With the exploding predominance of social networking (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), you have an awesome opportunity to build and utilize a robust church leadership network. This network can provide you with access to amazing spiritual leaders, cutting edge ideas, breakthrough information, and strategic resources. However, don’t naively rate the strength of your network by the number of “contacts” you have in your profile. It goes far beyond knowing or linking to lots of different people.
Curt Grayson in his book – Leadership Networking: Connect, Collaborate, Create – offers some rules for effective leadership networking that I have adapted for application in the new church environment.
- Be sincere. You will be most effective in building your leadership network if you maintain a genuine objective of building relationships, providing support, and accomplishing ministry for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. Networking is not a ploy for getting what you need for your ministry. If you develop a reputation as someone who takes but isn’t a reliable, generous giver or who uses information inappropriately or who breaks confidences, then your networks will shut down and He will not glorified.
- Share resources. Having resources such as information, services, and access will build your leadership network through “give and take.” Reciprocity is so important (remember the Golden Rule?). Kingdom-minded planters know their assets and share them appropriately and generously.
- Communicate skillfully. Much of the effectiveness of a leadership network depends on whether you can communicate in a way that builds awareness of both the needs and the assets of your new church. If you cannot make others aware of what you can offer as well as what you need in order to accomplish goals of your own, your networking strategies will be largely ineffectual.
- Be wise. Effective new church leaders exercise wisdom in their leadership networking. They are sensitive to sharing and receiving resources so that ministries are not hampered by some form of co-dependency or falling to the temptation to grab quick fixes or the “easy button.” Empower your colleagues rather than stunt their leadership growth.
After more than 30 years of new church involvement, I am convinced that planters are truly the best at networking in unselfish ways. Don’t isolate yourself out of pride, fear, or insecurity. You have more to share that you can comprehend and your church planting colleagues have more to share with you that you imagine.