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December 9, 2015

5 Steps to Developing Multiplying Leaders

By Daniel Im

Q&A Webinars are a monthly segment for Plus Members. This is where you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions to the leading experts in church planting, multisite, and multiplication. Q&A webinars are your unique opportunity to ask your questions to these thought leaders. For this month’s segment, I talk to Todd Adkins, who is the Director of Leadership Development at LifeWay, about multi-site and leadership development. Plus Members can watch the full segment by logging in and then clicking here.

The Small Seed of Multiplication: Leadership Development

*Plus Members can watch this entire Q&A webinar by logging in and clicking here.

Multiplication is not only a popular mathematical operation, but it’s also a popular church topic. And it seems that evangelicalism has become obsessed with the notion of multiplication, and rightly so. However, I think that if we are not careful we can skew our understanding of multiplication and its application to the church, which can lead to frustration and a pseudo failure. We ultimately want to see multiplication on both the micro (disciple-making) and macro (church planting) scale.

Let me throw out an idea: The making of disciples who make disciples leads to additional churches, which over time yields both micro and macro multiplication. In other words, the root of multiplication starts small and over time yields a great harvest. Jesus taught something similar in Matthew 13 when he espoused that the kingdom of God was like a mustard seed—the smallest of all seeds—that when grown, is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree…” (Matt 13:32).

Recently, I chatted with Todd Adkins, the Director of Leadership Development at LifeWay, about multiplication, multisite, and leadership development. One of the takeaways from that discussion is that church multiplication begins with the small seed of leadership development.

In this webinar, Todd addresses at least five steps to developing leaders who serve as the catalyst to the eventual multiplication of disciples, campuses, and churches.

1. Teach Them Core CONVICTIONS

Developing leaders without core convictions is like raising children without boundaries. Usually, if parents raise children without boundaries or a moral compass, they grow up to be wild and chaotic with morals and a lifestyle that are less than desirable. According to Todd, if the church is to build an army and not an audience, it will need to develop leaders whose lives are built upon a gospel-centered theology. This lays a solid theological footing for the other four steps of leadership development.

2. Concentrate on Developing CHARACTER

Character can take you where competency cannot. John Maxwell wisely notes, “Character creates a foundation upon which the structure of your talent and life can build. If there are cracks in that foundation, you cannot build much.” Given that character is paramount to leadership development, Todd warns that we can be guilty of prematurely promoting competent people for ministry positions when their character is lacking. If the goal of leadership development is leaders who develop leaders and pour into others, we need to monitor what they are becoming and what they are pouring out.

3. Train Them in Core COMPETENCIES

If developing character is teaching leaders who they should become, training them in core competencies is teaching them what they should do. The important part here is understanding what you want them to do. It’s also important for church leaders to keep in mind that, for the most part, they are training volunteers; thus the training should be clear and concise and the expectations fair.

4. CULTIVATE a Relationship With Them

Cultivating a relationship makes leadership development personal and communal, not just informational and mechanical. Aside from the Spirit of God working within individuals, the cultivation of a relationship that includes teaching core convictions, developing character, and training in core competencies aids in the transformation of individuals. This coincides with the understanding that transformation happens relationally and communally.

5. Serve as a COACH for Their Continuous Development

As we release people to lead, we must have a structure in place for their continuous development. In other words, we should serve as coaches who not only give people ministry and tasks, but also provide them feedback and a sounding board as they seek to fulfill their ministry and tasks.

In conclusion, the development of leaders is the small seed that in return, over time, yields the multiplication of disciples, campuses, and churches. Therefore, if you are a new church plant wanting to inject into your DNA the planting of other churches, or an established church that’s contemplating multisite, then you need to concentrate on leadership development. The failure to develop leaders will prohibit churches from planting new churches and launching new campuses. To put it simply: start with being faithful at addition and let the Lord turn that into multiplication.

There was so much more Todd discussed as it relates to multisite and leadership development. You can view the video in its entirety here. This video is part of Plus Membership, so to get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.


  • For a church to build an army and not an audience will require them to develop leaders
  • The root of multiplication starts small and over time yields a great harvest
  • Church multiplication begins with the small seed of leadership development, or the biblical term—disciple-making
  • Developing leaders without core convictions is like raising children without boundaries
  • Be careful not to prematurely promote competent people for ministry when their character is lacking
  • Cultivating a relationship with leaders you develop makes it personal and communal, not just informational and mechanical
  • Start with being faithful at addition and let the Lord turn that into multiplication


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Senior Associate Pastor of Beulah Alliance Church, a multiplying multisite church focused on reaching 1% of Edmonton for Christ. His latest book is You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies about Work, Life, and Love. He is also the author of No Silver Bullets and co-author of Planting Missional Churches. He co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, as well as the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Because of their love for the local church, after pioneering and leading the church multiplication initiative for LifeWay, Daniel and his wife, Christina, moved back to Canada with their three children. For more information, visit danielim.com and follow him on social media @danielsangi.


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