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Concept 7. Leadership Training and Timing

When is the best time to train a person for ministry and leadership? It is better to train them before they begin to lead or after they have already begun to lead? Is it better to do all the training “on the job” or to take someone away from their busy schedule for training? Clinton has divided leadership training into four possible approaches. The word “service” used here refers to full-time or part-time Christian service in a church setting.

A-Service. This approach largely ignores the question. The emphasis is on information that is to be learned, and therefore experience and character issues are not considered. If spiritual growth is addressed, it usually focuses on inner-life growth. Clinton sees this as the least effective approach to developing a balanced ministry.

Pre-Service. In this approach, people who feel they have been called into the ministry prepare themselves for future service by enrolling in a program. This usually takes place at a Bible college or similar institute where formal education takes place, often for several years. During this period of time, the future church leader engages in little or no ministry. Instead he or she is preparing for ministry. After graduation, the leader then goes out to perform service in the church. A major problem with this approach is that future leaders cannot see the relevance of what they are being taught. Much of what is “learned” is actually forgotten by the time it is needed. Another is that because the future leaders usually do not know the shape their ministry will take, they may spend much of their time learning things that will have little value for them later on.

In-Service. The leader receives training while involved in ministry at a church. The involvement in ministry is a powerful motivation to take courses. The leader has problems and is looking for solutions. Much of what is learned can immediately be put into practice. The major problem with this approach is that the leader is often so involved in ministry that he or she cannot find adequate time to focus on what they need to learn.

Interrupted In-Service. The leader leaves his or her ministry for periods of time to attend a training session somewhere else. For this short period of time the leader does not engage in any ministry. Someone else at the church is handling problems and issues so that the leader can focus on the training at hand. Clinton considers this the “ideal” approach.


Clinton, J. Robert. Leadership Training Models. Altadena, CA: Barnabas Publishers, 1984.