Leadership development is by far the most discussed need these days. I believe we have grown more aware of the need, through a variety of emphasis including, the missional re-orientation, discipleship culture, multi-site and church planting. So how do you begin addressing your leadership development challenges? I believe there are four broad steps.

These steps come from work I have done with Mac Lake over the last several years.  We have designed a six-month coaching track to help your team design, build and install a leadership pipeline. Here is an overview of these steps:

Step #1: Define Your Structure and Redesign for Function and Development Not Just Function The first step is to take the leadership pipeline levels (see below) and evaluate every ministry area structure in light of it. Once all of the ministry area leaders do this visibly together in the same room, you will have break-thru perspective.

  1. Level one LEAD SELF
  2. Level two LEAD OTHERS
  3. Level three LEAD LEADERS
  4. Level four LEAD A DEPARTMENT

Step #2: Create a System to Move "Up" the Pipeline and Align Ministry Areas to the System.

Once the structure itself is defined, you must ask the practical questions of "how?" Here is how it works. Imagine saying to a student pastor, "I want you to show me how a 18-year old student comes to Christ and eventually becomes a student pastor some day. What would that process look like?" How many of your leaders actually have an answer to that question?

The system will include an overarching leadership development strategy. In 2004, Aubrey Malphurs and I wrote Building Leaders. One of my favorite chapters in the book is one in which I document 16 leadership development "venues" that create a recipe book of sorts for building this part of your system. The system will answer many things. Here is small sampling:

  • How many times do all leaders gather throughout the year?
  • How many mentors or trainers do we need in order to keep up with church growth?
  • What will a centralized leadership application look like?
  • Will we have interviews?
  • What are the specific follow-up and contact steps?
  • How will leader to leader peer learning take place?
  • What qualifications or prerequisites are needed for each level?

Step #3: Capture a Fresh "Team Snapshot" of your Current Levels and the Roles that You Need to Fill

After you clarify your structure and system, it's important to look at the people you currently have that populate each level. Even though leaders are certainly one of the church's more precious resources, I am amazed at how many churches do not have a team lists and levels defined and the practical tools to communicate with them.

Step #4: Define the Competencies Required at Each Level for Each Ministry Area

As you move up the pipeline, new skills and abilities are needed. Some of these will transcend ministry areas and some will not. I recommend starting by defining the top 5 competencies for each level that will apply to each ministry level. Then specific ministry areas can add others. For example, the worship ministry will add skills specific to musical talent. Once you have defined the competencies, you will have to create some training tools around the content. How we do that, I will save for a later post.

These four basic steps are critical to building an effective pipeline. If this simple overview is appealing, you may want to consider getting outside coaching assistance in developing your own. We have slots left for more churches this year if you are interested in the the 6-month process. Just post a comment and let me know.