To grow your own leaders is nothing more than to replicate Scripture. Pastors and ministerial leaders are shaped and fashioned only in the context of a local church, and nowhere else. And, what’s more, it is a delight to see someone from your own church family grow into a leader. It’s a wonderful privilege to see God bless your church’s efforts in discipling your people into leaders.
Choosing leadership for a church ministry is a tricky business. Pastoral search committees and hiring new staff members can be one of the most sanctifying experiences for churches. As you wade through dozens of resumes piled up on your desk, you feel overwhelmed by the sea of potential candidates for the job. You wonder if the person will possess the skills necessary for the ministry or be a “good fit” for the family, and you pray you do not hire a clown who simply knew how to interview well.
All these fears could be avoided if you could choose leadership from within your church. What if it wasn’t necessary to look outside for leaders because you sufficiently discipled and grew leaders from within your congregation?
A Lesson from Geneva
Calvin’s Reformation is an example of a failure to raise up local leaders. Scott M. Manetsch, in his fantastic book Calvin’s Company of Pastors, records Geneva’s failure to train native-born pastors from the years 1536-1595. He writes, “Supervision of religious life in Geneva fell almost exclusively to foreign-born ministers during the first generations after Calvin’s death – a fact that many townspeople in Geneva were acutely aware of and resented deeply.” He then offers four reasons why Geneva failed to produce local pastors:
- Unrealistic expectations and requirements of candidates for academic training.
- No monetary support from churches for young men showing good ministerial potential.
- Only pastors from the outside are set over the most influential churches.
- The Company of Pastors favoring personalities similar to their own.
Nearly six decades passed before Geneva’s churches saw local men as their pastors, and that was only because the magistrates mandated that the Company of Pastors begin training local men. Finally, by 1609, eleven Genevan men found pastoral positions in Geneva. Geneva had good things going for them, but raising up pastors was a blind-spot that I fear many churches today share with them. If our current leadership is solid, we are tempted to not worry about growing more leaders among us.
Why Grow Your Own Leaders?
It is the duty of every local church to disciple their own people, and through discipleship pastors and leaders are created. It is a wonderful grace of God when you can select leaders from your own congregation because they already know the people and culture better than someone hired from the outside. They gain respect from the community, avoid the awkward “get to know you” period that most leaders face early in their new ministry, and dive right into leading and shepherding in a state of familiarity.