How to Recruit More Church Leaders With the 20% Rule

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I recently addressed the challenge of not having enough volunteers in the post 3 Strategies For Church Volunteers Recruitment. However, the thought of adding more volunteers to the team may be overwhelming. You are maxed out. You are doing everything you can to keep up with your responsibilities and the people who are already on your team. For you, the time to manage and care for even one more volunteer is beyond your capacity.

You may recall a story from the Old Testament where Moses found himself in a similar spot. He was trying to do everything himself. He was leading and making all the decisions. As a result, he was worn out. That’s when his father-in-law, Jethro, encouraged Moses to identify some other capable leaders–leaders of tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. When you find yourself overwhelmed with responsibilities, that should be a warning sign that goes off in your head reminding you, “It’s time to identify and empower another leader.”

Hoping for leaders doesn’t magically produce more leaders.  It requires intentionally carving out time to identify, develop and disciple potential leaders. You can’t just drift to a healthy leadership team. You have to prioritize it and then build new systems to make it happen.

That’s why I routinely challenge church leaders to implement a 20% rule to recruit more church leaders. However many hours you are paid for or volunteer, you should take 20 percent of those hours to invest in other leaders. So, if you work or volunteer 10 hours a week, take two hours to develop relationships with potential leaders. Prioritize time with a few people with influence. Disciple them. Study leadership books together. Learn together. Tackle projects together. Share life together.

You may not be able to start at 20 percent, but start somewhere. By doing this, you will be multiplying your time and influence in the future. As you raise up more leaders, they will help you lead and care for more volunteers. You will expand your span of care, by pouring into a few.

As you’re doing that, I suggest you take Jethro’s advice and look for leaders of tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. Let me help you identify each type of leader.

Leaders of tens lead by example. This is the type of leadership that is required when a new ministry launches. During this season, the leader has to do most of the work themselves. “Leading by doing” gives the leader the opportunity to shape the mission, vision, values and strategy of the church. We need lots of these leaders over small groups and mentoring/discipleship relationships in our churches.

Leaders of fifties lead other people. This leader learns how to recruit other people to join the ministry team. Rather than doing all the work on their own, the leader begins to delegate tasks and responsibilities to other people. They still own the responsibility for making things happen, they’re just including other people in the effort. They know how to get things done through other people.

Leaders of hundreds lead other leaders. These leaders shift from just delegating tasks to empowering other leaders. Instead of a hands-on role where they’re on top of every detail and every decision, they shift to a role where they’re really more concerned about leading, caring for and raising up other leaders. They don’t give up responsibility for the outcome, but they begin to release team-building and decisions of execution to other people.

Leaders of thousands lead through a clear vision. Rather than a ministry-specific focus, these leaders have a global perspective that encompasses every aspect of the organization. These folks are leading other leaders, but they also have influence that reaches beyond their direct reports. They are coming alongside the senior leader to champion the vision that God has given the church.

Knowing the attributes of these different types of leaders might help you better invest your time in the right potential leaders. Whatever your needs, you can’t just hope for leaders to show up on your doorstep. You need to pray, and then you need to act with intentionality. One more platform announcement or bulletin ad won’t fix your leadership challenge. You need to proactively establish new strategies and new disciplines to develop future leaders.