Lads to Leaders: A Reflection
Guest Author: Spencer Ross Only the Lord knew that in 1968 a simple preacher training class at the Warner Robbins congregation would explode to become the oldest and largest leadership-training program in the church of Christ called Lads to Leaders (L2L). This past weekend, nearly 20,000 people gathered at six convention sites around the country for a time of genuine fellowship, talent demonstration, and the honoring of many young peoples’ efforts. Satisfied, drained, thankful, and relived are a few words that describe how I felt Monday morning following this full Easter weekend. I would like to share a few reflections from my experience.
1. Lads to Leaders is a family program.
I was privileged to attend the Dallas convention site where I observed that the audience was made up of around half youth and half adults. This was not a single youth minster bringing a group of kids type event. L2L offers a number of events for adults like Centurion of Scripture (memorization event), Good Samaritan (service event), and Read the Word (Scripture reading event). L2L requires much planning and behind the scenes effort to pull off this thrilling weekend. Adults are used as judges and facilitators for the different convention events. Many families stay the entire weekend at the hotel creating a memorable bonding experience.
Lads to Leaders is not a one-man show. This past Lord’s day at church where I labor, I had all the adults who served as a coordinator, coach, and mentor stand up in our congregation’s auditorium to visually illustrate that many adults are needed and utilized in the training of our youth.
As a family, my wife and I spend a lot of time, money, and energy preparing for our children’s L2L experience. We view this as investing in their spiritual foundation. As parents we have been charged to “train up our children the way they should go” (Pro. 22:6); therefore, we will do everything possible to create an environment for exciting spiritual growth.
2. Lads to Leaders inspires year round discipleship.
Every year after convention, I hear parents and youth tell me what they would love to participate in the following year. Many youth are challenged to go the extra mile in their preparation and rise to new levels. The noncompetitive year round events in the L2L are quite attractive to many families. It is personally rewarding to witness folks eager to find speaking and song leading opportunities, to participate in service projects, and a committed desire to read and memorize the Word of God.
3. Lads to Leaders builds godly leaders.
L2L weekend is awesome for a hundred reasons, but the preparation is where the real success and rewards are found. The countless hours of Bible Bowl study, the in-depth analyzing of the debate event resolve, and the self-starting youth rising up to leadership roles in their puppet presentations are just a few glimpses of what leadership development is all about.
The 85% retention rate of active L2L young people staying faithful in the Lord’s church after high school graduation is a great indicator that this program is a valuable tool for families and congregations. I am not shocked to hear of these results after I consider all the spiritual exertion and the meditation that has been placed on God’s Word. Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”