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Five steps to becoming a public leader-friendly church

Helping churches help public leaders

We spoke to church leaders who are looking for ways to support the leaders in their congregations

Here are five easy steps to becoming a become a public leader-friendly church. 

See the need 

We have a crisis of leadership in our country. Politicians, journalists, bankers filmmakers and more have all seen their integrity lost, their trustworthiness doubted and their leadership undermined. We don’t need endless analysis of why things went wrong or courses in public ethics to try and stem the tide of failing leadership. But we do need to recognise that there is a problem, and that Christians may have an important role to play to solve it. 

We need better leaders in every sphere, working for the good of all and letting their voice be heard. Leaders grown in the Church with a strong Biblical and theological foundation. 

Help your church understand the need for public leadership with our small group course, Change the World.

Understand the call 

Public leaders are committed to where God has placed them. This might be their town or a whole nation. It may be their workplace or their children’s playground. They are committed to bringing leadership to places where it is most needed because they understand the call to love their neighbour in a practical way. 

It is easy to slip into talking about the church as the most important way to serve Christ. We pray for Sunday school leaders but not teachers; we ask for volunteers for the food bank next Saturday but don’t appreciate the tiring four hours the social worker spent in court representing someone in need. 

Churches can affirm the calling and vocation of public leaders by backing their mission through practical support, encouragement and prayer. 

  • Take time to prayerfully identify people in your congregation who may already be public leaders, and ask them how you and the church can support, encourage and pray for them. 
  • Interview these leaders in services, asking them to explain where God has called them to and how he is using them to transform their sector or community. 

See our article on discipling public leaders in your church.

Equip public leaders

Public leadership doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when people make the effort to build expertise, take the time to develop relationships and earn the right to speak out. 

As well as providing theological equipping, churches provide an ideal practical training ground. They can bring public leaders together to learn from each other and they can provide a friendly audience to try out some new skills. Provide support and feedback, but also allow them the space to get things wrong; maybe even to fail. As public leaders develop excellence and credibility, the footprint of the Church will grow. 

  • Help a leader to improve their public speaking skills by giving the weekly notices. 
  • Provide event planning experience by asking a leader to plan a church activity. 

Give leaders in your church a copy of our public leadership booklet, and direct them to this website for more resources and training event.

Of course, we need volunteers for church activities, but when people feel like they are constantly having to say ‘no’, the guilt can make them feel disconnected from the church.

Release public leaders

Leaders are busy people – as you know if you’re a church leader! If you show enthusiasm and passion it’s not hard to end up on every rota and team in the church. Of course, we need volunteers for church activities, but when people feel like they are constantly having to say no’, the guilt can make them feel disconnected from the church.

When you see someone in your congregation with entrepreneurial gifts, recognise this valuable God-given ministry and release them to lead for the glory of God. Choosing to not allow church-activities to take up all this person’s time may be an important act for the church – sacrificial in the short-term, but essential for the long game. Churches need advocates in and for the communities they are located in.

Releasing public leaders doesn’t mean never asking them to serve, however. It is important that public leaders are active in a local church. Why not ask everyone in your congregation to choose one team, project or event to serve on.

The more you know about a person’s interests, skills and typical week, the more you can tailoring opportunities to individuals. If someone regularly has work events on a Friday night, don’t ask them to help out with the Friday youth club.

But don’t make assumptions. Just because someone is used to public speaking in the workplace, doesn’t mean they will be a good preacher. Perhaps they want to serve on the prayer team instead!

  • Organise a time for the whole church to pray for those leading in your local community. If you can identify areas in the area that need leadership, pray that leaders would rise up from the church.
  • Help public leaders to meet others in their field or leading in another sector – introduce them after church or hold a termly networking breakfast, perhaps in partnership with other local churches.
  • If you rely on the expertise of public leaders (e.g. to design posters or plan events), draw up a contract’ outlining the amount of volunteer time they will give to the church. Prioritise the projects you would like them to work on. This allows people to serve the church without feeling guilty about all the things they can’t do.

Support public leaders

The church is vital to the support and development of public leaders; this is not a thing to be done alone.

Each public leader needs a community which will understand their calling, encourage them to fulfil it, and provide practical and prayerful support. This can include both small and church or town-wide activities.

  • Small groups often meet on Monday-Thursday weekday evenings. That can be tricky for commuters or shift-workers. Ask people who aren’t in small groups what time / day they would prefer to meet.
  • Develop support networks including mentorships and prayer triplets — intimate relationships which allow public leaders to share confidentially about the challenges and opportunities before
  • Make sure public leaders know how to receive prayer support, through prayer chains, WhatsApp groups, etc.

Invite the Evangelical Alliance to run a public leadership workshop with your church and other local churches in your area.

About the author

Abi Jarvis is the public leadership coordinator at the Evangelical Alliance, seeking to equip Christians with the skills and confidence to be leaders in the places where God has called them. She has a BA in Ancient History and a MSc in Political Communication. Abi loves going to the theatre, watches too many American TV dramas and somehow became responsible for daily office exercises despite her hatred of all things sporty. Much to her dismay, she ticks the box for pretty much every stereotypical feature of a PK - a pastor's kid.

See more from Abi Jarvis

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