By Rev. John Hulden, Assistant to the Bishop

How is your congregation doing at lifting up leaders and sending them out to serve the Church?

Can you name someone from your congregation who felt the call to leadership in the church and now is a children, youth, and family director? How about someone who is now a musician, parish nurse, administrator, a ministry director of any kind, or a deacon?

I served a church once that had six of its members attending seminary at one time. I thought it was a big deal. And it was. But then again, the church I served was a really big church. As I think about it now, why wouldn’t every really large congregation have had at least a half dozen followers of Jesus stepping out to learn and then lead in the larger church?


IN OUR MINNEAPOLIS AREA Synod, there are some smaller congregations that are fantastic at lifting up and sending out leaders to serve and minister all over the country and the world. I suppose if you do the math, those smaller congregations outshine many larger congregations. Thanks be to God!

Faith and leadership formation is such critical work for our communities of faith. Every generation, the body of Christ — the Church — needs new folks who answer the call to serve, minister, and lead God’s people.

So I’ve been wondering….

Is there a secret sauce in those congregations who so regularly and faithfully raise up ministry staff, deacons, and pastors?

Is there a secret sauce in those congregations who so regularly and faithfully raise up ministry staff, deacons, and pastors?

If you know a recipe that will help your people follow their call to lead in the church, please let me know. In fact, let everyone in our synod know. Please!

In the meantime …

next time you see a 5th Grader take great interest in a bible story, get to know that kid!
next time you hear a 10th Grader who asks a tough theological question, encourage more deep faith talk!
next time you notice that a friend from church has the gifts to be a deacon or a pastor, take them out for coffee and tell them!


P.S. Check out How Youth Ministry Can Change Theological Education — If We Let It (edited by Kendra Creasy Dean and Christy Lang Hearlson, Eerdmans, 2016). The authors’ research uncovered a list of “mother sauces” — something every top chef uses to make a variety of exquisite dishes — that are necessary ingredients for spiritual and vocational formation:

  • community building
  • decentering and disruption (e.g. Bible camp, mission/servant/learning trips)
  • worship
  • spiritual companionship
  • holy conversation
  • theological reflection
  • pilgrimage
  • experimental learning