The church is about to hit a leadership crisis, and you can be part of the solution.
In April 2024, Christianity Today released an article titled “1 in 4 Pastors Plan to Retire Before 2030.” This statistic is part of a report from Barna on the struggle to find a new generation of pastors. According to the article, only 16% of Protestant senior pastors were 40 or younger. Many evangelical denominations have started taking steps to address leadership development as they face shortages of pastors for their churches.
The role of a pastor is often seen as a low-paying, high-stress who would want to do that kind of career. But Jesus always set up the church to have people who watch out for the spiritual health of God’s people. This shortage will not be a quick fix, but your leadership has the potential to impact the church for decades to come.
Never Underestimate Your Role
Edward Kimball was a simple Sunday School teacher to a hyper group of young boys. One of the boys in his class worked at a shoe store. One Saturday, Kimball went to the store to talk to this boy about the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus. That day, Dwight L. Moody believed in the Gospel and started to follow Jesus.
Moody impacted people on two continents with the Gospel. One of those he influenced was Wilbur Chapman, who also became an evangelist. One day, a pro ball player named Billy Sunday heard the Gospel from Chapman and believed in Jesus. Chapman became the pastor of a church, and Sunday also became an evangelist.
Mordecai Ham heard the Gospel from Billy Sunday and became an evangelist. Ham visited Charlotte, North Carolina, where a high school student named Billy Frank listened to the Gospel. Billy Frank eventually became Billy Graham.
All of this started with a Sunday School teacher named Edward Kimball.
You may think you have no influence, but the boys and men around you have all been entrusted into your care. You can share the Gospel and call men to follow Jesus – wherever he leads them.
Call Men Up
One of the most critical principles in ministry to men is the idea of calling men up. Regarding spiritual leadership, most men do not believe they are qualified. Men need someone like you to see their gifts and the hand of God in their life. There is something powerful when a man experiences another man believing in him and calling him to spiritual leadership.
This principle of “calling up” is not new. Early in the ministry of Jesus, he showed up in the workplace of some men and called them to follow him, and he would make them fishers of men. This path would have never been one of their top five career choices. The apostle Paul becomes a spiritual father to Timothy. Multiple times the Bible tells the story of one person calling another person to move into God’s calling for their life.
Look at the men of all ages in your church and ask God to show you who needs to be called up.
Train Men to Minister
Your ministry to men will only reach its full potential when you identify, equip, and release men to do ministry. Don’t make the mistake of running programs for the sake of more activity. Always have one eye on how you are helping men use the spiritual gifts God has given them. When you do this, calling men to become pastors will be the next logical step for some men.
I have found that training men to minister requires three areas of focus: character, theology, and leadership skills. Mix these areas into your men’s ministry content or help men connect with other ministries in your church that will help to cultivate these areas.
Kingdom Wins Matter More
We all like to have success in ministry. Usually, success means how many men attend our activities and whether we have good, regular programming. When God gives you gifted and qualified men, helping them step into their kingdom calling, matters far more than the success of your ministry program. I argue that you are only successful if you are making disciples who are making disciples.
The church has gone through many changes in its history. We are in a period of significant change. Rather than this being a difficult season, leaders like you have the potential to create a new chapter of mission and health for the church.