How to Raise Up New Leaders (with Steve Tibbert)

Steve Tibbert is a widely respected leader who leads Kings Church in London, a church that Steve has grown to over 1000 people, and is also the author of the book 'Good to Grow'. In this Broadcast, Steve talks about how to identify, recruit and develop new leaders in our churches and movements. 


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Raising Up Leaders

  • Steve himself was given responsibility at a young age, and is a big advocate of giving people a go when they are young.
  • A good framework for leadership develoment is found in 2 Timothy 2:2.

Developing Leaders is Best Done in Relationship

  • 'You then, my son'...
  • The best way to learn to lead is to be around other leaders. 
  • To develop leaders, share life together and give them real responsibility.
  • This is usually with people younger than you - it is much harder to change the core convictions of people who are in their forties or fifties.
  • The way to grow a church plant is getting lots of people around your house. The big advantage that you have when you are small is that you can get close with people. 
  • A big challenge for church planters is discerning who is coming in with their own agenda and who is coming to get on board.

Developing Leaders is Built on Grace

  • "Grace to you"...
  • We have a part to play but it is actually all from God and all for him. 

Developing Leaders Involves Teaching Them

  • "Things that you have heard from me"...
  • It also involves leading by example.
  • Books are a great thing to put in the hand of new leaders.
“People grow through practical teaching, through private disciplines, through personal ministry, through providential relationships, and through pivotal circumstances.” (Andy Stanley)

Philosophy of Ministry

  • We often talk about the importance of values, but philosophy of ministry is also very important.
  • Philosophy of ministry is the prioritisation and practical application of our values. 
  • For example, working out what emphasis to give to public use of spiritual gifts versus missional appeal.
  • You need to work out this according to your own gift and in your own context.
  • When you are raising up leaders you need those around you who share your philosophy of ministry.
  • It can take years to hone this.
  • Often when there is conflict within church plants, it can be caused by philosophy of ministry.
  • Your church size also makes a difference. As a church plant, maximise the strength that you have - personal contact with the church leader. 

Character Is Important

  • "Entrust to reliable men"...
  • Never underestimate reliability.
  • Reliability is more important than giftedness.
  • As you take on new responsibility, your character needs to grow in parallel to this.
  • You should also look for people who are able to teach.

Q&A

1. What was the first point that you made about growing leaders?
  • Grow them in relationship.
2. Can you give examples of what you mean by philosophy of ministry?
  • It is about prioritisation and outworking of values.
  • For example, we would all agree on outreach as a value - but are we going to be attractional, or do treasure hunting, etc.
  • Another example is the value of preaching the Bible, but the philosophy would be whether you do this by preaching through books or thematically.
3. How do you handle opinionated young leaders without crushing them?
  • It is difficult.
  • Remember that you were like that yourself once - we can be harder on people when we see something of ourselves in them.
  • Find some context to give feedback.
  • It is a lot easier to lead down than lead across or up - so sometimes people try to lead up in the same way they lead down, and this can often wind more senior leaders up.
  • Be careful not to crush it.
4. Do you have examples of how a male leader can invest in and raise up female leaders in the church - especially in terms of establishing the close relationships involved in the process?
  • Most leadership development is done in groups - for obvious reasons it would be inadvisable one on one.
  • A lot of the time it is done with couples.
  • A lot of the best leaders at Kings are women, including 4 or 5 pastors.
  • They pick up a lot of things through being in meetings and chatting.
5. Is there any particular advice you can give in developing female leaders?
  • Leaders can spot leaders.
  • It is harder cross-culturally than by gender.
  • Ask people what they do at work and you will see if they have leadership/management responsibility.
  • Then try them out and give them responsibility.
  • A lot of leadership development actually takes place in the workplace. 
6. A lot of focus can be on white collar leaders. Can you comment on raising up blue collar leaders?
  • Most of the staff at Kings have degrees - though some of the senior leaders do not.
  • It is not a pre-requisite for church ministry.
  • There was the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul.
  • Past performance is usually the key indicator for future performance.
  • A lot of leadership development actually takes place in the workplace. 
7. What tips do you have for raising up cross-cultural leaders?
  • It is very difficult.
  • Honour/shame dynamics come into play.
  • Some cultures do not push themselves forward in the way many Brits would - they would wait to be invited.
  • It is possible to go too far with this. 
  • Get used to being called 'pastor'. 
8. How can a young leader develop an older leader who may be stuck in their ways?
  • It is important how you relate to them.
  • Know what is worth fighting for. Church planters can often be too idealistic.
  • Most leaders in their forties and fifties have been honed by someone other than you - there's lots of great stuff in there, but also some stuff that you just have to live with.
  • When you are the youngest person in the room, you need to lead in a much more consultative way. Think of yourself as a chair or a coordinator.
  • Speak to lots of people and gets of input into decisions.
  • Ways to leave - autocratic, persuasive, consultative, democratic and laissez faire. In the early days, start at the democratic end. As you gain trust you can move increasingly towards consultative and persuasive. There are different leadership styles for different seasons. 
9. If you have given people responsibility and they haven't lived up to it, how do you challenge them or take the responsibility away?
  • This is really hard because most of the time if you ask someone to stop doing a job they will leave.
  • Perhaps ask them to do something else.
  • Decide how important it is - is it something you can live with? 
  • Make sure you give them feedback.
  • Are there ways you can supplement and support them?
  • Ideally, you want to pastor them into seeing that it doesn't work - this is about the soft skills of leadership (emotional intelligence and empathy).
  • You need to be careful about asking people to do things - though in a church plant the resources are limited so you need to work with what God has given you.
  • Often as the church grows, the ministry can outgrow a person's capacity. This is extremely difficult.
10. How do you work with leaders who at some point will need to start their own work but are with you for a while? How much can you give them?
  • Give them as much as you can - you need a bigger perspective then your own work.
  • There will be people coming, learning and moving on all the time. 
11. Does your church life represent your cultural diversity (e.g. in worship)
  • Kings isn't as diverse as the leaders think it should be - but it would seem very different to many newfrontiers churches. 
  • The worship is vibrant and responsive. There is still a lot to learn. 
  • It also needs to work for more reflective people.
  • They sing songs from all over - and write their own songs.
  • Sometimes people can get a bit carried away with diversity - there are other things to give your attention to, especially early on.
  • Principles like objective truth and God-focus in the songs are a higher priority.
12. How far in a church plant would you want to consolidate your leadership team?
  • You need outside help.
  • In the early days a couple plants a church - this can be very difficult when leadership starts to transition to a team.
  • Keep it  fluid early on.
  • You may realise over time that some of the early people aren't the right people for it - e.g. they might have very strong views.
  • You will need to transition to team leadership - otherwise you will get stuck and everything will depend on you.
13. If you were on a desert island and could take three books on leadership, which ones would you choose?

Recommended Resources

In this hangout, Steve recommended the following books: 

Note - If you buy these books using the affiliate links above, Broadcast will receive a commission from Amazon to help more churches get planted, at no additional cost to you.