The Need for More Homegrown Leaders in Your Church

The church needs more homegrown leaders. It’s not a novel plea. In fact, church researchers have called for local equipping of leaders for a long time. In our globalized society, however, it is becoming even more important. Today everyone has access to the same information at the same time. Podcasts, blogs and sermon videos are ubiquitous.

The best teachers and preachers in the world now broadcast messages for free. Anyone can listen and benefit from excellent teaching—simply take your pick from several great leaders. The problem is applying this teaching to a variety of individual contexts. What we need are local leaders who understand unique cultural nuances of small towns, neighborhoods and enclaves of larger metropolitan cities.

Many churches will benefit by training and equipping local, homegrown leaders who have specific, lifelong knowledge of their context. What are some things to consider when empowering these homegrown leaders?

Inside, not outside hires. Church leaders will do better in most cases to train up people from within their congregations rather than hiring from the outside. First, if a person is faithful to a specific local church, then the likelihood of that person being sold on the vision of the church is higher. Second, inside hires have at least a basic understanding of the church culture (on the inside); whereas it’s speculation on an outside hire being a cultural fit. Additionally, an out-of-town hire will have two cultures to learn: the inside church culture and the outside community culture.

The rise of Boomer volunteers. Perhaps you’ve heard the Baby Boomer generation is reaching retirement age. Many of them will want to spend their retirement years serving—what better place than the local church. As they enter this season of their lives, perhaps they could lead a lay-led revolution within churches. If you’re wondering why your “senior” ministry keeps getting smaller and older, and no “fresh faces” are joining, it’s because Boomers don’t want to be lumped in with their parents. In fact, many churches may discover an army of volunteers by starting a new type of Boomer ministry with a leadership focus.

Intentional diversity. We are becoming a majority minority nation, and most communities in our country are changing. They are becoming more diverse. Homogeneous churches could benefit by utilizing the few people in their congregations of differing ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. Be intentional about learning from them, giving them leadership positions, and equipping them to reach outward.

Homegrown leadership is not new, but all churches should have a plan to equip their own. And developing homegrown leaders is a biblical way to help the church culture reach outward into the culture of the community.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as president of Rainer Research. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. He also serves as senior pastor at Stevens Street Baptist Church Cookeville, TN. Sam is the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is a theological review editor at CrossBooks and regular contributor to Church Executive magazine. He has written dozens of articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina and an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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