In Genesis 1, God created spaces and then filled them with new life. When He created humans, He gave us the First Commission to “be fruitful and multiply.” In Matthew 28, Jesus gave us the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations.” God has always been in the “increasing business” and that hasn’t changed today. The Next Step Leader is all about your increase as a pastor.

The prevailing winds of today’s culture have become fierce headwinds for the everyday church leader. Despite this harsh reality, the Next Step Leader is an invitation to develop something new starting with you. It’s about increasing your capacity as a human being to lead as an authorized agent of Jesus Christ. It’s about opening up your life for God to do more work through you.

The prevailing winds of today’s culture have become fierce headwinds for the everyday church leader.

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I’ve worked with different church teams every week for the last 2 decades. Every year, I see pastors struggle with an increasing sense of:

  • Uncertainty
  • Busyness
  • Complexity
  • Tiredness

These were all significant challenges before COVID ... and they have only intensified due to the planet-shifting disruptions of 2020.

How can leaders ...
… make decisions about the future when tomorrow is so uncertain?
… avoid the trap of interpreting overactivity as meaningful progress?
… navigate the endless stream of urgent needs and new ideas?
… overcome the weariness of the soul that saps their energy week after week?

The Next Step Leader is designed to help pastors thrive in these current conditions—it's a proven, breakthrough process to increase the leadership capacity of every pastor. Ultimately, it’s about expanding the disciple-making impact each leader has through the local church.

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The Next Step Leader process is built around a matrix of leadership capacity called the Next Step Leader Compass. Each quadrant addresses core components of leadership capacity necessary for every effective, mission-focused local church leader.

As you can see in the matrix, the major components of effective church leadership exist within the spectrum of individual, organizational, general, and contextual elements. This well-rounded, comprehensive approach to leadership development provides the tools church leaders need to take their next step of leadership, no matter which direction God may be leading them.

The year 2020 has brought permanent changes to how we do church. Many leaders have become paralyzed. Many more will permanently burnout. But Next Step Leaders will only become stronger.


Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

John F. Kennedy

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In each quadrant of the Next Step Leader Compass, there are SIX specific segments that each leader will engage during the Next Step Leader process. These segments, as you can see below, draw on many of the tools I've developed over the past twenty years to empower individuals and leaders to make meaningful progress in life and ministry. In addition, it integrates the unique contributions of the rest of the Future Church Co. team, directing our combined strength into one cohesive process.

SOUL COMPETENCY & SPECIAL CALLING

  • Access your freedom
  • Appreciate your story
  • Excavate your passion
  • Crystallize your ability
  • Find your zone
  • Declare your One Thing

RENEWABLE FOCUS & ULTIMATE CONTRIBUTION

  • Redefine real success
  • Imagine your lasting legacy
  • Achieve your life dreams
  • Rework your roles
  • Visualize the next three years
  • Set new rhythms now

DISCIPLE MULTIPLICATION & MINISTRY AGILITY

  • Uncover the big problem
  • Move the finish line
  • Become a hero-making model
  • Shape a disciple-making culture
  • Optimize your team’s gifts
  • Navigate through the change

CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT & VISIONARY PLANNING

  • Adjust your missional posture
  • Adapt your digital engagement
  • Craft your gospel proclamation
  • Train your justice perspective
  • Envision your kingdom impact
  • Plan your next steps

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

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When God called Abram to leave his country in Genesis 12, He didn’t give complete directions. “Go … to the land that I will show you.”

When God rescued the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and led them in the wilderness, He didn’t give turn-by-turn instructions all the way to their destination. In Numbers 9, we’re told how they simply responded to the movement of the pillar of cloud: “At the command of the LORD they camped and at the command of the LORD they set out.”

When Jesus called His disciples, He didn’t lay out a comprehensive plan for their development, He simply invited them to leave their old lives behind to follow Him, to become “fishers of men.”

When Paul described his personal journey in Philippians 3, he used words that expressed his passion and focus to “press on for the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.”

God doesn’t often provide a complete roadmap, He just asks us to take the next step. We can’t describe with certainty what the future will be, but we CAN define with clarity what our next step will be.

Will you be a Next Step Leader?

To sign up for NAMB's Next Step Leader, visit NAMB's website here.