IDEA: In order to develop leaders better and faster, a church needs an organic leadership development structure. Using a proven, three-step model, this book shows how to create a way to build capable leaders in your staff and for all church programs.

THE PROGRESSION: Organized succinctly, this book takes readers through the steps to create a leadership development track in their church. It begins by explaining that everything—and everyone—the church needs is already present.
Next, the author describes five truths that go into creating a people-building mindset: having a grace-filled environment, becoming a permission-granting institution, releasing control, being generous and treating people how we want to be treated.
The book also explains why leaders need to get rid of a pastor-centric mindset. Being a strong leader means having good people, equipping them and getting out of their way.
The book concludes with thorough appendices that outline step-by-step Manna Church’s FirstStep, NextStep and LeaderStep model.

“Build the growth track to equip people to see church like you see church and to do church the way you do church.”

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Why don’t most people see themselves as leaders?

In the eyes of most people, a leader is somebody else—someone with training, talent and a temperament beyond what they think they possess. Personally, I think every person has some measure of leadership in them. Someone just has to believe in them and draw it out. Sadly, many people feel they aren’t leaders simply because no one told them were.

What are the dangers of hiring someone from another church to fill your church’s staff vacancy?

The answer to that question stems from an understanding of the power of culture. Culture trumps everything—plans, goals, vision, everything. Further, it’s like the smell in a house. Every home has one, even if the homeowner can’t detect it, and it is pervasive; it touches everything. You can try to “spray it away,” but it will come back. You can preach your best sermon series to try to move a church in a different direction, but as soon as the series is over, the church will shift back into alignment with its culture. It’s that powerful.

When you hire a leader from the outside, they come preloaded with the culture from the place where they experienced their greatest personal growth. It can be a lose-lose situation. If the person is a strong leader, they will create confusion in your church. Why? Because leaders carry culture and the culture they carry isn’t yours! The stronger the leader, the more they will disseminate their culture. If they carry a divergent culture and are strong leaders, they will gather people to themselves, as leaders do, and pass on the culture they carry. Sadly, these otherwise wonderful people can, over time, appear disloyal even when they’re not.

If the person you hire is a weak leader, they won’t affect your culture as much. But, then you wind up with a weak leader. If you have to hire a leader from the outside, make sure they come from a situation with a very similar culture. Of course, the very best idea is to raise up and hire leaders from within, since they already carry your culture.

How do you see your three-step model for developing a leadership development culture working in a small church where the pastor can hardly get anyone to even volunteer?

Our Growth Track (leadership development pipeline) was created to operate as a series of small groups. No matter how large or small the church, leadership development (discipleship) is always a messy, life-upon-a-life scenario. The Growth Track may contain the same material, same concepts, same ideas, but people assimilate and apply that material at different rates depending on what God is doing in their lives.

Don’t focus on finding volunteers; focus on building leaders. Find 10 to 15 people you can pour your life into and, as they develop, release them to help build the human infrastructure in your church. That way, you’ll wind up with more than a few workers—you’ll be building an army of leaders who help develop others.