Your Voice: Calling out the called — church leadership and the pipeline crisis

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Your Voice: Calling out the called — church leadership and the pipeline crisis

At a gathering of pastors, the discussion turned to the leadership pipeline crisis.

The convenor suggested they list some of the aspects of this crisis. They began by talking about the positions they have a hard time filling.

When someone said “all of them,” everyone laughed.

George Bullard.

Worship and music leaders were the first ones mentioned, and this was echoed by just about everyone.

This included instrumentalists. They could find people with guitars who perhaps could also sing, but few would play a piano, much less an organ.

Theology behind songs

They also said few music leaders understood the theology behind the songs they used. If Bethel Music, Hillsong Worship, Elevation Worship or Passion Music did not write and sing it, they said they likely would not know it.

Process of disciple-making

Discipleship pastors who understand the process of disciple-making are few. They may understand something about small groups, but in the long term these staff people turn small groups into programs instead of a spiritual journey.

It is a challenge to find age-group staff, even those who commit to part-time work, for all age groups from preschoolers through senior adults. It is difficult to find a student minister young enough to understand the students but mature enough to do more than just sponsor paintball and other activities.

One who can help middle and high school students develop a healthy disciple-making journey is a challenge.

Compensation for staff is also an issue. Few churches can afford the staff they need. The cost of fringe benefits has escalated tremendously in the past several decades. Many churches depend on the staff’s spouse to have the needed benefits package with their jobs.

Full-time staff often ask for compensation packages well above their experience and education, wanting to match what secular positions offer them.

This led to a discussion about the spiritual call of people to Christian ministry. What are churches doing these days to find people God is calling into ministry? In what ways can an association assist with this?

The pastors admitted they were doing very little in their churches to call out those whom God was calling into ministry.

One recounted that in the church where he grew up, there was a regular gathering of and training for people who felt a call to ministry. He remembered there were always more than a dozen people in that group in his church of around 450 attendees.

The people in these groups were high school or college students, plus a few midcareer people feeling God was calling them to consider a vocational change. Others recalled that college campus ministry programs had influenced them. Someone recalled hearing recently that a fewer number of college students saw the local church as the place they wanted to carry out their call to ministry. They were thinking about other avenues of service, perhaps even in the marketplace and not in a church setting.

Just like many conversations, the identification of the problem without offers of viable solutions dominated the time. In a later session several ideas arose, including:

  • Preaching and teaching on the spiritual call to Christian ministry as a life focus.
  • Mentoring people who feel called to Christian ministry along with participation in an exploratory community.

Internships and residencies

  • Offering internships and residencies from 10 weeks to two years for people called to Christian ministry.
  • Sponsoring conferences in the association where church leaders bring people who are considering a call to Christian ministry or people they think ought to consider such a call.

How are churches in your association calling out the called?

EDITOR’S NOTE — George Bullard spent 45 years in denominational ministry and now leads strategic planning in more than 100 associations. He serves as a strategic thinking mentor for Christian leaders through his ForthTelling Innovation ministry.

Letters to the Editor

Thank you for encouraging us to support the Myers-Mallory State Missions Offering. We are Silas First Baptist in Choctaw County. Our goal was $500. We received $1,655 on Sunday — our best ever.

Thanks for keeping our family at SFBC informed about missions.

Pastor Randy Byrd
Silas, Ala.

Thank you so much for running the pregnancy resource center articles! They have been very well done and informative. The awareness (or lack of) has been a tremendous issue in our churches and communities.

God bless you all!

Eric Pugh
Athens, Ala.

The blessing of eternal security

In a recent Wednesday night Bible study, I spoke about the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer.

Article V of “The Baptist Faith and Message” states: “All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ and sanctified by His Spirit will never fall away from the state of grace but shall persevere to the end.”

As a career Army chaplain, I often interacted with other Christian clergy who did not believe this. I do not want to speak for them or misrepresent their faith, but I have often wondered two things: 1. What would it take to lose one’s salvation, and 2. How would you know if it happened?

How can a Christian sing “Blessed Assurance” if there is none?

I believe in the eternal security of the believer not because it feels good to believe it but because Scripture teaches it.

In 1 Peter 1:5, Peter assures believers that we do not keep ourselves saved but are rather “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

That’s a relief because if I did not have the power to save myself, I surely do not have the power to keep myself saved!

In the previous verse (v. 4), Peter also describes it as “reserved in heaven for you.”

Perhaps you have had the experience of making a hotel reservation and when you attempted to check in were informed that your reservation was dropped or canceled. Imagine the consternation and disappointment.

Thankfully, heaven will not cancel or drop a believer’s reservation! That is indeed “Blessed Assurance”!

Pastor Clay Davis
Friendship Baptist Church

“I think a lot of kids are seeing that they’ve been fed a line that success can make you happy,” said Tim Williams, associational mission strategist for the Carrollton (Georgia) Baptist Association. “The truth is Christ is the One who makes the difference.

“Maui is devastated by this, and all of Hawaii is devastated by this. It’s not only the loss of property but the profound loss of life, and so please pray for Maui and thank you for the support that you are giving,” said Craig Webb, executive director-treasurer of Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention.

“One thing that people don’t fully understand is the demand on a pastor’s time, resources and energy. They see him as maybe working a couple days a week, and nothing could be further from the truth,” said Jeff Yant, executive director of Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in central Florida.

If you don’t know God as gracious, you’ll never be able to enjoy Him.

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“I don’t care what song I sing if the heart of it is that people fall more in love with Jesus, and they understand the heart of God for them,” said singer/songwriter Kari Jobe.

“As a lifelong Tennessee Vols fan, I’m not an Alabama fan, and I’m not a Nick Saban fan. But I am a fan of leaders, and the more I’ve thought about Alabama’s loss to Texas … the more I’ve realized [it] was a BIG Nick Saban win because the young coach he mentored grew and developed to the point to where he was able to come back and win against his own coach.

THAT’s what leadership is all about — helping those we invest in do even better and greater things than we have done. Way to go, Coach! (BTW — This is an important lesson for pastors to learn too.)

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“Regardless of the size of your church, we all have an impact to make for the Kingdom — even if it starts with noodle hockey or human foosball,” said Brennan Coughlin, pastor of Fellowship CrossPoint Church in Chesterfield, New Jersey.

he effect of gender confusion and what it means to be a woman has reached our churches. [It] is just not growing, it is exploding — and by a landslide,” said Katie McCoy, director of women’s ministry for the Baptist General Convention of Texas and author of “To Be a Woman: The Confusion Over Female Identity and How Christians Can Respond.”

Don’t overthink leadership development.

  1. Invite a small group.
  2. Make it costly (early AM, $, serving).
  3. Do it short-term (8–12 weeks).
  4. Pick content that lights you up (doesn’t matter what) or ministry case studies.
  5. Be real & generous with yourself.

A little goes a long way.

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