Creating a Leadership Path for Ministry Growth Blog Feature

By: Patrick O'Connell on August 30, 2017

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Creating a Leadership Path for Ministry Growth

Leadership | Multisite | church planting

The right kind of leadership is critical to the success of a church or ministry. In order for leadership to be successful, you need both a leadership pipeline and a leadership path. Let’s discuss the difference.

The Leadership Pipeline

The pipeline is a group of leaders. If I'm a leader of this group, and I'm looking for some campus pastors and church planters in this group, I'm going to start thinking about a few people that demonstrate those skills. Then I'm going to invite these people into an intentional path of leadership development.

But you need to be thinking about who you’re filling the leadership pipeline with:

  • How are people getting into the pipeline? What’s the entry point?
  • What are the expectations? What are you asking them to do?
  • What does the journey look like? When you starting thinking about the journey, then you’re talking about the path.

There are two things that every leader wants to know:

1. Where am I in the process?
2. Where am I going?

When we invite people to be a leader and we don't give them those answers, we've set ourselves up for failure. Leaders want to know what you're expecting of them. They want to know where they are in the path, and they want to know what their next step is. 

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 The Leadership Path




 This story is an example of my own journey that I hope will help to walk you through what the leadership path looks like:

I was a guy far from God who walked into a church, when I began to hear all this language about church planting and leadership development. I was asked to be an apprentice very early on because somebody saw leadership potential in me. I didn't think I could ever be a leader in the church until that guy sat me down and said, "I see potential in you, Patrick. Would you be my small group apprentice?"

We negotiated that out. Six months later, I was leading that group, and he left to start another small group. We had, therefore, reproduced those groups. Two is better than one in the Kingdom.

I knew as a small group leader, my next step would be as a coach because coaches pour into the leaders. If I'm a small group coach, and I have five small group leaders leading groups of ten people each, how many people am I influencing? Fifty! Remember Moses in Exodus 18. As a coach, I knew that my leadership responsibility was to these small group leaders.

My role then becomes, as a coach, to help these leaders. I'm having one-on-ones with them. I'm having coffee with them once a month. I'm getting together with each of them. Then I'm inviting them to a Leadership Community that we do here once a month at Community Christian Church where all of our leaders huddle up to celebrate our wins and our challenges. My point is that a coach pours into the leaders as leaders pour into the apprentices.

The next step for me was a staff role as a small group director and therefore lead the coaches who, in turn, lead the leaders who, in turn, lead the apprentices. Are you starting to see how this works?

Many of our church planters go on to become network leaders. We say four to five churches are a network, so let’s say I have four or five lead pastors who are all in the Chicagoland area. They're a network. As a network leader, I'm helping these lead pastors start new campuses and sites. It's relational first for us. The Spans of Care still come out of our leadership path.

So here are some questions to answer when considering your own church or ministry's leadership path:

  • Do we have a path? Can I sketch it out on the back of a napkin?
  • Is the path clear?
  • Have we answered the questions that people are going to ask us about our path?

In order to groom successful leaders and encourage their work, both a leadership path and pipeline are necessary.

Patrick O’Connell is passionate about helping people start new things for the Kingdom. A man who didn’t grow up in church, he dabbled in atheism and was a committed agnostic for many years. He eventually found his way back to God. O'Connell helped plant a network of churches in Kansas City, and it was there that he began coaching and training church planters. He wants to leverage his knowledge, experiences and understanding of church planting and Kingdom to help people find and follow Jesus. Today he does this as Director of NewThing. Patrick has served in the U.S. Army, graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and received a Master in Missional Church Movements from Wheaton College. He’s married to Nancy, and they have three kids. He likes to run, read, and hang out with friends and family.


About Patrick O'Connell

Patrick O'Connell is the Global Director of NewThing, a catalyst for movements of reproducing churches. He is passionate about helping people start new things for the Kingdom. He's married to Nancy and they have three great kids. He likes to run, read and hangout with friends.