Five Simple Ways To Develop Leaders In Your Church

Posted by Aaron Buer on August 23, 2018

Recently, I shared a post on why leadership development doesn’t happen often in churches.

Today, I want to share a few more practical tips on the subject of leadership development.


Because, too often we think that raising up new leaders is terribly complicated when in reality it isn’t. It just requires steady attention.

I believe that any church can develop new and younger leaders.

Here are five ideas:

1. Start a Book Club

Something that we have done that is very effective and doesn’t require a massive budget is book clubs.

We simply choose good leadership books and a leader for the book club and invite our staff to sign up.

Often these groups meet over lunch. It’s simple and effective.

Here are a few leadership book ideas:

  • Thanks for the Feedback
  • Spiritual Leadership
  • Deep Work
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
  • Good to Great
  • Deep and Wide
  • Conversations develop out of these meetings that can help leaders learn and grow together.

    2. Bring Someone Along with You

    Something I’ve been learning is that the best leadership development happens through mentoring conversations.

    Because of this, one of the most effective ways you can develop an emerging leader is to bring them along with you as you do whatever it is that you do.

  • If you are recruiting a volunteer, bring them along.
  • If you’re speaking at another church, bring them along.
  • If you’re leading worship at a youth retreat, bring them along.
  • Then, throughout the experience and on the way home, talk about why you do the things that you do and answer any questions they may have.

    This is leadership development at its finest.

    3. Share Feedback

    Again, leadership development often happens through conversations. Sometimes these conversations look like feedback.

    It’s amazing how often we give no feedback to staff and volunteers.

    We think we are being nice to people by not giving them feedback when the truth is that everyone craves feedback.

    We want and need to know how we are doing. This is why we have scoreboards, grades, speedometers, and performance reviews.

    I would encourage you to build strong relationships with your staff and volunteers so that you have the equity to share with them something they did well and a growth area every time they complete a task or project.

    There is very often no growth without feedback. If you want to develop leaders, give them feedback.

    4. Send People to a Workshop or Conference

    Ok, it’s true that this idea often costs money, but spending money does communicate value.

    If you want to see what an organization, family or church values, look at their spending habits.

    If you say you want to develop leaders but don’t spend any money on don’t actually want to develop leaders.

    One of the best ways to communicate value and also invest in emerging leaders in your church is to send people to a class, workshop or conference.

    Here a few that I’ve found and or heard are phenomenal:

  • Orange Conference or Orange Tour
  • Catalyst Conference
  • Drive Conference
  • If you’re interested in looking through every major church leadership conference that is happening this year, check out this post I found.

    Also, when thinking through options, don’t forget to look into workshops that local Christian colleges and seminaries put on.

    For example, here are two great options in my home city of Grand Rapids, MI:

  • Calvin Symposium
  • Grand Rapids Theological Seminary Talking Points
  • 5. Give Away Leadership

    The last strategy for developing leaders is to actually give away leadership responsibilities.

    There really is no substitute for giving people opportunities to lead.

    People learn through doing more than through hearing.

    Also, giving away leadership communicates that you care about emerging leaders, especially if they are young.

    The book 'Growing Young' calls this concept keychain leadership.

    So the question is: What can you give away to an emerging leader?

    Are there platform opportunities for a budding communicator?

    Can you open up another spot for a guitarist?

    Is there a project, initiative or even an entire ministry that you can give away?

    Often, leadership development looks like opportunities.

    Wrap Up

    So there you go. Five simply ways to develop leaders in your church.

    In my opinion, developing leaders is not complex. It often involves conversations and mentoring.

    So, if you’re looking to take a first step in this area, a book club costs very little and can be very effective.

    We’d love to hear your ideas or questions on leadership development. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

    Topics: Advice

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