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January 20, 2018

Campus Leadership Development

By Chris Kouba

Leveraging Leaders

John Maxwell says “The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders, and continually develops them.” This principle is more important than ever in God’s church.

Most campus pastors have a staff team that can assist him, but very often a campus relies heavily on volunteers to carry out the vision of the church. When a campus pastor can identify, equip, and clearly lay out expectations to a leader who oversees a ministry area of the church, it allows that leader to truly own that area of ministry and allows the campus pastor freedom to identify and raise up new leaders for future growth.   

Regardless of whether a newly hired campus pastor is starting a campus or coming to an already existing campus, he must immediately begin looking for new leaders, developing current ones, and creating a leadership pipeline for new leaders to emerge. Allow me to elaborate.

Identify Key Leadership Positions 

First, a campus pastor must identify what key functional areas are needed for weekly ministry to happen and determine what leadership skills are necessary for these roles. These leadership positions can include, but are not limited to, first impressions ministry (greeters, ushers, parking volunteers), small group leadership, security team, hospitality ministry, decision counseling (working with those who have prayer needs or make a decision for Christ at a service), new member class volunteers, setup teams, children’s ministry, student ministry, and so forth.   

When I launched a campus, I spent a significant amount of time with the point leaders in these various areas. As I look back, that investment paid a huge dividend because they owned their areas of ministry, knew what was expected and were able to rise toward the bar that had been set for them. This regular time of connecting with these leaders meant I had the pulse of the campus, saw needs as they arose and forced me to invest in leaders toward whom I might not normally gravitate. In addition, I connected key leaders with key counterparts at the other campuses so they could work with each other and offer additional support and encouragement. 

Your leadership positions may be different than mine, but the principal remains; spend significant time finding those leaders.  

Observe Leaders Leading 

Opportunities should be set up for the campus to serve together through neighborhood canvassing or days of service in the local community where leaders can be observed and their spiritual gifts can be identified and seen in action. In addition, the campus pastor should identify leaders whom he believes could serve in ministry areas and spend time getting to know them relationally, first, before handing over areas of leadership to them.   

Whether it be one of these leadership positions or one of our small group leaders, I always ask the question, “Who are your key leaders that help make your greeting ministry or your small group or your parking ministry work?” I then make a point to connect with these folks, get to know them, and let them know how much I appreciate their leadership. I call it my “bench list” and systematically use this as a guide to set up lunches and coffees to develop not only current leaders but build relationships with potential new leaders. 

Observe your people in action and watch how they lead.  

Resource Leaders 

Once key leaders have been identified, the campus pastor must set up means of interaction and feedback so he can assure they are accountable and he has good feedback to resource and best equip them in their roles.   

One way to resource leaders is to provide books and messages to assist them in their leadership roles and also in their own spiritual leadership. Sending articles to key leaders for them to read is another easy way to resource and encourage them. 

I also recommend a leadership retreat or extended time together for prayer, encouragement, and equipping, so the vision of the campus pastor can be clearly seen and heard, especially early in the process. 

Finally, one can never underestimate the power of the written word. Personal notes can be a great tool to encourage key leaders and express appreciation for their investment and commitment to the campus. These notes can be written to key leaders, volunteers, key staff, support staff, and anyone else who needs appreciation shown. Build a culture of appreciation and investment that isn’t limited to the spoken word.

The attention a campus pastor gives to these tasks, especially in the early days, will determine the ability for the campus to grow in a healthy and sustainable way. His attention to these details will yield a church filled with leaders united in the common goal of winning more people over for Christ.

Do you have what it takes to be a campus pastor? How does this role differ from a church planter? Or from a senior pastor? Learn from our research-based and practitioner-tested scope and sequence to develop campus pastors in our course, Essential Campus Pastoring.


Chris Kouba

Chris Kouba is the Lead Pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church North Campus and has been a part of all campuses of Prestonwood, one of the largest churches in the country. He is a graduate of Baylor University, received his Master’s from Dallas Theological Seminary, and his doctorate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He serves as an adjunct faculty member of Southern Seminary teaching leadership to doctoral students. He is passionate about the local church and seeing it reach his full potential of influence. He is married to Hillary and has four children, Katelyn, Mackenzie, Hudson, and Griffin.


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