One consistent concern heard in churches today is the lack of strong leadership. No matter the size of the church, this concern remains true.  Why is this a common struggle?  There are several reasons, but according to


“All nonprofits are dependent on volunteer labor to some degree, though some nonprofits are more dependent on it than others. It’s also been shown that 80% of nonprofits that rely on volunteers don’t have the managerial knowledge to engage them properly. Project management statistics tell us that 70% of all projects fail, so a lack of good project management may be what hinders volunteer organizations.”


In the nonprofit church world, growing stronger leaders can start with these five important shifts in the Nominations Committee:


  1. Start with having potential leaders complete an interest form for the leadership position. Inquire about their spiritual practices, why they feel called into leadership in this season, what their hopes are for the church, what they would offer to the particular leadership position they have interest in, etc. (You’ll find a sample of an Interest form and questions in Mission Possible 3+.) These questions not only inform the committee, but they set the tone for different leadership expectations and commitment.  The committee will then have holy conversations with those leaders inquiring further about their interest, fit, skills, experience, spiritual maturity, commitment, and leadership motivations.  The committee will be in deep prayer and discernment over their nominations decisions.

  2. We must shift from our focus on secular experience and skill expectations to having spiritually mature leaders in key leadership roles. Too often we have chosen professionals with HR, construction, and finance experience and not paid attention to spiritual maturity or even living out the membership vows.  When the committee is solely focused on leaders with professional experience, we often have secular leaders leading without a spiritual focus and missional priority.  No wonder churches are struggling!

  3. Because of our desperation for leaders, we often set the bar low just to get people to serve. Churches even have people serve on committees that no longer function, but still have to get a “yes” from a certain number of people to fill out the required judicatory paperwork.  It is better not to have optional standing committees than to ask people to commit to non-functioning ones.  Furthermore, if people are not passionate about serving, it’s not the right time to offer that particular ministry.  For key required leadership positions (i.e., board/council members), it is more effective to set high expectations than low expectations just to get someone to say yes.  When we set low expectations, that’s exactly the level of commitment and service you’ll receive.  People want to serve in places where they can make a difference, have impact, and their time is worth the investment.  Have a leadership covenant, job description, and leadership expectations (i.e., meeting times, prep work, retreats, training) and share it with potential leaders before they say yes.  

  4. Invest in a leadership development process.  After all, in the UMC it is the Committee on Nominations and Leadership Development.  How are you investing (dollars and time) and preparing leaders for serving in structure committees and ministry teams?  Here is a resource to help you get started.

  5. Identify, recruit, equip, and deploy leaders for ministry.  It is a four-step process.  Too often the leader equipping process is to beg for a yes and then deploy.  Be sure people are matched well in their passion, spiritual gifts, and commitment for the position to serve. Train people before deploying them for ministry so they are confident in the how, why, and intended outcomes of the ministry.

Over a billion people volunteer in the world each year. According to Michael Walter, they do so because they want to do good, find belonging, find their purpose, and gain energy for life.  As your Nominations Committee begins their work this season, consider these shifts to develop stronger, more committed, and effective leaders.  Also, consider using this On-Demand training video for the Nominations Committee as a resource to equip them and begin making these five shifts for growing stronger leaders.