September 17, 2011

The Next Generation Introduction

by Josh Thiessen

And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2)

This post will introduce a series of posts on training leaders. It is something that is paramount for any organization and the church is no different in their need to do so. However, it is different in the how. You cannot simply train a deacon or elder by sending them to a weekend event or by having them listen to John Maxwell CDs. Without question, certain leadership skills come natural and others are learned, but only a Christian who is firmly grounded in Scripture and is being sanctified by the Holy Spirit is capable of leading in the church. Biblical discipleship demands more than knowledge. 

What follows are some of my own thoughts informed by Scripture that I hope stimulate thought and conversation. The church desperately needs to develop leaders, and I hope those reading this will get some help to do just that.

What are you trying to make?

So the question is how do you move the new convert from A to B? How can the church build them up and nurture the gifts God has given them and instruct the next generation of leaders in the church? Well, I think the answer depends on the end goal, and just like any good cook, you need to put in the right ingredients to create the right dish.

There are things which are necessary for a man to understand and skills that must be developed if he is going to lead the church in preaching and teaching every Sunday morning, but those same things may not be required for the new or immature believer who is simply trying to lead his family and be a better husband. Things like Greek and Hebrew are not going to encourage and help most believers but are necessary for the preacher to accurately divide the Word of God. So I think it is helpful to think through how your church can train people where they are at in their life.

Systematic Training

While there has been appropriate criticism of churches driven only by programs, I think something is lost when pastors fail to see the benefit of structured programs. People learn better with a structure, when they have purpose. Systematic training also requires discipline and sacrifice both of which are necessary for leaders. So I see great value in having a structured schedule and curriculum.

If your goal is to make vocational pastors who will spend their time preaching, your training program will probably look a lot like seminary training that includes equipping in both Greek and Hebrew. On the other hand, to help a new convert grow, you will probably start with basic Scripture knowledge and doctrine.

In my next three posts, I want to discuss the need for churches to develop some method of basic discipleship, leadership training, and a process for developing lay and vocational elders. I want to suggest basic curriculum and get a discussion started in the comments section on the best way churches can train leaders. Churches will never grow without training leaders and for every Paul there must be a Timothy.

Josh Thiessen

Posts Twitter

Josh is the teaching pastor of Providence Bible Church in southwest Omaha, NE.