“I’ll never forget my first leadership experience at Willow Creek Community Church,” says Jon Bodin, former director of our couples’ ministries and current director of small groups for Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. “I became a Christian here in 1981, so right away I got plugged into a small group. It wasn’t long before the leader decided that everybody in the group was going to take a turn leading the small group. That sounded good, until he turned to me and said, ‘Jon, next week you’re going to do a study on the life of David.’ And I said, ‘Okay. I’ve got just one problem. Who is David?’ It was true. I had no idea who David was. So he explained David to me as a great leader in the Old Testament, to which I responded, ‘That leads to problem number two.
What’s the Old Testament?’”
Back then,Willow Creek used a stringent test for determining a leader candidate.Our first question for any potential leader was, “Can you fog a mirror?”We sometimes refer to this as the “alive strategy” for developing leaders. If you are breathing, you’re a candidate.
We have made many improvements since then but have still sinned regularly along the way. The symptoms are distressingly obvious. When you neglect ongoing leadership development, you’ll have two chronic problems: way too many unshepherded people and not nearly enough qualified, prepared leaders. This happens when churches fail to assess leadership “fertility,” fail to develop a leadership culture, fail to teach about the gift and role of leadership, or fail to expect key church leaders to model leadership development.
Donahue, B., & Robinson, R., Willow Creek Association. (2009). The seven deadly sins of small group ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.