10 Truths of Churches that Do a Great Job with Leadership Development (Part 1)

By Brent Dolfo












Ever wonder why some churches ministries grow and multiply rapidly and others don’t?  While there are many factors, one of the key accelerants to planting more churches, starting more campuses, or deploying more people to impact a city is how diligent a church is in leadership development.

In the past few years, Leadership Network has run 7 different large church cohorts in Leadership Development. Each cohort has had a dozen large churches learning from one another’s models.  To learn more about our latest group starting in April, HUB:Leadership Development, click here.

I’ve had a chance to have a ringside seat learning from the best models that have reproduced leaders for kingdom expansion.  In this short blog I’d like to lay out the first 5 factors that contribute to “fruitfulness” in Leadership Development.  Next week, we’ll look at the next five. Taken together, these 10 principles form some of the best thinking in the church today on Leadership Development.

  1. Each church has a vision so large that it cannot be accomplished with the current paid staff and volunteer leaders.

Churches with big visions dream about planting other churches or new developing multiple locations others are looking to broaden and deepen their impact on the city around them—such that their “fingerprints” are all over the community. A big dream actually heightens the need, energy and focus on developing enough leaders to accomplish the vision.

  1. Someone on the senior team wakes up each day thinking about Leadership Development

Its best if the passion for leadership development resides in the Lead Pastor, who is shaping the overall church culture.  The passion could also come from the “second-in-command”. But- someone on the lead team needs to assumes responsibility for leadership development across the whole church. This person gives energy and passion towards the development of leaders. Without this person, the focus of Leadership Development has a tendency to get lost in the business of preparing for the weekend and the myriad of ministries that happen throughout the week.

  1. Each church has embraced the idea that building multiplying leaders for the kingdom is their kingdom work.

“Sundays come along with alarming frequency.” It’s easy to be caught up in preparing and needing services, ministries and running the church. It’s easy to let weekend worship attendance become the key measure for success. The weekend, while important, is one of the easiest distractions from developing leaders.  Even in the midst of many other “things to do”, and “ministering to the masses”, Jesus constantly developed leaders, and those following Him were ready to carry on the ministry after his death.  Paul, similarly, was never without an apprentice (the scripture often reads “Paul and…”)

Great church’s pay special attention to what they reward and what they tolerate—both of which become part of shaping the church culture.  It’s one thing to aspire to value leadership development, and another to really do it.  The teams should ask themselves, “Do we have a value of leadership development?  Are we rewarding it?  Or is its absence something we are tolerating?”

  1. Each senior leader and his/her team have agreed on a single definition of the attributes they want their leaders to possess- at each level of their church leadership.

Leadership has many different definitions. A list of leadership competencies can be endless. Great Leadership Development churches have defined for staff what great leaders look like, regardless of where they lead.  Staff and lay leaders have reached consensus of what “great” small group leaders (either Serve Teams or Life Group Teams) look like and what is true about their character, competencies and values.  Same thing is true at all levels of responsibility all the way up to ministry directors, campus pastors or lead team members.  Everyone is building leaders with the same characteristics in mind.

  1.  Each church evaluates staff and promotes staff not on their individual contributions alone, but on their ability to develop and produce leaders.

We all love great performers but great church’s reward, promoting and champion those have demonstrated they are great at developing leaders. These realize the development of new leaders will determine if the church will be able to increase their impact in their communities- regardless of the model of church they run.

Developing leaders is one of the most critical needs of a growing multiplying church. If your church is interested in new ways of replication, multiplication and developing a customized model for Leadership Development go to www.leadnet.org/leadershipdevelopment  for more information.


If you found this article helpful, you can download the complete resource, 10 Truths of Churches that Do a Great Job with Leadership Development, in a print-friendly format below. In addition, I’ll send out other thoughts and ideas related to developing leaders in the church in the weeks ahead.