Discussion: How does your church raise up leaders?

Leadership. This is a topic that I have much vested interesting for (1) being a pastor of a church, and (2) trying to find ways to raise up new, godly leaders. Ultimately, I am of the persuasion that each church needs a plurality of pastors (preferably homegrown) and a group of deacons that have servant hearts, as well as other mature men and women who lead and disciple without any “official” title. Presently, in my church situation, one of the constant concerns I hear from people is about our lack of leaders, and so I’m just trying to identify and build up others who can serve as good leaders whether officially or not.

Through this process I have discovered something, though: I’ve been pastoring for nearly a decade; I have a masters from one of our Southern Baptist seminaries, and I’m working on a doctorate from another; I have been mentored by various men along the way; and I’ve read many books. Through all of that, the space between my ears has been flooded with volumes of information about church leadership, but nowhere along the way has anyone truly modeled leadership development and involved me in the process. I came to the conclusion that I know a lot about leadership and the theories behind developing leaders, but I don’t know much practically.

I’ve noticed the trends in other churches with which I am acquainted; they typically fall into one of two categories: (1) Like mine, there is a lack of leadership and the pastors struggle with what to do; or (2) there is dysfunctional leadership and a lot of egos that get in the way of ministry and the pastors struggle with what to do.

So I’m curious, and I’d like to see some good discussion: How does your church raise up leaders? Is your church going against the tide of lack or dysfunctionality? Etc. and so on…


  1. says

    When I was preparing to do my Doctoral work I noted that while I had a fantastic theological education, all three biblical languages, church history, exegesis etc. – – – I did not have one single minute of instruction in Leadership Development or Organizational change. I also realized that my brothers taking the same path I did were also laboring with these same deficiencies. Research documents the fact that the #1 cause of decline in the evangelical church is Leadership Incompetence.

    Fast forward 15 years. God has taken me to 27 countries to train Leaders; Argentina, Burma, China, Haiti, Mongolia, Mexico, Nepal, Russia etc. I now have a ministry – IgniteUS, Inc. Our focus is the church in America.

    “Building leadership competence to transforms America’s churches into healthy intentional disciple makers.”

    We have many very satisfied Pastors and churches that have completed the Process (36 months). There are no ‘quick fixes’!

    I would welcome an email or a call from you. 803 413 3509.

    In Grace,

  2. Bob Browning says

    I believe some of the greatest insight on the subject of leadership comes from Dr. Mohler’s new book “Conviction to Lead.” The introduction to the book was extremely helpful as he makes a much-needed distinction between “managers” and “leaders.” The notion that someone must be capable of handling multimillion dollar budgets and managing massive building programs in order to be a good leader must be corrected – that doesn’t take an MDiv, in fact a good MBA would be better if that’s your idea of leadership. I haven’t witnessed this being done REALLY well anywher yet, though the more reformed (elder lead) churches seem to be marching in a good direction. And due to my limited experience I’m sure there are some doing this quite well that I just haven’t personally witnessed. Ultimately though, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to raise up biblical leaders unless we can agree on what that means.

  3. says

    I have been on staff at Wind and Fire Ministries for 10 years and served on leadership team for two years, as well as task forces, etc. Ric Lumbard, the bivocational director, is a master of raising up leaders and sending them out. Ric does not micromanage, but began by spending time teaching us to listen to God for inner healing and who we were created to be, so we serve from a place if strength. We had a leadership blog where we discussed what the gifts and different biblical ministy models looked like and how we felt we were called to function in these personally. He then shook things up by letting people switch roles to function in their callings. FYI… we are all volunteers so this did not affect income. The ministry has a fresh reset annually so does not get stuck in ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ mentality. Ric makes us feel like God can do big things through us if we listen and work together. He asks for all of us to submit dreams and visions we feel are from the Lord. If a pattern emerges from several of these we will go that direction in ministry. So we know Ric listens to us. Ric leads 200 staff, 20 leaders plus other attendees. It is a prayer center open with worship available 24/7. We raise up and send out missionaries to Ukraine, Middle East, India, etc. We started a refuge plan in case of disaster. We work with ICE to educate community and rescue and bring to emotional and physical wholeness human trafficking victims. We have Community Supported Agriculture and teach our people how to be healthy and thrive. We have numerous worship teams to keep an environment of praise. We do horse therapy. We have numerous teams of people who pray by appointment and in the altar. We have another location in Belize where we give respite to missionaries and mirror some of our ministries there. We are empowered to be creative and run with it within the overall mission statement. We do not agree theologically in a few areas, but the core is there and the unity and love and ability to function in our callings is amazing. Recently, Ric brought in and subsidized Randy Bixby to do a leadership conference that normally is expensive and really turns you on your ear. Randy is gifted to get to your core and shake you up and overcome obstacles to accomplish your dreams. I realize Ric has latitude to do things you don’t but maybe this can jumpstart some new ideas. I haven’t told you the half of what Ric has done for us and others. He develops blueprints that can be modeled elsewhere. If you want to find out more let me know and i can get you in touch.

  4. says

    My church has some limited programmatic leadership development. Typically, the leaders that get developed are the ones that are already pegged as leadership material.

    I recall NCO training in the Marines. It is recognized that different personalities will lead best through different methods. One doesn’t have to be aggressive or even assertive to lead well. I’m not an “A” type personality, for example. It doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to lead. I resist subversive manipulation in general, but also know that people can be motivated internally by various means. So that’s my leadership style. If I know that the guys on the floor at work would like to be off Friday, I can schedule 10-hour days Monday-Thursday, set a high but obtainable production goal, and tell them that it needs to be done or we’ll have to work Friday. The guys are motivated to be productive in that scenario. I don’t have to bludgeon them with a lot of “A”-type carrying on. The problem is that I’m not seen as a strong leader by people who are looking for only “A”-type leadership.

    But this goes to an ideal goal that we should have in our congregations. Every Christian, on some level, should have ownership in the work of their Church. The leadership/followership model that churches typically engage in helps to engender an idea of the church as a club. Prospective members come and see the programs that will benefit them. They compare them to the benefits of other churches in the area, pick the one that will minister to them the most and join with the expectation of purchasing with their “tithes and offerings” the benefits that were promised to them. This is backwards. Tithes and offerings are only part of the ownership. People should join a church where they will have the opportunity to give, not just their moneys but their time and talents. A good church will steward all of the talents that God has given to all the members, not simply programmatically but also organically. That requires healthy discipleship in the natural function of the church. It requires members being willing to put up with brothers and sisters they aren’t normally comfortable with. It requires personal sacrifice on everyone’s part. The end result is a church where everyone knows where their niche is to lead. Ultimately, everyone ministers, everyone is ministered to, and the ministry of the church pours out in local and global missions. That’s how church leadership should develop.

  5. says

    I was visiting a local Vineyard church. They don’t seem to have organized outreaches. The day i was there pastor said they encourage individuals to rise up in their callings and work together. A friend there was led to collect and distribute blankets under bridges, to shelters on streets. ..anywhere God led them. The church announced she was taking blanket and monetary donations, stores had offered discounts and free blankets, the news featured their story.

    We must teach people that sitting on pews is not cutting it with God. God speaks to those who will hear and obey and if you want to pew sit he will let you deceive yourself that he is pleased.

  6. Andy says

    What we (pastors) have found helpful and fruitful over the past few years is seeking to do 1 on 1 bible reading with men in the church…each one of us trying to do it with a few men, and then encouraging the men in the church to find someone or two else to do it with. This, coupled with relationships forged in service together, eating together, having one another’s families into homes…Helps us identify those men who are seeking to be godly husbands, fathers, and church servants, which are the kind of men we want to put in leadership positions (deacons, small-group leaders, Potential non-staff elders). Some of these men have seminary or pastoral experience, but many have none.

    It really is all about relationships, getting to know the people, and then through intentional 1 on 1 bible reading, seeking to move them toward more and more maturity.

    David Helm’s book is very short, simple, but I think he has hit upon something valuable: http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Reading-simple-guide-Christian/dp/1921441984

  7. says

    There is a credible body of longetudinal research that shows ‘Leadership Incompetence’ is one of if not THE LEADING cause for the decline in the Evangelical Church.

    Yet, in a weeks time there are only six (6) responses to this post.

    Put up something on Arminianism/Calvinism and there would be 250. What does that tell us about ourselves?

    In Grace,
    Tom Fillinger
    803 413 3509