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Home » Church Leadership, Featured, Volunteer Management, Volunteer Recruiting, Volunteer Training

Leadership Development: First Steps

Submitted by James Higginbotham on October 21, 2007 – 6:29 pmNo Comment

Now that you have learned about the staircase method of leadership development, and have seen examples of this in action, now it is time to start taking your first steps. We want to identify three specific actions that your volunteers will do on the start of their leadership development:

Step 1: The “No Brainer” Action

This step is the most critical: you must create a step so simple that it is a “no brainer” decision for them to sign-up to help. In the case of North Point Community Church, they offer New Believers classes. For Crown Financial, it is to learn how to manage your money better. What is it that your church or your team can offer? Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Make sure they get something out of it. Put yourself in their place and ask “what’s in it for me?” (believe me, they are going to do this as a first step).
  2. Make it a short commitment – no more than 12 weeks, with an optimum duration of 3-4 weeks
  3. Create specific, simple steps that encourage them to participate in some way that they normally wouldn’t, such as leading a group or activity, such as an icebreaker, or asking them to do something outside their comfort zone.

Don’t expect everyone to fall in love with what you did. Just keep in mind that getting someone who never has helped your team (or volunteered their spare time for a church activity) to take action is a huge accomplishment. Once someone has taken that first first action, it will be easier to get them to commit to the next action.

Finally, put all you have into it. Give everything you can to make it a smooth, powerful experience. Don’t wing it, they’ll know.

Step 2: Identify the “Follow-Up” Action

The next step is to determine how you will follow-up with the volunteers with a second activity. Whether this is another small group, or joining a service-based team such as a cleaning crew, sound/lights team, or ushering/greeting team, find a place for them to serve. Here are some tips for designing this action:

  1. Define a clear expectation and duration for the action
  2. Try to build upon the first action, so there is still some comfort in what they are doing
  3. Make it challenging enough to stretch beyond their comfort zone a little more

While the first action gets them doing something simple, this action begins to test them to see where their strengths and weaknesses are. This is where the staircase method shows its strengths because you are able to start assessing their ability to lead and adjust to change without throwing them directly into the fire. Offer to help them along or apprentice them by you starting the task, letting them try it under your supervision, and then letting them take the lead (“I Do You Follow”).

Step 3: Identify the “Ownership” Action

The final action is one that will likely be longer term and give them a chance to own something. This action should:

  1. Give them responsibility and authority over a small area, such as one or two small groups or a small sub-team
  2. It should not place them in a role that could harm or otherwise damage minors or adults (don’t have them preach, have them facilitate)
  3. As always, define a duration and set of expectations for this action, allowing their results to be measured and managed

Throughout each of these steps, ensure that you are spending time with your volunteers, focusing on them above the tasks at hand. You can read more about how to do this through the ebook, Handle With Care.

Try to apply these principles within a single team first to learn how to do it effectively, then expand outward as desired until your entire church is using these principles. Pretty soon, you will have a large group of leaders that each have different leadership skills and abilities that can be given responsibility to varying degrees. And the few leaders you have now can take a well needed rest.

[tags]church leadership, volunteer leadership, leadership training, leadership[/tags]

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