Young adults are “hungry for investment and shaping,” says Leaders Collective director Robyn Serez. “It’s a beautiful season of life to welcome people into some holy discipline and mission mindset.”
Enter the Leaders Collective: a development track to “invest in young leaders while they’re currently engaged in leading in their churches.”
The program grew out of conversations between staff in Ontario MB ministries – Ed Willms (Ontario Conference of MB Churches), Philip Serez (MB Mission), Trevor Seath (C2C Network) and Ed Heinrichs (Camp Crossroads) – about how to support and encourage each other in ministry.
The four collaborating Ontario ministries successfully piloted Leaders Collective January–September 2016 and are officially launching in September 2017.
The dream for Leaders Collective catalyzed after the 2015 Pastors Day sessions on the challenge of how Ontario MB churches can raise up young leaders. “We were concerned over the Hemorrhaging Faith report which found when youth finish high school, their connection to church drops,” says Robyn Serez.
Their response: “Let’s come alongside 22–27-year-olds for a value-added year,” says Serez. “They stay where they live and continue to work where they work, but we resource them with some extras.”
Those extras include three retreats, the accountability of a mentor, a reading list on Christian character (two books), a Bible reading plan (four chapters/day) and support in setting goals.
All participants must be recommended by their pastors/elders. Subsidized by the Ontario MB conference, Leaders Collective recommends churches and participants share the remaining $250 cost.
The three retreats include an orientation, an urban encounter in Toronto and a debriefing event, all of which feature talks by MB leaders. In the first cohort’s debrief, a common thread was how they were shaped by hearing “the raw, honest stories of leaders actively engaged in ministry.”
“One of the values close to my heart is for them to hear voices of women leading in our denomination,” says Serez. “We’ve brainstormed a shortlist of women doing tremendous ministry locally and globally.”
The urban encounter is led by C2C’s Trevor Seath. Last year, participants shadowed leaders of MoveIn, First Nations ministry, and poverty and homelessness ministries in Toronto. “We heard the leaders’ story and, where possible, engaged in activates they were doing,” says Serez. “It was rich and affirming.”
Mentors check in with participants every two weeks for prayer and accountability. The mentor isn’t necessarily “a pro” in their area of ministry, but someone from the young leader’s church “with a vested interest in seeing them succeed,” says Serez.
In their pilot year, Leaders Collective realized the need for a way to measure outcomes. In partnership with Daniel Beutler from L2L, they created a Desired Outcome Chart to track growth in four areas: prayer, Scripture reading, discipleship and leadership, plus two personal ministry goals.
Personal goals might be learning how to care for grieving people by shadowing a chaplain, or overcoming the fear of public speaking by asking a gifted speaker to pass on her tips. “It’s a great way to discover people in your church with equipping gifts,” says Serez.
This fall, Aurélie Michou, an MB Mission intern from France who does graphic design will glean from MB Mission’s videographers. The Serezes’ daughter Reneé will join Leaders Collective: having earned a degree in social development studies, she is interested in gaining experience in youth ministry.
The program’s “Kingdom electives” provide opportunities for participants to go outside their familiar context at some point during the year. Most of first cohort joined MB Mission’s six-week ACTION Ontario teams in Burundi, Central Asia or Portugal. Participants could also choose to serve at Camp Crossroads or alongside an Ontario C2C church planter.
Because of this collaboration between a conference office, church planting network, global mission agency and local camp, young adults “gain a holistic view of the church working together,” says Serez.
“Seeing pastors passionate about this and taking steps to develop disciples brings me joy,” she says. Pastors have been responding with “Can I be a part of investing in this?” “May I come on the retreat and listen?”
“Leaders Collective is about what can we do together on mission.”