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The Great Leadership Shortage in Churches: Five Ways to Address It

by Thom S. Rainer Founder & CEO One of the most common challenges we hear from church leaders, particularly pastors, is the need for more leaders in the church. The vacuum seems the greatest among elders, deacons, and teachers.

Many churches lost not only members in this post-pandemic world, but they also lost leaders as well. Of course, it is likely that these departures were not really leaders if their commitment to the church was so tenuous.

The caveat for any solutions to fill leadership voids is that it does not happen overnight. But we are working with a number of church leaders who are beginning to see success in finding the right kinds of leaders. Here are five of the most common approaches:

1. Every pastor should be mentoring two or three people at all times. Look at the pattern of Jesus. He called twelve men to follow him. Among the twelve, Peter, James, and John seemed to hold a closer relationship with Jesus. Though he preached to the masses, he prepared the New Testament church yet to come by mentoring a few. He taught them. He showed them. He had dialogue with them. He spent time with them.

2. Pray for God to provide leaders. Perhaps you expect prayer to be a routine solution. There is a reason for that. God commands us to pray, and he shows us the effectiveness of prayer. Answer this question honestly: Are you praying on a regular basis for God to provide leaders for your church? God does indeed answer prayers. He can show you prospective leaders to mentor in your church. And he can send mature Christians to your church.

3. Ask all of your leaders and mentees to mentor others. If you have two leaders you are mentoring, ask them to find two people to mentor when your time with them comes to an end. At that point, you will have two mentees, and the two leaders will have two mentees each. You have thus moved from one leader (you) to three leaders who are each mentoring two others. If you lost count there, that means you have nine persons who are either leaders or who are being mentored to be leaders.

4. Evangelism should be closely tied to mentoring. If our churches are evangelistically lethargic, you should not expect new leaders. Many of your future leaders will be among the new Christians who will need discipling and mentoring. They can eventually become some of your most devoted leaders.

5. Don’t fill a leadership void with unqualified leaders. It is better to have a vacancy than to fill a leadership position with an unqualified person. You can get new leaders in your church, but you must be both intentional and strategic. Be patient. Wait on God. But patience and waiting are not synonymous with doing nothing. Keep mentoring, Keep praying. And expect God to take care of all of your church’s needs.

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