It is so important in the day in which we are ministering that we discover our next Timothy’s and begin coaching them for reaching an up and coming generation. Where are the mentors for this upcoming generation? Men and women who have been called into vocational ministry almost equivalently point to certain individuals who helped them hear and interpret that call of God on their lives. New research conducted by the Baptist General Convention of Texas in conjunction with Baylor University among Texas Baptist pastors examined this question of influence by asking, "Who was the single most influential person used by God in (your) call experience?" Here is what they discovered:
· More than 80 percent of respondents cited someone as filling that role.
· 19 percent said the most influence came through personal devotions.
· By far the most frequently cited influence was a pastor.
· Nearly 40 percent of those serving as pastors in Texas Baptist churches today said their own pastor was the single most influential person in helping them hear and understand God's call.
· The influence of family members was cited the next most commonly, at 15 percent.
· Other individuals--such as youth ministers, Sunday school teachers, church staff members, friends, missionaries, and campus ministers--also were cited as influential.
If John Maxwell is right, and I believe he is, when he declares: "everything rises and falls on leadership," even our healthiest churches are in trouble without strong, capable leaders rising up through their ranks. What can we do to find the next Timothy, to raise up the next generation of preachers? While we cannot eliminate all of the apparent risks that come with the call of God on ones life, I do want to propose three real-world ideas that could generate huge yields with time.
1. Ask God to give you a message that a young Timothy would desire.
Timothy’s are longing for a Paul to guide them. Are you a Paul with a message, which a young potential minister would desire? Begin journaling about things you would want to coach a young minister about. I have a journal of ideas any young shepherd should begin to learn in preparation for ministry. I have key points about sensing God’s call into ministry a young Timothy needs to hear. I think I have about 75 to one hundred individual coaching lessons which need to be imparted to those who God has allowed me to coach and is allowing me to coach. For example my top few are things like: 1). Wear only the hats that fit you 2). Why investing in coaching of others will pay off 3). When and the why of selecting your initial team for a church or plant; and 4). Remember to keep the end in sight! Yes there are many many more, but if you do not begin journaling, you will never be ready to begin coaching.
2. Begin praying for God to send you a young Timothy to coach, which is teachable, trainable, and will tarry.
When the Lord gives you someone do not wait around to begin to get ready. You are ready and the Lord will keep you ready if you are willing to invest your time into another. Allow this young man access to you and your office. Provide him a small space in the corner of your office where he can observe and work on things for future ministry. Honor his commitment by giving your best to him and answer any question he has regardless how crazy they might be. (Thank you Dr. Freddie Smith for answering my hard questions and my easy ones and all of the senseless ones in between.) Give him a set of keys to the church and take him with you when you make evangelistic visits or go to the hospital to see church members. Honoring him does not require a dime, it requires giving of your time. Give him little jobs and big jobs as you sense he is ready. Pray with him regularly and give him access to your pre-service area every Sunday. Teach him the boundaries for when to speak and when to listen and when to just be in the room.
What would hinder you from finding your Timothy and beginning your coaching journey? If God brought a young Timothy along, would you carve out a piece of your life for the next six months to a year?
3. Create a way to push young people to the front lines of ministry.
My son looks for front-liners to contribute to the work of the youth ministry at his church. I look for individuals to push to the front lines of ministry as well. Good leaders are always looking for front liners and moving them from the middle to the front.
In Luke 9:57-62 there is a great theme of commitment. Within this passage three different would-be disciples approach Christ on His journey to Jerusalem; yet all three find good reason to remain uncommitted. The challenge for coaching and mentoring from this passage is to openly declare that you are looking for a handful of students who will commit to four to five hours weekly to minister in the front lines. From there it is not hard to develop short-term opportunities for students to serve as missionaries or interns. The goal for the program is reciprocal growth—the church will be blessed with an army of willing volunteers while the students are blessed with the coaching and encouragement of a specific staff member.
"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends" (John 15:15).
The relationship between Christ and His core leaders became increasingly personal. We would be wise to take note of that.
More than likely, the task of preaching always will be risky and never will be the most popular of professions. It is likely the church will continue to battle a shortage of top-level leaders, as does every other Christian organization I know. However, as we work together to raise up well-equipped, courageous pastors, we build a solid foundation for the future church. I have a church-planting sermon I have preached all over the nation entitled: “Planting Trees You Will Never Sit Under!” It comes from my father who would have me plant trees around the new homes he was building. He would say: “Tommy, you are planting trees you will never sit under!” He was right and now others are enjoying my sacrifice and effort. May God grant us wisdom as we sow seeds for the next generation!
Let’s think about that fact and begin doing something about it! If you would like to have conversations related to this blog post, why not drop me a line so we can begin your journey and conversation.
You can connect with Dr. Tom Cheyney and the RENOVATE Church Revitalization Coaching Network additionally via Facebook at RENOVATE Conference. Tom is the co-author of Spin-Off Churches (B&H Publishers), a conference speaker and a frequent writer on church planting, new church health, and church revitalization. Tom’s latest book is going to press entitled Ninety Church Revitalization Lessons Learned the Hard Way: A Primer Before You Jump Into Church Renewal. Also, be looking for The Biblical Foundations for Church Revitalization by Tom Cheyney and Terry Rials later this year. If you or your church would like more information about how to be considered for the next series of RENOVATE Church Revitalization Applicants you may contact him at Tom@renovateconference.org, or firstname.lastname@example.org.