Training Leaders in the Local Church

An Interview with Alan Fong

What are some factors that influence your philosophy for training up leaders in the local church?

I have a great passion for training leaders. As I look at my responsibilities right now, aside from preaching, my biggest emphasis is placed on encouraging the growth of new leaders. I often tell our staff and deacons, who are core leaders in the church, there are three main things to remember as the focal points in our church: First, are we winning souls to Christ? Second, are we successfully discipling them and duplicating the process? Third, are we training the next generation of leaders? If you really examine the local church, every part of our ministry is about training people.

What are some ways you develop leaders in your church?

There are a number of things we do in our church to encourage this. Some of it is by example and observation. This is where I’ll have men in the church come with me and observe what I’m doing. We will then sit down and talk about it. It can also be done through teaching—I use around seventy-five leadership lessons from the lives of Moses, David, Nehemiah, and Paul. These can be given in a classroom environment, in a smaller group, or wherever. Another way, of course, is through implementation: I will have a vision for an aspect of ministry, make it clear what needs to be accomplished, then allow them to get it done. When the task is accomplished, I give them honest feedback.

What would you say is the most important aspect of leadership?

Leadership is all about influence. If you are not influencing someone to do something, you are not a leader at all. So, my question to the men in our church training to serve in ministry is often this: “Who did you influence to be a new soulwinner? Who are you influencing by helping them in discipleship?” You must have an effect in someone’s life to have influence.

How do you think this applies to interns in local churches while they are training to serve in fulltime ministry?

That’s a great example. We have had interns who were a help ministering in our college and career departments. It is a great opportunity for them to learn how to win college students’ hearts and often work with students who have no background or knowledge of God. They learn right on the job. It gives experience in soulwinning, discipleship, how to run meetings, organize sessions, etc. In essence, it takes theory out of the classroom and puts it into practice. It is excellent preparation for the mission field, the pastorate, or even work as a layperson.

What are your thoughts on training the next generation of leaders, specifically those who are college age?

The secret to working with college students? Pizza and Bible studies! It’s the ability to just have that face time with them and talk, not trying to overwhelm them, but realizing that they have real life issues. We try to help them see the sincerity of having a true, genuine relationship with Jesus. That is really what it is all about. The intellectual questions and issues, for the most part, are just smokescreens. When they sit down and see what the Bible says, God will begin to break down those barriers. Being able to influence those in this stage of life while they are defining the rest of their lives is vitally important. They will then be able to go forward and influence more people than ever before.

This article was originally published in the Baptist Voice.

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