40 for Today and Tomorrow

40Under40Feature.inddBy Mark A. Taylor

We liked the sound of “40 Leaders Under 40” when we first started playing with the idea late last year. But could we even find 40 parachurch or local church leaders making an influence outside their own community or constituency? We immediately thought of a few men and women all of us should be watching. They’re setting trends, living as examples, blazing new paths, and at the same time lifting up the ancient gospel with fresh images to attract a new generation.

But 40 of them? We didn’t think so. And then we started asking.

We asked our readers, and dozens of you wrote with ideas.

We asked our contributing editors, and we came away from our January retreat with a long list of possibilities.

We knew some of the nominees, but frankly, none of us knew all of them. So we asked some more.  We inquired about several of our candidates. “We’re looking for young leaders other leaders are following. We want leaders younger than 40 who are setting the stage and paving the way for a new generation of leaders. Do you believe this person qualifies?”

We got input from around the country. And then we recruited profile writers. We knew they were important and could be as interesting as the choice of those profiled.

Then we asked the young leaders to send us pictures. And in the process of contacting writers and gathering pictures, we discovered at least three “young leaders” on our list who are older than 40! So we readily found worthy replacements who had been pushed off the list to keep the number at 40. (We had discovered that instead of struggling to find 40 of these leaders, we were working to limit the list to that number.)

Even with all this effort, we readily admit our lineup is neither perfect nor complete. But it is a fair sampling, and a most encouraging one at that. The future is bright. Our fellowship is in good hands. We need not fear what’s coming next. It will be ably handled and graciously redeemed by the next generation of leaders, people like the ones we’re picturing in these special “40 Under 40” posts throughout this month.

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