Leadership Lab


Now available at Cokesbury. Click here to purchase The Leadership Lab.


Download Session 1 of the Facilitator’s Guide here.

Why a Leadership Resource?

“Young people are not the church of the future; they are the church of today.”

This is often a rallying cry for churches to embrace young people and give them significant leadership roles. However, placing young people in leadership without proper instruction and mentoring can be damaging both to the church and to the young people placed in those leadership roles.

Young people want to lead now.

The passion and enthusiasm of young people is undeniable. Many young people want to impact the world, and believe they can make a difference; however passion and enthusiasm alone are not sufficient. As congregations prepare to give young people opportunities to lead, they must also prepare them to succeed in leadership roles.

Training must be holistic.

Leadership skills and spiritual development are important aspects of leadership in the local church. Although school programs or corporate internships develop leadership skills, they do not address the spiritual side of leadership. The church has a golden opportunity to serve young people through providing instruction in both leadership and faith.

Leadership needs redefining.

Culture defines leadership in terms of power and control reserved for an elite few. Jesus lived and taught leadership in ways that were in stark contrast to the ways of the prominent leaders of his day. The Leadership Lab is modeled after the higher values taught by Jesus.

Leadership development has an important impact on Young People’s Ministries.

In a study of 524 churches, Len Kageler, PhD found that an important factor impacting numerical growth in youth ministries was empowerment and ownership. Specifically, the number one indicator of numerical growth in youth ministry was the percentage of time young people were up front leading at the main youth group gathering. Instruction alone without practical hands-on experience does not prepare young people to lead effectively.

It takes a village… or at least a congregation.

Imagine a church where members of the congregation surround its young people as a cloud of witnesses, pouring into their lives, and mentoring each young person. Envision a not-too distant future where adults in the congregation invest their time in developing young leaders. This dream becomes a reality when local churches take their mentorship role seriously by making room for young leaders in the leadership pool. And, the Leadership Lab takes seriously its charge to prepare young leaders for this future!

What Is This Resource All About?

Leadership Lab takes a holistic approach to leadership training, focusing on five principles of “transformational leadership.” Young people will gain an understanding of the importance of these principles and how each of these relates to leadership both in the local church and in their lives beyond the local church.

Introduction session: This session explores different leadership definitions and stereotypes. Participants examine their beliefs about leadership and construct their own definition of leadership.

Five principles sessions: The next five sessions examine important aspects of being a Transformational Leader.

Transformational Leaders:

Know Themselves. Participants discover the basic traits that make up their personality and how each affect their leadership, ministry, and relationships. Participants also learn about their personal core values. Finally, participants look at scriptural examples of integrity and discuss its importance in leadership.

Know God. A Christian leader follows God’s calling on his or her life and helps further God’s vision for the world. In order to do this, a leader must first know God’s character and will.

Are Learners. Transformational Leaders must continually grow in both their skills as a leader and in their spiritual lives. Key skills participants explore are: communication, teamwork, adaptability, coaching, planning, and problem solving. Young people learn the importance of spiritual formation and practices that help them grow spiritually.

Lead Now! This session addresses the importance of young people leading now, where they are. In this session participants learn that the transformational Leader: leads by example, takes risks, perseveres, is faithful in doing the small things, overcomes obstacles, and loves others.

Focus on Others. Transformational Leaders do not lead out of self-serving motives but instead focus on others. In this session participants learn the importance of working alongside others, serving others, and seeking to lift others up.

Closing commitment session. The closing session challenges young people to make specific plans for implementing what they have learned. Through setting smart goals, forming accountability relationships and seeking a mentor, young people are encouraged to ensure that this experience has a long-lasting impact.

A coordinated experience

This resource is most effective when all participants go on the entire journey together. With the exception of the opening and closing sessions, the remaining sessions may be presented in any order.

Why This Resource?

Engaging and Active Style

This resource engages young people in ways that maximize participation and retention. Lecture is minimal and is always followed by an activity or discussion. Through sharing and active participation, participants actually help shape many of the learning experiences. Young people have opportunities to apply what they learn through various challenges and tasks.

Easy to use

This resource includes clear and detailed instructions, easily adaptable content, and several optional activities. Some planning and preparation are essential; however, everything needed to host a successful experience is provided.


Multiple options allow leaders to customize the material for their context.

Tried and tested

This resource has been tried and tested over a period of two years in a variety of settings around the country. After each event, revisions and improvements were made based on the participants’ evaluations and the insight of the presenter.

How To Use This Resource

Facilitators manual: this manual provides step by step instructions for leading an organized and effective program. The facilitator is free to add his or her own stories and ideas in preparing an effective presentation.

Participant books: each participant gets their own workbook. This keeps each participant engaged in the program, space to reflect on important points, and help in taking the learning home with them.

Powerpoint: Visual images help participants remain engaged by adding excitement and organization to support the presentation. Included in the powerpoint are discussion questions, games, quotes, scripture, and visuals that help drive home important points.

The activities that demonstrated the point communicated it about 50,000 times more effectively than any flat out lecture. The talks and topics were effective and have opened my eyes to how I can better my own skills in leadership. – John, 17


The power point presentations really helped me understand more about what leadership meant. I loved how everything was active. – taylor, 17


I have been unsure if I have been going in the right direction… the presentations have really helped me realize or reassure myself that I am going in the “right direction.” I know that I will grow and be a great leader. Korinne, 17


I came here to learn and take a lot home and you should know I will be doing just that colette, 17

The activities were very good and got us all thinking. I will be taking everything I have learned home to my friends, church, and family. – amber, 17


It was great because it wasn’t just lectures, but games, discussions, and handouts. This was a great experience. I also liked how we talked about how God wanted us to lead, not just about the way others think.


This weekend inspired me to be open to others, teach others about God, and to be a leader.



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