Friday night I had the opportunity to help out at Southwestern Seminaries annual Youth Ministry Lab (YML 2011). I was highly encouraged by the turn out of youth who have answered God’s call of leadership on their lives. Over 400 youth showed up on Friday night to kick the weekend off. They started with a time of praise and worship with the Ross King Band, and preaching from Tony Merida. They then participated in a lion’s den session, where they could ask Southwestern Faculty any question they wanted, followed up by leadership training. Watching these students desire to learn and serve Christ was encouraging. Not only was it encouraging to see these youth’s love for the Lord, but it further cemented for me the importance of training the next generation of leaders.
Leaders must be training leaders. We should be discipling others who are answering God’s call on their life for ministry. However, all to often churches fail in this area. They do not spend the time equipping men for leadership.
“The result is devastating to both our personal ministry and the future of the church.”
It is devastating to our personal ministry because we are not enlisting other leaders to help us in the task of shepherding the flock. Not having enough leaders to spread ministry responsibilities results in burn out. One man cannot be expected to shepherd a large group of people over a prolonged period of time without help.
The Example of Moses
Moses is a prime example. His father-in-law, Jethro, realized that Moses was going to kill himself if he tried to shepherd all of Israel without any help, which is the reason he counseled Moses to appoint capable men over smaller groups of Israelites (Exod. 18).
Likewise, our ministries will not flourish, and we will not survive, if we are not equipping others to minister alongside us.
The Future of the Church
Not only did Moses appoint other elders to look after Israel, but he also trained Joshua to take his place upon his death (Joshua 1:7). Pastors today need to follow Moses’ example by training others to take their place when their time of ministry ends. If they do not, then the result will be devastating for the future of the church.
The Example of Joshua
Take for instance, the story of Joshua. He was trained throughout Moses’ ministry and was prepared to take over when Moses died. However, Joshua failed to follow Moses’ example and teach the people the necessity of training their youth. After his death and the death of the elders, a generation arose that did not know the Lord, nor the work the Lord had done in Israel (Joshua 2:10). The result was devastating for the nation of Israel. They fell into idolatry, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Joshua 2:11-15).
Likewise, the result will be devastating for the future of our church if we are not preparing leaders to take our place when our ministry comes to an end. Without capable leadership to take over, disunity and power struggles will ensue.
The solution is simple. We must be committed to training our future leaders. It was obvious tonight that the youth pastor’s who took the time and money to bring their youth to YML are committed to training future leaders. Their dedication to this task was highly encouraging to me, and it should be encouraging to you.
My charge to you is to invest in your people. Find a future leader in your church, spend time with them, teach them Scripture, and train them to lead the people. Both your personal ministry and the future of your church will be all the better for it.