A couple of years ago I sat in a meeting of our Finance Committee and watched and listened as they deliberated on River Road Church’s finances. Our income was greater than our expenses, but our desire to do more meant tough decisions must be made. The collective wisdom in the room was staggering. Only one other person present was younger than me. They had made these decisions before—many times. They made the right decisions that night.

But I left the meeting concerned. Where were our 30-somethings and 40-somethings? Are we passing the wisdom and process on to our next generation of congregational leaders? Are we listening to new perspectives? Are we preparing for ministry in the 21st century?

Everywhere I look at River Road Church I see leadership. A simple explanation for our church’s decade-after-decade success is the ample corps of smart, committed, trained leaders who teach Sunday school, minister as deacons, give energy to missions, and care for our finances. Trust me—it’s not like this in every church.

But leadership, like discipleship, is not automatic. People may be born with leader-like gifts, but most leaders are shaped by mentors, circumstances, and trialand-error decisions that result in useful, sometimes painful, experience. Leaders are not hothouse plants; they grow through nourishment, tending, and pruning. Universities, corporations and denominations are figuring this out. Many have programs designed to develop young leaders. They want to know they are grooming the next generation of leaders for their enterprises.

By the time you read this a class designed to cultivate leaders already will be underway at River Road Church. The seminar, called Transformational Leadership, is being offered on many Tuesday evenings through the first of May. About 20-25 younger leaders from our congregation are enrolled in sessions on vision, mission, strategy, innovation, leading change, delegation, relationships, influence, communications, and delivering results. The class follows a business model, but uses case studies from churches and makes applications for our congregation.

Sessions are being facilitated by three of our members: George Davis, Susan Rucker, and Doug Anderson. Funding for the class is from a generous grant by the River Road Church Endowment Fund.

Leadership is a legitimate function of Christian education and spiritual formation. I hope this seminar will be a one step to a transformational church