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Church Leadership Development Best Practices Guide

Church Leadership Development Best Practices

Welcome to our Church Leadership Development Best Practices Guide! In this guide, we will explore effective strategies and training programs for developing strong and capable church leaders. As leaders play a crucial role in serving and influencing the members, volunteers, and the community, it is essential to invest in their growth and development. By equipping leaders with the necessary skills and competencies, we can create an engaging and friendly church environment, capable of navigating challenges and bringing positive change.

Throughout this guide, we will discuss the importance of good church leadership, the signs of bad leadership to watch out for, steps to becoming a good church leader, setting SMART goals for leadership, choosing the right leadership model, delegating responsibilities effectively, and the essential components of church leadership training.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

  • Church leadership plays a crucial role in serving and influencing the members, volunteers, and the community.
  • Good church leadership is vital for creating a welcoming and inclusive community and managing change effectively.
  • Bad church leadership can have a detrimental impact on the church community, and it is important to identify the signs.
  • Becoming a good church leader requires developing competencies such as servant leadership and equipping others.
  • Setting SMART goals is crucial for effective church leadership and achieving the mission of the church.

The Importance of Good Church Leadership

Good leadership in the church is vital for creating a welcoming and inclusive community. Effective leaders play a significant role in attracting people to the church and helping them feel connected. They serve as the bridge between the church and its community, bringing people together in fellowship and love.

During times of change, such as the transition to online platforms during COVID-19, leaders take on an even more critical role. They navigate the challenges and uncertainties, ensuring that the congregation feels supported and informed. Effective leaders explain plans, answer questions, and ease the transition, ensuring that the church remains united and strong.

Church leadership is not about power or authority; it is about service and stewardship. It is about leading by example, showing humility, and demonstrating a genuine love for the church and its people.

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Furthermore, good leadership is crucial for achieving the mission of the church. Leaders provide guidance, vision, and direction, ensuring that the church stays focused on its purpose and values. They inspire and empower others, fostering a culture of collaboration and growth. Effective leaders are role models, actively demonstrating the values and teachings of the church through their words and actions.

Ultimately, good church leadership helps create a community that is welcoming, caring, and engaging. It fosters an environment where individuals can grow in their faith, find support in times of need, and experience the joy of belonging to a church family.

church leadership
Benefits of Good Church Leadership
Creates a welcoming and inclusive community
Attracts people to the church
Helps individuals feel connected and supported
Manages change effectively
Ensures the mission of the church is achieved

Signs of Bad Church Leadership

Bad church leadership can have a detrimental impact on the church community. It is important to be aware of the signs of bad leadership in order to address issues and make necessary changes. Here are some common signs to look out for:

  1. Excessive expectations on members: Leaders who place unrealistic demands and burdens on the congregation can create a negative and overwhelming environment.
  2. Lack of expectations: On the other hand, leaders who have no expectations or accountability for members can lead to complacency and the potential for members to be taken advantage of.
  3. Decisions influenced by internal politics: When decision-making is driven by personal agendas, power struggles, or favoritism, it can undermine the trust and unity within the church.
  4. Gossip and distrust: Leaders who engage in gossip or create an atmosphere of distrust among members can lead to division and hinder the church’s mission.
  5. Pastor dominance in decision-making: A leader who dominates decision-making without seeking input from others can stifle creativity, discourage collaboration, and limit the growth of the church.
  6. Conflict and blame-shifting: Poor leadership often leads to unresolved conflicts, where leaders refuse to take responsibility and instead shift blame onto others, creating a toxic environment.

By recognizing these signs, the church community can work towards addressing the issues and fostering healthy leadership. Effective leadership is crucial for building a thriving and united church.

Example Table: Comparison of Good and Bad Leadership Traits

Good LeadershipBad Leadership
Empowers and equips membersPlaces excessive expectations on members
Fosters trust and transparencyEngages in gossip and creates distrust
Values collaboration and seeks inputDominates decision-making without considering others
Resolves conflict through open communicationShifts blame and avoids taking responsibility
Models servant leadershipUses leadership position for personal gain
Signs of Bad Church Leadership

“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” – Arnold H. Glasow

Being aware of the signs of bad church leadership is essential for the health and growth of the church. By addressing these issues and fostering good leadership practices, the church community can create an environment that promotes unity, trust, and the fulfillment of its mission.

Steps to Becoming a Good Church Leader

Developing the necessary competencies for church leadership is essential for effective leadership. As a church leader, it is crucial to embody the qualities of a servant leader, model the faith, and equip others for service. By prioritizing self-development, teaching abilities, and accountability to both followers and the community, you can become a good church leader.

One key competency of effective church leadership is servant leadership. Serving others with humility and putting their needs before your own is a vital characteristic of a good leader. By demonstrating compassion, empathy, and a willingness to serve, you create an environment that fosters growth and discipleship.

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Modeling the faith is another important aspect of church leadership. By living out the principles and values of your faith, you provide an example for others to follow. Your actions should align with your words, creating authenticity and trust within the church community.

Continuous self-development is necessary for growth as a leader. This involves seeking opportunities for personal and professional growth, such as attending leadership conferences, workshops, and seeking mentorship. By investing in your own development, you expand your knowledge and skills, allowing you to better serve your congregation.

Teaching abilities are crucial for church leaders. Effective communication and the ability to convey biblical teachings in a relatable and engaging manner are essential. By developing your teaching skills, you can effectively impart knowledge and inspire others to grow in their faith.

Equipping others for service is a key responsibility of a church leader. This involves identifying the gifts and talents of individuals within the congregation and empowering them to use their abilities for the benefit of the church. By providing opportunities for involvement and ministry, you create a culture of active participation and engagement.

Competencies for Good Church Leadership

Servant LeadershipLeading with humility, compassion, and a focus on serving others.
Modeling the FaithLiving out the principles and values of the faith, serving as an example for others.
Self-DevelopmentContinuously seeking personal and professional growth for effective leadership.
Teaching AbilitiesEffectively communicating and imparting biblical teachings to the congregation.
Equipping OthersIdentifying and empowering individuals to serve and utilize their gifts and talents.

Good church leaders prioritize love, practice stewardship, and demonstrate authentic leadership. They lead with integrity, transparency, and a deep commitment to the mission of the church. Becoming a good church leader is an ongoing process that requires continuous training, self-reflection, and a willingness to adapt to the needs of the congregation.

church leadership competencies

Setting SMART Goals for Church Leadership

Setting goals is an essential component of effective church leadership. By following the SMART goals framework, leaders can ensure that their objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

The Five Elements of SMART Goals:

  1. Specific: Clearly define what needs to be accomplished. Specific goals provide a clear direction and focus for the church leadership.
  2. Measurable: Establish metrics or indicators to track progress. Measurable goals allow leaders to assess their performance and make data-driven decisions.
  3. Achievable: Set goals that are realistic and attainable. Church leaders should consider the available resources, capabilities, and limitations when setting objectives.
  4. Relevant: Ensure that goals align with the mission and values of the church. Relevant goals contribute to the growth and impact of the church and its community.
  5. Time-bound: Set a clear timeline for goal completion. Time-bound goals create urgency, accountability, and a sense of purpose.

By incorporating these elements into their goal setting process, church leaders can effectively guide their teams and drive the church towards success.

Increase Sunday attendance by 10% within six monthsThis goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. It provides a clear target for growth and has a specific timeline for achieving it.
Launch a youth mentoring program by the end of the yearThis goal is specific, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. It outlines a specific initiative, is realistic to implement, aligns with the church’s mission, and has a set deadline for completion.
Improve volunteer retention rate by 20% within three monthsThis goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. It focuses on a specific metric, sets a realistic improvement target, aligns with the importance of volunteers in the church, and has a defined timeline for assessment.
SMART Goals for Church Leadership

Choosing a Church Leadership Model

When it comes to the structure of church leadership models, there are various options to consider. Each model offers its unique benefits, and the choice depends on the specific needs and goals of the church. Let’s explore a few examples:

Pastor and Bishop Model

In this model, the responsibilities of spiritual guidance and overall administration are divided between the pastor and the bishop. The pastor focuses on leading the congregation, overseeing the day-to-day operations, and preaching, while the bishop provides spiritual oversight and guidance to multiple churches within a district or region.

Pastor, Elder, and Deacons Model

In the Pastor, Elder, and Deacons Model, multiple leaders work together in serving the church. The pastor leads the congregation, the elders provide guidance and support, and the deacons assist with various tasks and ministry initiatives. This model allows for shared leadership and delegation of responsibilities to ensure the smooth functioning of the church.

Pastor, Deacons, and Treasurer Model

For a more streamlined approach, the Pastor, Deacons, and Treasurer Model offers a simple leadership structure. In this model, the pastor holds ultimate authority and makes final decisions. Deacons assist with day-to-day operations, and the treasurer handles financial matters. This model facilitates clear lines of authority and decision-making.

Ultimately, the choice of a church leadership model should align with the church’s vision, values, and goals. It’s essential to consider the size, culture, and specific needs of the congregation when selecting a model that fosters effective leadership and supports the growth and development of the church community.

Leadership ModelResponsibilitiesAdvantages
Pastor and Bishop ModelPastor: Spiritual guidance and day-to-day operations
Bishop: Spiritual oversight for multiple churches
  • Clear division of responsibilities
  • Strong spiritual guidance
  • Effective oversight for multiple churches
Pastor, Elder, and Deacons ModelPastor: Congregational leadership
Elder: Guidance and support
Deacons: Assistance with various tasks
  • Shared leadership
  • Delegation of responsibilities
  • Broad representation of church members
Pastor, Deacons, and Treasurer ModelPastor: Overall authority and decision-making
Deacons: Day-to-day operations
Treasurer: Financial matters
  • Clear lines of authority
  • Streamlined decision-making
  • Efficient handling of finances

Delegating Responsibilities in Church Leadership

Delegating responsibilities is a vital aspect of effective church leadership. By distributing tasks among team members, leaders can leverage their strengths and abilities to drive the church’s mission forward. This delegation not only multiplies efforts but also fosters a strong relationship between leaders and volunteers, empowering both parties to contribute to the church’s success.

To delegate effectively, church leaders should identify the unique skills and talents of their team members. This understanding enables them to assign tasks that align with individuals’ strengths, enhancing overall productivity. By recognizing and valuing the abilities of volunteers, leaders build a sense of purpose and ownership within the team, promoting a culture of collaboration and engagement.

Recruiting and engaging volunteers is a key element in delegation. Church leaders should actively seek volunteers who are passionate about serving and align with the church’s values. Recruiting individuals who possess the skills necessary for specific tasks or ministries ensures efficient delegation and increases the likelihood of successful outcomes.

Building relationships is crucial for effective delegation. Leaders should strive to foster open communication, provide clear instructions, and create an environment where volunteers feel comfortable seeking guidance or voicing concerns. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions allow for ongoing support and evaluation, enabling leaders to address any challenges or obstacles that may arise.

Empowering others is at the heart of church leadership delegation. By entrusting responsibilities to volunteers, leaders not only share the workload but also cultivate leadership potential within the church community. Delegation serves as a training ground for future leaders, allowing them to develop skills, gain experience, and grow in their faith.

Benefits of Delegating Responsibilities:

  • Efficient use of resources and talents within the church community
  • Enhanced collaboration and teamwork
  • Development of leadership skills among volunteers
  • Increased ownership and engagement
  • Opportunities for personal growth and empowerment

Effective delegation is not about relinquishing control but rather empowering others to contribute their unique gifts for the betterment of the church community.

church leadership delegation
Benefits of Delegating Responsibilities
Efficient use of resources and talents within the church community
Enhanced collaboration and teamwork
Development of leadership skills among volunteers
Increased ownership and engagement
Opportunities for personal growth and empowerment

Training Church Leaders and Pastors

Proper training is essential for church leaders and pastors to effectively fulfill their roles and responsibilities. While preaching and counseling are crucial aspects of their work, leaders also require training in various areas to build a solid foundation for church leadership.

One important aspect of church leadership training is organization management. Leaders need to develop skills in strategic planning, budgeting, and resource allocation to effectively manage the church’s operations and ensure its smooth functioning.

Human resources training is another critical component, as leaders must understand how to recruit, train, and mentor volunteers and other staff members. Building a strong team is vital for successful church leadership and achieving the church’s objectives.

Fundraising and financial management are also areas where leaders need training. They must learn effective fundraising techniques to support the church’s programs and projects, as well as financial principles to ensure transparency and accountability in handling church funds.

Event planning is another skill that church leaders should acquire. From organizing worship services and special events to coordinating outreach programs and community initiatives, training in event planning equips leaders to create impactful and well-executed church activities.

By providing comprehensive training resources and programs, churches can build a leadership team that is equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to lead the church effectively. Investing in leadership development ensures the long-term success, growth, and impact of the church in the community.

Benefits of Training Church Leaders and Pastors

Training church leaders and pastors offers several benefits for both the individuals and the church as a whole:

“Effective training helps leaders grow in their abilities and confidence, enabling them to lead with excellence and make a positive impact on the church and community.”

  • Enhanced leadership skills: Training equips leaders with the necessary skills to navigate challenges, lead with vision, and effectively communicate with their teams and the congregation.
  • Improved decision-making: Leaders who receive training are better equipped to make informed and sound decisions that align with the church’s mission and values.
  • Increased engagement: Training empowers leaders to create a welcoming and inclusive church environment that encourages active participation and engagement from the congregation.
  • Stronger teamwork: Training helps leaders build cohesive teams by fostering effective communication, resolving conflicts, and promoting collaboration among team members.
  • Greater impact: Well-trained leaders are more equipped to lead the church in fulfilling its mission, reaching out to the community, and making a positive difference in people’s lives.

By investing in church leadership training, churches demonstrate their commitment to equipping their leaders to serve with excellence, ensuring the church’s continued growth and relevance in the community.

Sample Table: Church Leadership Training Topics

Training TopicsDescription
Strategic PlanningLearn how to develop and implement a strategic plan that aligns with the church’s vision and goals.
Team Building and CommunicationDevelop skills in building strong teams, fostering effective communication, and resolving conflicts.
Financial StewardshipGain knowledge in financial management, budgeting, and fundraising to ensure responsible stewardship of church resources.
Preaching and TeachingEnhance preaching and teaching skills to effectively deliver messages that inspire, educate, and engage the congregation.
Pastoral Care and CounselingDevelop skills in providing pastoral care and counseling to support and guide individuals and families within the church.
Community OutreachLearn strategies for effective community engagement and outreach, building relationships and serving the needs of the community.

Essential Components of Church Leadership Training

When it comes to church leadership training programs, several essential components contribute to the holistic development of leaders. These components not only equip leaders with the necessary skills and knowledge but also cultivate their spiritual leadership qualities and their ability to serve the church community effectively. Let’s explore these essential components:

1. Understanding the biblical foundations of the church

A strong understanding of the biblical foundations of the church is crucial for church leaders. This includes a deep knowledge of Scripture, theology, and the principles that guide the church’s mission and purpose. It forms the foundation upon which leaders can build their leadership approach and make decisions aligned with the teachings of the Bible.

2. Learning how to lead by example

Leading by example is a fundamental aspect of effective leadership. Church leaders should model the values, behaviors, and teachings they preach. Through their actions, they inspire others to follow and demonstrate the importance of integrity, humility, compassion, and servant leadership.

3. Embracing servant leadership

Servant leadership is a transformative leadership style rooted in serving others. Church leaders should prioritize the needs of their congregation, volunteers, and the broader community. By embodying a servant’s heart, leaders foster trust, create a nurturing environment, and empower others to grow in their faith and leadership potential.

4. Developing preaching skills

Preaching skills are essential for church leaders as they convey the message of God to their congregation. Effective leaders dedicate time to honing their communication abilities, including sermon preparation, delivery, and connecting with the hearts and minds of their listeners. They strive to deliver inspiring and impactful messages that resonate with the spiritual needs of their community.

5. Cultivating the practice of welcoming visitors

Visitor welcoming is a vital aspect of church leadership. Leaders should create a warm and inviting atmosphere, ensuring that newcomers feel comfortable and welcomed. Training programs should provide strategies and practical tips for engaging with visitors, offering hospitality, and initiating meaningful connections that help them integrate into the church family.

6. Effectively working with volunteers

Church leaders often rely on volunteers to support various ministries and initiatives. Training programs should equip leaders with the skills to recruit, motivate, and empower volunteers effectively. This includes understanding volunteer management principles, fostering relationships, and appreciating the contributions of each volunteer, which ultimately strengthens the church’s overall impact.

7. Understanding the principles of fundraising

Fundraising is an essential aspect of church leadership, enabling the financing of various projects and initiatives. Leaders should have a firm grasp of fundraising principles and strategies, including donor cultivation, stewardship, and effective communication to inspire generosity within the congregation.

These essential components form the bedrock of a comprehensive church leadership training program. By incorporating these elements into their training initiatives, churches can empower their leaders to serve with excellence, making a lasting impact on their congregation and community.


Developing effective church leadership is crucial for the growth and impact of the church. Good leadership helps create a welcoming and engaging community, navigate change successfully, and achieve the mission of the church. By following best practices and investing in leadership development, churches can empower their leaders to lead with excellence and make a positive difference in the lives of their members and the community.

Church leadership development focuses on equipping leaders with the necessary skills, competencies, and character traits to effectively serve the church. This includes training leaders in areas such as servant leadership, teaching abilities, and equipping others. The process of leadership development is an ongoing journey of self-improvement and continuous learning.

Effective leadership practices in the church involve setting SMART goals that align with the church’s mission and values. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Additionally, choosing the right leadership model and delegating responsibilities are essential for creating a strong leadership team and fostering a culture of empowerment and collaboration.

By prioritizing church leadership development and implementing effective leadership practices, churches can build a strong foundation for growth, impact, and community engagement. Investing in the development of leaders ensures that the church remains relevant, resilient, and capable of making a positive difference in the lives of its members and the wider community.


Why is good church leadership important?

Good church leadership is important because it creates a welcoming and inclusive community, navigates change successfully, and helps achieve the mission of the church.

What are some signs of bad church leadership?

Some signs of bad church leadership include excessive expectations on members, lack of expectations leading to members being taken advantage of, decisions influenced by internal politics, gossip and distrust, a dominating pastor, conflict, and blame-shifting.

What steps can I take to become a good church leader?

To become a good church leader, focus on developing competencies such as servant leadership, modeling the faith, self-development, teaching abilities, and equipping others. Ongoing training and self-improvement are crucial for personal growth.

How can I set SMART goals for church leadership?

Setting SMART goals is crucial for church leadership. Ensure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Align your goals with the mission of the church and track progress.

What are the different church leadership models?

There are various church leadership models, including the Pastor and Bishop Model, Pastor, Elder, and Deacons Model, and Pastor, Deacons, and Treasurer Model. The choice of model depends on the needs and goals of the church.

How do I delegate responsibilities in church leadership?

Delegating responsibilities in church leadership involves identifying the strengths and abilities of team members and assigning tasks accordingly. Building relationships and providing support are crucial for successful delegation.

How can I receive training as a church leader or pastor?

To receive training as a church leader or pastor, seek out resources and programs that cover various areas such as organization management, human resources, fundraising, and event planning. Continuous learning and development are key.

What are the essential components of church leadership training?

Essential components of church leadership training include understanding biblical foundations, leading by example, embracing servant leadership, developing preaching skills, welcoming visitors, effectively working with volunteers, and understanding fundraising principles.

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  • Greg Gaines

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