Leadership Development Can Change Your Church

By Dustin Turner

Few things in ministry are more obvious than leadership development, yet little energy, resources or strategy are often given to it. Many pastors and ministry leaders talk about leadership development, but few prioritize it. While countless reasons could be listed for this neglect, I find it far more helpful to remind us why and how we develop leaders.

The Why of Leadership Development

We should desire to develop leaders within our church for two important reasons. First, our people have been both gifted and called to lead. The pastors of the church are called by God to do what? “Equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). When we fail to equip our leaders to lead, we fail at what God has called us to do.

Second, leadership development provides the opportunity for us to scale our ministry. If you do everything all the time in your church, your church will never grow. We know this, but sometimes it’s hard to break ourselves of doing everything. However, when we recognize that our lack of leadership development is stunting our church’s growth, that reality should shock us into leadership development.

So, how do we do it?

The How of Leadership Development

I want to encourage you to adopt four practices:

  1. Embed It.

Leadership development will never be valued or practiced in your church unless you make it a part of your culture. Yes, you might need to add it to your values but you know just as much as I do that culture is more than just your values on the wall. You have to find ways to make it a part of who you are, both as a leader and as a church. Make leadership development a part of your culture, and it will not only be something you do, but something you are.

  1. Prioritize It.

What you believe in, you prioritize. If you really believe in leadership development, you’ll prioritize it. You’ll make it a priority in your budget. If you don’t know much about leadership development, you’ll invest your time to learn. You’ll spend time developing leaders around you. In every conceivable way possible, prioritize leadership development. When you do, your church will, too!

  1. Practice It.

You’re not about leadership development if you’re not doing it. Here is where the rubber meets the road. Here’s where the talk becomes the walk. And for some of us, this is the most challenging step. Here, you need to develop a “leadership pipeline” and in-between, steps to move people into leadership. From the very beginning, Vintage Church followed this process:

(1) assessment, (2) recognition, (3) training and (4) enlistment.

Assessment: We want to see if people have character, calling, chemistry and competency. Recognition: After assessment, we both personally and publicly recognize their leadership potential. Training: Here’s where we walk through a training process that includes knowledge, experience and coaching. Enlistment: The person then steps into leadership.

While we had this process for years, our leadership development lacked a pipeline or system to move people from one level of leadership to the next. Early on, leadership development at Vintage looked more relational and less systematic, which can be a benefit. However, without a system, you cannot scale your leadership development. Enter Auxano’s Leadership Pipeline (https://auxano.com/leadership-pipeline). Through an intense two-day training with Mac Lake and Dave Putman, we were able to put together a comprehensive leadership development strategy. Regardless of whom you learn from or how you do it, if you are going to actually do leadership development, you’ve got to find a way to do it. Find your way, and do it!

  1. Celebrate It.

If you’re like me, celebration comes hard. Not because I have nothing to celebrate, but because I never find it good enough to celebrate. We’re always working, improving on what we’re doing. But if you don’t celebrate it, your people won’t do it. When you’ve developed leaders, celebrate them. Celebrate the process. Remind your church that you are about leadership development and why you develop leaders. Find small ways to celebrate and at the same time, throw big parties to celebrate.

Leadership development is a process. It will take you some time to create it, implement it, and run it. But when you do, you’ll see a change. If you imbed it, prioritize it, practice it, and celebrate it, your church will, too.

Dustin Turner serves as Lead Pastor of Vintage Church in New Orleans, La. Find more information on Pastor Dustin at http://www.vintagechurchnola.com/leadership/dustin-turner.