How to Replant a Church, Part 9: Developing New Leaders

Bubba Jennings » Church Church Leadership Coaching Church Planting

How to Replant a Church, Part 9: Developing New Leaders

Replanting a church requires leaders. Once you have identified and recruited potential leaders, it’s time for the hard work of developing, deploying, and supporting them.

Potential leaders need intentional personal development time so they can develop maturity and ministry skills. Some pastors make the mistake of outsourcing the development of their leaders to books and processes. Although books and processes are helpful, you can’t depend on them alone.

Develop leaders personally

Just as disciples make disciples, leaders make leaders. This means leadership development must happen through personal, intentional (life-on-life) relationships. Because of this, leadership development takes a commitment from the senior leaders to invest time, energy, emotions, and wisdom into potential leaders.

During the personal development time, seek to accomplish four development goals:

  1. Confirm giftedness. Put them in a role where you believe they can exercise their gifts and see if Jesus produces fruit through them. If their gifts don’t match the role you are training them for, determine a new role that might better fit their gifts.

  2. Determine strengths and weaknesses. Helping a potential leader see their strengths and weaknesses will help them understand how to be most effective with their time and energy in leadership. Plus, it will give their overseeing leader wisdom in how to support them in the future.

  3. Equip for ministry. Every leadership role has a specific skill-set that is needed to perform that role. Equipping is what helps the potential leader develop the ministry skills they need to fulfill their new role.

  4. Grow toward maturity. It’s important to help your potential leaders grow to the level of maturity needed for the role they will be filling. Because all leaders are in a process of maturing, the grow stage of development will continue throughout their entire life.

Just as disciples make disciples, leaders make leaders.

How do you practically accomplish these four goals of development? By modeling leadership through one-on-one interaction and creating a safe place for the potential leader to learn, fail, and succeed. You can accomplish this by using the following basic modeling practice:

  • Leader does while learner observes and asks questions.
  • Leader and learner do together, and then discuss what they did and why they did it. It is incredibly important for new leaders to understand why ministry is done a certain way, so spend plenty of time discussing the why.
  • Learner does while leader shadows, giving support and encouragement. At this stage, the potential leader becomes a leader and applies what they have learned.

Deploy approved leaders

After a leader has been tested and approved, it’s time to place them in leadership. This means putting the right people in the right place at the right time for the right reasons. The Bible tells us that by grace, God the Holy Spirit gives each Christian one or more spiritual gifts for the benefit of the church and the advancement of Jesus’ mission (1 Cor. 12). For this reason, it’s important to place leaders into ministry roles based on their gifts. This ensures that you have a Spirit-led ministry, which results in a more fruitful ministry.

Every leadership role has a specific skill-set that is needed to perform that role.

A leader can be deployed for a specific project or for a season. I’ve found that a best practice is to have leaders commit to a year of service in a specific role. After the year is up, do a leadership evaluation with them to determine if they should continue in the role.

In our church, we ask all our leaders to serve for a year. They are expected to identify two potential leaders to be their apprentices. By the end of the year, they will raise up someone to take their leadership role or to multiply and start a new work. This causes the ministry to multiply and potentially frees the leader up to take on more responsibilities.

Support your leaders

Ministry is like war. Ministry teams are under fire and experience all kinds of opposition and trials. In any war, there is a front line and a supply line. Leaders are on the front lines of ministry and need to be supported so that they can thrive and have longevity in ministry.

Support needs to include one-on-one oversight for discipleship and ongoing development. A best practice is for leaders of leaders to have bi-monthly or weekly one-on-one meetings with the leaders they are supporting. The one-on-one time is for vision-casting, shepherding, sharing wisdom, reminding them of the gospel, and giving encouragement.

It’s important to place leaders into ministry roles based on their gifts.

Empowerment is the heartbeat of supporting new leaders. Empowerment happens by clarifying expectations and killing fear of failure. For leaders to thrive, they need to know they are loved and trusted and that it’s ok for them to fail. I’m not talking about moral failure—that’s never ok. Rather, new leaders need to know that failure is part of the growth process and you are in their corner no matter what.

Build endurance in your leaders

The American get-rich-quick culture has wrongly taught many Christians that all things of value must happen now. This approach to leadership development is death. You can’t microwave leaders. Building a culture of leadership development within your church replant will be a ton of hard work and will require years of investing in people. You must be legacy-minded when raising up leaders. But know that all the small deposits invested today will pay off greatly later.

Here are five questions that will get you moving in the right direction to raise up leaders:

  1. Who do you need to stop investing in so you can have more time to dedicate to leadership development? Make a list of people and send them a correspondence.

  2. Who can you start investing in today? List the names of potential leaders you know. Then connect with these potential leaders for a formal leadership conversation.

  3. How do you need to develop the leaders you have? List three ways they need to be equipped. Set aside time to dream up the training they need, and then get all your leaders together for training.

  4. What leaders need to be deployed to a new position or given more responsibilities? Make a list of things you need to delegate, and then ask your trusted leaders to take care of them for you.

  5. How can you better support your leaders? Write down three ways you can empower your leaders and champion them.



This is part of an ongoing series on How to Replant a Church. Stay tuned for more posts in the coming weeks as we cover the practical details of replanting a church.


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