17 Free Church Leadership Training Materials

Leadership development has a resource challenge. There are thousands and thousands of resources, but it’s hard to find good ones and it’s hard to find ones that fit your budget.

However, because I believe in developing leaders in and for ministry, I wanted to help you find resources that will definitely fit your budget, even if your budget is zero dollars. Because, let’s be honest, most budgets for church leadership training are pretty small.

Free is Good, But You Still Need a Budget

This collection of free training materials for developing leaders will be helpful to most churches. However, I still believe you should be setting aside some amount of budget for this vital process in your church. I have a few reasons for that admonition.

First, church budgets tend to be a reflection of what they value. The Bible says that your money and your heart are aligned. Facilities and children’s ministry usually gets a sizeable portion of any budget. Conversely, men’s ministry and missions tend to be given small budgets, often relegated to self-funding.

When you give your leadership development efforts a line item on the church budget each year, you’re communicating that it’s important. It doesn’t have to be a big number, just something to get started.

Second, free leadership training materials are great, but there are so many valuable resources that are worth spending money on. It could be something small like a book or something large like a conference trip for your staff.

Free Leadership Training Materials for Churches

I’ve broken this collection into four categories: blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, and assessments. Each is useful in different ways and at different times. Also, different people learn in different ways, so being able to offer multiple formats for learning is important. Also, I’ve included free personal assessments because self-awareness is absolutely vital to leadership.

Blogs

I started blogging in 2007, around the time I joined Twitter. Both were an incredible new world for me. I realized quickly that I could connect with strangers around the globe from my own personal space online. And those strangers read what I had to say.

Now, I see fewer people blogging actively, but there are billions of articles out there already with some of the best minds still writing and publishing. In the leadership space for churches, there are a number of extremely intelligent, wise, and experienced leaders blogging still.

  • Carey Nieuwhof writes about church leadership from a senior-level perspective. He’s led and grown his own church in Canada and has talked with hundreds of high-capacity leaders on his podcast. All of that wisdom is poured into his blog.
  • Open Network from Life.Church is a large repository of free training resources and materials for churches. There’s a little something for everyone there. They’ve partnered with several organizations, including TrainedUp, to collect and distribute the best training available…all for free.
  • The Harvard Business Review is a longstanding and reliable source of advice and insight about leading teams and organizations. With a focus on business leadership in the marketplace, you’ll find practical wisdom from outside the church world.
  • Courage to Lead is a ministry coaching company led by Shawn Lovejoy. Their focus on coaching, not consulting or resourcing, puts them in close contact with many church leaders every week. Their learnings are coalesced into top notch leadership insights on their blog.
  • Ron Edmondson is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, a ministry coach, and a prolific blogger. With daily posts, Ron writes at both a strategic and a tactical level for church leaders in ministries of all sizes.

Podcasts

Podcasts have been around as long as blogs, but they’re growing a lot lately. The benefits of podcasts are that they can help you learn while doing other tasks like yard work or exercising. People who learn better through listening will find podcasts more accessible.

Another great aspect of podcasts is that they tend to be a little more raw and unedited, which means you get a more real interaction with thought leaders than through blogging and most video styles.

  • Craig Groeschel’s Leadership Podcast is consistently in my top three favorite audio subscriptions. Aside from his excellent communication, he’s also an experienced leader of a massive and fast-growing church.
  • Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast is on the same level as Craig Groeschel’s. His engaging communication style and depth of experience makes his podcast an excellent and easy listening experience.
  • Carey Nieuwhof’s Leadership Podcast is the fastest growing in this space for good reason. He’s interviewed over 100 high-capacity, uniquely gifted leaders. And his interview talents are second-to-none.
  • Josh Gagnon’s Leadership Podcast is a fresh perspective from a young pastor in the northeast United States. He leads a young and fast-growing church that’s beat the odds in a tough environment.

YouTube

My favorite learning medium is video. YouTube is an incredible source of learning resources in the leadership space with new content coming out on a daily basis. What’s more, you can find many podcasts with reposts of their audio content in video form.

The great part of video learning is that it’s both visual and auditory, which helps to boost learning comprehension and retention. That means the time your team spends watching educational videos is more effectively helping them grow.

  • Mac Lake’s YouTube Channel is specifically focused on leadership development systems in churches. He’s one of the early minds that adapted the leadership pipeline for the church and he’s been consulting and coaching on leadership in ministry for years.
  • John Maxwell’s YouTube channel is a wealth of wisdom from one of the top leadership minds in the faith community.
  • TEDx Talks on leadership provide unique perspectives, mostly from data-backed research, on the topic and challenges of organizational leadership.
  • This YouTube playlist focused on Church Leadership Development is an excellent collection of videos that your growing leaders will find helpful and relevant. It includes talks from multiple leaders and thinkers and provides a mix of viewpoints.

Assessments

Personality, emotional, and leadership assessments go in and out of style depending on what’s popular, but they’ve always been a valuable and important.

These four assessments are some of the most-used and practical assessments. And they’re also free with helpful explanations of the results each person receives.

  • The Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment has been a standard for team member assessments for years. It helps each person to learn about their sweet spot of working on a team and how they work best with others.
  • Emotional Intelligence assessments like this one are important to help leaders with self-awareness and understanding their own emotional impulses and motivations behind decisions.
  • Leadership Style assessments are helpful to know how each person leads, what personality tools they use most, and what kind of roles they are most suited to.
  • The DISC personality profile is a tried-and-true test of each person’s personality strengths and weakness and can be a highly accurate indicator of how each person leads.

About Scott Magdalein

Scott Magdalein is the founder of TrainedUp. Previously, he worked as project manager for YouVersion and Church Online, a software developer at Treehouse, a digital director for an ad agency, and as an Executive Pastor in multiple local churches. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and two boys.