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A new generation of leaders

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In my letter to you this week, I want to draw your attention again to an item we featured in last week’s Update. This was the report on the Generations Ministries (GenMin) annual conference, held at the Mt. Lebanon Camp and Conference Center near Dallas (click here to read that report).

Nearly 100 GenMin leaders and workers attended this conference, which GenMin call their “summit.” The great majority of these were younger people–and that is very good news for our denomination.

As one gets older, the questions we ask about the future begin not just with “what,” but “who”? This is not a new problem. The first Christians expected Jesus to return almost immediately and certainly in their lifetime. “Succession planning” was not a high priority. They were certainly not thinking two thousand years in the future!

However, as the years went by, they had to consider how the work would continue after they had gone. They had to consider the welfare of the church after their contribution had been made. For example, in Acts 20, we have the account of Paul’s farewell to the elders at Ephesus. Knowing that it was unlikely that he would ever see them again, he said:

What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God. And so this is good-bye. You’re not going to see me again, nor I you, you whom I have gone among for so long proclaiming the news of God’s inaugurated kingdom. I’ve done my best for you, given you my all, held back nothing of God’s will for you.

Now it’s up to you. Be on your toes—both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people—God’s people they are—to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for (Acts 20:24-28, MSG).

Paul had learned that it is not easy to replace pastors and elders who would put the welfare of their congregations ahead of their own interests. He wrote to the congregation at Philippi, “I have no one quite like Timothy. He is loyal, and genuinely concerned for you. Most people around here are looking out for themselves, with little concern for the things of Jesus” (Phil 2:20 -21, MSG).

Timothy had proven to be reliable. But there was only one of him. So Paul advised him to “throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!— to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:1-2, MSG).

I see some similarities with our situation today. Thankfully, our ministry involves those who are loyal, hard-working and faithful. But we are aging, as are our people. Perhaps if you are the pastor of a small congregation of older people, you might wonder about the future—not just what, but who will come after you?

Anthony Mullins (with baton) is commissioned as GenMin director by former directors Greg Williams (left), Ted Johnston (center) and Jeb Egbert (right).

That is why we should all be encouraged by the Dallas conference. Not only because nearly 100 young people attended, but also because some of our middle-aged leaders “passed the baton” on to another generation of young leaders, and moved into mentoring roles (see picture at left). In this way, their experience is not lost, while a new generation of leaders has the opportunity to build their own experience. This is vitally important for the future of GCI.

Our GenMin programs (camps, mission trips and young leader development programs like Journey with the Master) serve as “incubators” to develop the next generation of pastors and other church leaders. We will invite those who show promise for pastoral ministry into the GCI (U.S.) pastoral internship program, which I discussed a few weeks ago. We can help them receive a quality theological education through ACCM (undergraduate level diploma) and/or GCS (graduate degree).

Maybe you do not have many, or any, young leaders. However, think beyond your congregation. The GenMin conference shows that our denomination does have an up-and-coming generation of leadership, and we do have a future.

It would be foolish in this ever-changing world to be too specific about what that future will be like. New challenges, new conflicts and new technologies will continue to change the world, as they have in our lifetime. But whatever the situation, I know there will always be a need for men and women who hear and obey God’s call to pastoral ministry.

The conference in Dallas shows that we have just those people. Let’s give them our wholehearted support and encouragement. In this way we can all participate in the task of preparing for the future and moving towards the fulfillment of our vision of all kinds of churches for all kinds of people in all kinds of places.

In Christ’s service,

Joseph Tkach

P.S. To learn more about GCI’s GenMin programs, go to genmin.gci.org/. To learn more about the GCI (U.S.) pastoral internship program, go to mindev.gci.org/internships.htm.

One thought on “A new generation of leaders”

  1. Great to see this focus on our youth. With 15 and 13 year olds at home we love it when their age group receives attention. They love our summer camp, Camp Connections, it is a highlight of the year for them. A bunch of us from teens to middle aged are riding our bikes from Parliment in Ottawa to Montreal for the second year, about 180 KMs June 16th and 17th, to raise money for the camp. It is great fun to have a full range of ages working together for Christ. Love to have any of you join us! My email is karl.moore@mcgill.ca

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