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Your Church Needs More Leaders: How to Actually Train Them

I believe in the old saying: “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” If you don’t believe it, then I would invite you to intentionally lead poorly for a season and then report to the rest of us what happens.

Now, yes, for my theologically-minded friends, I know that everything really rises and falls on God’s providence, justice and grace. Yes, I will give you that. So, with that as the foundation, we can then move on to all understand the power of leadership. And, the necessity of it.

Without leadership, what will the church look like? Not the church.

Leadership is inherent to God’s intention for the church.

Leadership is included in the Romans 12 list of spiritual gifts. We are told in Ephesians 4:11 of five different roles of leaders within the church: apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd and teacher. In his letters to Timothy and Titus, Paul taught about the two positions of elder and deacon for the body of Christ; one as a servant leader and one as a lead servant. (I will write about that distinction later.)

From what I see currently, we need more leaders. Or, we need to better train the leaders we already have in our churches.

Have no doubt about it, there are leaders in your church. They do not have titles, but they lead. They may not be on the board or a committee, but they have influence. The only issue is whether or not we train them well.

Let me give you a few ideas about teaching leadership.

1. Put it in the priorities.

If you do not have new leaders stepping into responsibilities, it is likely because they do not know how. You teach your way out of every problem. The lack of leaders can be solved in two ways: prioritizing the need in verbal communication and through relational discipleship. So make it a part of who you are.

2. Fight consumerism.

The movement out of consumerism requires an application of the truth. We are to be leaders in the culture and not merely consumers within the religious establishment. Leadership begins as a new perspective before it is a new behavior. You must move people from consumption to production.

3. Actually teach.

Just as “living like Jesus” alone is not evangelism, “living for the kingdom” alone is not discipleship. You must put together a plan to communicate the principles and work of leadership. So read the entire Bible, buy good books, talk to veteran leaders and put together a plan to talk about it.

Some of the books I would suggest include:

  • Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders
  • The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk
  • Basic Christian Leadership by John Stott
  • The Disciple Making Pastor by Bill Hull
  • Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon
  • Pastoral Care by St. Gregory the Great
  • Spiritual Leadership by Henry Blackaby
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Philip Nation serves as the pastor at First Baptist Church of Bradenton, Florida and frequently speak at churches and conferences. He earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, he was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, Philip's served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter.