One of the big bottlenecks in the growth of anything is leadership. The church needs leaders but where do we get them from, how do we grow them, what ought to we teach them? It was thinking about questions such as these that lead me to buy and start reading 'Fruitful Leaders' by Marcus Honeysett. I'm 4 chapters in so far and really enjoying it though I do have a number of questions about it.
The book starts off by reminding us of the love of God for the church. He also reminds us that churches are communities for making disciples who impact the world with the good news of God's grace. Marcus then moves on to look at what Spiritual Leadership is (servanthood among God's people whose goal is for Jesus sake) and how we can clear, dig and nurture leaders in the church. Chapter 4 then turns to asking key questions of those in spiritual leadership because we can't nurture other leaders unless we ourselves are being fed and nourished by God and increasingly desire God. Appendix 1 with its questions for self examination are absolutely brilliant and very thought provoking, it would be well worth using them for a time of reflection as an eldership or PCC.
However, I'm left with a few question so far. Fundamental to Marcus book is the belief that God gives us leaders in our congregations because God wants to us our churches. But interestingly I don't see this model happening - normally we get leaders from outside of our existing congregations. And increasingly in the UK, as I've blogged before, Christianity is strong in university towns and cities and weak in other parts of the country. This also applies to potential leaders - university churches often have a wealth of potential leaders whilst churches in other towns are struggling.
The answer is for us to be reaching the lost and from those we see come to Christ developing new leaders. But I wonder if hand in hand with that we need a missionary mentality from our well resourced and potential leadership rich churches. A mentality that trains leaders specifically to send to towns and churches which have fewer potential leaders.
Marcus' book is well worth reading for a local church. We need to be developing and resourcing leaders. But I think nationally and certainly regionally we need to be looking at leadership as wider than our own congregations.