Category Archives: Leadership

Developing and Deploying Leaders for the Glory of God

designtoleadDidn’t get to attend the Pipeline Conference last year, but have wore out a highlighter going through the feature book by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck called Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development. The thesis of the book is that the church should be a great catalyst of developing leaders in every sphere of life. Geiger and Peck lay out the theological case for leadership development in the church and also make practical steps to get started very accessible for churches of every size. Exposed is our lack of true leadership development in the church and our dependence on a professional class instead of God’s power through God’s people with clergy being equippers. Must read for church planters who must multiply leaders and set a course for maximum impact for years to come. Here are ten of my favorite quotes from Designed to Lead:

  • The Church is uniquely set apart to develop and deploy leaders for the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel.
  • The full extent of discipleship is the development of disciples who are able to lead and develop others, not merely people who gather for worship once a week.
  • True leaders are servants who die to themselves so others may flourish.
  • The Christian life is not about trying daily, but dying daily.
  • The Church has been designed to possess a holy rhythm of gathering people to scatter that more may be gathered.
  • It is not first the work of our hands that pleases the Lord, but the condition of our hearts.
  • The Church is not a Christian club, weekly group counseling session, or weekend pick-me-up. Your local church is the beautiful bridge of King Jesus!
  • People will follow your example before they follow your vision.
  • Church leaders must confidently invite people to serve, knowing that the opportunities to serve provide moments where development occurs.
  • Our churches don’t need spiritual travel agents who promote journeys they don’t take. We need tour guides who set a wise direction, take the journey with the people, and live all that they are inviting the people to live. 

A few more posts coming from this book in coming weeks. More info and some resources on the book at Also, check out and follow Eric Geiger’s Blog for other great leadership resources.

3 Questions to Get Leadership Development Started

Sustained leadership development requires intentionality. Churches stall many times because they lack an intentional plan to continue reproducing leaders beyond the core group development phase, if they do it then. Here are three questions to get leadership development started.

1. How many leadership roles have we developed?

You won’t expand the capacity of your church without a growing number of leaders. You won’t develop leaders if you don’t see a need for them. Expanding the capacity of your church requires enlarging the organization through leadership roles. Our current church plant has basically followed the Acts 6 moments in our history to start new ministry teams and thus creating new leadership roles. When we had a need arise, like in Acts 6 with the need for widows to be served fairly, we’ve created a new team. Or when we saw God giving us leaders of a certain gifting, we took the opportunity to create opportunities in that area. In 7 years, we’ve gone from one launch team, to now eight ministry teams, with leaders multiplying to fill roles required by the needs of the church and community.

Is your church setup to expand capacity through new leaders and expanding roles for leaders? If not, start with obvious needs in the church and community, and begin to cast vision for a new ministry or team or individual to fulfill that ministry.

2. How many leadership training opportunities have we promoted?

Leadership training for the church is more than just seminary training. Every church can offer an array of training opportunities and in so doing, develop a culture of leadership development. Here are a few opportunities available to all of us:

  • Online training options like Ministry Grid. Training can be shared on Facebook Groups or by email. You can even do your own video training very easily these days through or Right Now Media.
  • Invite other church leaders in your region that are killing it in a particular area of ministry that you hope to develop. Put on a luncheon after church and pay their mileage and most will jump at the chance to serve your church.
  • If you’re close to a seminary, invite a professor for a day of training with your church in a particular area.
  • Denominations and local Associations of churches offer trainings throughout the year that are usually free and close by.
  • National conferences can be more expensive when you factor in travel, but can still be powerful events to train, equip, and inspire your leaders and potential leaders.

Plan 4-6 opportunities next year. Watching who shows up for these and takes them seriously will help you see who your leaders and potential leaders are.

3. How many small steps up the leadership ladder have we developed?

stepsEach year I update a spreadsheet for our church called “Who Does What?” It lists everything required to pull off what our church does every week. Dozens of task go on that list. As a church planter, many of them have been done by me or by staff. But our work is to get more and more of that list, especially the leadership roles, done by the people in the church. BUT PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THIS: It’s not about getting stuff done! It’s about getting people done! Giving people responsibility in the overall mission of the kingdom is a way to help them develop as disciples. Watch for obedience and faithfulness, coach and encourage, and watch many of them climb up the ladder to fruitful ministry in the church, neighborhood, and beyond. You should see even making the coffee as a sacred role that invites someone to a life on mission.

Does your church have small steps of responsibility and life on mission for new disciples and potential leaders to take this week?

Developing leaders is about offering opportunities to lead, to learn, to take small steps along the path to maturity.


Leadership Axiom: It’s not what you do today, it’s what you do everyday that makes a difference. And what we do everyday, over and over again shapes us more than we know. What’s on your list of EVERYDAY priorities?

1. Hit my knees in prayer.

Prayer is a profession of our faith & dependence upon God. Nothing more important than the relationship born on our knees as believers.

2. Connect with a truth from God’s word.

God speaks to us through His word. Why would I refuse to hear from God? Opening the Bible must be a daily practice.

3. Kiss my wife.

Not a difficult discipline. I never want to take for granted the incredible gift God has given me in my beautiful, virtuous wife. And thankfully, one of her love languages is physical touch, so win-win.

4. Share the Gospel with someone.

Billy Graham said it takes 20 conversations before someone gives their lives to Christ. I want to be faithful to move people along toward that life changing decisions.

5. Spend eye to eye, face to face time with my kids.

Kids spell love T.I.M.E. I want to let them know they’re at the top of my priorities. Eye to eye, face to face moments have to be fought for with the flurry of distractions we face. But it’s worth it! Always want to ask, “Did they see my eyes today?”

6. One another a member of my church.

At least 44 “one another” verses in the New Testament – serve, pray, encourage, love, honor, etc., etc. Practicing the one another’s keeps us focused on the needs of others & helps people & our church grow. Great list HERE.

7. Encourage a church planter.

Having planted three churches I know the loneliness, the discouragement, the isolation that planters can face. I also know the fuel that a little bit of encouragement can add to a leaders life. I want to be a daily encourager of those on the front lines through church planting.

8. Read at least one chapter of a book.

Harry Truman said, “All leaders are readers.” Reading is a discipline that must be prioritized. My goal is to read at least one chapter of a book everyday. With 365 days in a year, that means I’ll probably read around 30 books every year. That’s a good goal & a lot of learning.

9. Exercise.

Better rest, greater stamina, longer life. Lots of benefits to exercise. 20-30 minutes everyday is a must.

10. Watch the sunset.

I’m fortunate to live in a place with incredible sunsets. Never want to take that for granted. If it’s at all possible, I’ll fight for time gazing at the artistry of our Father revealing Himself to us through color & clouds.

What would you add to this list of EVERYDAY activities?


Sunset at the Madisonville Lighthouse.

Worth Reading: Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church

who-moved-my-pulpit-3dLoved Thom Rainer’s short but extremely helpful book on leading change in the local church called Who Moved My Pulpit? Rainer shares lots of personal & real life scenarios from churches experiencing & going through change. A must read if you are a leader of a church in need of change.

Rainer’s Formula or Process of Leading Change:

  1. Stop & Pray.
  2. Confront & Communicate a Sense of Urgency.
  3. Build an Eager Coalition.
  4. Become a Voice & Vision of Hope.
  5. Deal with People Issues.
  6. Move from Inward Focus to an Outward Focus.
  7. Pick Low Hanging Fruit.
  8. Implement & Consolidate Change.

Lot’s of great how to info for each point of the process.

A few of my favorite quotes:

  • “I have never seen successful and sustaining change take place in a church without prayer. Never. Not once.”
  • “Coasting is for leaders who have stopped leading. But true change leaders expend a tremendous amount of effort. They face challenges and conflicts regularly. They have discouraging setbacks.”
  • “Effective change leadership in the church will not take place in human power; it can only come from God.”
  • “Too many of our church members treat their congregations as a religious country club. They pay their dues and expect to be served. It’s a “me-first” attitude that is endemic in the unhealthy churches in America.”
  • “If you are not being criticized, you are not leading.”
  • “If you know you have to make a difficult decision with someone, don’t delay. The situation will only worsen.”
  • “Great leaders are transparent leaders. Great change takes place when the leaders are transparent.”
  • “If you want to be comfortable, don’t lead change in the church. If you don’t want to be criticized, don’t lead change in the church. If you never want to put your paycheck at risk, don’t lead change in the church.”

Must read it you are one of the vast majority of pastors & churches in need of change across America. Can be read in a day or two & immediately applied whatever your situation. Resource Kit & more available with the book HERE. Get it on Amazon HERE.

Finding Leaders vs. Developing Leaders

There is a mindset that hinders growth of people & organizations, especially volunteer organizations like churches. It’s the mindset that says leaders are FOUND. The opposite in a lot of ways is the mindset that leaders are DEVELOPED. Churches that multiply & grow exponentially have found a way to develop leaders instead of just hoping they find some.

Finding Leaders often means:

  • Hoping leaders show up.
  • Trying to talk leaders from other churches or organizations to come lead in your church or organization.
  • Never seeing the potential in the people God actually sends you.
  • Limiting the capacity of your church because you don’t see the potential in everyone.
  • Always seeing who you don’t have instead of who you do have.
  • Staying safe & never taking risks on people that don’t seem “ready.”
  • A few leaders filling lots of roles.
  • Little trust in people (and ultimately in God).
  • Fear of Failure.
  • Big back door as people come to understand they’re not needed.

Developing Leaders often means:

  • Expecting leaders to show up.
  • Seeing potential in every person that walks through your doors.
  • Having intentional processes & systems to move people from where they are to where God wants them to be in leadership.
  • Embracing tension & releasing people into leadership roles when they may not seem “ready.”
  • A lot of trust in God the Holy Spirit to work in & through people.
  • Failure as a valuable tool to teach & train.
  • Sending people intentionally as their value expands to other organizations & churches.

Are you hoping to find leaders or intentionally developing leaders?

Adventures in Limited Capacity


Faith + Character + Knowledge + Consistency + Systems = Capacity for Growth

CapacityCapacity is defined as the maximum amount that something can contain. Growing leaders & churches requires expanding capacity personally & organizationally. Our influence & the size of our church often matches our capacity. Over & over again as my church has hit growth barriers, I’ve come to realize that MY limited capacity has been the greatest barrier to our growth. Here’s some things that have limited my capacity to grow & have served as a lid on my ability to grow others:

1. Lack of Faith

Faith in God grows our capacity, because we see clearly the infinite power & potential of His power. Faith in God empowers us to take risk, overcome obstacles, & believe the impossible can happen for God’s glory.

2. Lack of Character

Character issues can put a lid on your leadership. Of course, immorality can disqualify you as a leader & hurt the growth of your church, but other character issues that are seen as tolerable or acceptable can no less limit your capacity. Pride & the insecurities that come with it, can keep us from letting go of the reigns of ministries that others can lead, limiting the opportunity for growth. Unforgiveness & bitterness toward others can keep you from growing spiritually & cause you to hesitate to trust others. Taking responsibility for the problems & priorities of the organization is also a huge character issue. Leaders that blame others instead of pushing to solve problems & give up easily when things get tough will put a lid on the growth of their church. To grow your church or organization, grow your character.

3. Limited Knowledge of the Community

Limited knowledge of the community leads to missed opportunities to reach out & missed application of the gospel to the real needs of the people in your context. Many times churches ignore community organizations, events, & environments, which would be valuable places to grow our influence & share the gospel, along with learning more about the communities needs & open doors that the gospel could penetrate. Someone said, “Don’t plant a church in your head, plant it in your community.” To do so, we must get out meet people & ask God to show us open doors.

4. Inconsistency

Axiom: “It’s not what you do today, it’s what you do everyday that counts.” One of the #1 complaints I here people make behind their leaders back & that I’m sure has been made about me is – “He starts a bunch of stuff that he doesn’t finish.” Which I usually, push back on them with – “What did you do to get behind the idea & move it forward.” But it is a great challenge for leaders that are wanting growth. Sometime we just try good ideas & when they fall a little flat, we give up on them. Instead, we should do the deep work of devising solid strategy, thinking long-term & then stick with it, even through dry seasons. This sets a solid foundation for volunteer buy in & consistency of action that is needed to bring a harvest.

5. Lack of systems in place

I think almost daily about Edward Deming’s great quote – “Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting.” Systems involve more people & energy which expands capacity. As leaders, we often hesitate to build systems because of fear of losing control or because of added complexity in relationships. God designed the world in systems – hydrosphere, geosphere, atmosphere, biosphere. The human body has nine systems – Central/Nervous, Respiratory, Digestive, etc. Living organisms that expand & grow do so through systems. To expand capacity, a leader must know when to create a system out of the relationships he/she has built.

Faith in God + Character + Knowledge of the Community + Consistency of Action + Developing Systems = Capacity for Growth. 

What is the lid on your leadership & the organization you lead? What may be limiting your capacity for growth?


Ambitious leaders provide solutions, not just ideas. They constantly move toward completion. They honor others by showing up early and finishing on time. They always anticipate what needs to be done next and are always one step ahead, and they work on items they weren’t asked or told to do but know have to get done. They move the needle wherever they are placed and are always looking for ways to improve the process. They are disciplined in their learning and understand the power of becoming an expert, no matter what level or role they play in an organization. Ambitious leaders write down everything immediately, knowing they will probably forget if they don’t and that writing it down makes it a priority. They take initiative and remove things from leaders’ plates around them.

Brad Lomenick in H3 Leadership: Be Humble, Stay Hungry, Always Hustle


You are… You Have…

Dear Church Member,

You are…

  • God’s plan to display his glory to the nations.
  • God’s plan to show your kids how to follow Christ.
  • God’s plan to reach your neighbors & show them what it means to know Christ.
  • God’s plan to expand his kingdom in your town, city, state.
  • God’s plan to show His wisdom to the world through pooling your gifts with other believers in a local church.
  • Loved. Chosen. Favored. Saved. Filled. Forgiven. And so much more.

You have…

  • God’s power within to help you overcome the daily & the deadly.
  • God’s word to guide you in the way to believe & behave.
  • God’s gifts to build others up & help grow his kingdom.
  • God’s resources to be managed in a way that honors him & shows others that He is better than this world.
  • God’s promise that He will be with you & he will use you & he will empower you.
  • God’s people around you to encourage & build you up.
  • Power. Wisdom. Grace. Eternal Life. Peace. And so much more.

YOU ARE, much more than just a volunteer. YOU ARE a leader in God’s kingdom & YOU HAVE everything you need to make a difference. No excuses. No delay. No looking at others. Be who YOU ARE meant to be. Use what YOU HAVE.

What’s stopping you? “I’m not…” or “I don’t have…” or “I can’t…” Really?

Criticism and Leadership

Several good articles this week on dealing with Criticism:

CriticismLeadership & criticism go hand & hand. If avoiding criticism is a goal for you than DON’T get involved in leadership. Leaders experience different types of critics: direct criticism that comes face to face, indirect criticism that comes in the form of subtle questions about decisions made or gossip that’s behind the leaders back & can influence the opinion of others. And some people engage in indirect criticism not wanting or believing that their causing any harm to the leader, but he/she feels it. It’s hard to know how you’ll respond when criticism comes until it does. And when it does, you’ll probably be surprised at your own response. Some negative responses include:

-> Paralysis. Criticism can paralyze leaders. It exacts an emotional toll. When you’ve worked hard & put a lot of time into something that doesn’t go well or as well as some expected & criticism ensues – OUCH! One great leader I know talked about curling up in the fetal position & not wanting to get up after a season of criticism.

-> Anger & lashing out. When you’re squeezed, what’s inside comes out. And sometimes criticism can cause a leader to explode on either the critic or worse, those closest to him like his/her family.

-> Overcompensating through more work. Sometimes, working harder is the right answer. However, as leaders, we can begin to do more & carry more weight just to avoid or counter criticism leading us to neglect rest & family time.

A Better Response to Criticism:

  1. Expect it. It comes with the territory. The famous axiom attributed to Aristotle says it best, “To Avoid Criticism, Say Nothing, Do Nothing, Be Nothing.”
  2. Make sure your identity is in Christ through a deep devotional life, being assured of your calling, & praying through all your leadership decisions. Criticism hurts the most when we’ve begun to value & find identity in the opinions of others over Christ & his call.
  3. Learn from criticism. Many times criticism hurts because its true. We need to hear it, embrace it, & make adjustments in our leadership. Criticism can be a gift to us if it helps us improve.
  4. Pray for your critics. Some want what’s best for you & the church. Some are spilling out what’s inside of their heart – negativity, pain, restlessness, etc. All need leadership. Pray & ask for wisdom in how to lead them & the organization to greater health.
  5. Weigh your critics. This axiom comes from Dr. Henry Cloud – “Weigh your critics, don’t count them.” Online criticism shouldn’t carry a ton of weight. People will say things online that they’d never say face to face. You’re never as good or bad as you appear online. Are they leaders in the organization that see the whole picture? Most people will never know the reason for or complexity of the decision you make. Learn something from all criticism, but discern what criticism is weighty enough to demand a direct response.
  6. Develop relationships with those who you can confide in about leadership issues. Don’t bottle it up. Find wise experienced leaders that can help you weigh situations & give you feedback on next steps.

What other tips would you offer leaders about dealing with criticism?

“A Prophet Not A Promoter”

A Church Leader’s Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me, anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet – not a promoter, not a religious manager. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity.

A.W. Tozer

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