Book Review: Designed to Lead

Not all pastors are born leaders. Many churches do not develop leaders. Most churches haven’t even thought about leadership development. Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck know these truths and have written Designed to Lead to address those issues.

Churches need to be developing leaders and pastors need to be always growing in their leadership ability. Geiger and Peck have done a great job in this book of identifying the need for leadership and carefully explaining how  In fact, they do more than just identity the need and explain the how, they actually develop a theology of leadership.

The greatest strength of the book, however, is in its insistence on creating a culture of leadership development. Leadership strategies die painful deaths in churches that attempt to implement a new one every year or two when the pastor assigns the latest book to his staff and lay leadership. But, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” The authors emphasizes constructs to help “unlock the full potential of a church that seeks to be a center for developing leaders,” but those constructs are born out of conviction and culture. Some churches have sought to develop leaders in reverse. They have implemented systems and strategies and hoped that as a result, leaders would be born who would shape the culture of the organization and change the core convictions.

Geiger and Peck show that an effective leadership pipeline in a church (or any other organization) will be built out of a core conviction–a conviction that leadership development is necessary. When passion is acted upon, a culture begins to grow up around healthy leaders who are developing leaders. Constructs then scale the culture into reproducible systems with measurable results.

As the book progresses, the authors show that leadership development within the church is basically discipleship, and the most effective form of leadership development is that which Jesus practiced with his disciples–that’s why we call it discipleship. Discipleship is the intersection of knowledge, experience, and coaching.

Not much written in this book is new information. In fact, you could take Robert Coleman’s Master Plan of Evangelism, and change to name to Master Plan of Leadership and accomplish nearly the same purposes. Nevertheless, they have written a great book for a new generation of church leaders. It is a quick read, but I unhesitatingly recommend you give it a read, and then implement it.

Books on leadership are worthless unless the truths they teach are implemented in your leadership environments. Pastor, you may never be a level 5 leader, but you can be a better leader, and you can create a culture of leadership development within your church and Designed to Lead will guide you through that process.


  • A local church with a strong sense of mission will inevitably invite and develop others to join the mission.
  • Leadership development cannot be scaled without systems that undergird the development of leaders.
  • Unhealthy church culture is ultimately a theological problem. Eventually, people will behave constantly with their most fundamental beliefs. What the church community believes about God, themselves, and the world will drive the way they interact with each.
  • Leaders filled with pride fail to develop leaders as they fear others surpassing them, others receiving credit, or others “stealing the spotlight.”
  • A local church culture is shaped significantly by assumptions about its purpose. If we miss on the purpose of God’s people, we will miss entirely.
  • Discipleship is the only means. God has designed the end and the means.
  • Discipleship is the only way to produce leaders that serve and bless the world.
  • We don’t serve leaders well if we develop their skills without shepherding their character.