How To Build The Leadership Pipeline Your Church Needs

I've never met a pastor who has all the help he needs.

Whether it's a new staff member, more volunteers, replacing a board member who's moved out of town or finding an assistant who can take on some of your everyday tasks, you need more of the right kind of leaders in your church, right?

But that kind of team doesn't just happen with a snap of your fingers and a click of your heels, does it? I have yet to meet the church leader who has a story about a bus of fully-formed leaders who pull up on a Sunday morning ready to work. Not to mention that you don't know how to make the leaders you have right now better at what they do.

In my work with churches of all sizes - from church plants to megachurches - pastors and other senior leaders are struggling with leadership development. On more than a few occasions, a church leader has looked at me and said, 'Developing leaders is not supposed to be this complicated, right?'

It's a fair question with an answer that contains some excellent news.

Developing leaders is not easy. Building the team you need is hard work.

But putting together what you need is not complicated. In fact, it's pretty simple.

How To Build A Leadership PIpeline

Over the past year, I have personally helped more than 50 churches build a simple and sustainable leadership development system called a leadership pipeline. When the church I help lead installed a pipeline several years ago, we expanded the number of active leaders in our church by 800%. 

What I have seen time after time in the churches I work with is less stress on current leadership, improved performance across the board and an abundance of qualified leaders to share the burden and responsibility of leading the church. 

How does that happen? 

Let me show you - in three simple steps - how to build a leadership pipeline


Every leadership pipeline has three elements: 1. multiple levels of leadership; 2. a consistent and reproducible process of recruiting, training and evaluating leaders; and 3. a holistic way to transition men and women from one level of leadership to the next.

The plumbing in your house didn't get there by intuition or just hard work. Someone designed the entire system so everything will fit together. Without that design, you wouldn't get hot water when you need hot water or cold water when you need cold water. Without that design, water wouldn't go where it needs to go when it leaves your house.

Leadership pipelines that skip the design phase miss critical pieces of developing leaders. Leadership pipelines that rush through the design phase fail because they become complicated and unsustainable. 


Visionary leaders trick themselves into believing that once a pipeline ends up on a whiteboard, that pipeline has become a reality. 

'Do we have a pipeline? Of course, we do. It's right there on the board.'

Far too many pipelines never see the light of day because they never make it out of the pastor's study. Once you have designed your pipeline, there will be parts of your pipeline that are already in place. Some of those are in great shape and don't need to be touched. Other parts need to be retro-fitted to integrate with your new system. And, inevitably, there will be things you need to do to recruit, train and evaluate leaders that you have to build from scratch.

Remodeling and building from scratch. Putting in place and bringing to life what you've drawn up in your design phase. Installation of your pipeline is methodical work that requires discipline and perseverance.


Congratulations! You've designed the simple and sustainable leadership development system that your church needs. You've installed the pipeline, and now everything you need to recruit, train and evaluate every leader at every level in your church is in place.

The only thing left to do is to turn on the proverbial faucet and the let the pipeline do its work.

If the design and installation went well, your pipeline should last at least five years. You shouldn't need to do a lot of work on the system. And while I do encourage churches to have one person who is responsible for checking to make sure that everything is working, I strongly suggest letting the pipeline run for at least one year before making any changes. 

During that year, you'll discover what is working well and find where the leaks are in your system. That will give you the data you need to know where to make small adjustments along the way.

Do The Next Right Thing

OK, so now what do you do? 

I've given you the three building blocks for your pipeline - design it, install it, run it. You can get started right now if you want to. That's what I did with our church. I cobbled together everything I knew and carved out something that has worked well for us.

But, honestly, that was hard work. Really hard. And while I'm sure you're not afraid of hard work, I'd like to make it a lot easier for you to build your pipeline. I put together a FREE resource called 'What Is A Leadership Pipeline' and you can have it by clicking HERE

Think about it. With one click in the next ten seconds, you can make a lifetime of difference. You'll give people a chance to become leaders. You'll build a fantastic team that has plenty of the right kind of leaders. And you'll reduce stress in your life because you won't have to do all the work of leading your church by yourself.

Of course, you can do nothing, and nothing will change. You'll still feel overwhelmed. You'll wonder why people won't take ownership of the church. Your heart will break because of missed opportunities.

Ten seconds. One click. Let's get to work!

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