A popular saying states, “A church that fails to plan is a church that plans to fail.” I would like to rephrase that, “A church that fails to train its leaders is a church that trains its leaders to fail.”
Since the pastor cannot do it all alone, training leaders is a must. It is imperative that every church have a plan to train existing and future leaders. Leaders are not born, they are developed through mentoring, training and hands on experience.
Leaders must have a clear mental and spiritual picture of their goals. The Bible calls this vision.
18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Without vision, people have no direction or focus and are easily confused and distracted. Without vision, ministries will fail and people will become discouraged and move on. Your leaders must know the vision, see the vision, understand the vision and believe in the vision. They must be trained in how to accomplish the vision. Then they must be consistently encouraged to fulfill the vision.
Training leaders is an ongoing process. It is not something you do only when one thinks it is needed. It must continue even when all of your leaders are succeeding because every leader will fail at some point. When they do fail, they will need somebody there to pick up the pieces. They will need to fall back onto that foundation of mentoring and training they have been building on. If your mentoring program no longer exists, they might just pack it in for good.
That is exactly what Peter did. He failed big time by denying the Lord three times in the space of one day. His mentor, Jesus, was gone. He didn’t have anybody there to pick up the pieces. So Peter gave up and went back to fishing. If Jesus had not come back to mentor Peter through this trying time, Peter would have packed it in for good. The one who at one point was given the “keys to the kingdom of Heaven” would not have preached the keynote message at Pentecost.
A one year class is not enough, a two year class is not enough, a three year class is not enough. Training leaders is an ongoing process. This must be a continuing education program that is a regular part of your ministry.
Developing Future Leaders
In the business world recent studies show that the number of managers available to step into leadership roles is dropping dramatically. The average company will be left with just half the leadership talent it needs by 2015. This means that companies are going to have to get a lot better at identifying and developing leaders from within, and not many companies do this well.
The same challenge exists in the church. There are not many churches that look very far into the future. Most pastors are not too concerned about who will lead their outreach ministry five years from now. They figure God will send somebody. While that may be true, God also honors those who have a plan.
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Are you sitting down with your ministry teams and consulting whether you can finish God’s plan in your city? Are you counting the cost of leading without enough leaders? Are you making sure that you have enough trained leaders to fight the spiritual battles of your community?
There are many pastors who fail to train and mentor future leaders because the need isn’t immediate. To some, it seems counter-productive to train a person today for a ministry they may or may not fill five years from now. There are always many other pressing needs that take priority. But a church that is not developing its future leaders today is a church that is dying a slow and painful death. Start planning for your future leaders today, don’t wait till it is too late.