The Send Network Church Planting Blog

Releasing Your Best for the Mission of God

May 12, 2014 by Kevin Nguyen
Academia and seminary can mess up some of our perceptions about developing church leaders for the ministry. Many churches have literally handed off biblical and pastoral development to seminaries. While I am a proud product of higher education and am supposedly specialized in leadership development, I’ve come to a point in my spiritual journey where I feel confident in saying that the church should be the BEST environment to cultivate future church leaders for the mission field.
 Academia and seminary can mess up some of our perceptions about developing church leaders for the ministry. Many churches have literally handed off biblical and pastoral development to seminaries.
While writing my dissertation, I came upon this quote that eventually would be the motivational drive for me in assisting the church to effectively develop and deploy leaders. While most leaders acknowledge a leadership vacuum and believe there is an urgent need for the cultivation of godly leaders for the church "most churches have no apparent strategy for developing leaders." (The Leadership Baton by Forman, Jones, & Miller, p. 24) While this sounds bleak, I sincerely believe that God, through His Word, has commanded and resourced the local body for the task of bringing in, building up and sending out leaders to accomplish the bigger mission of the church–Kingdom expansion.

God Sent His Best

We first find this example in Jesus Himself. "God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17 NLT). Throughout the Old Testament, God sends prophets, priests and kings to declare and implement his decrees, but they were all inadequate. As the perfect solution, he sends his BEST, the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…” (Hebrews 1:3a ESV). To accomplish the task of building His Kingdom, God sets the ultimate sacrifice of sending His Best (John 17:18, John 20:21).

Paul Sent His Best

Our second example is seen in Paul’s missionary church planting strategy. Whenever Paul established a new church, he would return to strengthen disciples and appoint elders to help lead the infant congregations (Acts 14:21-23). On many occasions, Paul would send his most trusted delegates to these new churches, exemplified by Timothy and Titus. Both were personally addressed as “true child in the faith” (1Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4), and were challenged to provide order and develop ongoing leadership in the church (1 Timothy 3:15, Titus 1:5). We can argue that these significant church leadership positions only needed obedient and faithful servants, but Paul’s writing further asserts a higher standard for “reliable people” who are “qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2 NIV). The apostle appreciated and demanded higher-level leadership (1 Timothy 4:11-12, 15). So he trained up and sent out his best.

We Should Send Our Best

Finally, we look to the contemporary church. Developing leaders to serve the local ministries is a noble and worthwhile cause. It takes sacrificial time and effort. A secular study claimed that a new employee’s value equates to at least a 2-year investment of training and wages. Keeping your best is the most logical and effective way of building up your local church. With that being said, there seems to be a mutual dance in developing leaders within churches and seminaries--however, both should be unified in advocating the sending out of our best and qualified leaders to start new missional work. We find many examples in the scriptures that are contrary to the conventional wisdom of keeping our best talent. As He was sitting eternally gratified on His throne, He decided to send his glorious and only Son into the world (John 1:14). This pattern continued throughout the early church movements with Paul entrusting his most reliable and qualified people. If we are to take missions and church planting seriously, should we not think of how God approached missions? Why wouldn’t we send our best to help build His Kingdom?

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