The 3 Types of Leaders In Your Church

In my last post I shared some of my learning on developing leaders. One of the keys to developing leaders is to provide people with baseline training, opportunities to lead, and on-going personal development as they lead. At Redeemer we seek to train all of our leaders using the same baseline content, but just teaching people content doesn’t equal leaders. You’ve tried this. It’s not enough. This approach leaves us frustrated as church planters. Again, we aren’t truly developing leaders until we offer them both opportunities to lead and on-going personal development as they lead. In this post I want to share a little more about how to begin to give opportunities to lead and personally development to those we are developing.

Step 1: Identify which type of leader you’re working with…

Let me be clear. I am not talking about the “leadership role” in your church this person is being developed for. I am talking about the leadership style of each person. How does this person go about leading others? How has God uniquely wired this person to lead others? If our goal is develop the person into a leader in God’s church, then we must first identify how God made this person to uniquely lead in God’s church. In my experience people lead in one of three ways. [For greater clarity I’ll apply these three ways of leading to leading a Missional Community. But this can be applied to any type of leader in your church you are trying to develop].

  1. Leading from the front. People who lead from the front a good communicators. They can clearly articulate vision and call people to the target. In a missional community context leaders who lead from the front will serve their group well by always organizing an effective weekly meeting. They know that the weekly meeting (or family meal) is the best place to cast vision and rally the MC. Chances are they will have an agenda for the meeting with clear direction for the night. Leaders who lead from the front are also usually good teachers. Not only will they see the importance of the MC meeting night for casting vision, but they will seek to inspire, motive, and encourage their missional community using the scriptures. People who lead from the front are usually confident and willing to lead. These leaders pull people forward. Others will learn and grow by hearing from this leader.
  2. Leading from behind. People who lead from behind lead by example. They are diligent, faithful, doers. There isn’t anything they are calling other people to do/believe that
    they haven’t first lived. These types of people find themselves in leadership positions not because of their natural born leadership skills, but because of their faithfulness over time. In a missional community context leaders who lead from behind are a model example to others in their MC. They are going to make disciples of others in real tangible ways- opening their home, leading on mission, giving of their time and resources. People who lead from behind are servant hearted and available to lead. These leaders push people forward. Other will learn and grow by seeing this leader in action.
  3. Leading from beside. People who lead from beside lead through relationships. They are great friends, excellent listeners, approachable, and gentle. In a missional community context these types of leaders are respected and loved by others they are leading because of the relational capital they’ve developed with others. A MC meeting night with this kind of leader will be highly relational and built around caring for and “checking in” with those in the group. Leaders who lead from beside are going to disciple others in their MC at a slower pace. They will do this through patient, loving relationship and lots of conversations. People who lead from beside don’t always see themselves as leaders and are usually reluctant to lead at first. These leaders walk people forward. Others will learn and grow through relational time with this leader.


Step 2: Provide the right opportunities and regular coaching

Identifying how God has uniquely gifted/wired each person allows you to give them the right opportunities to lead. This does not mean that only certain types of leaders can lead certain things. I believe all there of these types of leaders can effectively lead a missional community. It’s just important to know that each will lead a MC differently. This means you need to personalize coaching and development accordingly. It is important to empower people to lead out of the gifts and wirings that God has given them, yet helping them grow where needed. For example, consider which of these types of leaders would be best suited to lead a missional community of made up of brand new Christians? All of them would be great at it for different reasons. What’s most important is to use regular coaching to help them regularly assess their group health, share leadership with others where they are weak, and monitor their development/growth.

If you want to effectively develop leaders you must: 1) train everyone, provide regular opportunities to lead, and provide ongoing personal development/coaching in light of the types of leaders you have.

Hope this helps!


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