A Generation of Unequipped Leaders
Judges 2: After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance. 7 The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.
I am not blind enough to miss the fact that every generation that takes hold of the leadership of the church advances the church in many ways but also makes some mistakes along the way. It seems that the church is attached to a pendulum that now swings faster than it has ever swung before & with every movement of that pendulum we become more balanced in one area & more out of balance in another area.
When I was a child the pendulum swung in seeker sensitive movement out towards others. As it swung it focused us in a positive way towards examining our programs & language in order to reach unreached people. It brought us out of balance in believing that “bigger is better” and as much as it welcomed people into church, it failed to move them towards becoming fully devoted followers of Christ.
When I was in college the pendulum swung towards worship – This worship movement re-focused our hearts up towards God in worship. It re-focused the church towards God’s glory & pushing us in a relationship towards him. It also brought us out of balance in moving outward towards others. It increased the “wow me” mentality of the church & created consumers looking for the best band, preacher & show instead of the best community to live on mission with.
As the information age, facebook, twitter, podcasts, webinars, & enormous church conferences kicked in, the pendulum began to swing faster & the church has recently begun re-looking at what it looks like to live missionally & what it looks like to return to discipleship. With each swing of the pendulum progress is made & ground is lost.
Now I’m not naive enough to say that the answer is balance, balance is not our goal. Living like Jesus is! We must figure out a way to incorporate the same rhythm of life we learned through the life of Jesus. An Upward relationship with God, where he speaks to us, gives us power, direction and we rest in Him. An inward relationship with other believers where we live life as the family of God together. Sharpening each other, urging each other on, living life as a family (the church) on mission together. An outward relationship with the world. Where we live on mission, intentionally seeking to love & serve the least of these with the love of Christ.
Now here’s the problem with the pendulum swing & the speed in which it swings……..
- It’s that the next generation of pastors have never been discipled by the previous generation. They are young and lack discernment therefore they believe whatever methods seem to be working somewhere else must also work in their context.
- It’s that this generation is so wowed by the bigger is better lie that whenever the pendulum swings they move without listening to God but they move because prevailing church growth principles say move.
- They lack the understanding & the discernment in order to lead & disciple effectively so every shift is short lived until the next new fad, new book or new movement pops up. This slows the mobilization & order of the church & sends congregations on new initiatives & pursuits every year.
- With the speed of information & the amount of conferences we are losing our apostolic leaders & raising up leaders who simply seek to apply whatever new tools the big church down the street is using this year. We are losing our dreamers & only raising up imitators.
What are the Solutions?
- I challenge every pastor over the age of 50 to find a pastor under the age of 30 to invest in, disciple & take an interest in. This will take time & effort but it is an investment that will reap a return!
- I hope that every young pastor will start asking God, who He has called your church to be & then to pursue faithfulness towards Gods vision & not imitation towards someone else’s vision.
- We need to move our young leaders from information gathering, to imitation, to innovation. Not enough of our young leaders are getting to innovation because no one is walking beside them saying follow me as I follow Christ. We use the language train, reproduce, send. The church currently does some training and small amounts of reproducing but not enough sending. Are you creating a culture that sends young leaders out for kingdom work or do you care more about growing your vision than you do for your young leaders? Are you creating an army of Timothy’s & do you celebrate with those Timothy’s as they go or do they leave your churches, beat up defeated & frustrated? As I speak to young leaders most are leaving their churches defeated & not equipped & encouraged. This must change!
- I am asking young pastors to take a year off from conferences & podcast’s & asking them to seek God for his vision for their ministry. I am asking them to listen to less celebrity pastors & read more scripture. I am asking them to stop buying the newest book & to find an older pastor who looks like Jesus to them & to follow them.
- I am hoping that young leaders begin to pour into college students & that our seminaries & bible college teach less methods of church growth & more methods of hearing & listening to the voice of God. I also encourage churches to start their own training centers for training & sending young leaders into the ministry and into the workplace. Does your church have a vision for training, reproducing & sending young leaders? If not what could that vision look like?
Thoughts? Solutions? What other ideas do you have?