How Can Pastors Raise Up Leaders?
Most pastors are all too familiar with the tyranny of the urgent. There are often so many leaks that need patching that it seems impossible to slow down and spend the time it takes to train a crew—that is, to raise up new church leaders.
Yet as a pastor, there are several reasons why you should be regularly discipling men who have the potential to serve as elders, whether in your church or another.
WHY PASTORS SHOULD RAISE UP LEADERS
1. Scripture commands it.
In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul writes, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Since 2 Timothy was written not merely for Timothy, but for us all (Rom. 15:4, 2 Tim. 3:16-17), every pastor of a local church should train other men to be teachers in the church.
2. Pastors are best able to train other pastors.
Men training for ministry will learn best from those who are engaged in the work full-time. They’ll gain practical wisdom, personal sensitivities, and an up-close understanding of the work that they won’t get any other way.
3. The church needs it.
As the pastor, you need to take the lead in raising up leaders, whether those leaders will serve your own church as elders or go somewhere else. If you don’t disciple leaders, who will?
4. It evangelizes future generations.
A pastor can do “mission work” to the future by raising up leaders in the present. Who will lead your church and evangelize your community when you’re gone? Raise up leaders now and you get to send the gospel not just into your community, but into the future.
HOW PASTORS CAN RAISE UP LEADERS
But how can a busy pastor with thinly spread resources disciple men toward being church leaders? Here is a handful of practical suggestions.
1. Share your pulpit (carefully). Look for ways to give doctrinally and pastorally reliable younger men in your congregation opportunities to preach and teach, even if they are not practiced public speakers.
2. Teach your congregation to care about other churches and God’s broader kingdom purposes. The goal is for the church as a whole to embrace the agenda of raising up pastors both for themselves and for other churches. Encourage them that this will serve them better in the long run. This encouragement and leadership from you will help them to be more generous, prayerful, and patient with younger and less experienced men.
3. Publicly pray for other churches and pastors, by name.
4. Publicly pray for the spread of the gospel in other nations, by name.
5. Look for other opportunities to “give away” teaching and evangelism opportunities to younger men, such as Sunday School classes, public prayer, or service leading. Coach them through it. Provide feedback.
6. Hold a weekly “service review.” Invite participants in the church’s public ministry to review the events of the day. Invite feedback on your preaching and leading. Model how to give and receive godly encouragement and criticism. (Tips: Emphasize the biblical, theological, and pastoral rather than the stylistic and preferential. Be honest, but don’t pile too many critiques on top of the young and inexperienced all at once. Look for evidences of grace, and make sure participants leave feeling encouraged and built up.)
7. Set a personal example in evangelism, befriending non-Christians, and discipling younger Christians. See who begins imitating your example and specifically invest in them.
8. Consider developing a pastoral internship. Click here for some examples of church-based pastoral training.
9. Give away lots of good books. Invite developing leaders to schedule a follow-up conversation once they’ve read the book you gave them.
10. Invite younger men into your study to work and read as you do the same.
11. Invite developing leaders into your sermon preparation process. Discuss the text with one or two other men as you study. Once you’ve got the main point of the text, invite someone to think through sermon application with you.
12. Think of any windows in your life and ministry that you can invite developing leaders into: meals in your home, errands, pastoral visits, outside speaking engagements, conferences.
13. Discuss current (non-sensitive) pastoral issues with younger men and ask for their input. This will train them to think theologically and pastorally, and it might even give you fresh insight.