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How is Your Leadership Bench Strength?

No, we’re not talking about your ability to bench press 200 lbs.  It’s about the strength of your team.  In ministry, it isn’t just the guys on the field.  The success of a sports team is often dependent on the quality of those on the sidelines.  Exceptional teams have strong players on the bench.  All it takes is the injury of a key player to turn a winning team into a mediocre one… or a losing team.   A great team can lose unless there are really good substitutes.  Good teams have great bench strength.

The New York Jets postured themselves in a strong position by adding to their roster another starting NFL quarterback (and former Heisman Trophy winner and BCS college football champion).  It was a toss up whether Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez would start.  Either one of them could equally handle the job. Imagine the great sense of security and strength of the team knowing it did not all depend on one player staying healthy.   It is a tremendous advantage for any team to have a surplus of talent.

A church needs to be concerned about the same issue.  Do you have surplus “talent?”  There may be a great leadership team in place right now… but what would happen if you lost a couple key “players?”  What if three of your leaders moved out of town? What happens when there are additional ministry opportunities?  How can you launch new initiatives if there are no leaders on the sidelines?  Most of your present team members are already over-worked?  You can’t just ask them to do more.

There are tremendous advantages to a church when younger leaders are being developed.  Second string players practice just as much as the first team.  They are hungry to get in the game.  They increase the energy level of your church. The future of your church is determined by how many people are learning to do ministry right now. That means a church must have regular opportunities for future leaders to “practice.”   The result is a bench ready to step on to the mission fields of the world as this generation of missionaries retire?

Vision World is the united effort of IFCA churches to put more players on the field.  That will not happen unless we have a strong bench.  That is dependent on training leaders in our churches.

How is the bench strength of your church?  Here are some key diagnostic questions:

1.  Can you list 6 men who are in training for leadership?

2.  Can you name your high potential young people?

3.  Does your church have a clearly identified system to develop leaders?

4.  Are you regularly looking for emerging leaders in your congregation?

5.  On a scale of 1-5, how strong is your bench?

Many people have been credited with making this statement:   “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.”  That is profound.  Until you honestly answer those five questions you cannot deal with the issue.  Those questions would be good discussion items at your next church board meeting.  They are worthy of your time every quarter.  There are many things you can delegate away as a leader, but developing leaders is not one of them.  That is your job.

How is your bench strength?