In our years of experience working in several major cities and continuing to do so in New York City and Philadelphia, we have noticed that the church panics when it is looking for leaders who are both contextually and theologically prepared. Therefore, many have reached outside the local church to solicit help from those who are theologically sound but may not be contextually relevant, or they are contextually relevant but lack theological training.
When that panic button goes off, another venue might be to solicit help from other urban churches. In any case there is a problem of orientation and re-education into a new context, because in the city the cultural and social dynamics vary a great deal from community to community.
The urgent call for us is to prepare leadership from within the local church to advance the kingdom of God in a diverse and changing world. One means to this end is to be intentional about growing leaders both for the local church and for the missional work of the church through church planting. This begins with an identification/selection process.
We believe that the local church has within itself all the necessary gifts to carry out its unique ministry. The question is how do we identify potential leaders and then select them for a process that continues from that point on. This is best done in a non-formal setting developing leaders through relationship building, reflection, and response.