Guiding a Younger Generation of Church Leaders

Bekele Shanko was born into a rural Ethiopian family. Bekele’s father worshiped Satan, was addicted to alcohol and abused his three wives. Following in his father’s footsteps, young Bekele was officially dedicated to a lifetime of Satan worship by the age of four.

But God had another plan for Bekele. With no church or Christian witness in his area of Ethiopia, Bekele was introduced to the message of the gospel through a series of incredible events. He was transformed by the living Christ and has been miraculously used by God to bring hope and healing to a new generation of Ethiopians. Today, Bekele is an outstanding young leader in Africa.

Those who know Bekele say that he has been divinely appointed for leadership. God set him apart and gifted him with a keen intellect and a strong faith. Bekele also displays a deep humility and a dependence upon God as he asks probing questions and expresses his passion to become a leader for Christ’s kingdom.
Bekele’s story is one of many that represents the global trend towards younger leaders. God is raising up the next generation—often in unconventional ways—to lead his church. Many incredible accounts highlight God’s faithfulness to provide leaders for his church. However, the collective voice of these younger leaders represents some issues of concern:

“We need help to become Christ-centered leaders who are willing to resist the lure of success and advance the kingdom of God in difficult places and against seemingly impossible odds.”

“We need contextualized Christ-centered leadership models that are appropriate to specific cultures. We prefer our own indigenous leadership heroes for the future.”

“We need mentors who will personally invest in us through ongoing life-upon-life encounters. Leadership training events, although helpful, are not sufficient alone to bring about the Christ-centered perspectives and leadership maturity we desperately long for.”

“We need each other. We are motivated by collaboration, not competition. We want to partner with other like-minded kingdom leaders, sharing resources as good stewards in our service to the church and society.”

“We need leadership development now. It is an urgent priority for the church in the twenty-first century.”

Lausanne is responding to these younger leaders by prioritizing leadership development and are thrilled to work in partnership with the Holy Spirit to accelerate the development of younger leaders for world evangelization. To initiate this process, the Lausanne leadership will bring together 500 younger leaders in the fall of 2006 “to advance the movement of the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world by connecting, developing and inspiring the next generation of Christ-centered leaders.”

Our search has begun to find individuals to attend the Younger Leaders Gathering. Participants must fulfill the following requirements in order to attend:

  • Be between 25 and 35 years-old

  • Vocational role must be one of the following: pastor, teacher, missionary, para-church leader or marketplace leader
  • Theological beliefs must agree with the Lausanne Covenant
  • Be proficient in at least one of the following languages: English, French, Mandarin, Portuguese or Spanish
  • Ministry priorities must include (1) being actively and personally engaged in advancing the whole gospel to the whole world both locally and globally, (2) demonstrating a kingdom mindset through collaborative and cooperative ministry approaches and (3) being involved in a local church
  • Be willing to learn and a person of integrity and spiritual maturity
  • Be able to influence others, be respected by peers and have a desire to use leadership skills for current and future ministry opportunities

Please pray that God will lead us to select those of his choosing.

With younger leaders like Bekele, the church has a positive future. As younger leaders share their heart cry for spiritual development, we have committed ourselves to cooperating with the church worldwide. We seek to help raise up the next generation of leaders in our effort to advance the whole gospel to the whole world.


Rick Sessoms is Director of Leadership Development for Trans World Radio. He chairs the Lausanne Leadership Development Working Group.