Geiger, Eric, and Kevin Peck. Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development. Nashville: B&H, 2016. 234 pp. $22.99.
The church needs leaders. The world needs leaders. Jesus saves us to be leaders in advancing the gospel to the ends of the earth. One of the purposes of the church is develop and send out leaders to advance the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Most Christians and ministry leaders agree with the previous paragraph. So where are all the leaders in our churches? Where are all the leaders in our world who are being sent out by our churches? Why do so many churches struggle to develop gospel-grounded leaders who are committed to helping transform this world for Christ?
The purpose of Designed to Lead is to convince you that God has designed churches to be the leadership centers for the entire world, and then to help equip you to be that “locus of leadership development.” According to the authors, developing leaders requires conviction, culture, and constructs. Churches that produce leaders believe that one of the non-negotiable aspects of their mission is to develop leaders. They have a culture where leadership development is not just a program, but part of their identity. They also have the right systems and processes necessary to develop leaders. The book is divided into three parts that examine each one of these essentials in detail.
Of course, leadership means different things to different people, so the authors are consistently careful to ground biblical leadership in the gospel, the Great Commission, and the Kingdom of God. God has designed us in his image to influence others, which is leadership. Sin distorts and misdirects our leadership, but when Jesus saves us he transforms us. His salvation equips us to be the servant-leaders God created us to be, embodying his calling in every area of our lives. True leadership is leading others in God’s ways to God’s end, which is ultimately his kingdom rule in Christ extended throughout the earth.
One of the most helpful things about the book is how it begins with this biblical definition of leadership and the biblical need for leadership development before expounding on how to do it. The temptation with books like this is to skip immediately to the practical parts, assuming that the groundwork is already there. The authors do their best to resist this kind of reading, emphasizing again and again the need for biblical convictions about leadership to serve as the foundation for any kind of leadership development. They also rightly emphasize the importance of church culture, the hard work of transforming church culture, and the need to do this before jumping right into new programs or events. Without a healthy church culture, leaders will continually find themselves frustrated by their attempts at developing more leaders.
This is also one of those rare books where the practical instructions do not disappoint or overwhelm. The authors tie together discipleship and leadership development. Instead of recommending a separate training program, they try to help ministry leaders see how they can incorporate leadership training into what they are hopefully already doing. They present a number of different ways some churches are already doing this, and also explain how the process they are proposing can be, and should be, personalized for every church.
Jesus continues to build his church through leaders willing to disciple others in his gospel. The Kingdom of God continues to advance as leaders are deployed to live out the gospel in their various vocations. If we need help owning this vision or putting it into practice we will find it here.