I’m just a little cynical these days about all that is being written on Christian leadership. And perhaps my American cultural bias is showing through. I subscribe to a variety of Christian magazines and often browse through local Christian bookstores. Sometimes I am just a little overwhelmed at the multitude of resources available in the area of Christian leadership. There is both good material as well as pulpy books that seem to be produced in the “wake” of leadership interest within the evangelical community. How does one sort through this plethora of information?
In 2005 I was asked to become a part of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and focus on leadership development for “younger” leaders. Younger leaders are between the ages of 25 and 35 and are emerging Christian leaders in the Church, in ministries and in the global marketplace. Lausanne has a rich tradition of convening world Christian leaders that dates back to 1974 when Billy Graham and John Stott worked to bring several thousand leaders together in Lausanne, Switzerland to fellowship, pray and commit themselves to world evangelization. Out of this came the Lausanne Covenant, a document that became a key rallying point for evangelicals during the last thirty years, and is still a goldmine of enduring principles for Christian leadership.
The Lausanne Covenant and the Younger Leaders Gathering 2006
The Lausanne Covenant is a collection of principles that identify how the Christian world could unite in world evangelism. The initial 1,500 leaders who participated in the first Lausanne conference signed the document; subsequently, thousands more have adopted it in their approach to ministry. It addresses fundamental tenants of faith such as: Christian social responsibility, the Church and evangelism, cooperation in evangelism, partnership and cultural sensitivity. Although only ten pages long, the document is a wealth of information and is as relevant today as it was in 1974. You can read and download a copy of the Lausanne Covenant by going to www.lausanne.org/Brix?pageID=12891.
The Lausanne Covenant is the basis for the development of the Younger Leaders Gathering 2006 (YLG ’06). In September 2006, 550 hand-selected younger leaders will converge on Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to focus on world evangelism in the new millennium. Coming from over 107 countries, participants will bring a new spirit and passion for reaching their world. They will pray together, worship together, be briefed on the state of the world, be inspired by key international Christian leaders and will humbly lock arms in the task of reaching out to a lost and desperate world.
The group of younger leaders coming to YLG ‘06 is often referred to as the X-generation and includes those who are now in their mid-twenties to those in their early forties. This group is less interested in institutions and a hierarchy of leadership than their predecessors; instead, they are interested in leadership by “influence” rather than by “position.” This “emergent generation” is less interested in creating big structures and organizations and are more inclined to work in cooperative ways to accomplish a mission. This is an enormously encouraging development; it also fits extraordinarily well with the tenants of the Lausanne Covenant that heavily stress the humble coming together of Christian leaders in the pursuit of world evangelism.
Influential leadership must come from modeling oneself after Christ, how he lived, how he dealt with people and what was important to him. It is a little arrogant to think that a person can be just like Jesus Christ. There is no leadership book (other than the Bible) that a person can memorize that will make him or her into a Christ-like leader. It all boils down to a willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in one’s life in ever-increasing ways so as to reflect the fruit of the Spirit.
YLG ‘06 is only the beginning of the next wave of younger leadership development. In 2007 and 2008 those attending YLG ‘06 will be leading thirty-three regional younger leaders gatherings and thousands of younger leaders will be challenged to “lead like Christ” by allowing Christ to lead them. I am indeed very hopeful about this next generation of Christian leaders.