Skip to main content

As spiritual leaders, we must be invested in and take the time to develop and build up the next generation of leaders. These people are the future of the church, and it is our responsibility to care for and call them into what God has created them to do.

In this article, we will cover the following topics:

    1. The Biblical Basis for Mentorship
    2. How to Invest in the Spiritually Motivated
    3. Developing a Leadership Pathway
    4. Why We Need the Next Generation of Leaders

The Biblical Basis for Mentorship

Paul’s relationship with Timothy in the New Testament is an excellent example of spiritual mentorship and coaching. Paul came alongside Timothy, discipled him, and taught him how to walk with Jesus. God had put something in the heart of Timothy, and it was Paul’s responsibility to fan the flame.

As Timothy grew in his faith, Paul gave him more leadership responsibilities, even sending him as a representative to churches he was concerned about in 1 Thessalonians and Philippians. Paul often referred to Timothy as his “child in the faith.”

“To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” – 1 Timothy 1:2

This Biblical example of mentorship shows Paul coaching, correcting, and consistently pointing Timothy toward Jesus. The goal of Paul’s care for Timothy was to help him abide in the Lord and accomplish the call God had on Timothy’s life – regardless of the cost. 

As ministry leaders, it can be easy for us to dismiss the hard work of discipleship and development. We would rather sit around and ideate about problems without having a hard conversation and stepping into people’s lives in a meaningful, passionate way.

Invest in the Spiritually Motivated

As leaders, we can invest so much time and energy into people who are not bought into the vision, and it’s draining. Generally speaking, we spend 80% of our time trying to keep 20% of our people. Instead, we must invest our time into the spiritually motivated to maximize what God calls us to do.

Identify the spiritually motivated people in your ministry. Spiritually motivated people are humble, hungry for spiritual growth, and invite sharpening—regardless of age, experience, or job title. This hunger and humility come from a natural desire to be molded and shaped by God. Prideful people have nothing to learn. Invest in people with humble hearts and a willingness to change.

As a spiritual leader, you must invest in your staff and volunteers. Think of yourself as their coach—you want to get the most out of your team. You want to help them identify their passions and calling. You want them to run hard after the things God has called them to do. Define clear areas of opportunity where you see people need to grow. Give them clear expectations that align with their passions and a path for development. That is discipleship. You are helping people take the next steps in their journey of transformation.

How to Invest in the Next Generation

Investing in the spiritually motivated is not easy. It takes time, effort, energy, and a willingness to engage in intentional relationships. Here are some ways you can start investing in your people:

  1. Who do you need to call to more? Identify the people around you who are humble and hungry. These could be volunteers, staff members, students, etc. 
  2. Invite them to discuss what God is doing in their life.
  3. Create an intentional path for their development based on their spiritual gifts and passions. Hold them accountable to what God is calling them to do.

Residency and Internship Programs (College/Post-College)

Build a residency or internship program to raise up and send out spiritual leaders. Each resident or intern should be responsible for a part of the ministry with a direct report that oversees their ministry area. The direct report casts vision for the ministry area and holds them accountable for accomplishing tasks and key objectives throughout the program. The mentor is responsible for having weekly one-hour sit-downs to evaluate and discuss how the resident is doing relationally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. This allows for mentorship and accountability while the resident or intern seeks God’s calling on their life.

Sample Residency Schedule

Student Ministry (6th-12th grade)

Gather a small group of students who sense a call to ministry and start pouring into them. This could be as simple as doing a book study or going through a book of the Bible. Here are some key ways to invest in your students:

  1. Provide opportunities for students to gather throughout the week (i.e., small groups gathering at a local restaurant)
  2. Give them opportunities to serve in the ministry. 
  3. Start a Sunday Night Class for in-depth training.

Kids Ministry (K-5th grade)

To invest in your kids, teaching the basics of the Christian life is essential. Here are some examples of ways you can invest in the kids in your ministry:

  1. Teach truth straight from scripture to help kids develop a foundation for faith, a biblical worldview, and application for living a life transformed by Christ.
  2. Teach and encourage scripture memorization.
  3. Give kids opportunities to put their faith into action through serving opportunities.
  4. Teach kids how to share the Gospel.

Developing a Leadership Pathway

One way to intentionally invest in the next generation of church leaders is to develop a Leadership Pathway for your ministry. This pathway takes your congregation from one step to another as you encourage them in their walk with Jesus. Here’s an example pathway adapted from Mac Lake’s Multiplication Effect. The goal is to move your people through the pathway as they grow in their leadership capacity.

Step-By-Step Process

  1. Take time to assess and write down a list of people in each category (see below) 
  2. Identify each person’s gifting, passion, and what God has called them to (coffee or in-person meeting)
  3. Based on God’s call, challenge them to grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus and take ownership of a ministry area (guest services, kids, production, etc.)
  4. Continue discipling and pouring into them (Bible study, book study, SEND Network Training, etc.)
  5. Evaluate their progress and encourage them to take next steps.

Tier Descriptions

Church Member: A person who has completed the membership process.

Ministry Leader: A person leading in a ministry area (kids, small groups, students, etc.)

Small Group Leader: A person leading a small group.

Deacon: A person who prays and cares for the needs of the church.

Staff: A person who is a paid staff member (full-time or part-time) at the church.

Pastor: A shepherd and overseer of the church body.

Elder: The tip of the spear. Elders are responsible for the overall leadership of the church.

The Next Generation

Our ministries will outlive us. This is why it is absolutely essential to invest in the next generation as we seek to see the Kingdom of God expand across the world. The next generation is the future of the church!

Reflection Questions

  • In what areas of your ministry are you neglecting mentorship and discipleship? 
  • Who do you need to call to more?
  • Do you have a mentor? How are they leading you to become more like Jesus?
  • Who do you need to be mentoring? What is their development plan?

Luke Bilberry

Executive Director of Be The Church

Luke Bilberry is the Executive Pastor of Multiplication at Chapel Pointe in Hudsonville, Michigan. With a conviction to serve local churches, Luke draws on his 16 years of ministry experience to help churches and church leaders accomplish their vision. Over his time in ministry, Luke has served four local churches in a variety of roles. He has led student and family ministries in rural, urban, and suburban contexts. With a passion for church leadership, Luke holds a Masters in Christian Leadership from Dallas Theological Seminary.