In this series of posts, I am going to unpack the strategy and structure of leadership development we have implemented at The Austin Stone for missional communities. I’ll be looking at:
- Discipleship and Leadership Development
- Identifying Leaders – Two Different Methods
- Questions to Ask When Considering a Leader
- The Basic Qualifications for Leadership
- Basic Training for Leaders
- Ongoing Training for Leaders
- Caring for Leaders
The Basic Qualifications for Leadership
Once you’ve figured out how to identify leaders have a handle on the questions you need to consider, the next step is figuring out what the basic qualifications for leadership. By no means are we perfect, but below I unpack each aspect of qualification and why.
Participate in Basic Training
The first qualification for leadership is that the individual has participated in our 4 week Missional Community Training. We take 2.5 hours in each session, and focus on four primary topics:
- The Gospel
- Gospel Motivations
- Missional Community Values
- Missional Community Practices
We make this training freely available to anyone who would like to join us. We’ve had former elders and pastors, church planters, all the way down to the certifiably insane, unrepentant individuals under discipline, and those who are not even believers participate.
We’ll train anyone in the basics of the DNA because it is almost entirely centered on the gospel, and a basic theology of church life. Simply attending a training does not qualify someone for leadership though!
Share Your Story WIth Us
The next step for those interested in leadership is to have a face-to-face conversation with one of our elders or deacons. In this conversation, we are looking for evidence of conversion, a clear understanding of the gospel, and a clear desire to lead.
A Defined Mission
We ask everyone who wants to lead to have a clear understanding of who they want to reach and what they want to do. We’re not looking for a church planters prospectus, but minimally a clear sense of mission and some ability to identify a direction for a group of people.
This does a good job of eliminating the unmotivated, as well as helps us redirect those who are interested in leadership but shouldn’t be leading. We give honest feedback, and practical and tangible steps for those we don’t think should be leading.
Recruit a Core Team
Simply expressing desire to lead doesn’t actually mean someone is a leader. Leaders have people who follow them! The first step for anyone is to gather 3 or 4 core team members to the vision they desire to pursue. The best indicator of the future success of a leader is if they can rally a core to their mission.
We won’t help connect people to a leader until they have a core on board with their vision.
Sometimes leaders don’t really need to have another group of people join them after their core, it’ll just slow it down. For those that still desire to, however, we give them tools and help individuals find their newly formed community.
We don’t have a doctrinal exam for leaders other than simple knowledge of the gospel, we don’t have a laundry list of commitments other than participate in our coaching and ongoing training, we don’t have covenants, although they can be useful.
We’ve tried to find a balance that allows for a somewhat lower barrier of entry into leadership, while creating a desire for ongoing training.
What would you add to this list?