We are presently witnessing a transition in ministry across this country. There are many senior pastors who are about to leave the scene and many, if not most, are not ready to pass the baton to someone else! Some of the larger megachurches have an even bigger issue on their hands when their senior leader steps down or retires because they have to find a leader with the gifts and charisma to fill huge auditoriums. (If their successors cannot fill them, it will be interesting to see how they will be able to pay their utility bills with half-empty sanctuaries!)
Also, many mainline denominational churches may last longer than one generation, but since headquarters chooses who their pastors will be, and because senior pastors are often moved to other parishes every several years, there is no real intergenerational vision that is perpetuated. This results in a maintenance mentality which is one of the main reasons why many denominational churches are small and ineffective in regards to community transformation.
The following are contrasts between churches who plan for multi-generational succession and those who are only one-generational:
I. Multi-generational churches make leadership development their top priority. One-generational churches make Sunday services and programs their top priorities.
II. In multi-generational churches, senior pastors raise up spiritual sons and daughters of the house. One-generational churches merely nurture those with church membership status.
III. Multi-generational churches employ the New Testament model of personal mentoring (e.g. Paul and Timothy) to nurture core leadership. One-generational churches depend on Bible institutes and seminaries.
IV. Multi-generational churches have an average congregational age of between 25-40. One-generational churches have an average age of 50+.
V. Multi-generational churches have a compelling vision for the distant future. One-generational churches are merely on survival mode and are concerned with the immediate future.
VI. Multi-generational churches focus their target audience on their changing community demographics. One-generational churches remain focused on the same ethnic and economic groups decade after decade.
VII. Multi-generational churches are continually expanding their governing board to include younger leaders who will bear the burden. One-generational churches have small, aging boards who want to maintain power until they are in the grave!
VIII. Multi-generational churches have prophetic senior leaders who adjust their methodological approaches based on what God is doing from one decade to the next. One-generational churches have senior leaders who are stuck in the leadership style and methodologies of the distant past.
IX. Multi-generational churches articulate the gospel based on a comprehensive understanding of the culture and context of the society they are immersed in. One-generational churches attempt to answer questions no one is presently asking.
X. Multi-generational churches have powerful, discipleship-oriented youth ministries (as opposed to youth ministries based on entertainment and socializing). One-generational churches have ineffective youth groups and are losing their youth to the world.
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