The primary goal of leadership development is to restore the stabilizing glue and fill the vacuum of moral, spiritual, and economic leadership that is so prevalent in poor communities by developing leaders. This is most effectively done by raising up Christian leaders from the community of need who will remain in the community to live and lead.
Most Christian Community Development ministries put a major focus on youth development, winning youth to Christ as early as kindergarten and then following them all the way through college with spiritual and educational nurturing. Upon returning from college a ministry creates opportunities for exercising leadership upon their return to the community.
At the core of the leadership vacuum in inner city communities is an attitude of flight. For many, success is defined as being able to move out of inner-city communities, not remaining there. The erroneous goal is to help a few people leave the neighborhood so that they can escape the problems of inner city communities. This core value of escapism has caused a major drain on the community. Success in the world’s eyes is leaving the neighborhood and owning a home in a more affluent community.
Leadership development is possible only when there is longevity of ministry. All too often people are guilty of trying to have quick fixes in poor neighborhoods. Leadership development is of the highest priority in Christian Community Development. Each ministry must have a dynamic youth ministry that is reaching young people with the good news of Jesus Christ and then equipping them to become faithful followers of Christ, and effective community leaders. This will take at least fifteen years to accomplish, so a worker must plan to stay in the neighborhood for at least that long.
In situations where Latinos and other ethnic groups are negatively affected by their current legal status in our country, this progressive, developmental process is nearly impossible to accomplish, as young people are not able to attend college or prepare for a stable career. In this case, ministries are often moved to engage in social action to challenge and change current immigration laws that debilitate the lives of promising youths and their families.
For CCD ministries, developing leaders from the community is a huge priority that requires absolute commitment; the payoff is that our communities will be filled with strong Christian leaders who love their neighbors, and have the skills and abilities to lead our churches, organizations, and other institutions that bring sustainable health to our communities.