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The Church's #1 Hang-Up for Embracing Young Leaders

I believe the church in the United States is on the verge of what could be a great moment! Let me stress, “could be.” And I say, “could be” ’cause there is one huge obstacle in our way. But before I get to that, here are a few of the reasons for my raw enthusiasm about the church of tomorrow:

1. Many of the very best and brightest young leaders are accepting the call to go and plant new and reproducing churches.

2. We are in a season where there is more church planting happening than ever before.

3. We are in a period of time where more churches (both large and small) are thinking and strategizing about multiplication and not only growing their churches.

And thousands of churches are taking intentional steps to get people off the bench and into the game of difference-making mission! More and more churches are taking seriously the challenge to be on mission.

All of that is tremendously encouraging to me. All of that causes me to believe that God has great moments ahead for the church.

But here is my great fear. What happens to the young leader with unbridled enthusiasm when they discover that church planting and living on mission is really hard? Where does he or she turn when they start to feel like they aren’t making a difference?

What happens when the scoreboard tells them they are losing? What then? Do they quit? Who is going to be there to “snap them out of the daze”? Who is going to be there to help them “believe they can win”?

The next couple of decades have all the makings of a great moment for the church in the U.S. We have put some great players into the church planting and missional-movement game. The important question is, how do we keep these people who are leading these missional communities and new churches motivated and equipped? How do we make sure that those churches and missional communities continue on mission and don’t get frustrated and quit when they come up against their first challenges!

Ephesians 4:11-12 gives us the answer. This is a passage that I’m personally re-examining these days. Paul says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

The one word that jumps out in that text is the word “equip.” And “equip” is a word not found anywhere else in the New Testament. It literally means “the bringing of the saints to a condition of fitness so the parts of the body can work together.” Fitness? Teamwork? When Paul talks about equipping, in laymen’s terms he is talking about coaching! If Paul was here, he might say “preparing each player to do his or her best for the team.”

You know what always precedes great moments? Coaching! The single biggest obstacle to greatness is equipping and coaching! So here are two challenges to make sure we see the great moment that God has ahead for his church:

The first challenge is for any young leader: Who is providing coaching in your life to make sure you are equipped to for the challenges ahead?

The second challenge is for veteran leaders: Who are you coaching? Are you using the life experiences (wins and losses) to equip young leaders for the great moments ahead?

The one thing that always happens prior to great moments is great coaching!