I am continuing the thoughts about convention/connection ’09 to unpack some ideas on the unplanned theme to restock the shelves. We all see the numbers that we have an aging group of senior pastors with the median age being 53 and more senior pastors over 80 than under 30. A few people have been banging the drum for years that something must change in order to grasp the future God has for the foursquare movement.
The good thing from this convention is that we were actually talking about the situation at hand. We need more young leaders to simply replenish the existing leaders as we age. If we want to go forward we need to breakthrough some barriers and release loads more of young leaders into the field to connect a world that needs Jesus with the one we profess the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
I can’t escape one idea that could help both promote an empower younger leadership and create opportunity to push the envelope with creativity and enthusiasm for evangelism and discipleship. What I am thinking of is a track to church planting at the Bible College. What if we got revolutionary and designed a way to get people equipped to plant a church within the year they graduate?
I am thinking back to my class in 2002. And we will theme this what if…
What if…we did more than a class on church planting (which I believe no longer exists at the school), but an entire track. What if students began preparing as soon they hit the upper class on graduating into a senior leadership role? Maybe not everyone is cut out for a church plant, starting something from nothing, but there are many open pulpits right now this summer if one of those graduate students this year were up to the challenge.
What if we didn’t wait for people to prove themselves, but we took risks with younger leaders? As for myself, I am pretty sure I wasn’t ready upon graduation, and needed to grow in my confidence as a leader. However, I know there were several students graduating with me that would have been ready had there been a process to train and establish them in what it meant to be a lead minister.
What if we dedicated the final year of learning to an integrated set of classes with the church plant vision and plan? Secondly, we tie that into a local church with a pastor willing to mentor and coach the graduates as they enter into the tough road of starting a church, or even taking over an existing church which comes with its own set of hurdles. I believe care is the missing ingredient of the mentoring process. I see Paul write to Timothy twice that we have record of to encourage, exhort and propel him into everything God has for him. The key for Paul’s purpose is Timothy’s success and not Paul’s legacy.
What if the cream of the crop weren’t looking for the best place to gain a good job, but were identified and poured into to take the baton and run with it into leading the future of the Foursquare Church. Rather than having barely a dozen senior pastors under the age of 30, we could have dozens with years of experience by the time they are 30. They will have the youth and willingness to take risks that aren’t taken when they get older. They will make mistakes, but the lessons learned over those years will greatly increase the years of effective ministry to come. As we grow older, we are less likely to risk our reputation, our family, or our future with the necessary innovations to reach the world for Jesus. We become more likely to go with the status quo and hope some one else has the energy to change things.
What if we had a half dozen graduates per year plant a church? In the eight years it takes them to reach 30 years of age, we would have 42 new churches just from one place of input, LPC. Let LPC take the risk and lead to empower and continue the care for the young leaders we are praying for. Yeah, some would fail, but some already fail…many more would succeed, and I dare say this would greatly help change the culture and focus of the Bible College, the denomination and the local church in a positive way with out changing the core values of our movement.
I don’t want to be sitting around in a few years bemoaning how few of my friends have remained in ministry after 10 years. I want to begin to celebrate a new chapter in our movement of how many people after me I can speak future and hope into. How many can I participate with to see their dreams achieved? How many can I pull forward to fulfill their potential and fulfill the Great Commission, still the greatest commission ever?