Been reflecting this morning on all God has done through the Formation junior leaders' training this year. I am so glad to be involved with this programme. Watching lives get changed, the penny drop on grace, determination growing to live as leaders of character, humility and servanthood. Meeting young leaders who are both gifted and humble, seeing them develop a passion pray, a commitment to give all for the gospel - it doesn't get much better than this for me.
It was a real privilege to serve this training, and to get a little snapshot of some of what God has in store for His church in coming years. It made me think about how crucial it is to have ambitions for the next generation to exceed us. How good am I at encouraging the next generation to be heroes of the faith, with a real sense of gospel adventure? Nowhere near as good as I want to be.
And therefore I want to ask what would prevent them exceeding us. Among my top answers are:
- Current leaders not encouraging younger ones, giving them responsibility and allowing them to make mistakes (that we carry the can for)
- My generation and above imposing our culture on them and assuming that authentic discipleship means them doing it the way we do it (especially with regard to worship style, that's the way to completely divorce them from their culture and create a ghetto)
- Congregations not allowing the young to have a go. Far too often I hear things like "we pay the pastor to do that, we don't want less quality than he provides." That is a short-sighted kiss of death
- Being afraid of being supplanted by them. I say "bring it on!" Do we really think that God won't have things for us to do when they are flying farther than we can?
- Not releasing enough time to disciple them with depth. Giving attention to this is more important in the long term than just about anything. Loving them well in the short term means time not given to other things. They are more important than most other things
- Assuming that leadership is something that we buy in from outside our church rather than develop within. This is sustainable until the external sources dry up, when we will see how myopic we were. And the sources are drying up fast
(PS If you would like to know more about the Living Leadership Formation programme, check out the website. Come on in and join us in it. The water's lovely!)