In my first year of full-time ministry, I sat down for lunch with the leader of my past church's men's ministry. The church had been struggling for a while. Much of the trouble stemmed from a stagnant church leadership culture—it didn't seem like the people in leadership were listening to opinions other than their own. I felt hurt and frustrated, and like we were headed in the wrong direction.
My friend was just as tired and drained as I had been. Since he had been in his role longer than I had been in mine, I asked him how he continued to lead in this environment. "I'm still here because I think God can still change things," he said. "But when you've been beating your head against a brick wall, eventually it's going to knock you out."
Years later, over another pizza in a different restaurant, I sat across from the lead pastor of the church. Past experience said that a lunch conversation initiated by your lead pastor or an elder meant there was some "issue" that needed to be "discussed." I was wary. Before, these conversations had became monologues as an older leader spent much time correcting my mistakes, and little time listening or letting me ask for wisdom.
So I was caught off guard when this pastor listened, asking in-depth questions, and seeking my own authentic answers before offering his own wisdom. It was a dialogue, not a monologue. He was humble and gracious about it. I hadn't experienced anything like it before—an elder church leader initiating genuine relationship, dialogue, and mutual growth with an emerging leader.
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What do you think? How can elder church leaders pass the baton of ministry responsibility to younger leadership in healthy and sustainable ways?