3 Tips for Finding and Training Leaders

by Rick Whitter

Every leader since Moses has realized the need for finding other leaders to help shepherd the people (Exodus 18Deuteronomy 1:9–18). Without sufficient leaders, the church will be limited in size and ministry effectiveness. But how do we get the right people in positions of leadership? I have always said that there is no more important decision in the church than who is leading. Appoint the wrong leaders, and you’ve got big trouble.

Here are three tips for helping you to find and train leaders in your church:


There are a few early steps that you should take before going after a potential leader.

Pinpoint the need. Have a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished. Make a list of the skills and gifts that are required. What type of personnel will best serve in this role?

Now you can move ahead with identifying the best candidate(s). Here’s a hint: Look for someone who is already doing the work. If a person in your church is expressing a heart for a certain type of ministry through actual ministry (talk is cheap), pay attention! Identifying leaders is more than simply assigning titles; it is matching qualified people with ministry responsibilities.

Also, be sure that the prospective leader currently meets Biblical and corporate qualifications, or can be qualified in the future. You will avoid a lot of trouble by doing your homework and assessments ahead of time.


Let me tell you a few things that don’t work when recruiting leaders:

  • Church bulletin or newsletter ads. Leadership shouldn’t be open to anyone who reads the publications.
  • An announcement during the worship service that “guilt-trips” prospective volunteers. “We can’t find anyone to serve” is about as non-compelling as you can get!
  • Begging. Desperation is not an attractive attribute–no one wants to jump on a sinking ship!

So, what does work? A personal ask! Once you have identified a potential leader and established the responsibilities and training needed, make a phone call. Or even better, make an appointment for coffee. You may think the point is that is it harder to say no in person. While that may be true, the point is relationship dynamics. People are honored when you think highly enough of them to engage them on a personal level. They are more likely to respond in the affirmative in a face-to-face meeting.


Once an individual agrees to serve in a leadership capacity, they must be developed and equipped. Ephesians 4:12 lays the foundation for this: “Their (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors/teachers) responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” This may be done on an individual basis or with a group, but equipping must be intentional and systematic.

Leaders must be continually encouraged and provided with growth opportunities. One of the most common complaints among church volunteers is this: “You appointed me and then forgot about me!” Coach your leaders. Cultivate their skills. Never have leadership training meetings out of habit or obligation; there must be a solid purpose and point. Take them on a leadership journey with goals in mind.

The most important thing we can do is pray about new leaders for our churches! The Spirit of God should lead this process. Keep in mind that Christ is the Head of the church, and He should appoint leaders. The old adage is still true: God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called. Be sure that God has called those you recruit.

Together, let’s lead God’s church!