Orginally published on Monday, December 18, 2006 at 5:30 AM
by Earl Creps
A couple months ago I led a conference at Bethany University (Scotts Valley, CA) on the themes in Off-Road Disciplines. The last chapter of the book is called “Legacy: The Discipline of Passing the Baton,” and deals with the way Paul raised up Timothy to lead the next generation. You can find an abbreviated version of this chapter online here. While the event was small, the discussion was fairly heavy, dealing a lot with how, when, and if older leaders are going to turn over the reins to the young. Will they graciously invite younger leaders into positions of influence, stepping aside to make room or, will they hold on tight because of the question that a worried middle-aged couple asked me about young Christians: “How can we leave the church to these people?”
Our time together in conference sessions was OK, but we needed something—a real world experience of crossing generational lines. And we got one. Rusty St. Cyr, Bethany’s campus pastor, invited our group of mostly older leaders to join an informal student “chapel” service in the school cafeteria. We took the opportunity to mix my older folk in with small groups of students to discuss the whole issue of baton passing. Almost everyone had a very positive, and very eye-opening experience.
Except me. Just before we formed the groups I was interviewing a student leader about the kinds of questions we should ask. I thought I knew this subject inside and out, until he asked me this: “Why would we want the baton you are passing to us?
He went on to point to the example of his twenty-something peers who are deciding to take control of their own economic lives by forming or joining start-up companies. They have no intention of waiting around for Baby Boomers to give them opportunities within the Boomer-designed system. Why wait for the day when they might pass the baton (if that day ever comes) when I can be a self-employed entrepreneur right now?
That hurt. In countless hours of writing, talking, and consulting about baton-passing, I had assumed the whole time that we had something that younger leaders wanted to inherit. But what if that’s not true?
1. Is the notion of “baton passing” just a Baby Boomer conceit? Would the Church be better served by more “start-up’s”?
2. Is the Emerging Church mainly an example of being offered the baton and saying, “No thanks”?
What do you think?
Author Bio: Earl Creps has spent several years visiting congregations that are attempting to engage emerging culture. He directs doctoral studies for the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri (http://www.agts.edu). Earl and his wife Janet have pastored three churches, one Boomer, one Builder, and one GenX. He speaks, trains, and consults with ministries around the country. Earl’s book, Off-Road Disciplines: Spiritual Adventures of Missional Leaders, was published by Jossey-Bass/Leadership Network in 2006. Connect with Earl at http://www.earlcreps.com or
This post has been viewed 1481 times so far.
There are 13 Comments: