I’m pretty passionate about the development of leaders. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, that statement comes as no surprise. But one reason for my passion is because I believe to my core that leadership development is crucial to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
I just returned from a week of ministry in Gabon, Africa. Gabon is located on the equator along the west coast of Africa. During my visit, I spent three days training a group of 25 pastors. I was humbled by the gracious response of these leaders. During these rare instances when they have the opportunity to receive training, they’re like dry sponges absorbing desperately needed water. What we take for granted in America—the leadership books, training, conferences, and coaching opportunities–simply do not exist in many parts of our world. But my real purpose for going to Gabon was to meet with a group of pastors and national ministry leaders to discuss the need for a Bible College in that area to train future church leaders. Why Gabon?
Within the particular denomination I met with, I discovered they have roughly 100 churches throughout the country of Gabon. However, they only have 50 pastors. That means each of these pastors is essentially leading two churches because there simply are not enough pastors available to serve. And of these 50 pastors, only 20 of them have had any kind of training.
As I spent time with these pastors, it became increasingly clear why the development of leaders is so crucial to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Without leaders and leadership development:
- New churches are not planted
- Existing churches are under-served
- People groups are not reached and the spread of the Gospel is limited
- The discipleship gap widens
- Basic Christian theology is almost non-existent
- Servant-leadership is replaced by dictatorial leadership styles
- Growth barriers are not broken
- Church conflict is managed poorly
- Ineffective ministry strategies are employed for lack of knowledge
- Existing leaders experience burnout
Leaders are catalysts for change. The intentional development of leaders advances the work of the Kingdom and puts the Great Commission in reach. Pray for Africa. Pray for leaders. And the next time you wonder if leadership development in your ministry context is worth all of the time, energy, and resources…remember Gabon. And remember that the Great Commission hangs in the balance.