Why is the dropout rate in ministry so high? Why do so many moral failures happen in the ministry? Why do so many pastors burn out long before their time? I believe the answer to all these questions is tied to the same reason. In our rush to serve God, the church has unwittingly created an overabundance of underdeveloped leaders.
Ministry is difficult. It holds unique challenges which most of those entering the ministry are simply not prepared to face. It’s not that hearts are bad, or convictions weak, or knowledge deficient…it’s rather that no one took the time to teach the habits that lead to longevity. There is a healthy way to view the ministry, and there are ways to do ministry that are truly sustainable, but these “habits of the heart” must be learned. Someone must teach them.
Let me draw a parallel. We have all become intensely aware of the effect of the first five or so years on a child’s life. If, during these extremely formative years, there is not a proper amount of love and care expressed, of appropriate amounts of affirmation and touch, of a sense that someone is watching over us for our good, even in discipline, a child is at risk of growing up with the lingering effects of this negligence. This will often manifest itself in deep insecurities, which, once developed, will prove hard to comprehend, much less eradicate. Tragically, it can take a lifetime to overcome the negative effect of neglect experienced in these first formative years.
I believe this has a parallel in the ministry. After the typical preparation of a Bible College or a Seminary, the experience of a man or a woman during the first five years of actual “ministry” will either make or break them. What they learn and experience in this critical window of time will be very determinative of how they handle what comes at them in the years to come. How they learn to cope will determine how they will manage the stress and pressures they will face in the future. Are they learning good, life giving habits? Can they respond positively to being admonished? Do they discover how to have healthy confrontations? All these issues matter!
Why am I telling you all this? Because at Central we are determined to help young people who desire to enter the ministry have a fantastic and lifelong experience that is both productive and positive. We want to mentor to success.
At Central, we have a program that is called The Central Leadership Institute. It’s not a Bible College, and it’s not a Seminary. CLI’s primary purpose is not simply to impart more information into the already packed heads of our students. Rather, it is designed to develop effective ministry skills in real time. It immerses students into the life of the church and teaches the practical, not the theoretical realities of ministry.
Is this needed? CLI is a residential program that attracts students from all over the country who are desperate to experience life in a healthy church. Yes, it is needed!
So this week I have been spending time pouring my heart into our newest class of residents. I am excited for you to meet them. They are simply wonderful and they are full of life. I am confident that just as prior classes of these students have done, they will prove to be a huge blessing to our church.
But more importantly I want our church to prove to be a huge blessing to them!.
Paul once said to Timothy,
“You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.” 2 Timothy 3:10-11
How did Timothy learn these things? Simply by doing life right alongside Paul. Our residents do life right alongside us.
Keep your eyes open for these residents and join me in doing all we can to help provide the best learning environment possible for them. Let’s together commit to developing them!
You will never know what your words of encouragement could accomplish until you take a moment to express them! When given that opportunity, seize the moment to make a difference. A lifetime of ministry might one day hang in the balance!