Leadership Pipeline

Quincy Brown


Leadership Pipeline

Over the past few years, I have worked with churches to develop a leadership pipeline. In my work as superintendent over the district, I’ve witnessed several examples of church lay leadership. Below, I want to share two churches that have an active leadership pipeline in place. It is always a toss-up between these churches for the most lay servants to be recognized in the area. I’m grateful to the leadership of Dr. Derrick Rhodes and Rev. Robert Ward, Sr. for sharing their processes.

Kelley Chapel
At Kelley Chapel United Methodist Church, we recruit, train, and empower lay leaders by looking for people who have leadership potential, training new members, and placing them in ministries that match their gifts. We reward qualities we want others to practice, conducting a yearly planning retreat, and reiterating leadership requirements. Before we train or empower lay leaders, we take time to identify the persons with leadership potential.
These leaders are usually open to spiritual maturity and learning. Once people join KCUMC, they have to attend our new-members classes (actually, this is where training and empowering begins) where they learn more about our mission, vision, values, and strategic plan. They also must take the spiritual gifts inventory, which gives us some insights into new member’s God-given spiritual gifts, talents, and life experiences. After completing the new members’ classes, members sign a membership covenant that focuses on regular worship, praying for the leadership (pastor and his wife) engage in evangelization, serve, give a tenth of their financial resources (if not a tither mature to become one).

Once we discover members’ leadership potential, we place them in ministries according to their spiritual gift assessments. We continue to train and empower our lay leaders by conducting a yearly retreat. In these retreats, we review and revise our vision statement, our values, and our strategic plans. Also, we discuss the roles and duties of the various ministries and positions we have at Kelley Chapel, such as the Church Council, the SPRC, the Trustee Committee, Mentors, etc.
We train and empower by rewarding the type of leadership we want. Before I became pastor, selections for recognitions like Woman and Man of the Year focused on personality and the popularity of the people. This type of practice doesn’t help the Church; it diminishes the Church; it perpetuates a click in the Body of Christ. I worked tirelessly to get rid of this flawed, poisonous practice. With the members’ help, I devised a plan where receiving an honor (e.g., Man of the Year and Woman of the Year), have to meet a specific qualification before being considered for these honors. Training and empowering at Kelley Chapel involves rewarding the leadership qualities we want to see in our leaders. I call it “catching people doing right.” In the Church, we tend to be professionals at catching people doing the wrong things. I seek to train and empower by teaching my congregation to “catch people doing right.” Nothing is encouraging about members and leaders catching people doing wrong.
We continue our training and empowerment during the yearly retreats and throughout the year by stating and reiterating the requirements to be chosen as a leader, Sunday School teacher, or Bible teacher. All members know that to become a leader—chairperson, lay leader or ministerial candidate, etc.—people must attend lay servant school and keep their certificate current. They must also participate in a small group. As a pastor, I preach and teach the gospel every Sunday morning and in various other settings, but I believe the gospel comes alive for people in small groups. In these types of groups, members bond, grow spiritually and learn leadership qualities and traits from each other.
In sum, at KCUMC, we don’t always get it right—that’s choosing the right leaders—but we diligently and purposely try. Our recruiting, educating, and inspiring KCUMC is not haphazard; it is an intentional process. We intentionally look for leaders. We deliberately train, and we intentionally empower.

How do you recruit Lay Servants at Clifton UMC?
The Lay Servant Ministry is an extension of our discipleship pathway. Every member of Clifton is encouraged and prepared for Lay service through our discipleship process. New and old members are encouraged to attend stewardship classes to help develop their maturity in becoming competent witnesses for Christ. We seek spiritual gifts in all members while attending Sunday school, Bible study, and participating in different ministries. We encourage all members to use their talents and gifts in whatever service needed in advancing the Kingdom of God. Children and youth play a significant part as they too prepare toward developing their roles in Christian service. Typically, after two years of membership in service, we provide members with opportunities to enhance and strengthen their walk by becoming a Lay Servant or Lay Speaker, depended upon the gift.
How do you train Lay Servants?
We ask all Servants and Speakers to strengthen their spiritual walk through Bible Study, Sunday School, Small group studies, workshops, attend Church & District training sessions, and continue in wholesome fellowship groups.
We ask all Lay Servants and members to spend at least one day at Annual Conference yearly. All attending church members, including Lay servants, participate in some form of ministry at Clifton. We encourage volunteerism and mentorship in efforts to help others become acquainted and indoctrinated into serving in and outside of the four walls of Clifton. Serving with others is essential and most important. Lay Servants must work with others to promote positive and compelling growth in one another as well as providing valuable feedback. Constant communication is required (not just meetings). During our quarterly Church meetings, we discuss the effectiveness and the present roles of all who are serving the Church.
The Leadership & Nomination Committee watch and pray for all leaders of the Church. Members who exemplify gifts of service and speaking are noted and encouraged. 

How do you empower Lay Servant Leaders in your Church?
All Lay Servants and Lay Speakers have opportunities to lead in worship, Bible study, outreach ministries, Special programs & activities, filling the pulpit at Clifton (Preaching and worship leading), and coordinating special projects and ministries outside of the Church. Each year the Church celebrates ‘Good Friday’ service by hearing the preached Word from all Lay Servants, “The Seven Last Words of Christ.”
Two of our Lay Servants have accepted their call to Ordained Ministry and are now serving as Local Pastors in the Atlanta Decatur Oxford District.
Lay servants lead meetings and small groups. The most effective outreach ministries at Clifton “Monthly Food Bank Ministry” and the worship experience at “Pruitt Rehabilitation & Nursing facility” are led by Lay Servant Ministers.
The Pastor and Lay Leader work together to provide opportunities for the Lay Servants to continue to exercise their gifts through time, talents, gifts, and service.

On the Journey,

After reading Quincy’s blog, I found this piece of art I did. I made it show what we can become through expert training that tame our impulses. I think this is often what good leadership can do for a church.
When an expert tames a wild falcon instinct, it can be trained to bring bread to the hungry, notes of hope to the hopeless, and can catch and break arrows shot at others in hate. What could I do if I were to let God tame me?
--Ross Boone, illustrator


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