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5 Ways to Disciple Young Leaders

You may have noticed there aren’t many young leaders in most congregations today. Ain’t many young “anybodies” in most churches these days.

We risk the death of the church in the U.S. in a single generation.

My heart aches with every congregational leader’s lament: How did this happen? How did we get here?

But we don’t have to be complicit in our own demise!

We’ll need to invest in the discipling of young leaders if that’s going to change.

We’ll need to recognize that it won’t happen just from the pulpit or from the front of the classroom. Jesus didn’t disciple leaders that way. And it’s not working too well lately for us, either!

Here’s a model for developing new leaders/young leaders concisely captured from the thinking of Bob Eichinger:

To develop young talent…

  • Place them in a highly challenging role where they’ll be stretched and tested.
  • Give them a short term assignment/team.
    • Success or Failure is real.
    • Authority is entrusted.
    • Exposure to a variety of people in the organization is afforded.
  • Offer real time feedback.
  • Provide coaching and mentoring.
  • Instruct them in the classroom.

LukeNow read Luke 10, the sending of the 72. See the parallels?

In our “discipleship optional” church culture we’ve counted on the “transfer of information” alone to get the job done in most places!

So, young leaders…and young would be/should be leaders, what’s working for you? What’s missing? And, what are you going to do about it?

And not so young leaders! Remember back? Maybe way back? You had that “Put Me In Coach…I Can Make a Difference if You Give Me a Chance” impulse. What did you get of the 5 for your own young leadership development? What didn’t you get? What about now? What do you need? And, what are you going to do about it?

When I look back to the early days of my leadership journey as a pastor, I had a lot of the first two bullets and not enough of the rest.

PLI learning community pathwayHere’s the PLI learning community pathway. All five of the bullets above are embedded in the pathway.

In the past we’ve equated great leadership only to those who persuasively preach or winsomely move a crowd and we’ve given little attention to the quiet process of discipling young and not so young to become leaders who…

  • Test their wings
  • Risk failing
  • Listen to God and His Word
  • Follow with Faith
  • Experience accountability
  • Deal with disappointment
  • Capture a sense of God’s vision for their lives
  • Lead and invite others to follow
  • And then disciple several more to become leaders in similar fashion.

Here’s what I think:

  1. You already have some young talent in mind that needs to be encouraged and challenged to step into the leadership game.
  2. Get a coffee/Have a lunch/Invite them to your office and tell them what you see in them, what you see for them. Invite them into a relationship to invest in them.
  3. Check out Discipleship to Missional Community to get immersed in a reproducible path of discipling leaders for mission. Raechel will be your guide.

Dr. Jock Ficken

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