Ready... set... develop leaders!
by Miles Woods
A recent LifeWay Research poll showed that 77 percent of pastors found that "developing leaders and volunteers" is a significant need in their churches, making leadership development one of the most prominent needs for pastors today. As the global west continues to secularize and the oldest group of pastors continues to retire, it is becoming clear that ministry leaders must continue to be developed at an even higher rate. The need for the next generation of ministry leaders is not going away soon, and each church must take its role seriously in training, equipping, and sending the next generation.
Throughout the Bible, there is a pattern of preparing the next generation of leaders for service to the Lord. For example, Moses developed Joshua, who would go on and lead the Israelites into the promised land (Deut. 31), and Elijah developed Elisha and passed on his prophetic ministry (2 Kg. 2). Jesus taught his disciples for three years before commissioning them to take the gospel to the world (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
Taking this theme of development further, the psalmist writes in Psalm 145:4 (CSB) that "one generation will declare Your works to the next and will proclaim your mighty acts." The psalmist seems to be pointing out the need for generations to instruct generations.
So, how does First Baptist Choctaw tangibly do this? How do we raise up the next generation of ministry leaders so that they can be prepared to faithfully declare the grace and majesty of God to the next generation after them?
Our church invests in the next generation of ministry leaders through the Next Generation Preachers preaching lab. Next Generation Preachers allows young people studying for ministry to work on crafting and delivering a sermon with opportunities to receive helpful feedback to help them grow. The preaching lab typically takes place on Sunday nights and allows aspiring ministry leaders to sharpen their public teaching abilities. Ministry resident AJ Stewart says, "Next Generation Preachers has given me an opportunity to practice preparing and delivering a sermon in a safe, yet challenging environment where I will receive thoughtful and careful feedback focused on growth." AJ also points out that an opportunity like this "is a rarity for ministry students my age." Providing environments for young ministry leaders to work on their public teaching is crucial for developing the next generation of ministry leaders.
Another way First Baptist Choctaw invests in the next generation of ministry leaders is through the Ministry Mentor program led by Brandon Adams. The Ministry Mentor program focuses on guided mentorship in a small group setting paired with practical experience in public speaking, hospitality, and much more. Daezi Miller says, "being in the ministry mentor program has made me truly understand the church, how it works, and how the Lord molded it together for His good." Each week, everyone involved in the program discusses books they read as a group and helps plan and execute all-church events. The Ministry Mentor program helps equip the next generation of ministry leaders to be top-level servants at First Baptist Choctaw or wherever the Lord sends them.
From providing public teaching opportunities to intense and focused mentorship, our church is committed to raising the next generation of ministry leaders. Personally, I am thankful to have benefited from this culture of development as I have now been serving in ministry for almost eight years in both part-time and full-time capacities. I believe God, in His providence, placed me at First Baptist Choctaw so many years ago so that I would be able to learn and grow as a minister in such an environment. May God continue to raise up the next generation of ministry leaders and allow our church to play a role in training them, equipping them, and sending them out into a world that desperately needs Jesus.
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