ForLead 06-7-101  


An Intentional Strategy for Developing Leaders in Your Church


Rowland Forman, Jeff Jones, Bruce Miller

Zondervan, 2004, 221 pp.  ISBN 0-310-25301-2


All three authors are graduates of Dallas Theological Seminary.  Rowland is director of Curriculum development for the Center for Church Based Training (CCBT) in Dallas.  Jeff Jones is senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church North and Bruce Miller is senior pastor of McKinney Fellowship Bible Church, both in Dallas.  Both Jeff and Bruce are directors of CCBT.  CCBT writes and publishes church-based training resources, conducts conferences and regional workshops, and provides consulting. (19)  Some of the original ideas for church-based training came from BILD International in Ames, Iowa.   Courses, community and mentoring are three dynamics that apply to all leadership development.


“Jesus’ mission has always depended on one generation of leaders handing the mission to the next.”  We must be clear about the mission.  “I will build my church.” (Matt 16:38).  “Jesus is building his church, and he does so through leaders.  When he passed on the mission to his disciples, he said, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation’ (Mark 16:15).”  (22)


“The apostolic strategy of reaching the world through multiplication…was… multiplying not just converts but local churches as well.”  “Our privilege as leaders is to reach the world through establishing healthy, vibrant churches.” (23)


“Board members are typically well-meaning, but few have ever been mentored for their ministry responsibilities.”  “Pastors would do themselves and their churches a huge favor by making leadership development a priority.”  “The local church is by design the most effective incubator of spiritual leaders on the planet.” (24-5)


“If the culture isn’t ready, even the best ideas and strategies are doomed to failure.”  “We need to do the hard work of embedding new values deep into our church culture.” (30)  “Ultimately, leadership development is as simple and organic as one person believing in another and building into his or her life.” (31)


“The heart of a developer sees not just who a person is but what this person can become.” (32)  Constantly look for people’s potential. (33)


“Most people are ordinary.  If you’re going to do ministry through ordinary people, you have to give up the notion of excellence.  If your highest value is excellence, then you aren’t going to entrust ministry to ordinary people.”  “God calls us to do the best we can with what he has given us.” (34)


You create in a church what you model and what you reward.  Reward not just those who do things but those who empower other people to do things, those who see their role as equipping others.  (35)


Affirm people.  We all need desperately for others to believe in us and to call out what God has given us to use for His glory.  “Empower every leader to be on the lookout for his or her replacement.”  “Strong leadership development churches usually hire from within….” (37)


“To build a culture devoted to training others, we must be growing ourselves.”  (38)  Build a core value of leadership development in your church culture.  (40) 


Example discussion question: “How would you assess your current church culture?  Is the soil well prepared to develop and empower new leaders?” (41)


“Both Jesus and Paul invested their lives in a few key leaders.”  They built competence and sound doctrine in a context of doing ministry.  Building character came first.  (45)


“God seems to be catalyzing a movement that returns leadership training to an in-ministry, apprenticeship, church-based model.” (53)


Church-based training takes place “in the life and ministry of the local church,” “under the authority of the leaders of the local church,” “through an informal, in-ministry approach,” “for the sake of the lost and multiplication of the local church worldwide,” “to develop people for the purpose of bringing glory to God….” (54-6)


“The word strategy is made up of two old Greed words—stratos, which refers to an army or large group of people, and egy, which comes from the verb ‘to lead.’”   “Strategic thinkers determine the most important long-term goals, then develop plans to reach the goals.” (61)


We want to produce “wise leaders who are sound in their knowledge of God’s Word and his world, strong in character and compassion, and skillful in ministry and mission.” (62)


“At its core, leadership is influence.  Godly influence…flows from an intimate knowledge of God.”  “Settle for nothing less than leaders who have Christlike character and compassion.” (63)


“Christlike leaders are primarily servants.”  “…they equip others to serve God well.” (65) 


Strategic Components:

·        Cultivate biblical wisdom through courses that encourage theological reflection.  (65) 

·        Facilitate relational learning, learning in community.  Elevate any regular meeting to a learning opportunity.  (66-7)

·        Encourage mentoring friendships that are spiritual and purposeful.  (67) 


Identify the key groups to be trained: governing board, staff, and emerging leaders. (68)


Sample discussion question: “In your church, do you focus more on ‘head,’ ‘heart,’ or ‘hands?” (70)



“We need to cultivate practical biblical wisdom in our future leaders.  Sadly, cultural trends are dumbing down our society.”  “We are content with superficiality.”  “Without theological depth, our numerical ‘success’ may be short-lived.” (73)


The six-step framework for the courses from the Center for Church Based Training:

1.      “Grasp the issue.  Come to understand the problem.

2.      Study the Scriptures. Look to the Bible as your authority

3.      Consult other sources.  Seek counsel from wise people.

4.      Form a response.  Formulate your point of view.

5.      Discuss the issue.  Test your view with others.

6.      Take steps to obey.  Act to address the issue.” (76)


Bruce gives an example of how they approached missions on p. 84.



“Do your elder meetings have the flavor of a family reunion?  Are your ministry team meetings focused more on the tasks at hand or on relationships among members?” (87)  One elder said, ‘We’re friendly, but we’re not friends!’ (88)  “The level of community in any group will reflect the level of community modeled by the group’s core leaders.” (89)


How well do we reflect Jesus’ approach to selecting leaders? (91)

·      “Do you select leadership trainees after extended times of prayer?”

·      “Have you built close friendships with your leaders-in-training?”

·      “Do you take leaders-in-development with you wherever you go?”

·      “Do you involve your trainees in ministry among the lost, lowest, and least?”


Plan activities that build community.  Be intentional about the tone of meetings.  Keep short accounts.  “Allow no clouds.”  Allow “disruptive community” where ideas can be challenged honestly and graciously. (93-95) 


From the discussion questions:  “How do you evaluate the level of community among your leaders?” (97)



Church leaders are to be equippers (Eph 4:11-12).  Mentoring should be both intentional and flexible, encouraging development in an informal way.  “Mentoring is an intentional spiritual friendship….” (101)  Five phases of mentoring: “identification, imitation, instruction, involvement, and release.” (102)


“Local church mentors must be spotters of potential.”  Every leader looks out for people who have the head, heart, and hands of a servant-leader.  Look for past leadership experience, capacity to create or catch vision, ability to see better ways to do things, practical ideas, the habit of completing things, mental toughness, respect for peers and family, someone who people listen to. (103-4)


A mentor is a good example.  “Provide a model, befriend the leader-in-training, come alongside at strategic moments, dispense wisdom, affirm, and then celebrate the new leader’s success.” Look for people who are eager to learn. (107) 


“Leaders learn to lead primarily by leading.”  Develop leaders by training them to become small group leaders who in turn train other small group leaders. (109)


The leadership training process per Carl George (110)

·      I do, you watch, we talk.

·      I do, you help, we talk.

·      You do, I help, we talk.

·      You do, I watch, we talk.

·      We each begin to train someone else.”


“If mentoring leaders is a high value in your church, it will be talked about frequently—in sermons, in classes, and in the testimonials of people whose lives have been transformed through intentional spiritual friendships.” (112) [People will rightly conclude that whatever is talked about the most – mentoring, or reaching the world for Christ, or the new building – is most important to church leaders.  Conversely, those things talked about little will correctly be understood as of little importance.  dlm]


A “Church-Based Training Implementation Inventory is included on pp. 118-128.  It includes biblical convictions, a development plan, getting ownership and involvement, assessing openness to change, identifying a point person, a launch strategy, curriculum, resources, a timeline, communicating the plan, recruiting the first group, and growing the training program.


Some pitfalls: lack of ownership, going too fast, overloading the pastor, elitism. (129)


The Governing Board

Board members occupy key leadership roles yet rarely receive more than rudimentary orientation. (133)  A pastor has a key responsibility for equipping board members.  (134) 


“If your church leaders are distracted from prayer and study of God’s Word, then they have a problem.  If your leaders aren’t devoted to regularly evaluating your church in light of the ideals of God’s Word, they are missing a key aspect of their role.” (134) [I suspect this is a key weakness in many churches. dlm]


“As part of their training, our board members engage in deep discussions about the church’s overall vision and direction.  They compare the ideal biblical picture of the church with the church’s present reality.” (135)


“A vision deeply shared by the leadership team will have far greater impact than one to which they’re merely consenting.”  This is “a vision that taps into the collective wisdom of the group in a way that helps preserve doctrinal and philosophical integrity.” (136)


Keys to effective church-based board training: regular and ongoing training, time for relationships building, study time separate from business time, an informal location, regular attendance, focus on shaping the church, using prepared materials, including pastoral staff and spouses, an entry process for new elders. (138-144)


From the discussion questions: “How would you characterize the level of training given to the governing board at your church? (144)


Emerging Leaders

“Good coaches know the power of a deep bench.” (145)  Focus on multiplying maturing disciples first.  Without spiritually mature people you can’t have mature leaders.  Use an intentional discipleship process and track progress.  (146-47)


Know the qualities you seek and identify potential leaders with these qualities.  Invite such people to specific opportunities such as a mentoring relationship or training process.  Invest in these emerging leaders by doing ministry together.  Help them work toward a life development plan that contains their life-purpose statement, their divine design (including their gifts, interests, and passion), and their life-development timeline.”  “They also identify gaps in their knowledge, character, and skills.” (148-150)


The classes that you offer are more than classes, they provide opportunity for a learning community with all-important relationships.  A nine-week course of one church includes classes on life development plan, Bible and Bible study methods, the Church, leadership, theology, and electives. (152)


Courses sharpen your skills and increase your knowledge.  Community consists of peers committed to mutual encouragement and accountability.  Mentoring means a relationship that is intentional about development.  (154)



“Unity is the secret power of the church, often unnoticed until it is disturbed.” (161)  “Gaining alignment and building consensus in a silo-dominated culture is almost impossible.” (162)


To develop theological depth, set aside a regular time to study and pray together.  This is harder than it sounds!  Ministry teams are highly effective for leadership development.  In a team we become better students of our own strengths, weaknesses, and developmental gaps.  We can speak into each other’s lives and open up to others.  A commitment to mutual development is key. (162-65)


“For mentoring to be ingrained in the culture of the church, it must begin with the senior pastor.”  “Few responsibilities can claim a higher priority than empowering those they oversee to maximize their potential.” (167)


From the discussion questions: “How can your church deal with the challenge of limited time for staff development?  When could you set aside time for leadership development with your staff?” (169)


“Could this be an alternative to going to seminary? The answer is yes.”  (188)


Appendix 2: Assessing the Whole Person: An Inventory for Church Leaders.

This is a detailed and very helpful inventory including several aspects of knowledge, character, and skills.


Questions I would ask [dlm]:

1.      How does a church avoid getting into a rut or a bubble of their own isolated world?

2.      Conversely, how do leaders get the breadth of ideas and perspectives that come from mixing with people from a wide variety of churches, institutions, countries, and traditions?

3.      The authors are highly trained seminarians and professors.  But in other churches, how do the leaders obtain theological depth that goes beyond the strengths and weaknesses of their own pastors?


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