5 Tips to Identify and Nurture Potential Evangelization Leaders
Evangelization is a lot more than talking about God to another person, but this is a good start. Evangelization takes time, a lot of conversation, and shared reflection. It stems from building relationships with others, through Christ. As you grow spiritually, the Holy Spirit ignites your call to evangelize others. In a perfect world, there is a constant flow of people experiencing curiosity, awareness, discernment, evangelization, and discipleship. But we live in an imperfect world, and we must step up our evangelization efforts to ensure our church’s survival.
Your church needs both leaders and mentors to thrive
Becoming a leader or volunteer in a future Alpha session may be a natural outcome for some people. Others may become mentors as they move through their faith journey. A good leader will indeed produce a few potential leaders, and will always guide and develop future mentors. Both leaders and mentors are needed to propel and sustain evangelization.
Mentors lead by example, not instruction. While leaders also develop other leaders by example, there is much more to it. Think of it in terms of a road: As a mentor, you are pointing out roadblocks and obstacles in the road to those you mentor. As a leader, you instruct future leaders on how to best build and pave the road itself.
Unfortunately, there is no single how-to book on developing leaders to go out and evangelize others. There is a lot of great reference material available, yet each leader has to find their own way. Even pastors and other church leaders have recognized they cannot be the only ‘leader’ in renewing their parish. Most people learn what works for them and adapt their strategies based on experience. If you see your church’s culture changing through growing new leaders, it is not an accident. This is the result of genuine leadership.
As a church leader, you must develop other leaders. That’s a simple church growth fact. If you don’t, your church will hit a growth lid. No matter how hard you work, no matter how much you love God, no matter how great a communicator you are, your church will reach its natural limit. The ability to develop other leaders is the lid lifter that allows your church to reach its God-given potential – a spirit-filled potential far beyond the limits of natural gifts and talents.
– Discerning Potential, Global Christian Center
5 Tips to identify and nurture potential leaders
How can you “lift the lid” off of your church and begin a cycle of evangelization and discipleship by identifying and developing leaders? Here are five tips to keep in mind while you are helping to discern prospective evangelization leaders, and possibly making intentional disciples of Christ.
1. Listen to them
A person’s eyes will light up when they talk about something that excites them. Listen carefully. There is a purpose to that passion. Try to find a way to channel that passion into action. Perhaps they love working with young adults. Spend time discerning how they can ‘own’ that passion and organize a youth group that serves the church community, maybe by visiting assisted living facilities and spending time with lonely residents.
2. Be OK with delay
Most people are unsure or unwilling to step into a leadership role. They feel they do not have the knowledge, experience, or whatever shortcoming that prevents them from being an effective leader. Each person grows in confidence at different rates and different ways. Consider inviting a person that you believe has the potential to serve as a co-leader for an event. Getting their feet wet in a safe, supportive role will give them the confidence to take on a leadership role in the future.
3. Know when to push
Depending on a person’s personality, some people appreciate a little “push” in the right direction. This seems in direct opposition to the previous point, but it’s all about timing and opportunity. If a potential leader is really engaged in a specific conversation, keep asking them questions. They may find that in formulating a response, they already have the knowledge and assurance in that subject to teach others. After all, leadership is all about mentoring others and identifying the next round of leaders.
4. Be honest
If a person is determined to sing a solo in the next church concert but lacks the singing ability to succeed, it is the sign of a good leader to be honest with them in an empathetic way. Just be sure not to make it a personal affront. You could say something like: “I can see how the music really moves you spiritually, Jane, but I believe your true passion (or purpose) is helping the Children’s Choir members perform with confidence and connect with their songs.” Jane is acknowledged for her passion; it is just manifested differently.
5. Know when to step back
So, Jane has decided to take your advice and coach the Children’s Choir? Great! Mission accomplished. But she’s not going about it the way you would? That’s OK; just step away! Unless Jane asks for your help, let her grow as a leader in her own way. Making mistakes and wrong turns is the sign of maturing as a leader. No one gets it right the first time. Be available for consulting, but don’t offer unsolicited advice. You may lose a leader-in-the-making.
Mission Pathways can help
Our software is designed to create, nurture, and measure individual faith journeys. We’ve consulted with several evangelization leaders and parish staff to develop an application that is easy to use, flexible, and powerful enough to be the one tool you will rely on for all of your parish renewal programs. Watch this quick overview of how our software works.
Whether you are a leader, mentor, or just a lover of Jesus Christ, the opportunity to grow in faith and help others do the same never ends. Be open to learn more about what it means to you to be Christian and to go and make disciples. It may be a course, a small group, or a casual conversation. The method is not as important as the message. Always be open to listening, and you will hear it.