5 Steps for Building New Leaders in Your Church Blog Feature
Marian V. Liautaud

By: Marian V. Liautaud on October 21, 2019

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5 Steps for Building New Leaders in Your Church

Leadership | Communication | Church Culture

When you see leadership potential in someone at your church, how do you develop them into leaders, especially when they’re new in the faith?

According to Dave Ferguson, lead pastor of Community Christian Church, a multisite church with 12 locations throughout Chicagoland (including 2 within prisons) and cofounder of NewThing Network and Exponential, it takes an intentional strategy of leadership development to grow new leaders.

“Years ago, I led a small group at our church for couples,” Dave shared at a recent Leadership Development Accelerator cohort hosted by Leadership Network. “When our first book study as a small group was coming to an end, all of the couples wanted to continue. At our church, every leader has to partner with an apprentice leader, but I didn’t have one for that group. I told the group that the only way we could continue was if I had an apprentice.”

Within this small group, Dave said he got to know Doug, a new attendee at Community Christian in whom he saw tremendous potential, though he was new in the faith.

“I asked Doug if he would agree to be my apprentice, and he said yes,” said Dave. Throughout the following year, he and Doug met regularly at Starbucks for coaching conversations.

Dave says his meetings with Doug were highly relational and focused on planning about the small group study they were doing and discipleship conversations.

Along with their regular coaching conversations, Dave employed Community Christian Church’s strategic framework for mentoring Doug:



1. I do. You watch. We talk.

2. I do. You help. We talk.

3. You do. I help. We talk.

4. You do. I watch. We talk.

5. You do. Someone else watches.


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“After about 12 months, both Doug and I felt he was ready to lead the group himself, so Doug took over and I moved on to start a new group,” says Dave.

According to Jon Ferguson, cofounder of Community Christian Church, there are three baseline qualities they look for in aspiring apprentices:

  1. Spiritual velocity. “Is the trajectory of a person’s life moving them closer to Jesus? Do they desire to lead a Jesus-centered life?” According to Jon, “It’s not where they are, but where they’re going.”
  2. “Apprentices want to learn. They’re willing to accept feedback,” he says.
  3. Relational intelligence. “People with relational intelligence know that people matter to God.” Jon uses the “smartphone test” as an indicator of a person’s relational intelligence. “How does someone respond when a person’s name comes up on their phone? Are they genuinely eager to answer, or do they act burdened by the caller? This can be a good indicator of their willingness and desire to lead and mentor others.”

Soon after Doug took the reins and began leading the small group, Dave returned to Starbucks. There was Doug, meeting with his new apprentice. and carrying on the pattern of leaders building new leaders, which is a core value of Community Christian Church.

What steps does your church employ to develop new leaders? Please share your ideas in the comments section.


About Marian V. Liautaud

Marian served as Aspen's Director of Marketing from 2014 to 2021, sharing stories about how Aspen designs, builds, and furnishes space for ministry impact.