Wednesday, November 15, 2006

FAQ: How do you train your leaders?

First, let me share four guiding principles that frame the way we approach leadership training.
  • Leadership training is an ongoing process, not a one-time event.
  • Leadership is caught, not taught. That means leadership training should be as relational as possible. It also means that sharing the stories and experiences of other leaders is just as helpful (if not more so) than lecturing on nicely outlined leadership principles.
  • Leadership training should be fun, engaging, and worth the time of our leaders.
  • Leadership training should focus on fundamentals, and we should continue to communicate those fundamentals over and over and over again. And over again.
We approach leadership training from a number of different angles. We try to provide a good mix of lecture-based training and also smaller collaborative learning communities. Here are the primary leadership training environments at NCC:

1. Leadership 101- This 3-hour class is required for anyone who wants to lead a small group or ministry. We cover the basics of leadership and discipleship, our philosophy and structure for small groups, our discipleship map, and our vision of Be One, Make One, For One. It's just the bare bones to help someone get started. This environment is primarily platform-driven (lecture), but there is opportunity for interaction and sharing of ideas.

2. NCC Small Group Leader Playbook- We give this resource to every person who comes to Leadership 101. We have discovered that you can talk until you are blue in the face about navigating conflict and dealing with difficult people, but until a leader is actually faced with that situation in real time, the information means nothing. So we give them the Playbook so that they will have useful information right at their fingertips. Although the Playbook is currently being revised, you can see a copy of the old version here.

3. Annual Leadership Retreat- Every year, we take every leader away for two days and pump them full of vision, encouragement, and leadership training. We have high octane worship and we unveil the theme for the year. And we pick up the tab. This is the most important thing we do every year. There are elements that are platform-driven and elements that are more interactive. We share stories, highlight wins from the previous year, and prepare our leaders for the next year. For a taste of the 2006 retreat, read Mark Batterson's reflections here.

4. Semester Leadership Summits- Each semester, we meet with all of our small group and ministry leaders at the Semester Summit. We worship, Pastor Mark shares vision, and a staff pastor teaches on a leadership topic. We align the leadership topic with the theme of the annual retreat to provide continuity in our ongoing training. It's also an opportunity to get everyone on the same page and geared up to go into a new semester. The summits have become an important part of our rhythm.

5. Zone Leaders- Every small group leader is supported and served by a Zone Leader or Team Leader. Zone/Team Leaders meet with their small group leaders monthly, and they meet with individual leaders as appropriate. Most of the hands-on training happens here as leaders learn from one another and Zone Leaders navigate their people through the hurdles of small group leadership.

6. We have created an online environment,, for our small group leaders to get a daily shot of leadership adrenaline. The ZoneGathering is a place for leaders to learn and share ideas. Each week, there are regular features, including a weekend summary, an interview with a staff member or leader, a Bible lesson, a leadership lesson, and an opportunity for leaders to share their "wins."

7. First Friday Podcast- This is the newest addition to our training diet-- the First Friday Podcast. This 15-minute segment allows Pastor Mark to connect with the leaders, share what's on his heart, and share what's coming up on the NCC calendar. You can check out some of the more recent podcasts here.


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