Friday, March 29, 2013


Our concept of leadership development is shaped by our definition of a leader. Contrary to popular perception, a leader is not just the one at the top of the organization chart. Anyone who has the ability to influence how others think, feel and act can exercise a form of leadership. Anyone who is calling others to follow them as they follow Jesus is a leader. A recurring appeal from those within the Future Leadership Issue Group who work with children and youth was to recognize the leadership potential of these younger members of the Body of Christ — not just as future leaders of the Church, but as those with present potential to influence their classmates, their peers, and even those older than themselves to follow Christ. In many parts of the Body of Christ, women too have been overlooked in terms of their potential to exercise influence in moving groups of people toward God’s purposes, whether in the context of their families, or the church, or their community, or in Christian organizations. Because of these limited concepts of leadership, much of the leadership training that is provided is available only for adult men. Christian education provided to children and youth generally does not encourage them to think of themselves as those who can exercise spiritual influence and lead others. There are relatively fewer opportunities available to women than to men, especially in some regions of the world, to develop fully their God-given capacities or to exercise their God-given responsibilities to participate in the Great Commission. Often Christian leadership is considered only in relationship to the local church, whether the focus is on house churches, cell churches, or more traditional expressions of congregational life and pastoral duties. Leadership training and development has focused on developing skills for Bible teaching, counselling, small group leadership, and other “pastoral” functions. These areas are essential. However, less attention has been given to the Christian leader whose role involves administering the complexities of a larger Christian organization, whether as pastor of a multi-staff church, or director of a mission, or executive within a denomination, or principal of a Bible college, or president of a Christian development organization. Even less focus has been given to those whose role as Christian leader resembles that of Lydia, the business owner, or Nehemiah, the general contractor for a large urban redevelopment project, or Luke, the medical missionary with research and writing gifts, or Daniel, the scholar/administrator in government service. When the term “Christian leader” is understood only in terms of the church gathered for worship, rather than the church scattered in the marketplace, or primarily in terms of the local congregation rather than including the work of parachurch organizations, or only in terms of adult males rather than women and young people as well, then the task of leadership development will have a much narrower focus. When we remember that the task is that the whole church take the whole gospel to the whole world, and when we consider the great variety of gifts, capacities, responsibilities and opportunities given to the entire Body of Christ, then the possibilities for equipping and mobilizing people for ministries of influencing and leading multiply enormously. That is why we see the need to catalyze a “global movement” of developing Christ-like leaders. Five types of leaders: Expanding spheres of influence Since leadership is a process of influence, it is useful to employ a classification of leadership based not on formal job titles, or on levels of education, but on breadth of sphere of influence. The following classification for Christian leaders is adapted from a chapter by Dr. Edgar Elliston in Missiological Education for the 21st Century (Orbis, 1996). Even though the primary reference of this classification is to leaders in the church, it has broader application as well. Type 1 Leaders (Small Group Leaders) are leaders of small groups. These would include house church and cell group leaders, heads of families, Sunday School teachers, and others who have direct, face-to-face influence in guiding and encouraging a limited number of people. They would normally be unpaid, volunteer lay workers. Type 2 Leaders (Self-supporting Local Supervisors) are volunteer workers who supervise other volunteer workers in their own local area. Their influence is multiplied because they are encouraging and equipping others who are also leading, but their sphere of influence is still limited because of their other regular employment, and because of their focus on their own locality. In some cases these could be volunteer workers overseeing a ministry in a local church, or they could be an unpaid or very nominally paid pastor of a smaller congregation that consists of several home groups. This category could include self-supporting or “tent-making” pastors and missionaries, as well as volunteer supervisors of a number of house churches. Type 3 Leaders (Full-time Local Leaders) are leaders who are devoting most if not all of their time to the work of Christian leadership. These would include local church pastors, church-planters and missionaries, whether they devote all their time to one congregation, or to a circuit of several congregations in the same general locality. Some may be bi-vocational workers, but in such cases their Christian service would still be equivalent to a full-time job. Like the Type 2 leaders, they are also overseeing volunteer leaders, but their influence is broader because they have more time to devote to their task. Yet their focus is still limited to a particular locality. Type 4 Leaders (Regional Leaders) are leaders whose influence is felt within a region. They may be leaders of several mission teams, or the district supervisor of a number of full-time church workers, or the principal of a small Bible college that serves a particular state. Their ministry is generally indirect, in that they work with and through the local leaders who have the primary face-to-face contact with the people. The ministry of the regional leaders is generally in the vernacular, but they will also interface with national leaders, primarily within their own group or denomination. They may also have influence through their writing, but it is limited to their own region or local language. Type 5 Leaders (National Leaders) are leaders who have influence throughout the entire country, or internationally. They may be leaders of denominations, or national missions or Christian organizations, or training institutions that draw their students from the entire country. They may exercise influence through policy-making, writing, mass media, or speaking at national conferences, in addition to their personal influence on coworkers who have broad responsibilities themselves. Leaders of Type 4 and Type 5 may or may not be involved in Christian ministry full-time, but their influence clearly extends well beyond their own locality. All five types of leaders are crucially important for the growth and development of the church. The strength, health and speed of expansion of the church will depend largely on what have become the core values of Type 1 and 2 leaders. They are the ones who have the most direct and personal influence on the greatest number of believers. Their passions and priorities will establish the tone for the groups they lead, and will establish the base line for the whole movement. Do they honour the word of God? Are they servant-hearted, holy, sacrificial, compassionate and prayerful? Do they believe in the necessity of evangelism? Are they free to exercise their gifts and to innovate? Do they encourage others to join them in ministry as brothers and sisters and as fellow-members of the Body? Type 2 and 3 leaders are the key to rapid multiplication, since their influence is direct and personal, yet they are also investing themselves in other leaders. As they serve effectively, and reproduce other leaders, their impact will lead to multiplication rather than merely addition. Type 4 and 5 leaders are critical to keeping the movement on course and well resourced. They are in the best position to think strategically and to see new opportunities. When we look at any nation as a whole, it is evident that by far the largest number of leaders needed is Type 1 leaders and the smallest number are Type 5 leaders. When we look at approaches to leadership development, we need to consider the varying needs for each of the five types of leaders, but also the different spheres in which they exercise their influence, whether primarily in the church, or in a Christian organization, or in the marketplace. Contact: LISAC- Cameroon. Cow Street Nkewn Bamenda Phone: (00237) 7920-4667 or 33 160999

No comments:

Post a Comment