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When budgets are stretched, development often is pushed to the back burner or cut altogether from the budget. This is dangerous for a team, which wishes to remain healthy and continue growing. If a team is not learning and improving it will soon struggle to maintain any level of success.

It’s important, therefore, to find ways to develop even with stressed budgets.

Here are 10 inexpensive, or less expensive, ways to offer development to a team:

Bring in a leader – It may be cheaper to bring the expert to you than it is to attend a conference. Find someone from whom your team can learn and pay his or her expenses to visit the team.

Send a representative – You may have to draw names to decide who, but pay for one person to attend a conference with a catch. They have to bring information back to share with the team.

Read a book together – The number of leadership books easily outnumber the months a team will be together. Find some good ones, read and digest them as a team. (I’d recommend my book 7 Myths of Leadership, but that would seem self-serving.)

Use local resources – Most likely, there are businesses or universities in your community that have development offices or procedures to develop people, with people already skilled who can inexpensively invest in your team.

Online or teleconference – Technology allows for some great online conferences. Gather the team around a computer and learn without leaving the office. Additionally, if you have a telephone, you have the makings of a great way to connect with other leaders. Arrange for a joint call with one and let the team ask questions and then process the interview together.

Pool Resources – Join forces with another church to accomplish any of these ideas. Learn from each other. Swap responsibilities to lead a development activity. Share the costs of bringing in a speaker and do a combined mini-conference of your own.

Visit other churches – Allow the team to visit other churches in the area, either individually or as a group. Sometimes the quickest ways to promote change is to introduce leaders to other environments. It is a great way to develop new ideas and improve upon what you are doing as you see what others are doing firsthand. Be sure everyone goes expecting to bring something back to the team they have learned.

Learn from each other – Chances are good that everyone on your team has something to offer that can make the team better. Take turns sharing with each other something you already know or are learning.

Scavenger hunt – Assign each team member to find the best development idea and share it with the rest of the team. Whether online, in a book or through networking, seek out new ideas and improvements you can learn from one another and share it with the team. The process of sharing the idea discovered will prove to be development.

Trial and Error – The best development may be putting systems in place that allow the team to take risks, but then evaluate the success or failure in an effort to learn from them and grow. Teams should be doing this anyway, but teams often fail to intentionally learn from the process of doing normal work.

Development isn’t cheap, but it’s a necessary part of continuing to be a healthy and growing team.

Make this post better. Think development with me.

What low cost ideas do you have to offer development to a team?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Duncan M. says:

    A team with no guidance and development has no future. These 10 suggestions are indeed easy to implement and do not require huge costs. They can make the team feel united and fight for a common purpose and this really matters because they encourage communication and relying on one another. Thank you for sharing them with us!

  • ronedmondson says:

    There are so many. Here are a few suggestions:Bill Hybel's “Axiom” or “Simplify”Tim Elmore “Habitudes” seriesGreg Salciccioli The Enemies of Excellence: 7 Reasons Why We Sabotage Success Thom Rainer “Simple Church”

  • I really appreciate the list of suggestions for leadership development at a much, much more cost effective impact on the budget.

    I am curious what 2-3 books you recommend reading together with the staff and/or elders (senior leadership).

    Thanks for your leadership insights,


  • Rev.Felix Zara says:

    To day in the Christian Churches almost all the highly intellectual persons are swiffting for Government,NGOs,and Private Jobs.What can those Churches do so that they can regain back those have skip from the ministry?

    • ronedmondson says:

      It may have to meet people where they are. What if we pitch a vision of taking “church”, the people of God, into the workplace?

  • Rev.Felix Zara says:

    Regarding some Churches that I visited I found almost all Pastors are not paid for their workdone.
    And I don't understand what is the logic behind the policy of such Church Administration.
    What advice can I give as a helping tool to that concerned Pastor?

    • ronedmondson says:

      The culture may be very different, but depending on the governance the pastor needs to develop some influential leaders within the church and build consensus around the idea with a few strong leaders then move to gain approval with a larger audience, and then the church.

  • ronedmondson says:

    I like that. Thanks

  • David says:

    Connecting staff with leadership blogs in their area of ministry is also great. This is a great post, we've tried most of these things and have had good success.

  • Debi Debanto says:

    Great post. I would also add…Help each team leader find a mentor or mentors. If one isn't available locally, I encourage folks to use Twitter and Facebook to find other leaders in their field that can provide insight, challenge their thinking and point them to the latest resources. Thanks, @ronedmondson, for being one of my on-line mentors 🙂

  • Ron! Your post was comprehensive. Thanks for sharing.

    Some minor add ons with regard to low cost ideas to offer development to a team:

    — 'On the Job Training' for new entrants along with existing senior team members
    — Networking and being part of professional associations (attending their periodical meetings in local community)
    — Peer review exercises ( like the ones we have in auditing profession)