I’m leading a workshop at NEXT in March 2017 called Seasoned Allies in hopes of stirring the pot a little bit. Here’s the description:
This is a Top Secret Workshop for leaders at least 60 years old, who have been Christian for over 40 years, & part of the Church for at least 20 years. (It will be more fun than it sounds.) We will collude together about what we can do behind the scenes to make way for the PCUSA’s next chapter. There will be sarcasm and laughter. There might be t-shirts.
50-somethings might want to attend as well.
As a longtime church pastor and current mid-council staff member, I work with many creative, energetic people who happen to be in their 50s and 60s.
But I also have ample experience working with pastors who are merely hanging on until retirement. Some admit that they are tired. Some tell me that they have no interest in making the necessary shifts required for serving a 21st Century congregation. Some tell me that they cannot afford to retire until they are at least 70 even if it means their congregation will falter from lack of innovation. Those last comments are especially hard to hear.
Some of us need to make way for fresh leaders.
We 50/60-somethings have ostensibly been in power for several decades in church and beyond. We’ve been in the room where decisions are made. We’ve sat on councils and been invited to lead things. But it’s time to share.
Its time to ensure that different people are invited into the room where things happen: younger people, people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and differently-abled people. In the unlikely event that the power in your particular institution solely rests in people younger than 50, then – of course – invite Baby Boomers and The Silent Generation into the room. But more likely, our congregations are led by older generations.
I am a big fan of co-mentoring between generations but this doesn’t work if the older leader merely wants the younger leader to carry out his/her vision. It doesn’t work if the gifts of younger leaders who are not in the dominant culture are lifted up for show but set aside when decisions are made.
If you love Jesus, find the unknown exciting, imagine earth as it is in heaven, and have visions about where God is leading the 21st Century Church, I want us to be together in the room where it happens.