Developing People

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Mark’s Story

  • Mark is from a network called Salt and Light, and has been based in the East Midlands for 37 years.
  • When leading the church there, Mark felt that God was going to plant multiple churches, so Mark named the church East Midlands Christian Fellowships to allow that church to grow geographically.
  • The congregation in Derby has grown, as well as new church plants in the surrounding towns. But more recently God has been calling the church to plant into the surrounding cities like Leicester and Nottingham.

Develop People and Leaders

  • Everybody does have the capacity to lead, the biblical word for this is ‘discipleship’.
  • There are some things you have to keep learning, you think you know them but God reminds you again, one of these things is that our job is to build people, not the church.
  • Fundamentally we are not called to build the church, instead, if we build people – the church gets built.
  • This sets church leaders free from the pressure of building something.
  • Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewitt Packard –‘one of the highest callings of leadership is to release the potential in people.’
  • It doesn’t matter how big the congregation is, the highest calling is to see people flourish.
  • We are called to make disciples who then are making disciples.
  • Every church leader has to come to the question – what is the goal of my leadership? The answer could be a big church, but how big is big enough? At what point would we feel success? The average size of English churches is comparatively small comparedto the churches in Brazil. The ‘bigness’ of a church is kind of an irrelevant question.
  • When we finally see God, He probably won’t ask ‘how many did you get in your church?’ He is far more interested with the question, ‘what did you do with the people I gave you?’
  • Our attitude shouldn’t be looking at numbers, but rather looking for the signs of movement – that is success.
  • A successful church, regardless of size, has the life of God in it.

Build a Culture That Is Developing People

  • Where you have something that has movement within it, development is the natural occurrence. We need to avoid static churches.
  • Development of people and the community into maturity does not always mean more numbers.
  • Ultimately, healthy things grow. If a church becomes healthy it will grow.
  • Churches should have an apostolic impulse, ‘we are called to more than this, there is something beyond just us’.
  • Paul’s strategy: let’s go, let’s plant, and let’s build. This is what we’ve been called to.
  • Static churches will lose developing leaders.
  • It is the job of leaders to keep a culture of developing people.
  • Build with the stones you’ve got, and if you prove faithful with those stones you create something people are attracted to and developed by.
  • Pray for what you don’t have, we can appeal to God who said He will build His church.
  • A different environment, or church, can bring things out of people that they wouldn’t have found in other environments.

Model For Discipleship

  • There are four stages of how Jesus walked with people and discipled them.
  • First Stage: Jesus did it, they watched. The disciples watched the way Jesus performed miracles and loved the poor.
  • Second Stage: Jesus did it, and they helped. The example of feeding the 5,000 was one of the first demonstrations of the disciples getting involved.
  • Third Stage: They did it, and Jesus helped. Jesus calls the 70 and says ‘now, you go’ whilst helping them.
  • Fourth Stage: They did it, and Jesus left. But promises to be with them always.
  • This is how we take people on a journey, and we can’t miss any of the 4 stages.
  • Many leaders like to be helped in what they’re doing. Traditional ministry says ‘I do it, you help’ but developing people is different to that, rather – ‘you do it, and I help.’
  • Leaders need to allow themselves to risk and give people responsibility, they need to know when to let go.
  • Churches should be carrying this model for developing leaders constantly.


1. In stage 3 of the model, how much shaping should the one who helps give, and what should that look like?
  • There are very different leadership styles, like consensus orientated or authoritative. Jesus is initially very directive toward his disciples, ‘come and follow me’. But then Jesus develops this into a consensus style of leadership, ‘I no longer call you servants but friends’. This was because Jesus had put a lot of input into them. Leaders need to start in a more authoritative style, but shift into this consensus stage of coaching. This takes a lot of investment.
2. Do you have to shift to different leadership styles when discipling people?
  • We cannot develop or draw people in if we stick with the style we suit or like, it won’t allow people to grow. This approach is through a balance of invitation and challenge.
3. During the Second Stage, do you have to, as a leader, tell people how you want things done?
  • Discipleship is that the DNA, the core things of what makes you a leader is explained from the beginning, but gradually those aspects begin to empower and transfer responsibility.
4. How to you lead people in this model to not simply do things the exact way you teach them, but to go on and do greater things?
  • Jesus Himself said just this at the end of His time on earth to the disciples. We want people to innovate, but first people need to imitate well. The process that Jesus models is that instead of just going straight from ‘here is what I do, now do whatever you like’, we should instead be asking developing leaders to initially imitate in order to innovate well. Discipleship can’t become ‘cultish’ and define the detail, or creating legalism in the next generation, but we need to allow space for the next generation to know how to serve their own generation in new and relevant ways. Define the parameters of what a leader is and what a Christian is, and allow the innovation to take place as a result. The purest form of discipleship is parenting, you have to adapt: how you disciple a 3-year-old you cannot do to a 15 year old, there is a training of character and a transferring of ownership, so that at the age of maturity the parents can leave whilst knowing that they’re always there for them.
5. If you feel that there are people around you where this model hasn’t taken place, and yet they have been released into leadership anyway, what should you do?
  • It is hard, but it comes back to this ‘invitation and challenge’. Are you prepared and equipped to carry out the challenges that are needed relationally with those particular leaders? It is possible to re-engage them into this model at a particular stage.