In Designed to Lead, authors Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck unpack their conviction that the church should be the greatest platform for developing leaders.
“The role of pastor is divinely designed to prepare others for ministry, not to perform ministry.”

Designed To Lead Cover
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I enjoyed reading Designed to Lead and I think it does a wonderful job communicating the importance of leadership development from a biblical perspective. This is the book I would hand to a group of pastors who were not yet sure if leadership development was a critical endeavor for the church.

In the book, authors Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck unpack their conviction that the church should be the greatest platform for developing leaders. No other organization, they write, has a greater mission, promise, or reward for leadership development.

The authors describe three types of churches that practice poor leadership development.

  • Quitter Community Church is marked by a separation between church and work life. Whenever ministry tasks become too much for volunteers, they hire another ministry professional.
  • The Church of the Flywheel has developed a comprehensive training structure for leaders but lacks the conviction and culture necessary to make it effective.
  • Talk Louder Community Church preaches about leadership development but has no system in place to back up their rhetoric.


These three churches, while fictitious, do strike close to home for much of the body of Christ. Leadership development is often seen as a matter for businesses or universities and not for the church. Geiger and Peck note that biblical leadership is an expectation for God’s people. From the charge given to Adam in the garden to the Great Commission in Matthew 28, God’s intention for His people was for them to lead.

The three essentials to effective leadership development, according to the authors, are conviction, culture, and constructs. Pastors must have a conviction to develop others, not simply minister to others. They must build a culture that values and celebrates the development of leaders. They must invest in constructs or systems that ensure leadership development actually happens.

“You can tell what is important to a church by looking at their systems. If a value is strongly embedded in the culture, a system is in place to ensure the value is lived out and not merely words on a vision document.”

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

The role of pastor is divinely designed to prepare others for ministry, not to perform ministry. John Stott, writing on the role of pastors, stated, "The New Testament concept of the pastor is not of a person who jealously guards all ministry in his own hands,... but one who helps and encourages all of God's people to discover, develop, and exercise their gifts. His teaching and training are directed to this end, to enable the people of God to be a servant people... Thus instead of monopolizing all ministry himself, he actually multiplies ministries."
Why don't pastors embrace a conviction to prepare God's people instead of performing ministry? And what stops churches from valuing a ministry that equips people?
Some pastors need to be needed. They love to hear statements like, "I can't imagine anyone but you praying for me at the hospital," or "We do not know where our church would be without you." Ministry can stroke the ego of an insecure leader who purposefully neglects preparing people for ministry because he needs the affirmations of doing ministry.
A prideful leader typically does not think in terms of development because, after all, the team is there to serve the leader and "the leader's vision." Prideful leaders fail to see themselves as servants of the team with a responsibility to develop others. In these cases the church exists for the pastor rather than the pastor for the church.
When pastors do for the people in a church what the people should be doing for themselves and each other, everyone loses.

What the authors suggest is that some of the pastoral ministry that is often celebrated in churches is actually performed with wrong motives. Whether it is insecurity, pride, job security, idolatry, or apathy, pastors can become consumed by doing the work of the ministry and ignore their God-given mandate to equip believers to do the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:11-12)

The case for Christian leadership development is so strong in Designed to Lead that I left wanting a second book from the authors. I would love to see more examples and more case studies that highlight specific methods.

Chapter 8 introduces some basic principles of the leadership pipeline and I think much more could be written to teach pastors how to implement this in their churches. A year ago, I read the short booklet called Developing Your Leadership Pipeline which is a great companion to Designed to Lead. I loved it, but I also wanted to see more examples and implementation guidance.

Last fall, I attended the Leadership Pipeline Conference and enjoyed talking with many pastors and church leaders from around the country. Each one was convinced that developing leaders was critical to their church’s ministry and future. I asked everyone the same question: “How are you implementing these concepts in your church?” Almost every time I got this answer: “We haven’t figured that out yet.”

For a little over a year, I’ve been developing my own take on the leadership pipeline concepts and implementing it at our church. I wrote a manual, a framework, and I hope to post some examples soon.

If you’re a pastor or church leader on the fence about whether you should be committed to developing leaders in the church, read Designed to Lead. To get a little more insight into what a leadership pipeline looks like, read Developing Your Leadership Pipeline. If Eric Geiger, Kevin Peck, and Todd Adkins ever write a book expanding on Developing Your Leadership Pipeline, I will be the first in line to get a copy.

After reading Designed to Lead last week, I immediately moved on to Growing Young, a book based on research from Fullerton Theological Seminary. I didn’t expect this, but Growing Young contained numerous practical examples that demonstrated how to implement the principles introduced in Designed to Lead. They aren’t sold together, but the combination is incredibly helpful. I strongly suggest reading Designed to Lead then Growing Young for a well-rounded approach to the principles and practical application of leadership development at church.