One thing every pastor is looking for is leaders. Bill Hybels has said that the local church is the hope of the world, but leaders are the hope of the church. Every pastor desires to train and equip leaders, but many of us struggle to discover and develop those who God has already entrusted to our care. I’d like to suggest that the greatest pool of leaders you have are the ones you’re sending to summer camp.
The spiritual benefit of sending students to camp is proven. In our own movement, 1 of every 100 people who receive Jesus as their Savior do so at camp. 25% of all reported Baptisms with the Holy Spirit happen at summer camp. Most significantly for this conversation, more teens are called to the ministry each year at camp (+/- 1600) than we have Foursquare Churches in the US. The camp experience is especially significant for girls, reflected by the fact that 2/3 of all women currently serving in senior leadership positions first felt called to servant-leadership as a teen at camp. Camp is the entry point for leadership in the Foursquare movement (the research quoted in this article, “Camp & Call: The Impact of Camp on Foursquare Pastors” is available online by clicking here).
Senior leaders would be wise to make a personal investment in these students. Our PSW NextGen team will be providing each church with the reports of the spiritual experiences of the students you send to camp, including a list of names of those from your church who feel God’s call to lifetime Kingdom service. The question is, what will we do with that information? Here’s a couple suggestions that could be implemented immediately…
- Visit camp this summer. Senior pastors are always welcome to come visit and experience camp. You will leave inspired and encouraged when you see God moving in the lives of your students.
- Know the scriptural theme and ministry thrust of camp. After camp, have a follow up meeting with the kids who go to camp and present a devotional on the theme and receive first-hand reports of their experiences.
- Develop a leadership training track for young people in your church.
I recently came across an article* from a few years back that continues to help me think through how to maximize the opportunity to release the leadership potential and call in the lives of young people. These insights about developing young leaders are worth sharing:
- Nurture their inner lives. Future leaders will always need an authentic and deep faith to sustain them through the journey of ministering the gospel in a rapidly changing culture.
- Focus on their potential. Don’t focus on their current skills, or lack of them; see the leader they could become.
- Let them lead (and fail) and lead again.
- Encourage innovation and risk-taking. We need those next generation leaders who will charge into new projects and find daring, new ways to present the never changing good news of Jesus.
- Think long- and short-term. Investing time in young leaders is a surefire sign that we're thinking about the future and not content with mere short-term success.
- Model humility.
The future of The Foursquare Church and our local churches is dependent upon identifying, training, and releasing servant-leaders. God has already placed them in our congregations. God uses the camp experience to ignite them. Let’s not overlook the opportunity that is right before us.
* “Developing Future Leaders” by Scott Thomas. Online at https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2013/winter/developing-future-leaders.html