The process of any good leader in a church body should be to build out a pipeline of spiritual leaders that multiply disciples. Not every task can be done by one person, and not every leader can be hired. The apostles knew this when establishing the church.
And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.” – Acts 6:2-3
In this article, you will learn more about leading your lay leadership as we uncover the following topics:
- Identifying Lay Leaders
- Developing and Equipping Lay Leaders
- Multiplying Lay Leaders
Lay leaders are leaders within the church who do not receive a paycheck. Look at who is naturally leading without being asked. Who are the people engaged in discipleship? Who is leading Bible studies? Who is mentoring younger believers? These are the lay leaders you need to invest in for the work of ministry. Who do you see in your ministry that you want others to emulate.
Identifying and developing lay leaders is mission critical to see a movement of God in our churches and communities. Environments must be created to foster growth for spiritual leaders who help embody these strategic values given to us through God’s living word.
Values for Lay Leaders
- Living by Greater Faith (Matthew 14; Peter walking on water)
- Leading by Example (1 Corinthians 11:1; Are you worth following?)
- Sharing God’s Call (Ephesians 4:1-7; Empowerment of the Holy Spirit)
- Sharing Responsibility (1 Corinthians 3:9; Co-laborers with Christ)
We now know what we need to do and why we need to do it. What we’ve laid out so far is the ideal vision for lay leaders, and the strategy we can use to achieve it, but how is that done? If you are identifying and developing lay leaders, you have to be intentional and consistent with each individual to avoid burnout and reproach and to ensure that the vision is communicated consistently to the people you lead.
Here are five crucial expectations that should be implemented to foster a spiritually healthy leadership community.
Expectations for Lay Leaders
- Prayer: “If you haven’t prayed about it, don’t speak about it.” Your prayer should expand faster than your ministry.
- Quality Time: Lay leaders spend consistent time engaging in the ministry.
- Ministry Stories: Lay leaders are exposed to, share, and celebrate how God is moving in the ministry. What you value you celebrate and what celebrate shows what we value.
- Accountability: Lay leaders are being held accountable to the following items and answer the hard questions.
a. Marriage – How is your marriage?
b. Eyes – Are your eyes clean?
c. Money – How are you stewarding resources?
5. Leadership Development: Lay leaders identify and invest in future leaders.
*Discipleship is a way of life, so these five practices are constant and should pervade every facet of the life of your ministry.
Equipping Lay Leaders
Walking with lay leaders and holding them accountable in their relationship with Jesus is an essential way to equip them for the work of healthy ministry. If the lay leader is healthy, the more likely the group(s) they lead will be healthy.
Here are some practical steps to equip your lay leaders:
- Set Clear Expectations – These should be rooted in Scripture.
- Communicate Vision – Help them to see how they are a part of the vision of your ministry.
- Hold Them Accountable to God’s Call
- Provide Intentional Training and Development
Assessment and Evaluation
As we identify and develop lay leaders, it is important to assess the following. This will ideally reveal helpful next steps for each lay leader as they continue to be transformed.
Who are they leading (self, others, leaders, the church)?
Who are they capable of leading or being called to lead?
How can we equip them to lead those to whom they are called?
When lay leaders are healthy, they begin to multiply. These leaders are the ones that are worth following, so how can you create an environment that multiplies these leaders?
It is done by holding the view that discipleship is a way of life, not just an isolated practice. If a leader has capacity, he should be intentionally pouring into younger men. Leaders should be investing in the spiritually motivated, so that the leaders they invest in will disciple leaders younger than them. In this way, discipleship saturates the relationships in gospel communities, as everyone is pouring into and being poured into.
By communicating the best message, through the correct channels, to the right people, at the right time and using feedback from this process, lay leaders can stay focused on the vision. Everyone is on a journey of transformation. Identifying and developing lay leaders multiplies this process so that the good news can more powerfully and frequently reach the lost and the hurting.
In Paul David Tripp’s Lead, he states that “Every leadership community is called to follow the mentality, attitudes, submission, and willingness of the servant master who called, equipped, and sent them” (Tripp 137).
In order to achieve the characteristics listed above, lay leaders have to model their role and their leadership after Jesus, the ultimate leader worth following.
Luke Bilberry is the Executive Pastor of Multiplication at Chapel Pointe in Hudsonville, Michigan. With a conviction to serve local churches, Luke draws on his 16 years of ministry experience to help churches and church leaders accomplish their vision. Over his time in ministry, Luke has served four local churches in a variety of roles. He has led student and family ministries in rural, urban, and suburban contexts. With a passion for church leadership, Luke holds a Masters in Christian Leadership from Dallas Theological Seminary.