In the past two posts, I’ve shared with you the first two of our three core values that will drive everything we do. The third value is ministry development. In recent years, the term “Leadership Development” has been applied to just about anything and everything, however, the truth is, there must be real focus on what development is.
First of all, I am talking about more than preachers, but preachers are NOT excluded in process. In each of our churches there is an “army” of volunteers. They do everything from scrubbing the toilets to teaching Sunday School classes. The list is endless of the people who needs to share in the developmental process.
It would be simple enough to have a series of classes aimed at the pastors, however, the truth is that ALL of us need development, and ALL of us are to be in the ministry in some way, shape or fashion. One-hundred-years-ago we were a missionary movement, punctuated by the cry “every member a worker and a work for every member.” We practiced “saturation evangelization.” Basically, when we would plant a church in one town, we would begin to look to the next town, village and city. That spirit needs to be revived in the Church of God of Prophecy, and the best way this will happen is when we begin to development of the people sitting in the pews.
As with any other leadership principle, the “stream never rises above its source.” This effort must be led by the ministers, who will lead by example. Every minister, regardless of his/her age should be pursuing excellence in their ministry, and they must be doing their best to upgrade. As we lead by example, surely the people will follow us.
A few-months-ago, two of our older ministers shared with me that they have enrolled in a doctoral program. I told them how proud I am of their desire to learn. Now pay attention to what I am saying. These ministers pastor two of our smaller churches and both old enough to draw Social Security Retirement benefits, however, they is not satisfied to stay where they are with the educational progress. I admire men like Bishop E.C. Kephart and Bishop Jerry Payne for setting a higher standard for all of us around them.
At 61-years-old, my mother (a licensed minister in our church) decided to obtain her GED from the county school system. As a child of the depression, she was blessed to get through the eighth grade, but that was it. After rearing her family, working along side my father, and with fewer years ahead than behind, she was not satisfied with her level of knowledge. She wanted to achieve and applied herself to do better. I pray the same spirit will take hold of all of our ministry, whether they are lay ministers or licensed ministers.
In most of our communities there are options. Not everyone has the confidence to enroll in a full-fledged University degree program, but how many could start by attending Adult Educations Programs offered by a plethora of Community Colleges near us? Could you at least try it out? Then, there are those who can attend college, and you should never live your life wondering what might have been.
Even if the organized educational program is not something you can do, my honest conviction is that with all of the books, tapes, CD’s, DVD programs available, there is no reason to maintain a low level of excellence when a little effort would raise the bar in your personal life. If you can read, you can learn. If you cannot read (and someone is reading this to you) then take advantage of a mentoring program in your community where volunteers will assist you in overcoming the hurdle in front of you.
Our Ministerial Development Intensives offer one of the best opportunities around to “upgrade” your education, and my hope is that many of you will attend the next session, and I am not just talking about our new ministers, but every one of us can use the time together of fellowship and instruction.
In his inaugural address of 1960, John F. Kennedy said, “I would rather attempt something great and fail, than to do nothing and succeed.” How true this is.
Mentoring is a lost art among us…when an older, experienced minister will take a younger minister under his/her wing and “pour into them” from your years of experience. We will develop mentoring among our people, we will offer quality material to help willing students learn, and if you are nervous about upgrading education, I am willing to go with you to a college campus and walk you through the process of enrollment, and go with you to a financial counselor to help you get grants and apply for scholarships. YOU CAN DO IT!
Finally, this may sound somewhat disjointed, but as I have been writing, it is pouring out of my heart. God gave the VERY BEST to mankind and we should offer Him no less. I challenge you to help me fulfill the third core value of ministry development, and watch as God brings about a change in your life…a thirst for knowledge.