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What better way to allow “iron to sharpen iron” than to cultivate a leadership development program led by local pastors and teachers?

The Red Mesa Leadership Development Network seeks to discover potential leaders, develop their ministry skills and Bible knowledge, and deploy them into ministry roles. The 2014-2015 year is this ministry's seventh class since starting in 2008.

This three-year program meets twice a month, alternating between Rehoboth Christian Reformed Church of Rehoboth, N.M., and Maranatha Fellowship CRC of Farmington, N.M.

Rob Byker, pastor of Rehoboth CRC, is a first- and second-year instructor of the Old and New Testaments for the Leadership Development Network and is passionate about the ministry of leadership development.

“We need it,” he said. “Our churches are getting older, and if we don’t purposefully try to work on leadership development, then the bright witness of some precious churches might go dim.”

Beginning in 2008 with a class of 10, the Red Mesa Leadership Development Network has seen dozens of graduates, with 24 enrolled this past year. This rapid growth speaks to the long-term value of this program.

In the past, when Christian Reformed congregations experienced vacancies in pastoral roles, churches called on leaders from other denominations. Now Leadership Development Networks in Red Mesa and elsewhere are providing a growing supply of leaders within the CRC.

The leaders of the Leadership Development Network are working to develop an accredited program for graduates who desire to take the next steps in becoming a commissioned pastor.

Caleb Dickson was a member of the first class to graduate from the Red Mesa Leadership Development Network in 2008 and is serving as temporary pastor at Naschitti CRC. “Receiving the license to exhort was definitely a milestone in my life. The opportunities and blessings of preaching were the direct result of this program,” says Dickson.

Rob Byker observes firsthand the benefits of this ministry. He loves to see students’ excitement as they learn about the Bible and explore both its familiar and not-so-familiar passages. One of his favorite aspects of the ministry is “seeing new students develop confidence that they can teach a Bible study or accept the nomination to become an elder.”

The future is bright for Leadership Development Networks. Stanley Jim, Christian Reformed Home Missions’ Native American/First Nation Ministries Team Leader, directs the Red Mesa Leadership Development Network and is looking to expand the reach of the ministry to the Rosebud Sioux through Internet streaming in the years to come.

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