By Tami Heim
For more than three decades, I was a Christian executive in a secular business world. In the marketplace, I had ample opportunities to share my faith and do His good works, and it truly was my mission field.
If you look at your church, you will probably find many members of your community who hold influential leadership positions that are among your congregants. Think about all these people that are naturally wired for leadership. For many, they are serving in a sort of “bootcamp” for what God may have them do later. They want their work to matter in a way that gives God glory and has an eternal impact. However, it can often be awkward to talk about what your work looks like outside of the church. People may not understand it, or a business leader may feel like their work is not worthy or not good enough because it is not explicitly Christian.
One of the best things to happen to me was an opportunity to come to a gathering of marketplace leaders within the church. We came together in fellowship, and I found a spiritual tribe where I was mentored and discipled. When I think about leadership development, there is a hunger and thirst from marketplace leaders that the Church has not fully recognized in their leadership pipelines.
Here are four ways to engage with the business leaders in your church.
Commit to know these leaders.
While some business leaders may have be a local celebrity or have a lot of influence in the community, recognize that there are many people leading in different organizations and roles within your church body. Think about what would happen if you sent out invite for these leaders to come together for the evening. You can get a good look at who these people are within your church. Assemble them, acknowledge their existence and the good things they’re doing, and be personal with them. Understand the struggles they are having and what they feel they may be missing in the church. Take time to listen and learn.
Affirm these leaders.
Affirm these leaders in their roles. Research shows that 75 percent of business leaders in churches feel the pastor’s role is significantly greater than their own. But God does not use the calling of a minister to diminish or disqualify what He has called other people to do in other roles. We tend to commission young parents with their children, we commission teachers and missionaries, but we rarely commission people in the marketplace that are influencing hundreds of thousands of people. Affirm their role as church members and as marketplace leaders.
Celebrate these leaders.
Celebrate these leaders! God can do remarkable things through people being salt and light in the secular marketplace.
Engage with these leaders.
There are three levels to engaging with the business leaders in your church. The first is fellowship; bring them all together to get to know each other. You are providing them a service, as many spend thousands of dollars to be part of networking organizations, and you can be a gamechanger for them.
The second is discipleship. Help these leaders take a deep dive into God’s Word. This cannot only happen on Sundays.
Lastly, engage with them as leaders within the church. There are countless opportunities to invite people in to serve. Don’t allow the leaders to go through a midlife crisis alone, either. What if the church was the go-to place to guide leaders into the next phase of what God has for them? Who knows, maybe you will find your new executive pastor or fill a vacancy from this group.
Adapted from Pipeline 2017: Succession at Every Level. To learn more about engaging leaders and establishing a leadership pipeline in your church, check out our free Ministry Grid courses Introduction to Leadership Pipeline and Leadership Pipeline Competency Overview.