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My Proven Method to Develop Emerging Leaders

develop emerging leaders

The awkwardness in the room was palpable.

The four couples look as stunned as kangaroos in a ute’s headlights.

They weren’t sure what this Ministry Development Group was all about. Nor did they know how keen I was to develop emerging leaders.

I had given them screeds of information when I invited them to be in this exclusive group.

I told them that I saw a bright future for their leadership and wanted to spend time with them in their journey of growth.

However, no amount of knowledge prepares you for the reality of nervously gathering in the pastor’s home with a chosen group of leaders.

Over my years of pastoring, I’ve used various methods to develop emerging leaders.

One of my most successful methods has been gathering leaders together and allowing them to develop in the context of a group.

Jesus Used This Method to Develop Emerging Leaders

It’s worth noting that this proven method of development is what both Jesus and Paul used to grow leaders.

Jesus led an exclusive group of 12 leaders to be with Him.

There’s only one recorded instance of Paul traveling alone to plant churches. He landed in Athens all by himself having left Luke in Phillips and Silas and Timothy in Berea.

Paul later reminds the Corinthians how beaten up he was when he met them after his solo effort in Athens (1 Cor 2:1-3).

We see Paul time and again gathering leaders together to train and develop them into effective Christian leaders.

7 Benefits of a Leadership Development Group

1. Organic peer learning

When leaders are placed in small groups it facilitates organic peer learning, especially when there is diversity in the group. You should seek to make the group as diverse as possible. Extensive research indicates that diversity in teams improves effectiveness.

developing emerging leaders

2. Develop active listening skills

Leaders learn active listening skills as they bounce ideas off each other and challenge each other’s perceptions.

3. Defend their ideas

As the group forms closer ties, people emerge from their safe places to outline their ideas about life and leadership. They are forced to justify and defend these ideas as others in the group challenge their preconceptions. This healthy level of debate helps leaders grow their communication skills and strengthens their core beliefs.

4. Bonds are forged

The normative and generally benign conflict that emerges as groups form precipitates the close bonds that leaders can forge when placed in a development group. Relationships move from the surface to far more meaningful connections. Respect and admiration grow as they come to understand and appreciate each other.

5. Saves time

Group development is also a big-time saver for time pastors as they can mentor and coach 10 people at once rather than 10 one-on-one appointments.

6. Energises pastors

When a pastor decides to develop emerging leaders they get energized by being around people who are hungry to learn and grow. Pastors are often caught up with needy people who drain their energy. Focussing on leaders can be as refreshing a cold shower on a muggy day.

7. Validates people

Lastly, we shouldn’t underestimate how people feel when invited to be part of an exclusive group. While the gospel is inclusive, development happens best when you make it exclusive. This sense of being chosen validates people and strengthens their sense of call.

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6 Steps To Setting Up Your Group

Name it

Give it a name that intuitively indicates it’s a group for developing and equipping leaders.

Pick your leaders

Aim for diversity in gender, age, and experience. Consider mixing current leaders with potential leaders.

Determine your frequency

Decide how often you are going to meet and for how long. Will it be in monthly for 6 months, weekly for 6 weeks, or every 6 weeks for one year?

Select your topics

You can survey the group members to discover what areas of development they are seeking.

However, you must cover leadership topics such as problem-solving, managing people, resolving conflicts, handling complexity, delegation, developing systems, attitudinal areas, walking with Christ as a leader, and leading yourself.

Choose your resource

Books and blogs can be an excellent resource. Even studying a book of the Bible together can be helpful, especially for younger leaders who are still developing their devotional life. Podcasts also provide a rich resource of material.

Our Hub resources are purpose-designed to help you develop emerging leaders. These resources will save you time and enable you to focus on maximizing the group’s time.

Invite the leaders

Ring each leader and tell them they will be receiving a personal invitation via email. Send them a personal email. Ring each leader after they have responded. Make this process personal and focused.

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How to Run the Group

1. Prepare well in advance

If you’re using any type of pre-reading method make sure you’ve read the material thoroughly.

2. Frame how and what questions around the material.

These will stimulate the discussion. Aim for an exploring style group rather than a guru download type group. Don’t be afraid to let questions hang in the air. Be aware that the greater the age gap between you and younger leaders the more intimidated they will be by you.

3. Prayer

Pray with and for the leaders. This vital element will hasten their progress and emphasize the spiritual nature of the journey they have undertaken.

4. Create a social space

Amplify the social element with some snacks and coffee.

developing emerging leaders

5. Action steps are crucial

Include action steps that leaders must report back on, using tools like WhatsApp for connection and communication.

6. Give the group time

Don’t be alarmed by the awkwardness or stiffness of the first few meetings. As the group forms, it will eventually find a more relaxed place of connection and openness.

Next Steps

Why not take the plunge and decide to develop emerging leaders using my proven method? Choose a few leaders, work out some topics, set a launch date, and go for it.

I guarantee you will not regret putting time and energy into developing leaders. Plus it will empower you to grow a healthy church.

church growth

Pastor, is your church positioned for growth?


Evaluate your growth potential with a simple 3 min quiz. Get personalized results with actionable solutions.

John is a wellspring of information, experience and advice in all things church. His responses were often out of the box of what's been said before.
Ps Christie Blaikie
Oasis Church

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Pastor, is your church positioned for growth?


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Get personalized results


With actionable solutions