The NOW Leadership Initiative (NOW L.I.) launched this past year as a way to identify and prepare God’s people to be workers of his harvest — and it’s finally time to take the next steps. At the 2022 District Convention, a list was gathered of individuals who were recognized by those around them as having the qualities of a good leader. These men and women were raised to receive tangible support and training in the coming months. But what else can we expect going forward?
Recently, NOW District President Paul Linnemann took time to answer a few questions about the NOW L.I. Here’s what he had to say:
1. If a name was submitted at Convention, what can that person expect? What groups or partners will he/she be training with?
We have already made contact with those names we received at the Convention. These people were encouraged to begin with a Mission Training Center course – Missional Church and Outreach. There are multiple ways in which those nominated can become involved in training. While it is our intent to provide options, it will be up to the individual to discern how they want to prepare. Options available include other MTC courses, coaching (contact the District Office if you’re interested), and Best Practices for Ministry Conference, among others. It is our intent to continue to grow the list of available training options over time.
2. What is the timeline for training — from start to finish?
Growing one’s leadership capacity is a lifelong pursuit. We will look for opportunities to acknowledge milestones people pass along the way, but leadership growth should never really stop. That is as true for our professional church workers as it is for our lay leaders.
3. What costs are associated with it?
Costs will vary, depending on the direction the individual wants to take. We certainly expect some to move toward professional church work, which requires university-level training. Others will take less costly paths.
4. Talk more about the expectations and goals. What is the big WHY of the NOW L.I.?
We are in a time of transition in the church. For decades we have operated with a full-time professional paradigm for ministry. With congregations experiencing reduced resources, this isn’t always an option. The big WHY of the Leadership Initiative is God’s why for the world – to bring the Gospel to people so they can become a part of the body of Christ. This doesn’t have to be done only through full-time professional church workers. God’s people are all a part of the priesthood of all believers and have a calling to be the Lord’s witnesses to the world. At the same time, we recognize the need for ordained and commissioned ministers, and we want to encourage and support them as they seek to prepare for ministry. When ministries become more resource-challenged, it’s tempting to seek to grow in order to preserve the institution – the congregation or school that’s been established and dearly loved. It’s important for us to remember that all of our dearly loved institutions were established to support the mission of the Gospel in the places where the Lord has put us. That has to continue to be our main objective.
5. What is a congregation expected to do to assist with the process? How can they best support someone who is part of the NOW L.I.?
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is a congregationally based organization. Congregations have the primary calling to bring God’s gifts to their communities. The NOW District Leadership Initiative is seeking to engage the New Testament model for raising up leaders. God’s people recognize those in their midst who are gifted for service and encourage them to make themselves available for such service. The plan goes like this:
- The process begins by knowing what you’re looking for. In December 2019, a survey was completed by people in the District identifying the attitudes, skills/behaviors, and gifts/abilities of a Christian leader. These are available in the study guide.
- Next, individuals are encouraged to be on the lookout for people who have these qualities and identify them.
- The next step is an “I see in you” conversation, where one gives specific and direct feedback to the candidate. An invitation is made to consider serving as a leader.
- The candidate makes themselves available for training and invests in taking the leadership role. This can look very different for different paths. Sometimes the training is shorter. Sometimes, in the case of training, becoming a professional church worker takes a major investment of time and resources.
- The congregational members continue to support and encourage their leaders in their service and as they continue to grow in their leadership capabilities.
6. Is it too late to submit names? What is the deadline?
We intend for this to be more than a short-term effort. This needs to become a lifestyle or standard practice for ministries to participate in. There is no deadline. Get the submission form here.
7. Is there an age limit?
8. How is the NOW L.I. different than other leadership opportunities offered by the NOW District? Is it more important than those?
What characterizes this effort is seeking to mobilize God’s people to pursue this with intent and purpose. It has happened in this way informally for some time. This effort is seeking to make it purposeful and more far-ranging than random efforts in the past. The church has relied on individuals discerning whether God was calling them into ministry. This effort adds the perspective of the body of Christ in affirming its members to discover their place in God’s design.
9. Can I just sign myself up? Or do I need to be nominated by someone?
The last thing we want to do is limit God’s calling in people’s lives. Individuals can certainly take the initiative and make themselves available to serve. This has been our primary way of doing things in the past. We simply want to encourage the body of Christ to see the opportunity in helping people recognize God’s calling and to support them in realizing it.
10. Is there a target number of people you hope to see participating?
The initial goal was to have each ministry identify at least one person. We are still praying that God will allow each of our ministries to experience the blessing of raising a new leader.