Why You Need Both a Leadership Path and a Leadership Pipeline Blog Feature

By: Patrick O'Connell on November 09, 2016

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Why You Need Both a Leadership Path and a Leadership Pipeline

Culture | Leadership

Is there any question that Jesus started a movement?

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

If you're dreaming about starting movements to achieve the Jesus Mission, you will need to plant sites and churches that can then plant more sites and churches. This is multiplication.

And, if you’re going to plant more churches and start more campuses, then you must be intentional about developing more leaders at all times. And to do that, you need both a leadership pipeline and a leadership path.

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At NewThing, we’re always talking about both our leadership pipeline AND our leadership path. We encourage all of our churches to have both in place. Here's the difference between the two.

The Leadership Pipeline

Your leadership pipeline includes leaders who could go out and start new churches and locations, and consists of three groups:

  1. People who you can (or want to) recruit.
  2. People who you are recruiting for your pipeline.
  3. People you’re training to start a new church or location.

If you want to plant more churches, you need to be recruiting, developing, and sending leaders all the time. You need a pipeline of leaders.

What type of people do you want in your pipeline?

Free Agents. These are people who have been called by God to plant a church or start a location. You’ve identified them, and now you’re actively seeking to recruit them to your cause. Free agents make an immediate impact on your organization. They come prepared with skills and talents that have already been used in a ministry context.

The challenge with free agents is that there are fewer of them. And many of them are already playing on other teams.

Farm System. These are people in your churches, sites, and ministries who are leading and contributing as we speak. They may not have the language nor the license to start something new. So give it to them. They need you to both affirm their gifting and provide them a path.

Perhaps this person is someone coaching other leaders. Or maybe this person consistently demonstrates a leadership gifting. Perhaps it’s someone who has started and reproduced small groups. These individuals are already leading in your context and they have your DNA. They can lead churches if you help them.

The challenge with the farm system is that they take longer to develop. But if you’re patient, you will produce loads of new leaders.

The Leadership Path

Your leadership path is the process you use to train leaders; the sequence trainees follow from start to finish. The path provides leaders a series of milestones (or steps) to grow and develop. This is the leadership journey you have created for them that helps them move from calling to launch. The path includes development, equipping, and coaching.

Having a clear path is essential because every leader wants to know two things:

  1. Where they are in your process.
  2. Where they’re going.

And it’s best to have this process visualized. It needn’t be complicated. In fact, it ought to be quite simple. But you need to know it so your leaders know it.

Benefits to the Leadership Pipeline and Leadership Path

If you still need convincing, here are some pros of each:

Leadership Pipelines

  • Helps us accomplish the Jesus mission. Without leaders, we will be unable to achieve the mission.
  • Helps increase the opportunities to grow leaders from within.
  • Ensures you have leaders to start new churches and locations.

Leadership Paths

  • Establishes clear expectations for everyone.
  • Help leaders grow in their influence at every level.
  • Helps established leaders know how to help new leaders grow.

Leadership Development Questions to Ask Your Team

If you want to develop leaders in your church, may I suggest you build both a leadership path and a pipeline as soon as you can. To start, here are some questions to review with your team:

  • Do we know how we're filling our pipeline?
  • Do we have a plan?
  • Who is in charge of the plan?
  • Do we have a leadership path that we can show people to help them know where they are in it and where they’re going?

Aspen Group is proud to partner with NewThing–a catalyst for movements of reproducing churches. Patrick O'Connell is the director of NewThing.


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.