Credentials for ministry leaders: make it clear

I’ve been working with a few groups on ways to revamp their credentialing or ordination process– essentially, how to prepare ministers for ministry. This week on my blog I’m reflecting on some of my general thoughts in this topic.

The first thing that’s critical is having clear outcomes. If you want to develop high quality leaders within your ministry, you need to first define what you want those leaders to look like. What do you want them to be able to do? What qualities do you want them to model and pass along to others? Identify clear, outcome-based competencies so you have a clear map of what you want your ordained leaders to be and do.

Direct results

“Direct results always come first. In the care of feeding of an organization, they play the role calories pay in the nutrition of the human body.”  — Peter Drucker

One of the critical issues that we don’t recognize in church leadership is that it’s not the activities that matter, but the fruit that those activities yield. Attendance or participation is one thing to measure, but far more important is measuring the outcome created by that attendance or participation. For example, are we measuring church service attendance or life change?  Just because something is easier to measure doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing to be measuring.

The big picture of the missional journey

As we encourage our people to engage culture, they will form missional communities. Out of those missional communities, we will develop leaders. With those leaders, we will multiply movements. These four areas together make up what I call “the missional journey.”

  • engaging culture
  • forming communities/churches
  • developing leadership
  • multiplying movements

Here’s an exercise to flesh out these four areas in your own ministry. Identify the 5 to 7 core outcomes for each of these areas (e.g. If we are engaging culture in our region, then we will see… )  Get as specific and behavioral as you can. Outlining the outcomes of these four stages clarifies the “what” that we’re moving toward. It also gives us the relevant categories for measuring our effectiveness.

The key to leadership development…

… is knowing what you’re trying to accomplish. If you want to develop leaders—and know that you’re being successful in that endeavor—you need to get more concrete and specific about what you’re aiming for. What does a leader look like? How do you know if you have one? A good map isn’t helpful unless you know your destination.

Take time to reflect on these three questions:

• What are you trying to produce?

• What’s the process for figuring that out?

• How do you make sure it’s linked in with your values?

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