Transforming Church Team Blog
resourcing leaders…reenvisioning the future

Where Have All the Leaders Gone: Recruiting the Right Lay Leaders – Part 1

Scott Kronlund

Scott Kronlund

Now that we’ve established the desired profile of your governing board including Spiritual gifts, personal strengths, and talents, we’re ready to consider the recruitment of individual lay leaders who are best suited to serve on your board.  To help address this issue, I’ve invited a seasoned church administrator, Dan Stoehr, to join in our discussion.  In fact, Dan has personal experience in totally re-engineering the lay leader recruitment process in a large church in the Pacific Northwest.  So, here is first of a two part summary of some of the questions that we discussed.


Scott:  How did you organize the lay leader recruitment process at your church?


Dan:  Right up front, I want to mention our three foundational convictions.  The first is “only consider people who have led effectively IN THE CHURCH, because leadership in other walks of life may not accurately indicate leadership potential for ministry.”  The second is “it’s better to leave a position vacant for however long it takes to find the right ‘fit’ than to fill it by a ‘deadline.’”  The third is “build the profile of the ‘ideal’ candidate, THEN go find that person.”  This broadens our perspective beyond the “usual suspects” we always turn to while overlooking the “gems’ in our congregation just waiting for the invitation and the opportunity. 


Now, to answer your question:  We got very deliberate about recruiting leaders.  First, we built spiritual gifts and strengths profiles for each position BEFORE we began thinking of names.  Second, we codified higher expectations for commitment and involvement (serving God by leading his Church is a great privilege and responsibility, Heb 13:7,17).  Only then did we form a nominating committee to identify and screen candidates against the profiles.  By the way, we stopped filling our nominating committee with “members at large” who weren’t actively involved in leadership and didn’t have any training in the principles above.  We only included the senior pastor, executive director, and 3-5 lay leaders who were ALREADY leading and well-versed in discerning spiritual gifts, strengths, and discipleship.


Scott: Since we’re talking about the leaders within the church, it only makes sense to begin with your thoughts about the Spiritual qualifications for leadership in this setting.  Certainly, Paul speaks to many of these qualifications in I Timothy 3.  How do you assess for Spiritual maturity and commitment?


Dan:  Several years ago, every paid and volunteer leader in our church did a book study together:  Power Surge by Pastor Michael W. Foss.  Out of that study, we identified “7 Marks of Discipleship”:  daily prayer, daily Bible study, weekly worship, giving a tithe, Christian fellowship, personal ministry, and sharing Christ.  We strongly believe the highest level of leaders will naturally demonstrate personal commitment to, and actively practice, the 7 Marks.  We understand that the line between high expectations and legalism can be a narrow tightrope, but that shouldn’t dissuade us from having high expectations of leaders.  God’s work is far too important to do otherwise.  So, how do we really know potential leaders are mature and committed to Christ?  We ask them.  The senior pastor and one other senior leader conduct personal interviews and ask, among other things, about the candidate’s actual practices on the 7 Marks, covering each mark individually.  Very intentionally, we have no specific measuring stick in mind.  Instead, we want to see that the candidates have a commitment to continued growth in their walk with Christ.


Scott:  How do you assess for the Spiritual gifts of your potential leaders?


Dan:  There are several great tools out there; we use Network, as discussed in your last blog.  If a potential leader has not taken the course, we at least have them complete the spiritual gift assessment in the book and ask them to complete the entire course the next time we offer it.




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