For the last few years I’ve had this nagging feeling that the church has been doing too much. Then I came across the book Simple Church by Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger. To say I enjoyed that book is a massive understatement. Then I heard about Designed to Lead by Eric Geiger & Kevin Peck and it looked like the perfect followup. I didn’t just read Designed to Lead. I devoured it. Wherever you look, you’ll find the need for more leaders and for better leaders. For that reason Geiger & Peck’s books should be put in the hands of every Christian leader, that the Church would produce godly leaders for all spheres in our world.

I expected a leadership manual, in the style of Patrick Lencioni or Jim Collins. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Designed to Lead presents a practical theology of leadership. The biblical and theological foundations of leadership are rich. The authors emphasize the connection between the Great Commission and leadership development throughout the book. The Church is called to make disciples in order to proclaim Christ in all the world. In order to accomplish that mission, we need to be committed to leadership. Not all will be pastors and missionaries, but everyone is called to participate in the Great Commission by exerting Christ-centered leadership in wherever God has placed them. Discipleship must include leadership development.

Early on, they set the stage by writing,

“The command to ‘make disciples’ carries the connotation of forming believers who learn and develop over a lifetime. One result, then, of discipleship is believers who serve and influence others in all spheres of life. …The full extent of discipleship is the development of disciples who are able to lead and develop others, not merely people who gather together for worship once a week.” (p.2)

Geiger and Peck build their argument for leadership development around three C’s: Conviction, Culture, and Constructs.

“Churches that consistently produce leaders have a strong conviction to develop leaders, a healthy culture for leadership development, and helpful constructs to systematically and intentionally build leaders. All three are essential for leaders to be formed through the ministry of a local church.” (pp.14-15)

Effective leadership requires more than a list of “how-to’s.” As a youth pastor, I’ve seen too many examples of failed leadership – my own attempts and others. A few years ago I attempted to lead my ministry through a significant shift. It was a failure, and this book opened my eyes to what went wrong. We had a shared conviction (we we’re making this ministry shift) and we had agreed-upon constructs (what we were doing in the ministry), but we neglected culture.

The authors simply comment, “Culture bridges conviction and constructs” (p.20). Boom. The light went on for me. We needed new culture, not just renewed convictions and better constructs.

As I process the message of Designed to Lead, I’m challenged to consider what I celebrate, who are the heroes, and who are the villains in my ministry. These three present great insight into ministry culture.

“For a culture to really change, it needs new stories, new heroes, and even new villains. …As a church seeks to develop leaders, a villain is not a particular person in your church – not someone you would name in front of the congregation – but a picture of a wasted life, of the futility of living for the temporary pleasures of today instead of embracing the mission of God.” (p.146, 157)

Designed to Lead is a much needed call for the Church to have a clear discipleship plan that involves training new leaders for the sake of the Great Commission.

You can order Designed to Lead anywhere books are sold (or by clicking on the image above). I was provided an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. I was a bit hesitant, as this is the first time I’ve agreed to this type of offer, but I can assure you this book will have much impact on my ministry as I move forward.