Your Leadership Development Pathway

One of the sure signs of an unhealthy church is the failure of leaders to have a vision for leadership development. Church Leadership Center.

Written by Burt Braunius /
January 20, 2022

Written by Burt Braunius

At the beginning of this new year, church leaders are wise to ask, “What will be our plan for developing future leaders?”

One of the sure signs of an unhealthy church is the failure of leaders to have a vision for leadership development; leaders should, rather, be focusing not just on current leadership needs but on the leadership needs of the future.

Daniel Rolfe of Mountain Springs Church puts it this way: “A failure to develop leaders is arguably a primary expression of leadership pride and an unhealthy church culture. By not developing leaders or creating a culture of development, we’re essentially communicating that the future of our church doesn’t matter as long as we’re significant today.”

There are leadership development questions to ask, especially at the beginning of year.

  • Is your lead pastor supportive and involved in developing leaders?
  • Is your pastoral team expected to develop leaders at every level?
  • Do the senior leaders cast a clear and compelling vision for leadership development?
  • Do you inspect what you expect in terms of leadership development?
  • Leadership structure is often built for function and not development. What is the structural bias in yours?

“Eight Steps in Leading and Launching Your Leadership Pipeline” were identified by Rolfe in his presentation at a Leadership Network Collaboration. These steps are:

  1. Assess your challenge.
  2. Identify your champion or key person.
  3. Observe your core; i.e., key distinctives of your ministry philosophy.
  4. Shape your pipeline or pathway.
  5. Form your competencies; i.e., observable skills that need to be seen in your leaders.
  6. Develop your content: books, resources, teaching materials.
  7. Minimize your complexity: keep it simple and highly relational.
  8. Pilot your concept.

There are typically four primary aspects that are part of the leadership development process: Leaders, apprentices, coaches, and regularly-scheduled leadership community meetings for group training and accountability.

Leader: The leader oversees people.
A leader is a person who takes responsibility for a group of people in ministry and mission. We note the Scriptural requirements within the Pastoral Epistles (especially 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9), as well as in Ephesians 4:11-16. These may serve as examples of leadership character traits; for example, being above reproach, faithful, of good reputation, hospitable, respectable, self-controlled, and temperate.

Apprentice: Every leader needs an apprentice.
An apprentice is a person who is in training to be responsible for a group. This is consistent with the Scripture that says, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Coach: Every leader needs a coach.
The coach’s role is divided into three areas of relational development. These are equipping, recruiting, and serving.
-Equipping involves empowering leaders for their tasks. Emphasis is on knowledge and skills.
-Recruiting is the identifying of potential leaders.
-Serving relates to helping leaders accomplish their tasks.

Leadership Community:
Leadership Community is a monthly meeting (9 out of 12 months) that includes three core practices:

  1. Vision: emphasis on who we are, where we are going, and what is most important;
  2. Huddle: break-out groups according to areas such as venues and ministries;
  3. Skill: training in specific ministry skill areas or tasks.



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