As a senior pastor, one of the most important things you can do is develop your staff and key leaders.

But leadership development is one of those really important things that never seems to fit on the schedule. With ministries to run, services to lead and problems to solve, it’s likely you never get around to developing your team.

On the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, leadership development is one of those important but not urgent things, but I want to challenge you to carve out time for it and share some practical ways to make it happen.

Benefits of Developing Your Team

Here are some of the reasons you should focus on leadership development.

  1.  People will do a better job.

When people know what to do, why they do it, and how to do it better, they will do a better job.

Your children’s pastor needs to know what’s working in churches around the country. He or she needs to look at problems in fresh ways and lead at a higher level. If you want a better youth pastor, give your youth pastor tools that lead to growth. If you want a better worship leader, develop the necessary character traits and qualities needed to succeed. Holding people to standards without giving them tools or training to do their job not only isn’t fair…it doesn’t work.

Job improvement doesn’t happen from working harder or trying more – growth comes from intentional leadership development.

  1.  People will be more fulfilled in their jobs.

When people have the opportunity to grow at work, they are simply happier at work. This is true in nearly every business and especially true in the church. People who work at churches should be the happiest employees on the planet.

When you do leadership development with people, you give them the skills they need to do their job better. But you also help them become contributors, teammates, and human beings.

  1.  The church gets better.

When you work on your leaders, your overall ministry will get better because leadership is one of those things that influences everything. It’s like the tide – when it rises, all the boats in the harbor rise with it.

That’s why leadership development is one of the biggest church growth barriers you’re facing. It’s not more services or more campus or even more staff.  It’s being a good steward and developing the people God has already placed in your church.

So now that you know it’s important, let’s talk about how to actually do this.

How Pastors Can Develop People

Here are five practical ways you can do leadership development with your staff.

  1.  Set aside a percentage of your payroll for leadership development. 

One of the first questions we hear from people when we launch a new course is “how much does it cost?” One of the most common reasons given for not being able to enroll is “we don’t have the money.”

Might I suggest that this isn’t always the best question. It’s not always a cost; it’s sometimes an investment. And those are two dramatically different things.

Investing in your team is one of the best things you can do, and while it doesn’t need to break the bank, it is going to cost some money. This may sound strong, but if you can’t afford to invest in your people, you should seriously consider what you’re doing in the first place. Cut something else before you cut investing in your people.

Verne Harnish, the author of Scaling Up, says companies should invest 2-3% of their payroll into leadership development. That’s a great guide for churches, too.

If you spend $100,000 a year on salaries, make sure you’re spending $3,000 a year on leadership development. That $3,000 expense makes the $100,000 expense far more effective.

  1.  Read books together. 

Now, just because it costs money to develop people doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a good steward either.

One of the most effective ways to develop your staff is to read great books and discuss them. Assign a chapter a week and then schedule a time to discuss what people learned and how it applies to your ministry.

Think about it. For about $15, you can buy someone’s life work. Quality books are well-researched and well-written. In a few pages, you get access to someone’s life experiences and wisdom. You tap into the people that influenced them and all the background work they performed during the writing process. What an incredible opportunity!

Here are five books we recommend you read and discuss as a team.

  1.  Attend a conference together.

Conferences are another great leadership development opportunity. There are literally dozens and dozens of quality church conferences. And even more business conferences you could attend with your team.

Again, these are not free and they require an investment of time and money, but once a year, the investment is worth it. I promise you’re never going to find more time or more money to do something like this – you’ve got to make the commitment and just plan it.

Pick the most applicable conference for your setting, put it on the calendar, buy your tickets and go as a team.

When you attend, make sure you intentionally plan to blow off one of the sessions and get together as a team to talk about what you’re learning and how it could work in your unique setting. Don’t drown in the sea of inspiration; fight hard to apply one core truth to your church.

Here are a few of our favorite conferences:

Here’s a best practice: Allow each of your staff members the budget to attend a ministry-specific conference or their choosing and then attend one together as a team.

  1.  Hire a coach to help your leadership team.

One of the best ways to grow your team is to bring in someone to facilitate learning, conversations and change.

When I was pastoring a church we did this on multiple occasions, and each time, we broke through an issue or a growth barrier. Outside people have a way of seeing things differently and pushing your forward in new ways.

If your church is stuck, there’s no better investment than hiring the UnStuck Group. If your vision isn’t clear, talk to Auxano. If you need to raise money, getting professional help will help you raise far more than you can do alone.

There’s a reason top organizations consistently bring in people from the outside to help their leadership grow.

  1.  Take a course together.

Another great way to grow as a team is to work through an online course together. Right now, our team offers three online courses

  • The Systems Course will help you create healthy systems in your church.
  • Breaking 200 is for pastors who want to lead their church beyond 200 regular attenders
  • Church Marketing will help you create influence and invite more people to church.

In most cases, the churches who are going through these courses as a team are getting far more out of the learning and the resources are making a much greater impact. Just working through it with ONE other person can make a huge difference.

One final word…

Developing your staff shouldn’t be limited to job skills or running the church. Work together on life skills, spiritual health, marriage, finances or parenting. Look to develop the WHOLE person, not just help them do their job better.