Every church should easily be able to develop their leaders from within, right?

Then why is it so hard? Why can’t we take our leaders to a conference, or workshop, a year and call it a day? Or why can’t they figure out how to become better leaders on their own?

Some say leadership development in the church is like oil and water.

We think it’s more like PB + J.

Not only should leadership development and church go together, I think we must look leadership development as a vital component to the effectiveness of the church.

Despite all the things on your plate, here are some reasons why you should carve out time and create a strategy to develop leaders in your church.

Why you need to develop leaders:

#1 – Leadership development is a part of the discipleship process.

Jesus did not separate leadership development and discipleship. He spent time with his disciples, teaching them how to be followers and coaching them on how to be a leader.

Church history tells us these first followers were instrumental in the spread of the Gospel in the first century.

Your church is called to make disciples, and part of that calling involves helping people develop and use their spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ and take the Gospel to all people. When you help people become leaders and operate under the power of the Holy Spirit, you help them become better followers.

#2 – Leadership is a necessary gift in the church.

Not only is leadership development a part of the discipleship process, it’s important to realize that leadership itself is a spiritual gift.

In Romans 12:8, the Apostle Paul includes leadership in his lift of spiritual gifts, along with generosity and mercy. This means there are people in your church uniquely gifted by God to be leaders. A refusal to recognize and encourage this gift is not good since the church needs all parts of the body to be healthy.

In this post, Tony Morgan shares a little of the frustration he’s encountered in the church. He writes:

“Like every Christ-follower, [God has] given me spiritual gifts. Mine happen to include leadership and administration. If I’m being obedient to God, then I’m supposed to use the gifts he’s given me to further the mission of the local church. I, too, am part of the body of Christ.

Jesus was a fan of [planning.] That may be why he decided to give some of his followers the gifts of leadership and administration. He knew he would need some people to lead and to guide others toward a new destination. He knew someone would have to map out a plan, assign responsibilities, set target dates and manage the budget. For some, these may be viewed as business practices, but for me it’s stewardship of God’s mission for the church.

I’d much rather use the gifts he gave me to further the cause of Christ than to use my gifts outside the church.”

#3 – Projects and ideas without leaders will not move your church forward.

In Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull discusses whether good people or ideas are more important to an organization.

He writes,Getting the team right is the necessary precursor to getting the ideas right. Ideas come from people. Therefore, people are more important than ideas. Find, develop, and support good people, and they in turn will find, develop, and own good ideas.”

This principle is equally important for the church, where a focus on programs, events, or ministries can easily take away from the necessary development of people. Without people, the programs of your church don’t really matter. Without leaders, ministries on your church will have little impact.

That’s why it’s usually a mistake to launch a new ministry or program in the hopes of rescuing a struggling church. It’s almost always a better investment of your time to develop people.

#4 – Great leaders attract other leaders.

When potential leaders see existing leaders serving in their sweet spot, they are encouraged to step up and lead.

This is how culture is created.

The secret to finding more leaders in your church might be focusing on the existing leaders.

Focus on a few people. Pipelines and culture are great, but start with where you’re at.

#5 – The people in contact with the most people don’t always have access to training.

When I was pastoring a church, I had a leadership development budget that allowed me to go to conferences and purchase resources.  I routinely made time to step away from the day to do and learn from leaders who had already been where I’ve been.

I still try to do this, because no matter your size or budget, it’s easy to get stuck. New people bring new perspectives.

Pastors really do have a lot of development opportunities at their disposal. There are books, conferences, coaching groups, consultants, courses, roundtables, denominations, and a whole lot more.

But if we’re not careful, we’ll consume these resources and the coaching will stop with us.

#6 – Creating a leadership culture is not expensive.

It’s one of the biggest growth barriers your church is facing, but breaking through it is not expensive at all. In fact, it’s going to cost little to no money to develop leaders in your church.

It costs time and focus, not money.

“No-one should outpace the Church in developing leaders because no one else has the assurance that their contribution will last, that their leadership will eternally matter.” – Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck

There’s a lot of chatter about the need for leadership pipelines. That’s a good thing.

There’s a big focus on creating a culture where leadership can thrive. That’s a good thing, too.

But it’s too easy to let the need for pipelines and culture keep you from starting where you are.

So what's next?

One thing we’ve noticed about leaders in the church is they typically crave training. Leaders love opportunities to get better and develop their skills. So we created an eBook all about leading a staff.

This resource will help you learn:

  • How to clarify everyone’s role so they remain focused on the right things
  • Manage your team to accomplish their goals
  • Streamline your team meetings so they maximize everyone’s time
  • Ways to develop their leadership skills

The Senior Pastor's Guide to Leading a Staff is one of our most popular resources and it's yours to download.