The Evangelical Alliance is passionate about seeing more public leaders across the UK, and we want churches to be part of this new (as well as ancient) activity. We want churches in villages, towns and cities excited about what public leaders can achieve and why they are vital.
What can churches do?
1. See the need
We have a crisis of leadership in our country. Politicians are not trusted, journalists are not believed, and bankers are bashed. In virtually every sphere of public life authority is being undermined by poor leadership.
We don’t need endless analysis of why things went wrong or courses in public ethics to try and stem the tide of failing leadership.
What we need are better leaders. We need real public leaders. Leaders in every sphere, working for the good of all and letting their voice be heard. Leaders grown in the Church.
2. Understand the call
Public leaders are committed to where God has placed them. This might be their town or neighbourhood. It may be their workplace or industry. They are committed to bringing leadership to places where it is most needed. They understand the call to love their neighbour in a practical way.
Churches appreciate calling, they understand vocation, and they can give a boost to public leaders by backing their mission through practical support, encouragement and prayer. Public leadership is a key part of mission. It is about the people of God going to the places where they are needed, working to bring God’s goodness where it is needed, seeking the kingdom of God to come in the places they live and work, and sharing the gospel.
Public leadership doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when people make the effort to build expertise, take the time to develop relationships and earn the right to speak out.
Churches provide an ideal training ground. They can bring public leaders together, they can help them learn from each other and they can train them to make the most of their opportunities. They can even build confidence for public speaking.
Right across the country, churches are engaging with civic authorities and having an impact on their communities. We want to support this, build on it, and help increase the footprint of the local church. We want to offer training to churches and groups of churches passionate to develop public leaders.
Leaders are busy people. If you show enthusiasm and passion it’s not hard to end up on every rota and team in the church. The life of the church is important, but it is has a public dimension that’s often neglected. When church leaders see people in their congregations with entrepreneurial gifts for leadership in public life, they should recognise this valuable God-given ministry and release these people to lead for the glory of God. And choosing to not allow church-activities to take up all this person’s time may be an important but sacrificial act for the church.
Churches need advocates in and for the communities they are located in.
Indeed, churches can have a bigger impact by encouraging public leaders into their calling and to their mission. By helping public leaders develop excellence and credibility, so that the footprint of the Church grows.
When churches release public leaders, they should also stay closely connected to them. The church is vital to the support and development of public leadership; this is not a thing to be done alone. There are no lone rangers in the kingdom of God.
Each public leader needs a community around them – practical and prayerful support from a church that understands their calling and encourages them to become a voice for good. The trials and challenges for a public leader will be different to those of a church leader, but churches can serve their public leaders best by seeking to understand these demands and providing support.
Also, by working with other churches and across the community, support networks can be developed for public leaders to have an even greater impact.
Here are some practical ideas of ways you can encourage public leadership in your church:
- Encourage people to share testimonies of what God has done in their community or their workplace, not just focusing on personal issues
- Preach on the need for public leaders, encouraging people who might feel called to public leadership to come forward and be prayed for and supported
- Take time to prayerfully identify people in your congregation who may already be public leaders, and ask them how you and the church can support, encourage and pray for them
- Suggest that people in similar sectors/areas of work connect with and support each other
- Encourage people to find a mentor who they can be accountable to and get advice from
- Organise a time for the whole church to pray for your local community and the specific needs it has. Perhaps write down the things that people sense God is saying need to change in their area, and consider how the church can support people to speak into these issues.
- Invite the Evangelical Alliance to run a public leadership day with your church and other local churches
- Speak with other church leaders about how together you can encourage public leaders in your area.