The Lost Priority of Leadership Training
Written by M. R. Conrad |
Friday, May 5, 2023
In the post-pandemic era, the opportunities for remote theological training have multiplied. A local church really could provide a pathway for men within their churches to serve part-time in their own church while they study for the ministry online. If needed, these growing leaders could supplement the web-based training with in-person modules at seminaries. Alternatively, likeminded churches in a region could band together to coordinate joint theological instruction. The possibilities for ministry training continue to grow. But where is the passion to prioritize pastoral training within the local church?
Evangelize, disciple, and train leaders—these are the priorities of missionaries serving in foreign countries.
Evangelize and disciple—these are the priorities of pastors serving in the U.S. If a new pastor is needed, the church rarely looks within, nor can they because no one is ready to step into the shepherding role. A local church must hire its next pastor from another church or out of seminary.
Why are missionaries abroad expected to train local men as future pastors, but pastors in the U.S. rarely prioritize preparing their church’s potential next pastor as a crucial part of their ministries? Should not the indigenous principle apply both at home and abroad?
Biblical Examples of Leadership Training
In the first century, the church at Ephesus became a leader-training hub for the Roman province of Asia (modern-day western Turkey). Paul built leadership training into the DNA of the church. He taught the word of God daily for three years (Acts 19:9–10). He gathered and trained church leaders who would shepherd that church and plant churches in the surrounding cities (Acts 20:17–35). One such product of this leadership-training focus appears to have been Epaphras whom God raised up from within his hometown of nearby Colosse (Colossians 4:12–13).
Of course, Paul did send leaders trained elsewhere to serve in local churches. For example, Titus, a Greek probably from Syrian Antioch, served in Crete. Yet, a major focus of Titus’ ministry there was leadership training.