I was involved in a leadership network meeting with Peter Drucker back in the 80s. There were various practitioners there making presentations, and Peter added his commentary. After I gave my presentations, he got up and started talking about the rise of conservatories in the 1830s. I leaned forward to listen and try to connect the dots.

From 1830 to 1840, conservatories emerged for the training of orchestra leaders. A systematic internship program was developed in which each conductor kept a careful list of apprentices. Each apprentice was matched with a mentor who was at the appropriate level to help them gain further experience—further ahead, but not too much further ahead. The job of the mentor was to challenge the apprentices toward growth and prepare them for greater responsibilities.

The conservatory training model included these elements:

  • training through multiple internships
  • placement according to ability
  • releasing for greater responsibilities
  • intentionally giving away the best talent as they grow

How might we use such a model for training ministry leaders today?  What type of internship placement system could we create? What kind of intentional mentoring process could we put into place?

A training system that followed these lines would be experience-based and would expose new leaders to a variety of mentors and ministry environments. It would also provide an effective fast track for those who learn quickly.

What worked for orchestra conductors might also work for church leaders. Can you see the possibilities?