Blessed to be a Blessing

Building Leaders – Malphurs and Mancini

Building Leaders is a joint project between Aubrey Malphurs and Will Mancini. They describe their book as “Blueprints for Developing Leadership at every level of your Church” and the book truly functions like blueprints. The authors provide a framework for understanding Leadership Development while leaving the finishing touches of the program to each reader. You will not find a specific program for Leadership development in this book. They present “a process, not a product (239).” Toward the end of the book, they write, “If this book has served its purpose, it has provided essential information for building a leadership-development process (211),” not the process itself. Malphurs and Mancini divide their book into four parts; preparation for developing leaders, practices for developing leaders, process for developing leaders and product of developing leaders.

Some Churches are making disciples, some are making leaders. Very few are intentional about developing both. Some of the material in Building Leaders sounds like it was a copy-paste from Strategic Disciple Making but is still excellent material and worth reading again due to its importance to the mission of the Church. Leadership development was at the core of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus knew that it was the twelve, not the crowd that would impact the world and then make more disciples who would impact the world. Leadership development is crucial to the Church today not only because it was important to Jesus but, “That the ministry payoff is not the size of the ministry – the crowd – but the size of the leader’s trainees – the core (24).” It is the core that makes a Church an effective and transformative power in the world through the power of God.

Malphurs and Mancini take some time to give readers a proper understanding of terms. “Discipleship targets everyone (33).” Evangelism and growth includes all people in and out of the Church. Leadership development builds on discipleship. Every leader is a disciple but not all disciples are leaders. Leadership development requires empowerment; “the intentional transfer of authority to an emerging leader within specified boundaries form an established leader who maintains responsibility for the ministry (40).” Leaders are set apart from disciples in the fact that they have decision making power in some kind of ministry. Essentially, leadership development strives to implement the principles of Ephesians 4:12; that the church leaders’ responsibility is to equip disciples and release them to do work.

The process for leadership development must follow the design that God had for it and that Jesus used. Building Leaders suggests that Jesus had a three phase process for leadership development. Phase one was “from seeking to believing (64).” Jesus called seekers to follow him and his teaching. He did the same with the twelve. Phase two moves from “believing to following (65).” Here he calls people to not merely follow but be committed. Malphurs and Mancini measure “committed” by sections of scripture in John’s gospel; they abide in his word (John 8:31-32, love one another (13:34-35), and bear fruit (15:8, 16). The purpose is to take these committed followers and make them “fishers of men.” Phase three takes them from following to leading. “Not only did Jesus train his disciples for ministry, he sent them out to do ministry – his ministry (67).” Jesus’ practices were not prescriptive, but descriptive. The modern church does not need to find twelve individuals and walk the countryside but they do need to be intentional about turning non-believers into committed leaders in ministry.

Malphurs and Mancini provide a four step process that Jesus followed and that the modern church should as well (68-73); Recruitment, Selection, Training, and Deployment. All of these are important to developing leaders. Recruitment must be intentional. Jesus took the initiative and called his disciples. “Jesus teaches that we should recruit the leaders we want to develop (69).” The church cannot take just any person who wants to be a leader because not all believers are leadership material, God has gifted them in different ways and it is the responsibility of the current church leaders to help people discover their gifts and get them doing what they were made to do. Selecting leaders is a prayer bathed process as Jesus shows in John 17. Training is the biggest part of the entire process and Building Leaders does not provide a script for it because each church is different (although there are examples and helps in the Appendices). Malphurs and Mancini provide an important reminder for all churches by saying, “we can measure our success not by the numbers of people we attract but by our relating to and training a competent, godly core of leaders who will have significant ministries long after we have been forgotten (71).” The final phase, deployment, may be the most crucial. If a church trains leaders and doesn’t let them lead they might as well not even bother. Many churches drop the ball on this one. When most churches “get people plugged in” it usually means having them greet people, pass a tray, or be a part of some team that serves the needs of the institution. This is not leadership deployment. Leaders should be developed and equipped (with finances and resources) to do ministry in the real world, not just in the Holy Clubhouse that many churches have become.

Malphurs and Mancini spend most of phase three discussing the process from an administrative standpoint. This is very helpful in sorting through the options for making leaders. They discuss getting a paid staff member or very competent lay leader to orchestrate the process. This individual will be responsible for laying the foundation then following some important steps. These important ideas must come before strategy or the group has missed the point. The leader needs to recruit a team to help with this process and their most important duty is defining what a leader is. Then they will need to identify potential leaders in the congregation to come into the process. The key with all of these people is that they are always looking for an opportunity to bring someone alongside and develop. Each church must create a disciple-making, leader-developing culture or the entire process will slow down and die in a short time.

Part four gives examples of leadership development in large and small churches. These are helpful in seeing how leadership development can and should be implemented in every church. Part four is made up of only two chapters but they show how this blueprint has been taken by different people in different contexts and turned into a process that works for God’s glory.

Building Leaders is a helpful resource. Malphurs and Mancini repeat what they have said else ware about development but package it well. It is recommended to any church who wants to start a leadership development process. This is something that should be read before even considering strategy or outcomes because it provides a biblical understanding for the process and gives the reader many practices to consider that will make the leadership develop process more effective and efficient. The most powerful insight from I gathered was that the church needs a leadership development culture. This means that Leadership development is not just an extra activity that the church does but it is at the heart of what every Church does. Jesus practiced it, the early church practiced it, and so we should practice it. I believe that this is the key to insuring the future of the Church and most churches will never break certain growth barriers because they have no intentional leadership development process in place, but that is for another book review. If you have never considered intentional leadership development you should read this book. If you do not know where to start in the process you should read this book.

Dr. Aubrey Malphurs is a professor of pastoral ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author of more than fifteen books as well as the president of the Malphurs Group (www.malphursgroup.com), training and consulting firm.

Will Mancini is an author who has a passion for vision and clarity. He has worked with numerous Churches on leadership development and vision. His consulting ministry (www.auxano.com) is unique in the fact that he focuses on vision and clarity.

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