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9 Ways To Develop And Empower Leaders Through Delegation

Posted by Rusty Gates on 7/12/17 7:02 AM

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As pastors and leaders in the church, one of our biggest callings is to build up the people of the church, encouraging and challenging them to walk farther down the path of faith. One of the best ways we can do this is by bringing church members into the heart of ministry and empowering them to live as the hands and feet of Christ.

By inviting people into our ministry and delegating responsibilities, we not only increase the work of the church, but also build up our people.

Below are nine steps to raise up leaders through delegation.

1. Don’t focus only on the rock stars

When we are looking to delegate ministry, it is easy to focus on the people who are already bought into the vision and show up to every event. They are present and willing, which is what most of us look for in a volunteer. However, by only focusing on these rock stars, we risk both burning out key leaders who are already doing a handful of things in the church and missing out on the chance to raise up new leaders.

By inviting in church members on the fringe of the ministry, you are giving them the chance to get more involved, to hear more about the vision and mission of the church, and potentially become a long-term volunteer. People want to feel needed. By inviting newcomers or on-and-off members to take responsibility for ministry, you give them a chance to feel like a valued part of the body of Christ. This may be the thing that helps them take that next step of faith.

2. Ask specific people directly for help

I have done this poorly in ministry for years. I never wanted people to feel guilted into serving in ministry or feeling like they couldn’t say no. So, rather than asking specific people directly for their help, I put out general calls for volunteers. How many times have you heard the announcement, “We need more help in the children’s ministry. If you’re interested in helping out contact so-and-so.”

When you give broad sweeping requests, it’s easy for would-be volunteers to assume that someone else is going to step up. It doesn’t effectively communicate the specificity and urgency of the need. However, if you were to walk up to a specific person and ask them if they’d consider serving in ministry, you are communicating to them that you know them and that you think they can be a valuable part of the ministry. They might need time to think about it, and they might say no, but even if that is the case, you have at least encouraged them. That encouragement may go a lot further than you know.

4. Communicate the vision

Once someone agrees to serve in your ministry, it’s important to communicate the vision of the ministry before giving any tangible responsibility. Don't assume that all of your volunteers are starting with the same knowledge of how your church is reaching your community.

This doesn’t need to be a day-long seminar; rather, it could be as easy as a 10-minute talk that you give to your volunteers before each service. This will help your leaders be more passionate about the ministry itself and will in turn give them a better picture of the vision of the church as a whole. Show them, don't just tell them how God is moving in your community.

4. Communicate expectations

Respect that people are often stepping outside of their comfort zones and typical routines to serve in ministry. As such, it can go a long way to help them set realistic expectations. This means letting them know how long you’re asking them to serve, how often, and what specifically they’re being asked to do. People will often rise up to the expectations given them and even surpass them if they know what is expected. However, if they are left without clear direction, not everyone will go out of their way to figure it out, especially if they’re already being stretched by just showing up.

5. Equip your volunteers with necessary resources/tools

This might seem self-evident, but again, it can’t be stressed enough. It’s important to make sure people have everything they need to do what they’ve been asked to do. You want to create a positive serving experience. The goal is to build up leaders through empowerment. 

When I was leading small group leaders, I found that it wasn’t enough to provide discussion questions. I also had to train the leaders how to deal with conflict or how to lead that one person who overtakes the conversation. Of course you can’t equip them for every possibility, but the goal is to make sure they feel confident that they have what they need to get the job done if you are not right there.

6. Be readily available to give guidance and support

While you want to train your volunteers to be competent enough in their ministry that you don’t need to be there, go out of your way to make yourself available. It is hard to ask for help (that’s a big part of why I’m writing this in the first place), and it’s often even harder for volunteers to ask for help when they feel like they’re expected to know exactly what to do. 

Download our free checklist for effective church and volunteer staff meetings here. 

Even if you have made it clear from the beginning that you’re available to help and support in any way, take extra steps to offer that help. You don’t want to undermine the trust you have placed in them, but make sure it’s clear that if they need feedback or have questions, you are available to help them.

7. Give credit where credit is due

When all is said and done and the church is reflecting on the successes of the ministry, be quick to point towards all of the people that made it happen. Yes, you may have taken point and organized the whole thing, but the people who served were really the champions. More often than not, you were given a paycheck to get the job done, but they sacrificed their own time and energy to serve.

All of this goes back to the point of making sure your volunteers know that their contributions really matter. Nothing will undercut that more than failing to give your volunteers the credit that they deserve. Share God stories of how He has used their time, energy, and resources to reach your community for Christ.

8. Thank your volunteers directly

Public praise is extremely important. It reinforces the truth that your volunteers matter to the whole of the body. But similar to the public calls for volunteers, it’s also possible that they may interpret the praise as for someone else. As much as possible, thank each of your volunteers personally. This will show them that you recognize what they offered and that you genuinely appreciate them.

9. Ask for feedback 

Finally, whenever you can, ask your volunteers for feedback on their experience as a volunteer. People who are just entering into your ministry are going to have a generally unbiased perspective. Furthermore, as you seek to grow in your ability to develop leaders through delegation, this gives you a very clear way to figure out how you can improve as a leader. In addition to all of that, it’s one more way to for you to show them that their opinion matters.

By making sure your church members feel specifically invited into ministry and by showing them that their contributions really matter, you are more likely to recruit more volunteers and build up better leaders. This is discipleship at its core and as church leaders, it’s a significant part of our calling. 

How can you begin to delegate responsibility to your volunteers and team members?

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Topics: Church Development, Team Building, Volunteers

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