I was shocked to receive a writing assignment from the Baptist Association of Christian Educators titled, The Leadership Vacuum in Church Leadership, yet that title is an apt description of most churches today. The word vacuum stems from the Latin adjective vacuus for “vacant” or “void.” The word meaning of vacuum is an empty space, related to vacare, meaning “be empty.” Vacuum is space devoid of matter and, yes, there is a leadership vacuum, an empty space, a void in the work of Christian education by the local church.
If you “look under the hood” of most churches you will quickly realize the presence of a vacuum. Here is what I have personally observed.
- The Christian educator is no longer seen as a major staff position.
- One seminary that used to annually graduate over 300 Christian educators, recently graduated 32.
- Regular on-going leadership training of laymen has virtually vanished from the schedule of most churches, to be replaced with annual or at the most, monthly equipping sessions.One seminary that used to annually graduate over 300 Christian educators, recently graduated 32.
- The extensive training once provided by a prominent denominational education agency has moved to a format of selling as opposed to training.
Is training still important? Absolutely!
While we see secular organizations ramping up training and educational program most churches in America have purposefully eliminated intense training. Take for example professional football teams. They have increased their leadership training tremendously over the past few years. Training begins the minute a person graduates from college as he prepares for the draft. They are tested, trained, and taught leadership skills so that they can be equipped for the profession job of football. While this is taking place most churches have decreased training and minimized the value of training. If we were to take a hard look a Scriptures we would realize that discipleship includes leadership and teacher training. It is a must for churches and should not be approached haphazardly.
Look Back Before We Forget
As we look forward perhaps we should first look back to the Christian educators from 1902-1923. How would they respond to what they see taking place in the local church? I think if would break their hearts. Since they were on the “cutting edge” of some of the most creative leadership training of their time, they would not believe what has happened in churches in the last 116 years. I believe they would be broken-hearted when they realized how the products of their countless hours of preparation have deteriorated to the point that Christian leadership for the average church has practically vanished.
A Challenge to Christian Leaders
To address this “vacuum” in Christian leadership, educators and pastors need to weigh their words. If leadership training is needed, SAY IT! If leadership training is desired, DO IT! If you don’t know how, FIGURE IT OUT! Laymen are just as eager to “be about the Father’s business” as those leaders in 1902. They need Christian educators to “step up, stand out, and strengthen the Body…THE CHURCH.
Jesus said, “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18) I say it is time Christian educators filled the void that exist in our churches because it is obvious that the Word of God is the “matter” that needs to be incorporated into the lives of Christian educators and the disciples scattered across the world.Dr. Bill Taylor is the founder of Unlimited Partnerships, speaker, and connector of Christian educators. Contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org