July 17, 2012

By Phil Maynard

I was coaching a pastor several weeks ago who shared that he was looking for a way to get a new family at the church more connected. Joe, the father in the family, was a well-known businessman in the community. The pastor said: “I’m thinking about asking him to lead our missions committee”.


Skin in the GameMy wife recently had surgery. We didn’t go looking for a doctor we hoped would get involved. We went to the best we could find. We were looking for demonstrated competence!

I think the same mindset should apply to the way we go looking for those who will be leading the church to do Kingdom work.

There are several ways local congregations can begin to identify those with leadership potential. For example, I often recommend that churches invite people to engage in a discernment process to determine how God has wired them for ministry. We use a workshop built around Rick Warren’s SHAPE (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, experiences) process. Many congregations are now using this tool as part of a new member class.

I also recommend that leaders demonstrate a high level of spiritual maturity (see previous blog). This is evidenced by regular participation in worship, a commitment to proportional giving, and the practice of spiritual disciplines.

But, I think the most important thing we can look for is skin in the game (with demonstrated competence). This means that the people who are selected for leadership are involved in doing ministry and have shown a passion for that ministry, the ability to work well with others, and have leadership potential.

Bill Hybels, in his book Courageous Leadership, call these the 3 C’s:

• Character
• Competence
• Chemistry

I think he is right on target. We do our churches a disservice when we bypass the demonstrated abilities and passions for ministry leadership.

What are the standard measures of character, competence, and chemistry for those being considered for leadership in your congregation?

Mentioned Resources:

  • SHAPE, by Eric Rees (based on Rick Warren’s SHAPE process)
  • Courageous Leadership, by Bill Hybels (lead pastor at Willow Creek)