… review a book partially before I finish reading it. You may say that is foolish to review a book before finishing it. Well there is a good reason for it! The author makes so many compelling statements in the first 15 pages I wanted to share these with you in hopes that you will read the entire book as I am endeavoring to do.
Here is the story…
My wife works for a Christian radio station where she is a production assistant. One of her duties is to set up interviews with the authors of books that the stations receives. I look through the books when they come home and will peruse a few of them before they are sent back to the station for interviews.
I was looking through a recent stack that she brought home and saw a book that intrigued me. I am drawn to any type of book on ministry, leadership or mentoring and this was no exception.
The book I am talking about is Protege – Developing Your Next Generation of Church Leaders by Steve Saccone. I had never heard of the book or the author prior to seeing the book in a stack of books. I picked it up and started to casually read the Introduction not knowing how far I would get. I did not get very far before I started reading some things that really resonated with me! My wife happened to come into the living room and I read some of these things to her and told her that this was unbelievable, that I had been waiting for someone to write something like this! She could tell that I was pretty passionate about what I had been reading. I told her that what I had read and had drawn me in was just within the first 15 pages of the book!
Before I share the quotes that arrested my attention and compelled me to read the rest of the book, I want to share a bit of my story. I have been looking for an opportunity to serve in full-time pastoral ministry since January 2010. If you have read here , you would know that my search has been highly unsuccessful. I have submitted my resume over 30 times to 30 different ministries since 2010 and have yet to be granted an interview. I had stopped searching while we were expecting our second child because we were unable to travel if called upon to candidate. I have since resumed searching but the results are still the same. This book really hit home because it addresses some of the core issues that I have been dealing with since launching my search for an opportunity for full-time pastoral ministry.
Here are the things from the book I wanted to share:
I think back to when I was nineteen years old, when I initially stepped into ministry and had no idea where to begin. Someone decided to help me figure it out… Not only that, he spend time coaching and mentoring me with insight and compassion because he believed in God’s call and gifting in my life. He believed in who I could become as a person, communicator and leader (pg.12)
Wow, what a powerful example of mentoring and coaching! It gets better.
Throughout history, if someone wanted to learn a particular skill, he or she would find a master or mentor to guide them. This person seeking to learn and grow is called a protege. And like any skill or trade, ministry leadership involves a set of abilities that must be developed and cultivated. (pg.13)
There are countless proteges simply waiting for an experienced master of their trade or wise mentor, but they so often become lost in the deficit of strong and developmental leadership that is so absent and misprioritized in today’s culture and today’s church.( pg. 12)
The author speaks about seminary – he is in favor of theological, academic training but also realizes that there are some shortcomings as well.
I’m profoundly convinced that attending seminary without also receiving “on the job training” is the equivalent of a physician attending medical school without ever practicing their skills in clinical rotations. And this dilemma is not solved with a simple field education course, as good as it may be. Think about it. Can you imagine being treated by a physician who possesses all the medical knowledge in the world after just graduating from several years in school but has absolutely no hands-on experience?
The author has hit the nail on the head! I have used the same example also in some of my writings on the subject as well.
He continues on:
Many proteges who attend seminary as their sole preparation end up stumbling around the church upon graduation and battling confusion and frustration. Why? Because they initially believe they’ve been properly prepared, trained, and equipped for the demands ahead, but they soon realize it’s not true. In actuality they were, more often than not, only given information instead of personalized and intentional development.(pg. 14)
This is true also of those of us who have served and are serving in the local church. My seminary experience was not just merely academic. I was involved in service within the local church while in seminary and even now. I also served as a pastoral intern in my local church as a graduation requirement. I have also found out that having two Masters degrees (M.A. and MDiv) along with over 25 years of practical Christian service in three different local churches will not cut it with churches looking for pastors, whether a senior pastor or assistant pastor. The expectations have been raised so high now that most seminary graduates do not have much a chance in finding a church ministry unless they were able to serve in full-time ministry on a church staff while completing their seminary training. Most seminary students have to work a secular job to take care of their needs and after that, there is not much time for anything else. I speak from experience because the entire time I was in seminary from 2002-2010, I worked a full-time job at minimum 40 hours a week, many times a lot more hours along with studying and other academic responsibilities.
The author also talks about training indigenous leaders:
And if we’re going to become the movement we long to be as the church, we must begin by raising up indigenous leaders rather than just looking outside our own backyards for people who are already where we want them to be. In the short-term, it may be easier to hire a ready made leader; but in the long-term, we not only do a disservice to all the hungry proteges around us, but to the church’s future. Her future will be shaped significantly by how we as leaders choose to engage the development process of the next generation of ministry leaders” (pg. 16)
I do not think that there is much more that I can say than what the author has already said in the first sixteen pages of the book. I think that the church really needs to step up and take responsibility for the proteges in their midst. We see the church taking a vital role in the development of leaders (see Acts 13).
I look forward to reading the rest of this book
What are some ways that the local church and its leadership can contribute to the training and development of the proteges in their congregations?