There’s a big difference between a volunteer and a leader.

Without leaders, you’ll keep people busy but will struggle to move the church forward.  You’ll end up managing a lot of activity and keeping a lot of balls in the air, but will struggle to truly release ministry to the congregation.

Volunteers will move stuff around, but leaders will move the church forward.

While the church might be doing better when it comes to volunteers, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to developing leaders.

Here are three reasons you might struggle to involve high capacity leaders.

1. You’re trying to recruit leaders from the stage.

You can invite a bunch of volunteers to take their first steps to service with a volunteer fair or a volunteer message. But if you want to engage leaders, you’ll need to take a more personal approach.

You can’t recruit leaders from the stage. Leaders won’t sign up at tables along with everyone else. They respond to personal invitations. So if you want to engage leaders, you need to identify them and personally invite them into the process. This is not efficient – it’s one on one.

2.  You do not have a leadership culture.

I like to grow things in my backyard, but I don’t get a lot of sunlight back there.  That makes it hard to grow flowers.  However, I can grow Hosta, some Azaleas, and ferns. The culture of my backyard is suited to shade-loving plants.

Your church has a culture, too. And if you don’t have a culture of leadership, leaders won’t thrive. You may have a culture where the pastors do everything, or where people aren’t trusted with decisions. If that’s the case, you’ve got to work hard to create a new and better culture. One where innovation and risk is valued. That’s the kind of culture that’s attractive to a leader.

3.  You are not patient.

Leaders don’t want to be told how to do everything. They want freedom. That’s one of the things that makes them a leader. A volunteer needs clear directions, clear timelines and clear expectations, but a leader needs a little more freedom and some time to figure it out. Empowering leaders is messy and it will not go smooth. But if you’re patient, the rewards are worth it.

Have you seen the difference between leaders and volunteers? How is your church doing on each level?

Recruiting volunteers, training them, and turning them into leaders are some of the systems we cover in The Systems Course. If you’re looking to take your church to the next level, work hard on your systems. This course will give you the training and tools you need to take action.