I really enjoy the book, “Designed to Lead,” by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck. It digs into the importance of leadership development in the local church, and gives ways to begin to implement it. That’s huge! I found their ideas about a leadership pathway and a leadership pipeline in particular to be very encouraging. Enjoy my synopsis……

The center of the Church is the gospel, but the center of leadership development must be the Church. This means that the leaders who will ultimately transform communities and change the world come from the Church. Most churches merely exist to keep running their programs and services. They are not developing leaders intentionally and consistently. When leaders emerge from some churches, it is often by accident. “Wow, a leader emerged…. How did that happen?” should not be heard among God’s people. Something is missing. Something is off.

Churches that consistently produce leaders have a strong conviction to develop leaders, a healthy culture for leadership development, and helpful constructs to systematically and intentionally build leaders. All three are essential for leaders to be formed through the ministry of a local church. 

Conviction is a God-initiated passion that fuels a leader and church. Conviction is at the center of the framework because without conviction to develop others, leadership development will not occur. Developing leaders must be a burning passion, a non-negotiable part of the vision of a local church and its leaders, or it will never become a reality. The essential task of developing others must not be at the mercy of other things, of lesser things in a local church. 

Once the church leaders share this conviction, this ambition must become part of the very culture of the church itself. Culture is the shared beliefs and values that drive the behavior of a group of people. The church that believes in and values the development of others collectively holds the conviction for leadership development. When development is in the culture, it is much more than an idea or program; it is part of the very core identity of the church.

Wise leaders implement constructs to help unlock the full potential of a church that seeks to be a center for developing leaders. By constructs, we mean the systems, processes, and programs developed to help develop leaders. Constructs provide necessary implementation and execution to the vision and passion of culture and conviction.

Pastors, and churches, with a biblical approach to ministry possess a deep-seated conviction that all believers are gifted for ministry, not just the “professionals”. The Scripture never uses the term “minister” to set aside a special class of people who serve other Christians. All believers are ministers. So those selected by the Lord to be pastors are to invite all believers to engage in ministry and view themselves as equippers of all of God’s people, within the Church.

Equipping changes a church from a mere consumption center to a gathering of people who serve one another and the world around them. A church focused on developing God’s people to serve is a church that knows why it is on the planet, and the people are likely to sense the urgency and significance of the opportunity. When a church is overwhelmed with the immensity of the mission, small issues of disagreement are less likely to overtake it. There is too much mission to focus on. 

Often ministry leaders will ask, “What do you do for discipleship?” and then a few moments later ask, “What do you do for leadership development?” as if the two are mutually exclusive. While it may be helpful to view leadership development as advanced discipleship or as a subset of discipleship, it is detrimental to view leadership development as distinct from discipleship.

Leaders are developed as knowledge, experiences, and coaching converge. All three are essential for a leader to be developed. Knowledge is what leaders must learn and know. Experiences encompass the ongoing opportunities to serve and put knowledge into practice. Coaching occurs when a shepherding leader applies the knowledge and experience with a new leader.

If you view development as solely informational, knowledge will be your solution. If you view development as merely behavioral, experiences will be your solution. If you view development as part of discipleship, you want to use both knowledge and experiences, alongside coaching from godly leaders, as tools for the ultimate goal of transformation.

If you hold a deep conviction to equip people and develop leaders, the conviction will drive you to constructs, and constructs will help you create a culture that values development. Two constructs you need are the leadership pipeline and the leadership pathway. The pipeline focuses on the flock as a whole. The pathway focuses on an individual in the flock or a sheep.

A pipeline in the realm of local church ministry may look like this:

*Lead Yourself (be in a group)

*Lead Others (lead a group or team)

*Lead Leaders (shepherd or coach a group of leaders)

*Lead Ministries (direct a ministry area)

As one has proven faithful in following Christ and leading self, the person is asked to lead others. As the person proves faithful in this responsibility, the person is given the responsibility to lead and shepherd other leaders. As the person has effectively cared for and developed other leaders, the person may be willing and ready to direct a larger portion of ministry.

A pathway is simply a view of the pipeline that is tailored for the individual. It may be as simple as showing a person his place in the pipeline and the training plans designed for him. It may be as simple as helping a leader see how the training the church offers is designed to develop her. Give the people you serve a map or a picture of their development, and not merely a menu of all your church does.

Your church is unique. The passion of the leaders, the local context, and the gifting of those the Lord has put in your church all combine to make your church different from every other church. Yes, God wants to do something very specific in your context, but at the same time there are some things that are non-negotiable for every church that gathers in the name of Jesus and is centered on His work for us. In other words, developing leaders must not be seen as optional for our churches.

Interested in reading the book in its entirety? You can purchase it here: