Transitions are always times of crisis, but crisis is not the enemy! Generational transitions, whether personal or organizational, are times of great opportunity.
The Church of God (Seventh Day), along with other members of the body of Christ, is facing transitional challenges. Churches in America that don’t adequately face the challenges of transition in a culture gone wild are in a deep crisis to remain relevant, or to even exist.
Beautiful old churches with exquisite stained glass windows, vaulted ceilings, and magnificent pipe organs find themselves largely empty and falling into decay. Generational transfer — “Gen2Gen” — at this critical juncture in ecclesiastical history is in jeopardy of not happening.
As the Church of God (Seventh Day) attempts to step forward representing a “vibrant twenty-first century church,” it faces the same crises and challenges. The question becomes “What must occur for such a church to become a reality, not just a dream?”
The answer begins with a good council of elders. True elders are eager to “sit in the city gates.” They don’t play horseshoes or shuffleboard all day but are at the center of spiritual commerce, at the comings and goings of all church activities.
Elders provide much needed counsel, guidance, insight, and wisdom. In being available (as a team), they give protection, direction, and blessing for the next generation of leaders and followers. They give not only inspiration but also the “extra fuel” of generational blessing.
Once they share their collective wisdom and blessing, these elders need once again to “sit” in the city gates. There they applaud the God of the universe, alive and well in new century men and women.
Two metaphors will help us understand this “Gen2Gen” transition. First, the church is like a mighty ship at sea, and the next generation is standing at the helm. A helmsman takes every bit of information available to steer the ship, from both above and below. He relies on sharp vision and trustworthy data gathered on his instruments. He sets his course and makes corrections based on up-to-date information, collected with modern tools.
But this mighty ship is still guided from below — from the rudder, in constant connection to the helmsman above. Without either, the ship would run aground or be hopelessly lost at sea. There comes a time when, with aging eyesight and outmoded tools, a helmsman is best advised to “go below” and become a rudder, allowing the young and vibrant to stand at the helm.
The trick is to know just when and how this can safely occur. That truly takes guidance from “above” and humility from both the young and old. If either fails to meekly assume their new positions, this spells disaster. Gen2Gen ministry gets this transfer right!
In the second metaphor, younger men and women are like runners in a relay, and elders are the coaches and mentors. They were once runners, but in due time, aging runners assume a more appropriate role at the sidelines, sharing their wisdom gained from years in the spotlight.
Failing to move to the coaching and mentoring roles at the right time, a runner will desperately hold onto the baton or the torch of victory. Only this would not be a victory lap at all; it would be a laughing spectacle and a crying shame to the body of Christ!
Transitions, Gen2Gen, are critical to becoming a vibrant twenty-first century church. Let us commit to transitioning well!BA