Effective Leadership Development in the Church

Faithful and Competent

As much as we might desire it, Scripture simply does not provide a step-by-step process for developing effective leaders. Instead, it describes the various qualities and characteristics to look for in individuals that can be sharpened for effective service to God. Since the beginning of the church, God has entrusted those in church leadership with the responsibility of cultivating competent individuals for service to the body of Christ. Pastors Mike Bullmore, Bryan Chapell, and David Helm bring together their experience in both pastoral and academic leadership in order to share the ways in which they have labored to pinpoint future leaders and preachers and help them develop to maturity. 

Mike Bullmore is Senior Pastor of CrossWay Community Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he has served since the church was launched. Dr. Bryan Chapell is the Senior Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Illinois and former Chancellor of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. David Helm is the Executive Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Charles Simeon Trust, an organization dedicated the sound preaching of God's Word. He also serves as pastor of the Hyde Park congregation of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago. 

In the end, the process of identifying future leaders and preachers is an exercise in wisdom. There are some identifying marks, however, provided by Scripture regarding those suited for pastoral ministry. Two of the primary characteristics are faithfulness and competency.

Does your church have a process in place for identifying future leaders and preachers? If not, why not? How would having a development process lead to a more effective ministry presence in your context?
Log In to Continue

When you think about what makes an effective leader or preacher, what are some of the characteristics that come to mind? Why do you consider these the most important? In what ways do they contribute in shepherding people towards the truth of God's Word?
Log In to Continue

2 Timothy 2:2 (NASB)

2The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul described the process of succession, namely, that of passing along the message of the gospel to faithful people who will teach it to others. How do you identify faithfulness in people? What are some of the characteristics you expect to find in a faithful person? In what ways do these serve to benefit the church?
Log In to Continue

In addition to faithfulness, Paul also listed the ability, or competency, for teaching others the truth of Christ. How do you identify this kind of competency in others? What do you look for in someone with the ability to teach others well? How do gauge their level of competency?
Log In to Continue

Bryan talked about the church's duty to help individuals understand whether or not they are gifted by God for vocational ministry. Ideally, this process would be one that occurs between the leadership and the congregation as they mutually affirm those gifted for the pastorate.

Part of identifying giftedness involves individual passion. In other words, potential pastors ought to possess aspirations to lead and serve the church. What would you consider some evidences of individual passion? How would you go about identifying it in others?
Log In to Continue

Bryan also shared how community affirmation is a significant piece of identifying gifted individuals. What importance do you place on the commendation of the community when it comes to identifying potential pastors? Are there ways in which you seek to involve this in your current process? If not, how could you begin to invite community affirmation into your process going forward?
Log In to Continue

Both Mike and David touched on the concept of a "ministry of the Word" to point out that the pastorate requires more than skill in preaching. Rather, it's a ministry that exists for all situations—from the Sunday pulpit to to teaching elementary students. Because of this, observing individuals in different environments allows you to see whether or not they have a true and abiding commitment to ministering the Word.

How did you react to this part of the discussion? Did it change any of the ways in which you think about the "ministry of the Word"? If so, how?
Log In to Continue

Outside of the Sunday pulpit, where are some other areas in your church where you could offer opportunities to potential leaders pursuing ministry? How might these allow you to observe the character qualities of an individual? How could it serve to benefit your church?
Log In to Continue

While there are objective "milestones" in identifying potential leaders, Mike said that it is ultimately an exercise in wisdom. No matter how clear our process, we always need God to help us in discernment. As you consider your own process, how do you practice an intentional reliance upon God for discernment? Are there ways you could improve? If so, how?
Log In to Continue

Throughout the process of identifying potential leaders and preachers for the church, Scripture offers a number of descriptive qualities they must possess. While these are important, we fall into grave error if they become our only standard for considering potential leadership. Without a pursuit of God and His wisdom in the process, we will not develop a system that cultivates faithful leadership for the church. Whether or not your church has an established process for identifying future leaders, ensure that you make room for a reliance upon God to supply you with wisdom for discernment. He is ready and willing to give it generously to those who ask.

Effective Development

Once a church has identified competent individuals for pastoral ministry, how can they begin to guide them into the next steps of their maturation process? Building on the first part of their discussion, pastors Mike Bullmore, Bryan Chapell, and David Helm offer practical advice for training potential leaders in pastoral ministry.

Effective leader development involves a balance between modeling and teaching. As Mike argued, the ideal situation is to do the work of a pastor under the watch of an older mentor who provides evaluation and practical next steps for improvement. Though an ideal situation is not always possible, we must consider ways in which to both model and teach prospective pastors to develop them into leaders for the future.

As you identify prospective pastors in your church, in what ways do you contribute to their development? Are there ways in which your process could improve? If so, how? Is there anyone you could contact for help in bringing this about?
Log In to Continue

In your development as a pastor, who was a significant model for you? How did they influence your maturity as a leader? How could this experience shape the way you provide modeling opportunities for prospective pastors in your church?
Log In to Continue

In what ways did you learn the skills of a pastor, leader, and preacher? What did you find most helpful in that process? What influenced you most deeply? How could you implement your experience into teaching for potential leaders in your ministry?
Log In to Continue

2 Timothy 1:13-14 (ESV)

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.14By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bryan noted how this passage reflects a model found throughout the pastoral epistles for developing future leaders. It is a twofold process:
  • Training in the Word ("guard the good deposit")
  • Training in a way of life ("follow the pattern of sound words")
Together, these build the foundation for an effective system of contributing to the maturity of prospective pastors in the church.

Outside of the Sunday service, how does your church work in training people towards greater faithfulness to God's Word, especially prospective pastors? Are there ways you would like to improve? If so, what are they?
Log In to Continue

Focusing on developing a faithful way of life provides organic opportunities to model a committed walk with Christ. In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul commends Timothy to follow the example of his teachings. When you think of a faithful way of life, what qualities come to mind? How does your church train prospective pastors to embody these? In what ways do you strive to personally model your walk with Christ for them?
Log In to Continue

In addition to modeling and teaching, an important part of the development process is providing opportunities for prospective leaders to carry out the ministry of the Word. Whether that comes in the form of teaching from the Sunday pulpit or ministering to junior high and high school students, practice is necessary for maturity.

What opportunities are available in your church for those identified as competent for pastoral leadership? In light of this discussion, do you feel they are adequate? If not, why? What adjustments could be made to strengthen them?
Log In to Continue

As you consider your own process, is there room for you to add additional opportunities for Word ministry (extra services, planted congregations, teaching labs, etc.)? Can you identify some churches that have a stronger leadership development process than your own? What steps could you take towards connecting with them in order to bolster your own development program?
Log In to Continue

God is faithful to provide the wisdom both to identify and develop prospective pastors within the local church. Across congregations, the method will vary, but it must be founded on an intentional commitment to train leaders in the Bible and in a faithful way of life. Wherever you find yourself today, God has placed potential leaders in your midst. Consider your resources and influence and look for ways to utilize them to contribute to the maturity of prospective pastors. Building an effective process of development may take time, but it will strengthen your church and contribute to the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ.