I have been reading the book AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay for our church’s strategic planning team and I came across one page that really struck me. It spoke about what the next generation of church leaders wants from the present generation of leaders. I was so moved that I literally highlighted the entire page, partially because this is exactly how I feel as a young pastor, but also because it is a reminder of what I need provide the next generation as I grow as a leader. Here is what it says:
“Let me give you a few hints as to things that the next generation of church leaders probably don’t want or need from you: your building (if it carries a big mortgage), your debt, the unchurched culture’s present level of disrespect and disdain for the church, and your parishioners’ apathetic consumer tendencies. Younger leaders won’t want our iron-clad denominational loyalties, outdated ministerial codes of ethics, insensitive and unrealistic success measurements, or lengthy academic requirements that make them put real life and ministry on hold for a paper degree. They won’t have much use for our massive wood pulpits, our pews, our individualistic communion trays, or our choir robes.
But here’s what they do want from us: they will want your Bible commentaries and some use of your buildings, as long as it doesn’t carry a lot of cost or control over their lives. Other than that, and a little cash, what they want most is your expertise, your mentoring, your encouragement, and a chance to hear the stories that will inform and inspire their leadership roles. They want tangible memories of how you modeled sacrifice, humility, teachability, risk, and courage in the face of ecclesial political pressure. They want to be inspired by how you gave away ministry, prestige, and power. They want to be entrusted with levels of responsibility that make them desperate for God’s help. They want freedom to invent new ways of cultural engagement, discipleship, and teaching without being belittled if they fail. They want you to trust them to know how to reach their own generation. In short, they want a concerned but nurturing coach and someone after whom they can pattern their faith and leadership. The biggest gift you can hand down is faith.” (Halter and Smay, pg. 199)
Powerful words to live by and strive for. Thanks to the teachers and mentors who have poured so much into me over the years. You know who you are and you mean more to me than I can express.
PS Buy the book. It is worth the read:)