When we use the term leadership pipeline, we need to define exactly what we mean if we value clarity. Otherwise, we may assume that we know and agree on what we’re talking about when we don’t.


What is a leadership pipeline?

A leadership pipeline is another term for leadership development. My colleague Brad Bridges refers to leadership pipelines as “the visual context and process where leader development is conceptualized, planned, and measured.” Your leadership pipeline is how you go about recruiting and developing leaders in and for your ministry.

The question here is: do you have a clear, simple memorable pathway for developing leaders at every level of your church? Do most individuals understand and know where they are along that pathway? If not, you need to evaluate how you are developing leaders.

How does a leadership pipeline work?

The leadership pipeline will look different for every ministry and every context. But there will be many elements that remain consistent. For example, all leadership pipelines clarify processes, competencies, evaluation, and metrics (they should, at least).

Where do individuals in your church go to get trained in serving? How do they know where there are needs? Who does the training? Are your staff the main individuals carrying the load? Think about how you can get the congregation engaged in your ministry activities.

Want one of our lead consultants to come on-site? We can come to your church and help you build a leadership pipeline. We also provide distance leadership coaching to pastors of fast growing churches that prefer to keep a professional coach on retainer. Either way, contact us by clicking here.

This article is part of a series of articles on building a leadership pipeline in the local church. See below for some of the others:
1) 12 Challenges to Building a Leadership Pipeline in Your Church
2) Traits of an Effective Leader (some of these could be your competencies for each level of your leadership pipeline)
3) The Leadership Development Pipeline: A Student’s Perspective
4) How Coaching Fits into Your Leadership Development Plan
5) 6 Steps to Building a Leadership Pipeline In Your Church
6) 10 Ways Church Leaders Create a Culture of Equipping and Training (it includes your church leadership pipeline and much more)



Dr. Aubrey Malphurs is the Founder and Visionary Leader of the Malphurs Group and the Senior Professor of Leadership and Pastoral Ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. He frequently writes on Pastoral Ministry, Church Leadership DevelopmentStrategy, and Vision and also serves churches and denominations as a Consultant and Speaker (The Malphurs Group team also provides Leadership Coaching and Mystery Worshipper Consultations. He is also a husband, father, grandfather, fisherman, and a diehard Florida Gator fan. @amalphurs | website