7 Questions Churches need to be asking about Leadership Development

  1. Do the senior leaders place a high value on leadership development?
  2. Do we have an intentional strategy for developing leaders?
  3. Does our development model focus on information or transformation?
  4. Who will be sitting at the decision making table in 5 years?  How are we preparing them today?
  5. What stretch opportunities are we giving next generation leaders in our church?
  6. Have we made leadership development a component of every leaders job description?
  7. Are we recognizing and rewarding those who are reproducing themselves?

If you took time to read this post today take a moment and join the conversation…what question would you add?

The Benefits of the People Oriented Approach to Leadership Development

In the past few posts I have shared a little about the process we’ve gone through at Seacoast moving from the Program Oriented Approach to the People Oriented approach to leadership development.  In the Program approach we made public pleas for leaders, drew a crowd, stuck people in a classroom for eight weeks, dispensed information and expected them to transform into leaders.  However, we discovered several drawbacks to this approach: busyness, distance, timing, relational loyalty, artificial learning environment and self-selected leadership.

Continue reading “The Benefits of the People Oriented Approach to Leadership Development”

The Leadership Development Paradigm Shift

In yesterdays post I explained the drawbacks of the Program Oriented approach to leadership development.  When I was in my second year as Leadership Development Pastor at Seacoast these drawbacks were affecting our ability to develop leaders at the same pace as our growth rate.  In my frustration I kept thinking, “There has to be a better way”.

One morning I read Ephesians 4:11-12.  “He has given prophets, apostles, teachers- preachers, evangelists to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry so that the church may be built up.”  God prompted me to pause and began to challenge my thinking.  I had read this verse a thousand times and I thought, “I know God, it’s my job as a pastor to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.”  But then it hit me – look at who he is talking about.  He says prophets, apostles, evangelist, teachers, preachers…these weren’t paid positions in the church they were lay leaders.  Paul is saying it’s their job to equip others to do the work of the ministry.  That morning I wrote out a paraphrase of that verse, “He has given leaders to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.”

This was revolutionary to my thinking.  Anyone in the church who wears the title leader is responsible for raising up new leaders.  Suddenly I began to ask What if?  What if we took Ephesians 4:11-12 seriously? What if we looked to our campus pastor to train up future campus pastors, what if we looked to our assistant pastors to raise up future assistant pastors, what if we looked to our coaches to raise up future coaches and small group leaders to raise up small group leaders.  We had always made Leadership Training Church-Centric.  But what if we did what Paul suggested in Ephesians 4 and decentralized leadership training?  What if we moved away from the Program Oriented approach and moved to a People Oriented approach to leadership development by empowering our current leaders to raise up leaders?

I became convinced of the power of the People Oriented approach when I put the math to it.  We had 10 Campus Pastors, around 25 pastors, 40 coaches and 300 small group leaders.  That was a potential of 375 leadership developers!  Compare that to the three we used in our Program Oriented approach.

Think about this:  What could happen in your church over the next 3 years if 20% of your leaders began to reproduce themselves today?  What are the first steps you will take toward a People Oriented approach to Leadership Development?

There’s Got to be a Better Way

For years I struggled with the best method for developing leaders. You know what I mean?  You get frustrated that the church has a shortage of leaders so you decide to hold a training class.  You work hard outlining a course, putting together notebooks, advertising it, only to be disappointed by the turn out.  The people you hoped would come didn’t.  The people you hoped wouldn’t come did.  After completing eight weeks of sessions you get a sinking feeling there was a lot of information but little transformation that took place.

This classroom method is what I used when I first came to Seacoast Church in 2004. We held leadership classes on Wednesday nights at 7:00 at the church.   It became evident very quickly that this approach wasn’t producing enough leaders in a rapid growth environment.   As we evaluated we saw 6 drawbacks to what we call the Program Oriented Approach to Leadership Development.

Drawback #1 Distance – It was difficult for many people to drive back to the church on another night of the week to participate in leadership training classes.

Drawback #2 Busyness – Rarely did a student attend 100% of the sessions.  Because they would miss a session or two they would miss critical elements in their development as a leader. 

Drawback #3 Timing– in the fall we would start classes in September that would run through November.  Inevitably we would have potential leaders come to us in October wanting to go through leadership training.  Of course the only option was to tell them to return in January for the winter sessions. 

Drawback #4 Relational Loyalty – Our pastors would send potential leaders to the classes and by the completion of the class the participants had developed a relational loyalty to the teacher who poured into them, not the pastor they would be serving under.

Drawback #5 Artificial learning environment – In the classes we would simulate leadership situations.  It was fun, but nothing replaces learning in real life situations.  People learn to swim in the water not the classroom.  In the same way leaders learn to lead in real leadership situations.    

Drawback #6 Self-selected leadership – We would announce the beginning of new leadership classes to the entire church.  This would draw out a few people, but many times it would not bring out the people you would want as leaders.  Leaders need to develop the discipline of raising up leaders.  Public announcements for leadership undermine this value.

After looking at these drawbacks I really began to question: Is there a better way to do leadership development?  Join me over the next few days of posts as I share about the paradigm shift we made in our approach to leadership development.

What frustrations are you experiencing with your approach to leadership development?

My Leadership Development Wake Up Call

I remember when I had my leadership development wake up call. I was fresh out of seminary working as an associate pastor at Pawleys Island Community Church. I was young, enthusiastic and thought I could do it all. But it wasn’t long before I was overwhelmed and overcommitted. I was responsible for weekend worship, midweek teaching, small groups, Sunday school, outreach, youth ministry and the summer children’s program (I had a slight case of Superman complex).

After a year and a half of this madness I told Cindy, “They’re going to fire me.” She told me I was crazy, the church loved me and there was no way they would get rid of me. So I explained, “Oh, they’re going to fire me, they just don’t know it yet!” I was juggling way too many responsibilities and was about to drop the ball with all of them. My enthusiasm and inability to lead through others had painted me into a corner and I was headed for trouble. That night I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote down the names of the volunteers who reported directly to me. I was shocked when I saw the list totaled 88 people.

God showed me two things in that moment: First, I needed to make leadership development a priority and second I needed a leadership development strategy. That night I decided to build a wall of protection around myself by choosing seven key leaders to oversee the various ministries. From that point on I started pouring into those leaders so they could pour into their teams. For the first time in my life I truly started doing leadership development and it saved my ministry.

I look back at those days and see 6 signs that I needed a wake up call.

  • I was a doer not a developer
  • Replacing myself wasn’t even on my radar
  • Others leadership success threatened my sense of leadership security
  • I gave people responsibility but not authority
  • I had no intentional plan for developing or equipping leaders
  • There was a severe shortage of leaders in our ministry

Do you see any of these signs in your ministry?  Have you had your leadership development wake up call?

Who are Your Top 10%

I was doodling on a legal pad on a flight back from Chicago recently when I found myself drawing out our organizational structure (yeah, I know most people doodle stick men…I doodle org charts).  As I was looking at the structure and the names in those boxes a flood of questions hit me.

  • How old are the top 10% of the leaders in our organization?
  • How many of the 10% are over 40 years of age?
  • Who are the 40+ somethings raising up in leadership?
  • How many Next Gen’s are the top 10% investing in?
  • If the top 10% suddenly disappeared who would be in charge?
  • Who will be the decision makers in our organization in the next 10 years?
  • What leadership opportunities are we giving Next Gen leaders in our organization?

For us it was good news bad news.  We have 73% of our top 10% who are over 40 years old.  This is probably pretty typical, but it made us ask what are we doing to bring Next Gen leaders to the decision making table?  Around 50% of our top 10% are mentoring Next Gen leaders.  Hey, that is not too bad, but now that we are aware we can do better.  So we gave a charge to our entire management team to get involved in mentoring at least one Next Gen leader this year.  This exercise made us look a little closer at the Next Gen leaders that are out there.  We made a list and have actively started giving them some stretch assignments.  In addition we started a Training the Trainer program to improve the mentoring process here at Seacoast.


Give this a try with your team.

1.  Make copies of your organizational chart.

2.  Get your team together, read and discuss 2 Timothy 2:2

3.  Next take a look at your top 10% (by the way the top 10% do not have to be on staff) and ask yourself the questions listed above.  What are your observations?

4.  Work together as a team and write out your next steps.

Share your ideas and insights with me, I’d love to hear what your thinking.


Out with the Old, In with the New

Do you ever put on an outfit and your kids look at you and say, “Dad you’re not going to wear that out in public are you?”  Yeah, I get that more often than I would like.  So maybe it’s time for me to head over to Abercrombie and Finch and pick up some new threads…ummm, at age 47 probably not a good idea, I think I’ll just stick with my dockers and polos for now. 

Well recently I was looking at my old blog and decided it was a little outdated.  So it’s time to be Out with the Old and In with the New.  I shut down my old blog on Blogger, contacted Gabe Taviano to design a new blog in WordPress and “WALLA”, here we go, a new and improved blog.  Gabe, I thank you and my children thank you.