3 Steps To Starting A Leadership Pipeline On Your Church Staff


In our webinar on church staffing and structure, we got a lot of questions about how to develop a leadership pipeline for the first time. I think many church leaders feel overwhelmed by the thought of building a leadership pipeline because it sounds like a lot of work on top of the day-to-day responsibilities that go into being a church leader.

The truth is that it’s more about creating a culture of leadership rather than a detailed process or strategy. Tim Stevens writes about this in his article The Best Strategy For Developing Leaders Is No Strategy on Entrepreneur.com.

Here are three steps to start a culture of leadership development on your church staff.

1. Budget for leadership development.

The most significant leadership investment you can make is investing in your church staff.Tweet: The most significant leadership investment you can make is investing in your church staff. https://bit.ly/1Ou7qIA via @VanderbloemenSG

This means both emotionally and financially. If a church staff member wants to attend a conference or go through an online course, how many hoops do they have to jump through to get approval? Make it easy for your team to attain leadership development opportunities.

If you’re hiring high capacity people, then they will jump at development opportunities. Instead of micromanaging the use of their educational funds, allow them to use them for what they feel will best help them. Then, in your regular check-ins, ask them what they’re learning or what they’re most excited about using their development funds on.

Your development fund doesn’t need to be a lot. It might be enough for a staff member to buy a new book each month or it might be enough for them to attend a conference out of state. Just start somewhere. The return you’ll see in high capacity staff members will be ten-fold.

Church staff culture webinar

2. Leverage lay leader talent.

I met a church leader recently who told me a powerful story about how a leader at his church volunteered her leadership development expertise to help the church staff. This leader was new to the church leadership team and was looking for a leadership coach. Turned out that there was a woman attending the church who was a leadership coach and wanted to use her gifts to help the church staff. So she set up a few meetings with members of the church staff to help them develop their communication and leadership skills.

This is a great example of allowing church attendees to use their gifts to help develop your staff. Who comes to mind in your church that could use their leadership knowledge and skill set to help develop your church staff members? 

3. Give ownership of projects.

I’m often asked, “How can we begin a leadership pipeline at our church?” I often respond with, “When is the last time you delegated a project to a young leader on your team?”

Delegation is the first step to starting a leadership pipeline.Tweet: Delegation is the first step to starting a leadership pipeline. https://bit.ly/1Ou7qIA via @VanderbloemenSG

I’m not just talking about little tasks here and there. I’m talking about projects, events, or initiatives. If there’s a person on your church staff that has leadership potential, invite them to run point on a project. It might be a special event coming up or a new initiative you want to start. A great example of this is what Jay Kranda shared with us in his Vanderbloemen Leadership Podcast interview. He started as an intern at Saddleback where he was given the online church project. He ended up taking ownership of it and has grown it to over 20,000 viewers and 1,700 small groups. If Saddleback’s leadership team hadn’t given him the opportunity to develop the project, they might not have seen his leadership potential.

Give your team projects with measurable goals that will challenge them and watch them learn more about leadership than you could ever teach them in a coaching session.

How will you begin to develop leaders within your church?

Church staff culture webinar