This is an excerpt from our upcoming book, 21st Century Strategies for Church Growth.

One of the serious shortcomings of most centers of higher learning is that they educate the head but fail to train the student. The difference between teaching and training is this: effective teaching focuses on passing information from teacher to student (some call the process a “data dump”), but effective training is about transferring skills, values, and behaviors from expert to intern. In years gone by, this process was practiced through experienced and masterful mentors who took an apprentice under their wing. An apprentice would spend days and nights with the master craftsman who didn’t just teach, but trained the apprentice in every aspect of the job. Since the early apprentices resided with the master, they were immersed in the skill of successfully navigating life. Perhaps the most well-known master-apprentice account is the one of Jesus and Peter, James, and John – the three inner-circle apostles.

When churches use this model as their paradigm for leadership development, they have little trouble finding new leaders who not only know how to do the task at hand, but also how to be an effective leader. Of course, this results in a church full of spiritually grounded, faithful, skilled, and well-equipped leaders.

Implement this recommendation by adopting the Leadership Code:

All Church Leaders Must:

  • Embrace and model the congregational covenants
  • Embrace, support, and reflect the congregational DNA
  • Have a both a specific mission and a vision for their ministry
  • Have specific goals for achieving the mission and vision
  • Have a mentor
  • Have followers
  • Have an apprentice

Ultimately, the Leadership Code should apply to every single church leader from the lead pastor to the kindergarten Sunday school teacher. Perhaps the greatest benefit of this practice is that every ministry in the church has a fallback when a leader vacates their position. The Leadership Code will not be an overnight “fix.” It will take some time to fully implement it; however, staff and high-level leaders should implement this practice immediately.

Question: How have you seen this model of leadership executed well? How have you seen it executed poorly? Share your thoughts and observations in the Comments section below.