Developing Next Generation Leaders
I was called to the ministry when I was 14 years old. The year was 1986. Back then, the path to preparation was college and then seminary. I followed the path and I have no regrets. Oklahoma Baptist University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and finally, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary yielded three degrees that have served me like three keys opening multiple doors in the ministry. But this path also was incomplete in terms of a rounded preparation for my calling. My most valuable lessons and skillsets have been learned by doing and by sitting at the feet of great leaders.
In the last 20 years, there has been a shift. I have watched as more and more God-called men and women have deviated from the prescribed “path” and have instead sought the route of pure experience. This devaluing of the formal education process has yielded ministers of great skill, but lacking in theological, biblical, and missiological depth. The result is a shallow ministry practice that fails to serve God’s people.
There must be a better way. There is a better way.
For 26 years, Dr. Ronnie Floyd has led Cross Church, pouring into the lives of next generation leaders. Our common practice has been to seek out the sharpest, young, God-called men and women walking the path of a formal education, and culling them out into internships at Cross Church. This summer is no exception, as 18 of the best next gen leaders are with us during their summer break. We have also been skilled at identifying the sharpest graduates from college and seminary, and bringing them onto our staff team to serve our church while we develop them. In fact, I am a product of the Cross Church system. I served as an intern the summer of 1989 and then after graduating from seminary, served the Cross Church family for nine years through Shiloh Christian School and what was then the Church at Pinnacle Hills. The lessons of leadership and ministry I learned from Cross Church and Dr. Floyd have been invaluable, and coupled with my formal education, have shaped who I am today.
Enter the Cross Church School of Ministry. In just a few short weeks, we will be launching this unique ministry residency program that we believe will change the landscape of ministry preparation and next gen leadership development. Just this last week, I read a fascinating article by Tony Morgan where he recalls a conversation with Dave Travis, the managing director of Leadership Network. In discussing the development of future leaders, Travis explains that, “The question will not be ‘where did they go to school?’ but rather ‘where did they train?’” Dave Travis is correct. This trend is already in full swing. The Cross Church School of Ministry is the next step in the progression of leadership development for the future. We are not saying that the formal path of education is unimportant. To the contrary, we are saying it is critically important – just not all that there is to ministry preparation. The Cross Church School of Ministry capitalizes on the best of both worlds. We have developed partnerships with twelve schools and seminaries. This means that academic institutions are on board and see the value of residency training. The Cross Church School of Ministry also demonstrates a unique commitment to academia, while at the same time, elevating real-time training in ministry through a residency experience.
We are convinced that this will be the model for the future of next generation leadership development. And the result will be that the church and Kingdom are served at a greater and higher level than ever before!
Dr. Jeff Crawford
President, Cross Church School of Ministry and Teaching Pastor