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