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Leadership Development Models
In this session, we’re going to be taking a look at leadership development models. We’re seeking to answer the question, how does a church leader develop greater personal maturity and ministry effectiveness?
There are several models that have been developed, two that actually are focusing on the same practical applications would be one by Ted Ward called the Fence Model, one by Robert Clinton called the Railroad Track model. Both of these models are communicating three very fundamental dynamics that are almost always a part of effective leadership development.
We’ll use Clinton’s model, the Railroad Track, for this session. Those three dynamics are number one, instruction. This is either in a formal or non-formal environment where you learn concepts or ideas or principles or doctrines. The second dynamic is experience. This is actually being in the field doing ministry experience, and then this really the most significant because you can actually have instruction and no experience. Or you can have experience and no instruction, or you can have both of them going on at the same time but not connecting.
That’s often the problem with traditional field education. What’s being learned in the classroom, one set of concepts and ideas, and yet, the experience on the field is not connected to the concepts or the theology or whatever the principles are in the classroom. And so, the real key dynamic here is the idea of periodic reflection and application with a mentor or a coach or a supervisor, and this doesn’t necessarily need to be one person. It could be several.
But the concept is, periodic times where, to use another metaphor, someone helps you connect the dots between the theory and the reality of your experience. You may recall my reference to a quote I like very much from John Frame, “Theology is application. If it does not edify, it is worthless.” And the concept here would instruction in theory or concepts or ideas or doctrine that is not actually applied to life, and ministry is worthless.
Now what’s interesting is when studies have been done of Jesus’ development of the disciples, it’s very, very clear that as Robert Coleman says this first quote, “His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow.” And there’s much to learn from his methodology of developing leaders. Coleman goes on to say, “Having called his men, Jesus made a practice of being with them. This was the essence of his training program, just letting his disciples follow him.”
Coleman goes on to say, “Knowledge was gained by association before it was understood by explanation.” And then one more excerpt from his book ‘Master Plan of Evangelism’, “If we do not make the journey from theories and ideals to concrete situations, then the concrete situations will be lost under a smog of words.” You can see here that, although Coleman might not even be familiar with this model, he is making the same point, and that is, knowledge must be connected with experience normally under a mentor or a coach or a supervisor in the field.
Now, it’s very interesting when you look at this passage in Acts 4. It’s somewhat striking as you think of education and ministry preparation. In Acts 4 we read, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John,” and now note this, “and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished.” And then notice this next phrase, and or but, it could translated, “They recognized that they had been with Jesus.” What a contrast between those who are formally educated and have not been with Jesus, and those who are uneducated and have, showing the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit on them by their boldness.
I shared with you earlier an ancient Chinese proverb that also taps into these dynamics, bears repeating here:
“I do, you watch. I do, you help. You do, and I help. You do, and I watch.”
Another Chinese proverb I want to share with you here that applies, a new one in this series, “I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand.”