Leadership Development Ideas for Church Staff and Volunteers I’ve Used Over the Years

Leadership Development

Leadership development is extremely important in churches, but often times it doesn’t receive the time, attention, budget and focus that it warrants. There are numerous reasons for that, but I think one of the big reasons is we simply don’t know what to do. What are practical ways we can develop the volunteers or staff we lead? If that’s you, I hope this post is helpful.

Below is a list of various excercises I have done over the years with volunteers and staff to help them develop them as servants, ministers, and leaders. I hope some of these will be helpful to you and your team.

(Hint: Make sure you’re meeting regularly with a team of leaders and potential leaders)

  1. Have everyone on the team take a personality profile and go over the strengths/weaknesses of each profile and discuss it as a group.
  2. Have everyone complete a spiritual gifts inventory and discuss how everyone’s gifts are being used or not, and what shifts need to happen to maximize strengths and delegate weaknesses.
  3. Read the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and discuss.
  4. Delegation
    1. Make list of tasks you are responsible for.
    2. Divide the list up between things only you can do, things others could do, and things you should stop doing.
    3. Highlight tasks you love and tasks you hate to do.
    4. Work on delegating things others could do and stopping things you don’t need to do.
    5. Revisit the list in 3 months to see what everyone has delegated.
  5. What would be your one sentence job description? Discuss.
  6. Clarify the win for each environment and role within the environment.
  7. Discuss What Every Volunteer Needs resource from Willow Creek – http://www.willowcreek.com/wca_prod.asp?invtid=PR32892
  8. Read 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. Use the assessment to evaluate your team and employ the ideas from the end of the book (Overcoming each dysfunction) to work on them: http://www.tablegroup.com/dysfunctions/
  9. Read Death by Meeting and restructure your meetings to be more effective.
  10. Read Making Vision Stick, create a simple vision statement that is clear and compelling and create a system to help you cast it, repeat it, celebrate it and embrace it.
  11. Play Patrick Lencioni’s interview on the Catalyst Podcast (search for first Lencioni appearance) about volunteers and discuss the relevance to your team.
  12. Draw up the organizational chart for every team and ministry you lead
    1. Make note of the empty slots/roles that need to be filled.
    2. Draw up what the organizational chart would need to look like if you doubled in size.
    3. Use the future chart as a guide to know what you’re working toward.
  13. Listen to the Harvard Business Review Ideacast 8 – Leading Through Conflict. Is there conflict in your organization? How should you address it?
  14. Watch Systems: Liberating Your Organization as a team and discuss systems in your organization.
    1. What behaviors/actions in your organization do you want to go away?
    2. What behaviors/actions in your organization do you want to see more of?
    3. Systems create behaviors – discuss the systems behind each of them and figure out how to celebrate them or change them.
  15. Read Tony Morgan’s post about Empowerment vs Delegation – how can you empower people on your team?
  16. Watch Trust vs Suspicion and discuss the level of trust in your organization.
    1. Trust is built by keeping agreements?
    2. What spoken agreements does your team have?
    3. What unspoken agreements does your team have?
    4. Of those agreements, which ones have been broken, resulting in the eroding of trust?
  17. Watch 5 Big Ideas for Church Leaders and discuss how those ideas relate to your context.
  18. Watch Becoming a Great Staff and talk about what your team can do (staff or volunteer) to become an even better team.
  19. Read Tony Morgan’s ebooks and talk about how to implement those teachings and systems in your context.
  20. Listen to any Catalyst Podcast and discuss as a team.
  21. Watch this video called Bookie by Craig Groeschel. It’s about taking risks and failing forward. Discuss the risks your team has taken and whether or not failure is okay in the culture you’ve created.
  22. Andy Stanley teaches that 3 keys to an irresistible environment include: Helpful content, Engaging presentation, Appealing context. Which one are you best at? Worst at? What can you do to make sure all 3 are present in every ministry environment you lead?
  23. Read about the 4 Stages of Leadership on Tony Morgan’s blog. What stage are you and your team leading from?
  24. Use the Jim Collins Diagnostic Tool to evaluate your team and figure out how you can go from Good to Great (my link).
  25. Read this post from the 99% about Creativity, Routines, Systems and Spontaneity and discuss.
  26. Discuss these questions about assumptions we make.
    1. What are our organizational assumptions as it relates to our ministry, team and “customers”?
    2. What decisions are we making off of those assumptions? Assumptions could be that parents need help raising their kids in faith, people like singing to worship God, people won’t show up on time, or that most people in our church are reading the Bible for themselves.
  27. Watch the Upside of Tension. Talk about tensions (not problems) that exist in your ministry and how you’re currently managing them. What needs to change? What are you treating as a problem to be solved when it’s really a tension to be managed?
  28. Visit another church as a team to learn from them.
  • John Stegemerten

    Great thoughts Nick! I’m a huge Jim Collins fan. If you haven’t read his newest book, Great By Choice, it is fascinating and informative.

    • I love Jim Collins’ stuff as well. I haven’t read Great By Choice. I need to.

  • I’ve always been a firm believer that in order to stay successful and a strong leader, one must constantly learn more and work on becoming a better leader. You have given some really great ideas and pointers—most of which I’m excited to keep in mind and put into the works very soon. Thank you for sharing all of these great ideas!

  • Emily Yoder

    Great stuff Nick!! I listen to your podcast all of the time. I know you mainly target family ministry but it’s been great to see so much content on church-wide ideas. Any suggestions on where I can find specific direction/templates on on boarding leaders (non-nextgen) and training them? Looking for structure and can’t seem to find anything. Thanks for any help you can offer!!

    • Thanks, Emily.

      That’s a good question. I’ll email you some resources I have, but I wish there was more.