Over the past week, I have had the collusion of new and old. Last Saturday, I attended the Christian New Media Conference. Later that week, Church Council season began as I chaired the best of three. I will leave it to you to figure out which was the ‘new’ and the ‘old’. Perhaps this collision somehow brought back memories of my old Sunday School class at Trenholm Road United Methodist Church (N.B. Sunday schools in the United States are for all ages, not just for children as in Britain).
After 3 years of attending what we adamantly called a ’20s Group’ (we didn’t want to be called a ‘singles’ class) about 10 of us who met in the class coupled up and got married. This put us at half married and half single. After a couple of months, we began to realise that we wanted different things from the class. So the singles spoke to the Director of Christian Education about starting a new class – all the while expecting the married lot to keep the former class going and they would continue to attend! I still remember the night when they met with the DCE and they came back in to the class. They were somewhat surprised to find that we (the married lot) had realised it was time to move on. So we got up and left. Not in an angry way – most of us had already decided to move on (my wife and I were moving to another town so I could attend seminary; others had even found new churches). It was simply time for us to move on and leave it to others.
I would imagine that part of any discipleship is knowing when to be ‘laid aside’ (as we say in the Wesleyan Covenant Prayer). Looking at many church councils across many Methodist churches, I suspect it is one of the hardest aspects. People can hoard jobs in the church and you can find that one person ‘does everything’. Sometimes this comes out in a martyrs attitude that claims ‘no one else will do them’. Or, can be proudly broadcasted with the claim that even though it takes up so much time, it is all worth it and they love what they do.
And yet… what about those waiting in the wings? Those who perhaps would love a chance to use their skills that won’t get the chance because someone else simply adds it to their portfolio of things they already do? Or, those who need a push to move out of passivity and into the realm of leadership?
As I reflected back on the group of new media leaders who came to the conference last week, I wonder what it will look like for the torch to pass on to those who are waiting eagerly to use their skills or those who need a push? What might that look like?