Arkansas Baptists have long understood the importance of raising up the next generation of leaders in the church. At this year’s Pastors’ Conference, men and women gathered to discuss this important topic in a Preschool Playroom at Geyer Springs First Baptist Church in Little Rock as part of the annual Young Leaders Panel led by Dave McClung and Warren Gasaway.
This year’s topic focused on developing young ministry leaders and the panelists, who included Dr. David James, Blake Ligon, Will McKay, Chanson Newborn, Carmen Lane, and Bobby Thomas, discussed different ways to engage students and help them to fulfill their calling.
Relationships. One of the things that each panelist touched on was relationship building and how impactful it can truly be. Everyone has someone in their life they look up to, or wanted to be like when they grew up. The connections we make as kids, and even now, help shape us into who we become. Discipleship and mentorship are two keys to building up spiritual leaders. Making connections with students and building accountability create confident leaders who can step out on their own and mentor their own peers.
Environment. The panelists talked a lot about letting go of leadership and letting students take the lead, but by doing that there must be an opportunity to do so. Creating an environment where students can step out and lead is crucial to helping them develop their gifts and skills. Sometimes, in guiding and leading others, we don’t step back and let them give it a try. You can be there to help them along the way, guide them if they need it, but letting them be a leader and not a follower will ultimately be more impactful. Without experience, how will they truly learn to step out in faith and lead well?
Impression. As Christians, we are called to live differently than non-believers. However, in today’s culture sometimes the difference between a believer and a non-believer is hard to spot. In order to encourage young leaders, we must set an example to follow. As humans, we aren’t perfect. As Christians, we don’t claim to be blameless. However, we can’t live as the world during the week and only proclaim Jesus’ name on Sundays. We must constantly strive to seek and follow Jesus every day. If we set that example, others will see it and wonder what makes us different. They’ll want what we have. If we set that example for young leaders, they’ll develop that sense too.
With these tools in mind, we can strive to go out into our communities and churches to reach people for the Gospel and to grow the next generation of believers to be stronger in their faith.
Watch the entire panel discussion for yourself below.