Mentoring : a sustainable means of developing young leaders for the church in Africa
This research was motivated by my various involvements as a teacher, pastor and a leader in the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA). It was also based on the assumption that the quality of a society’s future leaders is found in the church. Africa’s future leaders are today’s youth. The church needs future leaders who will help unleash its potential to accomplish the purpose of its existence. However, since the year 2002 there has been a mass exodus of youth from the ECWA to other churches and denominations due to leadership incompetence and lack of ministry opportunities. In response to the declining interest, participation and the exodus of youth in the Evangelical Church of West Africa, this study investigates mentoring as a means of developing the youth into leadership positions as an avenue for sustainable leadership development and retention of youth in the church. The Evangelical Church of West Africa, just as other churches in Africa, have forgotten that the role of leadership is to transform the adverse circumstances that people face by inspiring hope and empowering them to achieve the desired results, which ensures stability and sustainable growth. The purpose of this research was to explain the importance of leadership development and mentoring for the church, and to also evaluate the current situation of leadership development using the ECWA as a case study for the church in Africa. Africa is a continent with vast resources and countless opportunities. But currently it is the continent with the worst socio-economic conditions, and this could be attributed to the kind of leadership we have in Africa. The church unfortunately is not making any recognizable difference to set the pace for leadership in the African continent. The ECWA for example, has more than 70 district leaders, but many of them do not finish their three or six-year terms well. Those who manage to finish well do so without any legacy of preparing the future generations for effective leadership. The need to develop young people with proven character and integrity into leadership is a need of the hour; therefore, the church needs to invest in the youth through effective mentoring for leadership. One question guided this research: Can participation in meaningful mentoring relationships and/or creating a mentoring culture make an important and observable contribution to leadership development and retention of young people in the Church? More precisely – can it do so in the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA)? This also provides the methodological framework from which the study will be organized. Through this study, I hope to sensitize the church of the need for leadership and mentoring and for the need not just to develop young leaders through mentoring, but to develop young leaders who will follow the 2 Timothy 2:1-2 principle. It is also aimed at helping the church to maximize the leadership potentials found in the youth through mentoring and leadership development.