One of the major challenges in ministry is turning volunteers into leaders. You don’t just want people filling needed slots—although that’s one piece of the puzzle. You want to develop each individual: as a person, as a disciple, and as a leader. Ultimately, you are trying to develop not just sheep, but shepherds.

Sometimes we begin by looking at the volunteer slots that need to be filled and looking for a person for that role. Why not instead try beginning by looking at the people you have and then looking for the role that could help them grow the most? It’s not about looking for the perfect person for the role, but about developing the perfect person for their unique role.

One of the ways we can see this difference come out is when we put forward new initiatives. At those points we are considering who needs to buy into those plans and how we are going to make that happen. Who are the people you really need to understand what you’re trying to do? What do you want them to do?

If people respond by saying—in effect—“The leadership is going this direction, so we need to go along with it even if we don’t really understand it,” those are volunteers, not leaders. Leaders, on the other hand, will test the new idea, ask questions, and maybe push back on it. When they buy in though, they really get it, take a role in leading the initiative forward, and are able to guide others along that path.

Most churches have plenty of sheep, but a shortage of shepherds. One way you can help develop those shepherds is by investing in the development of the people you have rather than just filling volunteer slots. You may be developing someone and not be able to see yet where God is taking them. But later you’ll have a leader, not just a volunteer.

Need help developing leaders? We have resources designed to do just that. You may find The Leadership Difference and the Leadership Skills Guides helpful.

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