personal productivity

5 Creative & Free Ways to Get Pastoral Leadership Development

Learn & LeadConference season is upon us! It seems like within this two week period everyone is heading to a church leaders conference of one stripe or another. Are you wishing that you could be getting on a plane and head to one of those experiences? Are there other ways to grow as a leader than just conferences?

Conferences are expensive to attend … both in time and money. They also might not have information that is directly applicable to you and your ministry. By definition these conferences needs to aim for the “middle of the road” … do you feel like your church is “average”? Here are some ways that you can start growing as a leader that cost very little money and time … but could pay huge dividends!

  • Phone Calls // Do you have a church that you really think you could learn from? Formulate a straightforward question about the area that you want to learn from them and then email the church and ask for 20 minutes on the phone to talk about your issue.  You’d be amazed how many church leaders will give you the time. Stick to the topic you asked about and time you asked for. (And send a thank you card to follow up.)
  • Watch for Free Streams. // An increasingly popular marketing effort that conferences do is to stream parts of the conference for free for an “at home audience.” Although these streams are really about convincing you to attend the conference the following year … you can often pick up some great content between their ads. 🙂
  • Road Trip! // You know that church across town that is doing that really cool thing you keep hearing about? Take some time on a Sunday and go visit them. I promise that things won’t fall a part in your ministry if you aren’t there for one Sunday. Your ministry will be stronger because you will be growing as a leader.
  • Consume Content. // So many churches across the country put all their content online. Take time to familiarize yourself with what’s happening at other churches. Read blogs. Subscribe to churches email newsletters. Make an online donation to churches you respect and see what happens. Listen to a few podcasts from other teachers.
  • Ask for Conference Notes. // Do you know someone who attended a conference that you wished you could have gone to? Reach out them and ask for their notes from the event. Finding these people is super easy on social media … people typically brag when they are at conferences.

What are you strategies for growing as a leader? Do you have any (nearly) free solutions to share? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


  1. If they don’t live stream, and I can’t make it, I will use a google blog search looking for someone who posts their notes. I’ve got a lot of great input that way.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.