Passing the Baton
After Jesus died and was raised, his time on earth (in his human form) was done. But there was still plenty of work to be done here. But he had prepared for this. He had called, trained, prepared, and loved 12 disciples to carry on his work after he was gone. 11 of those continued as expected, and through them the numbers of ambassadors grew. The baton was passed, and the work and the word took off like wildfire.
Sometimes in churches I hear a common theme. Some of the elders of the church no longer want to carry the bulk of the weight for teaching Sunday School, cleaning the pews, or preparing meals for funerals. They are tired and have worked many long years at these critical tasks. The fear among church leaders is: who will carry on the work if the elders cease to do it?
But there's something very powerful about the elders modeling the passing of the baton to the younger generations. They've worked hard, been faithful to the community, and have earned a rest. Will the younger generations step up? In 2000 years of Christianity, has there ever been a generation that has let the church down? Or who has failed to provide for the community it serves? It's a scary thing to let those faithful, trusted, capable elders go. But sometimes younger people don't step up because there's not room for them to step up. When a need arises and there's no one else to do it, they will step up. It's up to the rest of us to trust that they will, and then empower them and give them the freedom to do it their own way.
And if they don't step up? Then it's probably a ministry whose time has passed. If it's not important enough for even one person to do, then it's clearly not a ministry critical to the core of the congregation. Let it go. It's time to pass the baton, even if it means placing the church in the hands of people who will change it. Or rather -- especially because it will be in the hands of people who will change it.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Matthew 28:16-20
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”