Your Church and Leadership

Developing leaders in the church, for the church, is something to be taken very seriously in any age, but at this moment in particular. Consider the following facts:

  • The average age of evangelical church leaders in the UK is early-mid 50s and rising
  • The average post-college 20 year old now has significant levels of debt that will prevent them thinking about Christian leadership until much later in life
  • The numbers leaving leadership prematurely (humanly speaking) is sky-rocketing
  • The average evangelical church has shrunk in size over the last 20 years to the point where it cannot afford to put a person through theololgical education but is likely to give little attention to developing leaders at home. That church , and every one like it, is under half a generation from extinction
  • In 10-15 years time we will see mass retirements with nowhere near enough people of the next two generations to stay remotely level, let alone see fresh waves of new church planting

I could go on and on! The point I want to make is this: the average church isn't producing leaders. We think that there is a never-ending stream of talent to buy in from outside, but there isn't. The stream is drying up. We have reached a tipping point of monumental proportions. Either we will produce leaders or we will die.

Its great to see a few large churches developing key in-church schemes for producing leaders in the church, for the church. But its not the large churches that are looking down the barrel of this particular gun. I would be really interested in comments from anyone in a church of 150 people or fewer which has a clear strategy for developing leaders in your church. And not just potential full-time professionals. How do you train your elders, church wardens, PCC members, deacons, housegroup leaders?

In a rough (and completely unscientific) straw poll I have been doing I reckon that a good church of 100 people, with lively worship, good teaching and conversions, will send, on average, 1% of its people into full-time leading or church-planting in a decade, 3% in a generation. That is not even self-sustaining, let alone a recipe for growth. Churches everywhere should be asking "how do we turn that into 2% in the next 5 years." It still won't be enough but it will be a start. And it will begin by deciding to train leaders in your church, for your church