leadership missional community

The Basic Qualifications for Leadership

In this series of posts, I am going to unpack the strategy and structure of leadership development we have implemented at The Austin Stone for missional communities.  I’ll be looking at:


The Basic Qualifications for Leadership

Once you’ve figured out how to identify leaders have a handle on the questions you need to consider, the next step is figuring out what the basic qualifications for leadership.  By no means are we perfect, but below I unpack each aspect of qualification and why.

Participate in Basic Training

The first qualification for leadership is that the individual has participated in our 4 week Missional Community Training.  We take 2.5 hours in each session, and focus on four primary topics:

  • The Gospel
  • Gospel Motivations
  • Missional Community Values
  • Missional Community Practices

We make this training freely available to anyone who would like to join us. We’ve had former elders and pastors, church planters, all the way down to the certifiably insane, unrepentant individuals under discipline, and those who are not even believers participate.

We’ll train anyone in the basics of the DNA because it is almost entirely centered on the gospel, and a basic theology of church life. Simply attending a training does not qualify someone for leadership though!

Share Your Story WIth Us

The next step for those interested in leadership is to have a face-to-face conversation with one of our elders or deacons.  In this conversation, we are looking for evidence of conversion, a clear understanding of the gospel, and a clear desire to lead.

A Defined Mission

We ask everyone who wants to lead to have a clear understanding of who they want to reach and what they want to do. We’re not looking for a church planters prospectus, but minimally a clear sense of mission and some ability to identify a direction for a group of people.

This does a good job of eliminating the unmotivated, as well as helps us redirect those who are interested in leadership but shouldn’t be leading. We give honest feedback, and practical and tangible steps for those we don’t think should be leading.

Recruit a Core Team

Simply expressing desire to lead doesn’t actually mean someone is a leader.  Leaders have people who follow them!  The first step for anyone is to gather 3 or 4 core team members to the vision they desire to pursue.  The best indicator of the future success of a leader is if they can rally a core to their mission.

We won’t help connect people to a leader until they have a core on board with their vision.


Sometimes leaders don’t really need to have another group of people join them after their core, it’ll just slow it down. For those that still desire to, however, we give them tools and help individuals find their newly formed community.

We don’t have a doctrinal exam for leaders other than simple knowledge of the gospel, we don’t have a laundry list of commitments other than participate in our coaching and ongoing training, we don’t have covenants, although they can be useful.

We’ve tried to find a balance that allows for a somewhat lower barrier of entry into leadership, while creating a desire for ongoing training.

What would you add to this list?

By Todd Engstrom

Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth.

God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

4 replies on “The Basic Qualifications for Leadership”

We are exploring the use of covenants in our Missional Communities because we have found that unless people are held accountable to the mission and the community itself, they tend to fall back into individualism and isolationism. By having our people agree to and sign the covenant as a means of accountability, the hope is this can remedy some of that problem. I know it’s not fool proof. Have you used covenants in the past within your communities? What has kept you guys from using currently using them?

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