What do you do with those you are discipling who want more? The first thing you want to do is rejoice! Developing leaders takes initiative and intentionality to develop a track that is easy to follow and easily reproducible. You must be on the outlook for those who are pushing for the next steps. They are hungry and desire something more even after being discipled into a mature believer. Your discipleship must lead them from being an infant, to child, to young adult, and then to becoming a parent where they reproduce.

As young adults the discipleship process should be equipping the disciple to minister. In DiscipleShift, Jim Putman describes the young adult’s traits as becoming less self-centered and more others-centered. They begin to see themselves as ministers. They are also starting to tithe and give more and more of their time. They begin to see and understand their kingdom purpose. It is very important to provide them with ministry opportunities and think about ministry placement. Where are they gifted and what are they passionate about?

It is at this point in your church’s spiritual growth system that you need to think through and plan out how you will develop them as leaders. Do you have a leadership pipeline in place that will help them keep taking steps forward? Remember, the desire is to have a discipleship based multiplication of disciples, leaders, and churches. Have you built a “next steps” mentality into your church ministry? Thinking of a pipeline helps you to visualize them as always flowing forward. Even as an infant they can know they need to find a place to serve.

The first step can be determining where they will serve. Give them the opportunity to try out several different ministries as they prayerfully consider what is the best fit for their personality and gift set. Then they can determine if that is the ministry team they want to be a part of and serve. Once they are team members they can learn through observation what it means to lead a team. A great principle here is to give them a project to accomplish before you give them a position. A crucial core value to this process is that, “No one leads who does not first serve!”

If you see them excelling at following through on their projects then they are an excellent candidates to be team leaders. The next step would be for them to coach several team leaders. Now they make sure that team leaders have all the resources they need to accomplish the team’s goals. An example of a coach could be overseeing the leaders of your small groups by checking in on them weekly to make sure all is well and if there is any way they can serve them to make their jobs easier. They can call them to encourage them, check in on their needs, and pray for them.

When do you begin to look for these leaders and what might this pipeline look like? Dr. Dave DeVries has laid out seven phases of leadership in his Multiplication Workshop. The cool thing about these seven phases is that the first three are the process you use for every believer. You do not consider anyone for leadership who is not already maturing in Christ, living on mission, and making disciples. One element that is all too often left out of the qualifications for leadership is, “Are they reproducing?” You will never see multiplication by elevating leaders who are not multiplying themselves.

First, they are maturing. It is not that they have matured but they are in the process of maturing. It is not a place of arrival but an ongoing journey. Here are some excellent questions to ask. Are they passionate about their spiritual growth? Are they spending time alone with the Lord? Is their evidence of spiritual character developing? Are they beginning to share their faith?

The second phase is missional living. They have an awareness and a burden to reach their circle of accountability with the love of Christ. They have begun praying for them and figuring out ways to serve them and display the love of Christ in practical ways. They want to be Jesus to them and are always looking for ways to bless those far from God and relationally build bridges to them.

Third, they are making disciples. They are not only a good follower of Jesus but they are also helping others to follow Him. This will not happen if they have not been trained and shown how to make disciples. Jim Putman says that this requires an intentional leader, a relational environment, and a reproducible process. Do you have a clear and easily reproducible process in place?

The next two phases are very similar in modeling and mentoring. You need to identify which leadership skills they need the most in their lives and then model them for them to observe in practical ministry settings such as conflict resolution. The mentoring will occur as you show them what to do, allow them to do it, and then debrief them about how the ministry opportunity went by asking good questions.

Now you are ready to mobilize them into service. These leaders will need to be shown how to build effective teams, how to empower others, how to encourage and care for their teams, how to evaluate progress, and how to strategize and plan. Make sure that you celebrate their progress and you give them permission to fail. They will not lead exactly like you, but that is a good thing.

Then they can multiply. The goal here is to lead leaders and that takes more prayer, skill, and effort than just leading followers. Without the multiplication of leaders you place a lid on the ability of your ministry to expand its impact for the kingdom of God. Are you multiplying yourself? “The pastor is not the minister. The pastor is the equipper, every member is a minister!” -Francis Chan

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