The Oxford English Dictionary defines “leader” this way: “the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” Sounds impressive! Yet Jesus only left behind 120 upon His death, resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:15). What sort of leaders did Jesus develop? What sort of leaders are we called to develop? In other words, what does it mean to be a kingdom-minded leader in the 21st century?
On Twitter, I came across these words of Rich Villodas: “If Jesus spent eight hours a day, every day, for three years with His disciples, He would’ve spent over 8,000 hours with them. And after all that time, they still had significant gaps! And we think one hour a week on Sunday morning is going to change people? Not a chance.”
As you know, the job of being a pastor requires a massive number of skills and tasks in any given week. Despite such complexity, Barna Research recently asked pastors to pick their favorite part of their job, and only 10 percent listed “developing leaders” as their favorite duty! Yet the esteemed theologian and Free Methodist leader Howard Snyder reminds us, “Jesus trained the Apostles by being with them for three years, discipling and mentoring them.” One can argue that developing leaders was Jesus’ primary focus in His earthly ministry. Yet many (most?) of us struggle to make this happen in any consistent and productive way. What hinders you from developing leaders? What resources do you need to help develop leaders? What sort of leaders do you wish you had? What sort of leader do you want to be?
In response to such questions, my focus group is dedicated to the topic of leadership development. We will explore a biblical understanding of leadership (the good, the bad and the ugly), share our own struggles in developing leaders, and hear from a wide variety of Free Methodist practitioners who are leading in all sorts of contexts.
This focus group will not be about developing people to fill slots for your programs. Rather, we’ll start with the people God has given you to develop. How can you commit to raising them up and releasing them into kingdom leadership? We will explore this over three days together and see what partnerships and ideas can be birthed.
Additionally, for those who are interested, I will take some time to describe how to build a comprehensive internship program that can build a pipeline of young leaders. For the last seven years, I have trained over 70 young adults and released them into Free Methodist leadership. I look forward to talking with any people interested in figuring out how they might be able to get something like that started where they are.
Kelly Soifer is the leader of the Leadership Development focus group at General Conference 2019 (gc19.org). She has served as the director of the Center for Transformational Leadership for the Free Methodist Church in Southern California since 2011, and she has launched CTL programs at Seattle Pacific and Greenville universities.2