Most church leaders can remember the person who first identified a leadership gift in them. At some point, often in their teens or twenties, an older leader will have experienced an “I see this in you” conversation, or if it was in a Pioneer context, perhaps it was a prophetic word! That conversation or prophecy would often have confirmed a sense of calling in their hearts and permissioned them to begin to step out and take their first initial steps into leadership.

My own experience of having Steve Clifford’s mandating of me to lead Open Heaven early on was hugely important and enabled my sense of calling to overcome my self-doubt and my awareness that I didn’t fit the leadership stereotype back then (being a young, single female).  Then, more recently, Billy has created space for me and others to operate apostolically as he has stepped up and invited others into places of influence and responsibility. A movement stays a movement when it keeps on moving.

There are, in the history of any movement, some moments of realising ‘ahh, we’re all getting older’ and then a rallying cry arises to bring on the next generation. In Pioneer, there have been those moments and waves of energy to focus on who we are raising up and bringing through in leadership. I personally remember the powerful prophetic cry in the 90s about releasing the ‘Jacob Generation’ and I enjoyed riding that wave!

However, rather than waiting for the next prophecy or rallying cry (because it’s a fact that we are all getting older!), I wonder if we should just instead steadily shift our Pioneer culture towards one of apprenticeship. A culture that means we consistently look out for and raise up new leaders. In fact, I actually believe that a leader’s finest hours are when they are intentionally investing into other leaders. It absolutely has to be intentional because everything else clamours for our immediate attention; the emails, the talk prep, the latest pastoral crisis.

I know for me that running a yearly School of Leaders every Autumn and putting aside time to disciple younger leaders, either one to one or in a leadership huddle, makes it the priority I want it to be. Any church where the leaders are giving their time to the leadership development of others makes a statement. A great question to ask is, how do we give ourselves away so that nothing stays buried until we are?!

That kind of mindset creates an engine of leadership development that attracts anyone with an embryonic leadership gift.

“I actually believe that a leader’s finest hours are when they are intentionally investing into other leaders”

As younger leaders are spotted and invested into, it is then imperative that space is made and opportunities to lead are created, otherwise our younger leaders will end up going elsewhere. For some churches, that means planting more congregations, local expressions or missional communities that create meaningful leadership roles. For other churches, it’s about seeing who else can join the leadership team. That’s not always straightforward, as sometimes there simply aren’t the younger leaders around or culturally it can be easier to have a leadership team with everyone who is the same age and life stage of the Team Leader.

However, just because something is easy doesn’t mean it’s right! I believe that if there are any ways in which we can open up the leadership table to younger leaders, who have the gifting, character and anointing from God, we should! Raising up other leaders isn’t really an option, it’s an absolute necessity if we are to truly be a movement that keeps on moving.

With that conviction, I have great pleasure in announcing two new UK Core Team members: Joe McSharry and Lukundo Fagade. These two phenomenal leaders lead Pioneer RISE (our group for emerging leaders in their 20s & 30s). Joe is based at Open Heaven in Loughborough and together with his wife Stacey lead OH1, our 18s-30s expression and he is on our Senior Leadership Team. Lukundo is based at Kings Church Manchester and is on the Whole Church Leadership Team, where she oversees the 18-30s ministry across all their communities. They joined the Core Team for our Away Days last week on Anglesey.

This is our new Pioneer UK Core Team:

P.S.: are there any younger leaders (teens or twenties) that you can bring to the Annual Leaders Conference this coming March 2020?

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