Most of us enjoy a good celebration and don’t have to look far or try hard to come up with a reason to get together – weddings, graduations, anniversaries, birthdays and the list goes on. Often at funerals we have the opportunity to celebrate a life well-lived. We show up for these events for a number of reasons: we value the people who are the reason for the celebration and we want them to know it; we’re an active part of their lives; we want to be supportive; it’s a good family connecting time – and so on. And, being honest, sometimes we show up because we feel we have to, or because someone is making us – and sometimes we show up only because of the promise of good food! Whatever the reason, we know we won’t be alone. Celebrations aren’t solo events.

As I think about leadership development, there are a lot of reasons to celebrate. While the focus of some of those celebrations is on individuals, many people have had significant roles along the way. Leadership development is not a solitary process. It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child and it takes many people to raise up and develop a leader.

A lot of the leadership development events this past spring have happened with this philosophy in mind: good things can happen when we work together.

A group of pastors gathered for a day at the Ministry Centre to brain storm the contents for a New Pastor Orientation Handbook. These were relatively new lead pastors that could relate to ‘what I wish I’d known my first year’. As the day and discussion unfolded, every time we thought we were close to finalizing the list, someone would think of another item that really should be included in the handbook. This resource, when complete, will cover everything from ‘what’s a governance board’ to ‘it’s my first wedding and I don’t know what to do’. MEGaP members are currently working on writing various chapters and I trust it will be a valuable resource when complete.

Another group of pastors gathered for a day to assess the current process in place for internships. Again, good input was provided by the team which has resulted in many positive changes. I’m very thankful for the health of the Leadership Giving Stream (it’ll be a river yet!) that makes these internships possible. This gives a further reason for celebration and another way that many of us play our role in the village, in leadership development.

Yet another group of pastors got together for a day and a half to share, evaluate and make changes to the Leadership Development Plan (LDP). These pastors are working through LDP with potential leaders in their churches. There was lots of sharing and learning as we looked at ways to continue to strengthen the roles played by the local discernment team at the church and MEGaP. We’re all part of the village.

Ordinations are wonderful celebrations. I’m not able to attend all of them, but my attitude is that I get to go, not that I have to go. Ordination marks a significant event in our journey. It can take a lot of time, effort, prayer (and money) to get there. Many people travel with us and invest in us, providing encouragement, support, a shoulder to cry on and a good kick when we need it. Ordination is not a destination but it is an important mile-marker. The most recent ordination I attended was at Ridgeway Community Church in Ridgeway, ON, for Dave and Kathy Stephenson. Dave and Kathy are no strangers to celebrations. Over the course of May and June of this year, they both graduated from Tyndale Seminary with a Masters of Theological Studies degree, led the congregation through a wonderful weekend celebrating 125 years of community ministry through Ridgeway Community Church, became grandparents for the first time, and were ordained! Many people gathered to help them celebrate their ordinations: family; their home church family (Barrie Free Methodist); colleagues; mentors; accountability partners; friends and their current home church family, to name a few. In some way, all of us present had participated in Dave and Kathy’s journey and that made for sweet celebration!

I’m going to take a page from Jared’s book and issue another 100 church challenge – for leaders to be identified and developed from within our churches. Pray for these potential leaders. Pray for wisdom and openness to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. We know from the account of David’s anointing in 1 Samuel 16:7 that we need to have God’s eye and heart when it comes to identifying leaders. Pray for patience, opportunities and perseverance through the ups and downs of this journey (those of you who are parents will relate to this!). Experience the joy of celebration as these leaders make it to the important markers along the way, knowing that you have played a significant part both in the journey and in the moments. Good things can – and do – happen when we work together.

Rev. Kim Henderson is the Director of Personnel for The Free Methodist Church in Canada