Like the priests who took the first steps to lead Israel into the icy waters of the Jordan River (Joshua 3), young leaders today need to be apprenticed toward brave new leadership. When you take into account the huge youth population bulges in many nations coupled with geopolitical instability likely for decades to come, vanguard student ministry organizations and churches committed to introducing more kids to Jesus must start thinking more about strategic sustainability. Strategic sustainability implies health and growth even in the midst of unpredictability. To achieve this you must have a principle-driven leadership training framework.
At the center of any strategy to influence wide swaths of young people of any nation is to identify, train, and empower younger leaders. In this post I’m not writing to just any leader, I’m addressing those young leaders, organizations, and churches out there who dream about changing the next generation with the Gospel. As I look at young leaders in the Bible who stand out as models for us to follow today, Daniel rises to the top.
LEADERSHIP TRAINING MUST ADAPT, RE-EDUCATE, AND RE-TRAIN
Daniel provides a clear pathway for leaders to expand their influence more broadly. We can’t rely on cultural norms to provide an incubator for basic leadership understanding anymore. Churches and mission organizations must pioneer the way and in many ways re-educate and re-train their younger leaders who want to serve. We can’t make assumptions anymore. We must have much more than mere skills training. Instead, leadership training must involve a combination of education+training+apprenticeship. That will be the foundation of strategic sustainability for student ministry organizations in a world of fracturing cultural norms.
Daniel had four remarkable qualities that broadened his leadership: COMPREHENSIVE KNOWLEDGE, CHARACTER, COMPETENCE, and an ability to CONNECT people to God by using his spiritual gifts. These four qualities are the mark of catalytic leaders. Now lets look at each of them in context…
Adolescents have to work really hard in their education to build a foundation of knowledge, character, and experience. Parents have the hindsight to understand just how important a Middle School and High School education is, so we can serve the pre-teens and teenagers in our lives with a compelling vision for the “why” behind all of the hard work.
The more I work with adolescents and raise a few of my own, I realize that adolescents and adults are not that different from one another. In particular, we both desperately need to be reminded of the “why” behind what we do. We can all get bored, distracted, or even depressed for lack of vision (Proverbs 29:18). But when we are inspired by vision, we tend to get back that enthusiasm God created us to have and we press forward with hope and purpose for our future. Here’s how…
Confucius is one of China’s most revered sages. Although he lived and taught his disciples somewhere around 551-479 B.C., Confucianism is still the most popular philosophy in China today. The context of Confucius’ rise in popularity is interesting. Times were chaotic and quite violent in China at the time of his professional life. There were great divides between classes and clans and this was disturbing to Confucius because it weakened society and created distrust and poverty. He grew up with minimal personal family connection so this seemed to create a vacuum in his own heart for connectedness and the benefits of a tight-knit family. Understanding his background helps us understand where the deep roots of his philosophy came from.
Leaders and decision-makers are critical in times of crisis. We have been investing in leaders in Nepal for the past 10 years and we are hoping to be able to encourage and resource them as much as we can as they prayerfully step into relief work that few are prepared to do. As of today 5,000 are reported dead and estimates are that those numbers may rise to 10,000. Relief agencies are on the ground providing food, water, shelter, and medical help. But there is also a long term need of coming alongside leaders who will have the will and the ability to follow through on projects to help rebuild people’s lives.
If you are wanting to find a way to help, I’ve listed below a few resources that may be of interest if you know people in Nepal or just want to get involved…. (read more)…
The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
― Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC
Youth + International = Authentic Missiology
Crossing into other cultures (and subcultures) often raises questions. This is good for our theology. Theology is simply asking questions and seeking the answers to those questions in the Bible. Engaging in relationships with people across ethnic and geographic boundaries forces us to use our energy to think authentically about theology. I find this especially true among young people internationally. They have keen insights if we take the time to ask them. Relevant local theological development begins to happen when we engage in cross cultural missions. We discover new questions and we have to go to the Bible to search for answers.
For example, if you look at the past 10-15 years of evangelism among youth in Nepal, local youthworkers would tell you that it has actually been fairly easy and fruitful so far. But the process of helping them to grow in faith is very difficult. If a parent discovers that there child has become a Christian, they can become very angry. They may even stop their child from going to church forever.
Nepalese youthworkers wrestle with what they can do about this problem.
If I had a thousand pounds China should have it- if I had a thousand lives, China should have them. No! Not China, but Christ. Can we do too much for Him? Can we do enough for such a precious Saviour? -Hudson Taylor (circa 1900)
The church in China has been growing rapidly for many years. We know some things about the development student ministry in China but it is still somewhat of a mystery to the outside world. Yet one thing that China has a lot of is students. So what challenges will the Chinese church face in the coming decades as they raise up the next generation of young leaders? How will they provide the needed mentoring to grow the church and reach the millions of Chinese who do not yet know Jesus? Here are 5 current needs for mentoring among Chinese church leaders…