One of the first tasks of a church planter is to expand the leadership. You will grow as fast as you develop leaders. Besides communication skills this is the greatest determiner of success. You must find protégés to mentor and release.
A protégé in the origin of the word means someone who is “protected.” I like to think of it as being an incubator for new talent. It could be assumed that the church is the incubator but more often than not I have seen that the leader is the incubator of new leaders coming along.
The first church I was part of the pastor was extraordinary at spotting and giving platform for new “talent.” He made sure the church was willing to put up with some mediocre messages and stumbling leaders. I counted eight leaders who started magnificent churches out of my home church.
I think it advisable to not start a church unless you have a couple protégés who can grow to replace you or move on, or take a long term role with you. It is for certain you will have to protect and care for these leaders. The church may bristle at their process. There will certainly be spiritual attacks upon them. And a struggle of some kind is certain.
Here’s what I have looked for in a protégé and I have had many:
- They are willing to put in that extra effort. They are the last to leave.
- They have faith for the next steps of the group. They can see and taste success along with you.
- They develop the church not their own following.
- They are learners not knowers.
- They have low need for approval.
- They are honest and have dependable character.
- They are talented and only need development. If they aren’t talented don’t invest in them.
Here’s what you do for a protégé:
- Give them time. Put aside the urgent and invest in the leaders.
- Give them the spotlight and rescue them if needed.
- Never express anything but respect for them and their place in the church.
- Expect a lot from them.
- Make certain to invest in them as much as they do in the church.
- Point out their successes to the church.
- Watch for opportunities for them even if it costs you.