A New Process for Developing Muslim-Background Leaders

If we want to develop strong Muslim-background leaders, then we need a clear process.
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This morning, I am sifting through 40 evaluations of leaders we are developing for ministry among South Asian Muslims. More than 30 of these are for Muslim-background leaders at various stages of development. Some are very strong in their faith, while these evaluations have shown significant weaknesses in the faith of others.

Most ministering to Muslims do not have a robust leadership developing and tracking process.
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As the gospel has grown among South Asian Muslims, we have struggled with the term “leader.” We have regularly heard from local leaders, “I have 17 Muslim-background leaders” or “I have 22 Muslim-background leaders.” We have tried to coach local leaders on evaluating and developing these leaders, but we needed to standardize the process a bit more. 

Attached above is the new leadership development tracking sheet we developed for this purpose. I translated it into English to share here. Press “Download” to get it. As you look at this sheet, you will realize that it has a lot of specific details we use in our work. Let me provide some information here.

If we desire to see movements of multiplying MBBs, we need a process for evaluating MBB leaders!
Nathan Shank’s diagram for his Five Levels of Movement Leaders.
  1. E1 is a demarkation we use for Muslim-background leaders who minister among their own people group. We take this from Ralph Winter’s writings on E0-E3 evangelism. You can see the relevant article here. In brief, for our context:
  2. Level 1-3 Leaders is a leadership development paradigm developed by Nathan Shank for developing movement leaders. You can see his article here. Shank uses five levels of leadership. For the time being, we want to focus primarily on the first three levels. Those familiar with Shank’s paradigm will understand. In brief:
    1. Level 1 Leaders are Seed Sowers. These individuals have become disciples of Jesus and are sharing the gospel with others, following up with them, and making disciples. We wanted to evaluate Level 1 Leaders based on their growth as disciples, evangelistic/ministry abilities, and their relationship with Islam.
    2. Level 2 Leaders are Church Planters. These individuals have led groups of Muslims to Christ, baptized them, and begun at least one church. We wanted to evaluate their character based on 1 Timothy 3:1-7, their teaching ability, and their church leadership ability. The most concrete way we could assess their church leadership ability was to evaluate the health of the church(es) they lead. 
    3. Level 3 Leaders are Multipliers. These individuals are leading their own church and developing other Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 leaders. This assessment process is a tool to help Level 3 leaders develop Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 leaders in their ministries. 
  3. “Yellow Lights” is an evaluative term for evangelistic contacts. Green lights are individuals who repent and believe. Red lights are those who reject the message. Yellow lights are those who are ready to listen and learn more. We have a high degree of yellow lights among South Asian Muslims when we share the gospel. After learning to share the gospel, our next step is to train people to follow up with those who want to learn more. Click here to learn more about our processes.
  4. Five Unique Things about Jesus. These are five Bible studies we use from the Gospel of Matthew to show the uniqueness of Jesus to Muslims who want to learn more. Click here to learn more.
  5. 8 Commands of Jesus. We use eight Bible studies after the Five Unique Things study to teach yellow/green lights what it means to follow Jesus. As I write this blog post, I am realizing that I have not blogged about our discipleship process!
  6. The Three Transitions. We expect that a healthy Muslim-background believer will:
    1. Leave Muhammad and cleave to Jesus.
    2. Leave the Qur’an and cleave to the Bible.
    3. Leave namaaz/salaat prayer and cleave to the church.
    4. We have typically seen that Muslim-background believers only make these transitions when they believe that Jesus is fully God.
    5. The Three Transitions process is complex and is not always linear. Click here to learn more about my thoughts.
  7. I hope that the rest of the sheet is self-explanatory.

This evaluation aims to create a customized plan of three growth areas for that leader. Then after six months, re-evaluate the leader, see what progress has occurred, and create a new growth plan. I hope this leadership development process will lead to significant growth in many of these Muslim-background leaders! 

Developing strong MBB leaders is a key for sustained ministry to Muslims.
Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

If you have any suggestions for this process, please feel free to write me at nocousinsleft@protonmail.com.

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One thought on “A New Process for Developing Muslim-Background Leaders

  1. I love the first part of your leadership diagnosis tool as it is more about fruit of their devotion to Christ. I think this is where sometimes we falter. They are used to following the rules in their old life, (commands to obey), yet when it comes to their faith and loyalty to Jesus, God’s Son, they often superimpose on their new life in Christ “rules-following” v hearts fully devoted to the Lord with a 1 Tim 1:5 aim

    “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
    Only obedience stemming from a heart of faith, full of the Word and Spirit can produce.


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