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The Church’s Future: Leadership Development in the Church

By September 19, 2023No Comments

If you were going to take whatever vision you have for your church and multiply it by a million, what would you need? 

Significant time spent in prayer?
The Holy Spirit to be at work in mighty ways?
Financial support?
An endless supply of Pepto-Bismol for the inevitable heartburn and indigestion you would have trying to manage this incredible vision?

This is no trick question. Surely you would need all of the above and then some to accomplish such a multiplicative feat. What you might have forgotten when making your million-fold vision checklist, however, can be summed up in two words:


More Leaders

Social commentary (both secular and Christian, ironically) have come to the conclusion that men are becoming extinct on planet earth—real men, that is. Much like the dodo bird, we are quickly getting to the point where all we have left is a faint memory and a few pictures to tell us that a few once existed.

And yet, the Y chromosome lives on. Men are out there. Future leaders for the church do exist even if we have a hard time seeing them.

Perhaps life looks a lot more like the days of Elijah than we’d like to admit.

In 1 Kings 19, when Jezebel sought to take Elijah’s life, he cried out to God, “I am no better than my ancestors.” 

If Elijah had a million-fold vision for Israel, it wasn’t looking good.

Don’t you think this is exactly how many men of this generation feel? They’ve been told they’re too effeminate. They could never fill the shoes of their forefathers. That this generation is hopelessly lost. Many would resonate with Elijah despairing at the task of living up to the standard of those who went before them.

But after some food, a nap, and a wind-blown encounter with the Almighty God, what was Elijah instructed to do?

Lay hands on some future leaders and prophets for Israel.

In this instance, God knew that what Elijah needed was more leaders—and God had a list of names ready for him, including a notable multiplier (of olive oil), Elisha.

And almost as an aside, what did God tell Elijah about that “no one seeks after God” business he was complaining about? By extension, what might He say to us who complain that men and leaders are gone from our land? “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him” 1 Kings 19:18.


Activating Leaders

What has been lost in modern culture is the very thing God called Elijah to do—go and identify the leaders, lay hands on them, and commission them for the work God has called them to do. 

In today’s church context, we are prone to take the passive approach to future leaders/pastors. 

Let them come to us, after spending some time at a Christian college and learning the ropes in student ministry. Once they’ve done that, we’ll consider interviewing them, running them through a six-month internship, or possibly preaching one summer Sunday morning when attendance is light. What follows is in the Lord’s hands…

We need more than just an internship program.

If we’re ever going to see that million-fold vision for our ministry, what we’re going to need is a multiplication of leaders to lead God’s work. And that starts with each of us doing a better job at identifying and commissioning men for the task.

We simply need to start laying hands on some leaders, and here are five thoughts on how to get started:

  • Look for them. They typically won’t look like you, but they will be trying to look like Jesus.
  • Spend time with them. The investment of your time is an eternal one.
  • Assign to them. Place your trust in them and guide them through the mistakes they will surely make, remembering you were in their shoes once. 
  • Activate them. Now that you know them and have seen them in action, affirm what God is doing in their lives, lay hands on them, and…
  • Send them…to the other side of the building, town, country, or world. Wherever their talents can be used.

Measure It

It was Lord Kelvin who said, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” Although we could readily point out that measuring anything when it comes to spiritual leadership is more art than science, perhaps we could learn something from the creator of the international system of temperature measurement. 

Church leaders know their scorecard for attendance, conversions, and finances—each is a critically important measure of how we’re doing and whether we’ll still be able to keep doing it.

But if we’re going to measure to “improve” in Lord Kelvin’s words, or to “multiply” in church language, we’re going to need to add a few more exponentially-oriented metrics to the scoreboard.

That million-fold vision isn’t going to happen without growth in:

# of pastoral leaders in training
# of male and female Bible study leaders commissioned
# of leaders commissioned to plant churches
# of church plants
# of church plants who have planted churches

It’s growth in these areas that move the needle in ministry from adding to multiplying.

Thankfully, church leaders are catching on to this concept. In the words of Hero Maker by Dave Ferguson and Warren Berg, the focus is moving from pastors who are the hero to pastors who make other heroes. 

We need more leaders, and that starts with leaders who make other leaders. 

By God’s grace, we may have the opportunity to look back upon our lives and marvel at the leaders we were involved in commissioning. If God so blesses us, may we say with Elijah that we “have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty” and focused on laying hands on the next generation, instead of bemoaning the lack of godly male leaders in our day.  

Baptist Church Planters exists to help church leaders build healthy disciple-making churches. If you need support or resources to generate real and sustainable fruit in the life of your church, please reach out to us today. We’d love to help

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