One of the first things Jesus did in his public ministry was to identify and develop future leaders who would advance his kingdom and mission (Mark 1:16-20; John 1:35-51). Paul modeled this as well, investing in emerging leaders like Timothy and Titus, among others. How are we doing with this crucial aspect of leadership in the church today? Are we building for the next generation, or have we overlooked this crucial component of our mission?
Recently, LifeWay Research surveyed pastors about the church's leadership development and mission. We asked them to rate their agreement in the following three areas:
Investing in leaders through the church
The survey asked pastors to respond to this statement: "I am intentionally investing in leaders who will emerge over the next ten years."
Pastors strongly believe they are doing just that—67 percent strongly agreed and 26 percent somewhat agreed. Wow! That's 93 percent who are convinced that they are investing in emerging leaders. They also affirmed that the church has a responsibility to develop future leaders.
But when asked to evaluate how well the church is accomplishing the task of leadership development, most agreed, but not nearly as enthusiastically. We posed this statement: "The church does a good job fostering and developing new leaders." This time 26 percent strongly agreed and 52 percent somewhat agreed, a drop in overall agreement of 15 percent. In addition, a significant amount of disagreement starts to appear—21 percent either somewhat or strongly disagreed with the statement.
While pastors believe that the church is a place where leaders need to be developed and they see themselves investing in this task, they generally recognize a real deficit in the church's effectiveness in accomplishing it. Although efforts are being made, pastors are not confident that the church is nurturing and growing new leaders adequately.
Fulfilling your ministry through the church
The terminology and process may differ from group to group, but the nature of one's "calling" in ministry is important in accomplishing Christ's mission. Therefore, pastors were asked to respond to this declaration: "I am currently in a season where I am living out my calling and making a difference."
Pastors gave an overwhelmingly positive response! 86 percent strongly agreed and 11 percent somewhat agreed. Their satisfaction level drops, however, when asked to respond to this assertion: "I am satisfied with the way I am currently fulfilling my calling."
Interestingly, only 53 percent strongly agree (a 33 percent drop in strong agreement) and 35 percent somewhat agree. While pastors expressed a strong sense of calling and ministry purpose, many revealed that something is missing that could bring them higher satisfaction in their ministries.
Making a difference through the church
The survey also asked, "If I had a friend who wanted to make a difference, I would encourage him or her to do so through their church." Not one pastor disagreed with the statement, and 88 percent strongly agreed with it. They indicated, thoroughly and absolutely, that they believe the church is a place where people can make a difference. These pastors expressed great love for the church and affirmed that she has much to offer.