I first heard of the idea of "leadership labs'" from my friend, Joe Thorn. Then I saw others posting on social media about their intentional leadership training. We already had some unorganized training taking place, but I knew we needed to have something more substantial in place. God-willing, we will soon move to a plurality of elders at our church, so we need men trained and qualified to fill those and many other positions in our church. I thought I would share today what exactly we are doing for ours.
Because this is new to me as well as our church I wanted a plan in place that would be challenging, but wouldn't completely overwhelm us. I also knew that not everyone invited would be elders, so we have two tracks to go with (deacon and elder). I also stated up front that going through this year together does not mean you will necessary serve in a leadership position, nor do I have any idea if you will remain at our church! So I had our first meeting in January where I shared the purpose, requirements, and the need to commit. So here is our plan:
Monthly Meetings: We meet every month as a group (it's presently 5 of us total). During our time together we have several things that happen. First, I open with a devotion. I've chosen to work our way through First Timothy this year. Next we have a time where one of our men will give a summary of the required reading for the month (I'll post those in a moment). Following the summary we take several minutes to discuss the book (all should have read it) and try to answer any questions or thoughts that flow from our reading. Next we have a particular subject that we discuss dealing with leadership. This takes the bulk of our time together (we're usually together close to 2 hours). And finally we have some time of prayer.
One-on-One Meetings: I have also requested that outside of our monthly meetings together each person has to meet with me for one hour face to face. The purpose is for me to know how to pray for and encourage my brothers. This is actually a great benefit for me as well! The hope for each of us men is that we will become better leaders in our home, church, and world. So in this time we pray, discuss various issues, and try to encourage one another.
Position Papers: I have also required each men to present three position papers throughout the year. The reason is for them to work through some of the pressing issues of our day. This, I hope, will help us to all have a biblical approach to what the Scriptures teach on various subjects. The first one on church polity is due in March!
Preaching Practice: For those working through this who aspire to the office of overseer and whom we have watched grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, if they want to pursue eldership they will have opportunities to practice preaching. I realize not everyone will preach on a regular basis. However, we do want men able when the time and opportunities present themselves.
Required Reading: We have two tracks that we are working with. So the reading is not 100% the same. Each month one of men give a review of the reading for that month. The first 8 months are the same, and then we branch off. This list could change, but here it is:
Brothers, we are not Professionals John Piper
Leading with Love Alexander Strauch
Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life Donald Whitney
What is the Mission of the Church? Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert
Let the Nations be Glad John Piper
Desiring God John Piper
The Conviction to Lead Albert Mohler
The Deliberate Church Mark Dever and Paul Alexander
Biblical Eldership Alexander Strauch
Dangerous Calling Paul David Tripp
The Pastor’s Justification Jared Wilson
Preaching and Preachers D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Last thing I'll say about this, is that I am also seeking to be as gracious as possible with this. This is new. Things come up. Not all the reading always gets done. But we're working on it. And, God-willing, we will all seek to be better lovers of Jesus and leaders in our homes, church, and workplaces.