Three years ago the lead pastor of my home church, Vineyard Mishawaka, was prompted by God to create five new Vineyard church plants or campuses in our local area. As the executive pastor, I was part of explaining the opportunity to the entire team. There were various emotions and tons of questions. We couldn’t answer every question, but we believed that if God was in it, then we are going go after it!
After three years into the five year dream, we have launched our fifth plant. Sending out three multisite locations and two church plants has been a crazy pace. It has highlighted some interesting challenges related to leadership development.
With each plant or campus, we knew that we needed leaders — and a lot of them! We started a more formal leadership development program and created video training for future planters or campus leaders. One of the greatest challenges was identifying the new leaders to invite into our leadership development pipeline.
While we are still learning many things, some distinct patterns emerged while we pressed into developing future leaders. Here are 3 key things you can do early in the process to help develop young leaders in your church:
Invite future leaders in now
We regularly make personal invitations to up and coming leaders who are Juniors and Seniors in high school as well as engaged young adults. These invitations help them engage in further leadership development and are also personal recognition that highlight we are interested in how they are growing.
Don’t wait for a strategy. Just start inviting young people into opportunities to lead alongside you. In your next leadership gathering or board meeting, have you invited a young person in to experience what leadership looks like?
Share honest feedback with a “why”
Young adults and high school students need feedback often about the trajectory that they are on. They will be more open to feedback when they have the greater context for why certain areas of growth are important.
Take the time to explain why a change needs to occur and have the hard conversation now. Small adjustments now can help eliminate the need for large adjustments later when their skills or habits are more fully formed. It can help a leader say “Yes” to a call into ministry instead of being frustrated with a bad experience with no great explanation and taking their talents elsewhere.
How are you being intentional about giving encouragement and feedback to young leaders?
Encourage early financial wisdom
Early financial planning helps leaders to be open and prepared for God’s call. Many young leaders are drowning in school and credit card debt. While out of the norm, we have a 23-year-old leader who has paid off all of his school loans and his car and has saved a significant amount of money for his first home. This wasn’t easy as he works in manufacturing, but he lives with his parents and has learned to be a modest spender. By aligning his finances early in his life, he is able be open to God’s call and has positioned himself to say “Yes” instead of “I can’t”.
For too many people, financial planning starts way too late in life. How are you discipling leaders even in areas of personal finance?
While we are not perfect in any of these areas, as we look to what God might have for our church in the coming years, we are starting to realize the need and potential in front of us, and it looks like young leaders.
Steve joined The Vineyard Church of Mishawaka, Indiana staff in June 2015, where he currently oversees campus growth, development, and spiritual health through teaching and training. Steve also oversees prayer teams and managing a leadership training program of upcoming leaders.
Steve and his wife Anne were married in 1997 and have three boys. Steve enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, raising chickens, the outdoors, and serving the downtown South Bend area homeless.