Get Micro, Go Macro! – Leadership Strategies that Actually Work

by | March 28, 2018

Jesus said, “Come, follow me.”


Most of us are familiar with the adage, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” This is often voiced by pastors and congregational lay leaders who understand “We need more leaders!”

A typical plan of action for this big task (calling, recruiting, and launching leaders) is: Do what we’ve always done — advertise in print material, put something in the announcements, develop impassioned pleas from the pulpit, or write sermons outlining how the ship is sinking and we need someone to save it. Sound familiar?

Typically, few members are motivated by our usual strategies for a simple reason — They don’t work!

Our usual strategies will inform but will not effectively recruit people for leadership. And no one is excited about being a leader on a sinking ship.

Interestingly, Jesus had no social media platforms, projection screens, flashy brochures, constant contact email systems, or built-in announcement slots on Sundays. But what he did have was something we too have. Time to invest in people. He used that time to invite, inspire, train, support, and launch real people for the work of God’s Kingdom. I used to think I was too busy to do that, but I was wrong.

A number of years ago, I read something by Leonard Sweet that radically changed my approach to identifying, recruiting, and launching new leadership in the congregation.

Leonard Sweet said, “Get MICRO, Go MACRO.”

Start SMALL to do something BIG!


Pastors can’t do everything, but they can do something.

Leaders can’t reach everyone, but they can reach someone.

To recruit and launch others like Jesus did, we have to do something radical: give ourselves, our staff, and our lay leadership permission to spend important, intentional time with just one or two (or twelve?) persons at a time. If we get MICRO (reach one), our leadership and our ministries will likely go MACRO (and create a movement).

Practical steps to Get Micro and Go Macro:

1. Get current leadership (staff or lay leaders) together.

Ask God to lead you. Then ask this simple question, “Who is currently not in leadership here and has really impressed you in the last 12 months?” Your team will have names and stories about those people.

2. Share more information (with a very excellent scribe taking notes!)

“What do we know or sense about these people? Why did these names come up? What do we know about them that would make them great leaders?”

3. Create target lists.

Divide up the names that emerge as real possibilities for new leaders, then give those names to the current leaders or pastors in charge of various ministries.

4. “Get MICRO in order to Go MACRO.”

Commit to meet with all those on your list, one person at a time

5. Set a deadline.

All contacts need to be completed by a specific date before your next leadership gathering.

6. Invitation expectations.

  1. Invite each on your target list (one person at a time) to meet you at Starbucks. You buy the coffee.
  2. Sit down and tell each one what has impressed you and your team about his or her, life, faith, and gifts. In other words, “This is what we think about you.”
  3. Cast vision about a ministry in the church and tell how it is making a difference in people’s lives.
  4. Lift up specific ways this person could uniquely make a difference in that particular ministry.
  5. Then ask, “If we support you, prepare you, and connect you to a team, would you be willing to give it a try?”

The first time I did this myself, I reached out to eight young persons I wanted to mentor for leadership. I said, “I want to invest in you.”

One said he wanted to say yes, but was over-committed. Seven of them said YES on the spot. Each one found a significant role in the congregation.

When we expanded this approach beyond the pastor, the response was amazing! Most seemed inspired by what we saw in them. Many appeared encouraged and comforted they would be joining a team. We had done our homework and believed they had something important to offer.

We used this process for every area of ministry: children, youth, singles, stewardship, missions, and hospitality. These new leaders weren’t referred to as volunteers: they were ministry partners who were being launched for a ministry that fit their giftedness. They knew they were being supported by a team and were buoyed by our confidence in them. The second year, I personally approached 22 potential leaders, and 22 said “Yes.”


Reprinted with permission from Net Results (March/April, 2018)



  1. Are Your Leaders to Blame for Poor Giving in Your Church? | Horizons - […] Get Micro, Go Macro! – Leadership Strategies that Actually Work March 28, 2018 […]
  2. Are Your Leaders to Blame for Poor Giving in Your Church? | Voices on Stewardship - […] a recent blog, Herb Buwalda suggests church pastors and staff should spend time considering leadership candidates […]

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