This study investigates a process for developing local church members to become leaders, people of spiritual influence. Organic, reproducible leadership development in a church located in a mission field is crucial for churches to survive and thrive.

Applying Robert Clinton’s “Leadership Emergence Theory,” where spiritual influence is a function of time, process items within life, and our responses allowed church members to discover and use their spiritual influence to bless others. We intentionally explored the theological concepts of discipleship, providence, giftedness, and community as being foundational in developing leaders. In addition, each person applied “Leadership Emergence Theory” to their own life by writing and sharing their life narrative.

Evaluating the effects of the intervention over a period of three years and drawing conclusions to enhance future ministerial practice made the methodology a case study in leadership emergence within a mature mid-sized church.

The practical application of “Leadership Emergence Theory” opened the participants to the providential work of God within the community of God and their own lives. They discovered they have a story worth sharing and that they are part of God’s story. Often the first year of processing one’s life was painful but during the second year, participants embraced the painful moments of life as opportunities for ministry through enhanced spiritual influence. New ministries and leaders were launched within the local church based on God’s transformation of participants, not a predetermined outcome. Developing deep trust within the groups provided a framework for vulnerability and transformation. Using this approach to develop spiritual leaders—people of spiritual influence—continues to develop leaders in the local church and has the potential to work within other congregations.

Author Bio

Scott Laird - Scott Laird became a Christian through the campus ministry at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT in 1978. There he met his wife of almost forty years, Patty. They have two married children and two granddaughters; twins will be added soon. Scott and Patty served as missionaries to Canada for twelve years before returning to Montana to serve as the evangelist for the Great Falls Church of Christ. Scott began his twenty-seventh year there on November 1, 2021.

Outside of the traditional roles of preaching and teaching, Scott invests in the wellbeing and unity of the churches in the northwestern plains of the United States and into Canada as a consultant and leader. Scott has partnered with Harding School of Theology by spearheading the past three Shepherds’ Networks hosted in Montana. Scott consults and speaks for churches in the northwest. His primary areas involve leadership, evangelism, and small groups.

After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Montana State University, Scott pursued a theological education beginning in 1997. Since then, he has completed the Master of Arts of Christian Ministry, earned the Master of Divinity equivalency, and in 2019 finished his Doctor of Ministry at Harding School of Theology. He is currently serving as an adjunct professor at Harding School of Theology.

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