By Dennis Franck
You may have heard the phrase, “everything rises and falls on leadership.” I believe that to be true in Single Adult and Young Adult Ministries! A strong leadership/servant team will promote a positive image, consistency in ministry, hunger for God, numerical growth, spiritual growth and excitement in the group.
Since strong leadership is a key to effective ministry to/with single adults and young adults, ask yourself, and other key individuals these questions.
Questions to consider:
1. What is our mission/purpose? (Outreach – discipleship – social/fellowship – discussion – education)
2. What does God want us to do or be?
3. What age group are we targeting? (18-24,18-30, 20s and 30s, 35 and older, 55 and older etc.)
4. What need group are we targeting? (Single parents, children of single parents, Divorce Recovery, Widowed)
5. What responsibilities could/should we delegate?
6. Who has leadership potential? (Maturity - Desire – Skills – Experience – Vision – Good attitude)
It is important to remember your mission statement, purposes and goals when looking for potential leaders/servants to fulfill ministry positions. Ministry needs to be planned and built around these principles for it to be effective and need-fulfilling.
Males vs. Females
It is essential to understand a basic principle concerning males vs. females in leadership. In my ministries over the years I have used both; however, I have learned an important lesson that I think is worth sharing. Generally, the older the group the more important and difficult it is to find male leadership. I have discovered that in older males, (especially 40+) there is a tendency to have an ego, a hesitancy toward women leading them. The older the male, the more possible tendency there is to be reluctant to follow females. Younger adults don’t generally have this attitude.
Married vs. Single
Generally, the younger the age group, the more accepting people are of married couples in leadership. This is basically because young single adults do not identify themselves by their marital status. Their singleness is not a big deal to them, as it tends to be to adults who have been single longer. They mix well with single or married young adults.
The older the age group, the more accepting people are of remarried couples in leadership. This is basically true because remarried couples became single-again at some point in their life. They understand the needs, interests and issues of the single-again adult.
I have found it is best that leadership be predominately single adults in both the young adult age group (18-35) and the single adult age group (35+). I believe this to be true because of their experience, flexibility of time, understanding of issues, respect of peers and example in growth and maturity.
Qualities to Look For In Leaders
I remember during my 21 years as a singles pastor always looking for new leadership! My eyes were constantly roaming the groups for people with leadership potential. I have had some success and failure in this area, and consequently have learned a few basic principles in recruiting leadership.
1. Know specifically what you are looking for…The type of person, strengths, ministry position etc
2. Seek God for guidance. If you don’t ask God for guidance you are on your own; A sad place to be!
3. Look for strengths in people. Observe people’s attitudes, actions and conversations at the classes, small groups, events and various activities etc. Look for people who have/are:
• Healthy relationships - Likeable
• Good attitudes - Faithful
• Spiritual maturity - Growing
• Committed to Christ - Balanced life
• Personable - Well groomed
• Dependable - Desire to serve
It is not important, nor is it likely to have all of these characteristics in every person. The more of them you find, however, the better chance they will have at succeeding!
4. Develop relationships with potential leadership people before asking them to join the team. I made several mistakes the first few years of ministry; This was one of them! I was so eager to find leadership, and so good at convincing someone to do what I wanted, I prematurely appointed people. I did not have an adequate relationship with them to even know them, not to mention knowing their strengths or gifts! After two or three months the person would come to me saying, “I don’t have the time to do this!” What they were really saying was, “I don’t have the skills or desire to do this, “but were too embarrassed to tell me! I set them up to fail!
5. Ask to meet with the potential leadership person and tell them the purpose. Don’t take the approach some multi-level marketing companies take by asking you to come to a meeting, not knowing the real purpose of it!
6. Ask/help them discover what their ministry gifts are. Too many people are asked to serve in positions of ministry that do not even remotely resemble their gifts. A person will serve best who is serving in their giftedness.
7. Ask them to serve in a specific ministry area. Be prepared to explain the details of the area of ministry you see them fitting into and would like them to fill. Allow them to evaluate their interest and abilities for the ministry.
8. Ask them to serve for a specific time. Here is another area I failed in during the first few years of ministry to single adults and young adults.I did not ask a leader to serve for a specific time period. (usually 6-12 months) Consequently, due to not wanting to let me down, insecurity, guilt, etc, s/he would continue trying to fulfill the responsibilities, wondering how long this was going to last! (sometimes long after they should have). It was evident, however, that her/his heart was not in it. Again, due to ignorance on my part, I set the person up to fail.
Training and Motivating Leaders
One important key to an effective leadership/servant team is training and motivation. Without ongoing training and motivation, leaders will begin to fail and lack the necessary tools and encouragement they need to be effective. Suggestions for training leaders include:
• Meet regularly with them
• Give reading assignments (a chapter in a leadership book)
• Discuss the reading at the next meeting
• Teach and discuss leadership principles
• Model transparency and vulnerability yourself
• Host an annual leadership retreat
• Host an annual leadership class
Suggestions for motivating leaders include:
• Thank them publicly and privately
• Encourage them privately and publicly
• Correct them privately only
• Provide incentives
• Honor them in front of their peers
• Model loyalty to them
• Model a good work ethic
• Model enthusiasm and a positive attitude
• Model faith, trust and dependence on God
The Use of Job Descriptions
I have found it extremely helpful over the years to provide people with written job descriptions. A job description shows that you have thoroughly thought through what you would like them to do and oversee. Secular companies use job descriptions continuously. The church can learn from the business world and should provide a job description for every key leadership position in the church. Some of the benefits of job descriptions include:
• People know what you expect
• You know what you can expect
• You know what you can inspect
• Opportunity to refine and improve the ministry
• Opportunity to refine and mature the leader
• Opportunity to maximize ministry
Working with leadership can be and should be one of the most rewarding things about Single Adult and Young Adult Ministry! Helping people heal, grow, mature and find their place of service is what ministry and discipleship is all about!
Visit our website for ministry job description samples. www.singles.ag.org Click on “Leaders Resources.”