Picture a group of men, of all ages, sitting under a tree somewhere in Africa, and you will begin to understand the word “Insaka”. It is the African way of older men mentoring the young generation coming behind them. They will sit for hours under a tree in the village asking each other questions, and having a conversation about life issues.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have engaged in conversation with a number of people about succession. Bill Hybles opened the door of his heart a tiny crack at the Global Leadership Summit a few weeks ago in Chicago. He mentioned how Willow Creek has hired a consultant to help him and his church deal with the eventual succession of his leadership.
It may just be my opinion, but allow me to “muse” a little about the church in Canada. I am not convinced that we score high on the report card of succession. Our structures and constitutions serve to protect us, and for the most part are very adequate. In many churches, succession of the pastor is left up to a pulpit committee who presents a name to the congregation who ultimately vote on the new pastor. This is what happened in the last church I pastored for thirteen years. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am about the pastor who replaced me. He has taken the church to a whole new level of effectiveness. In this situation, the system worked!
However, in some situations, the system has failed. A pastor leaves and the vision of the church leaves with him and his briefcase. A new pastor arrives and brings with him a whole suitcase full of new vision. Now the congregation is expected to discard the old vision and accept a new vision that may bring with it a whirlwind of change. Depending how long the pastor stays, the congregation may face a dismantling of vision every few years. Dismantling and dismemberment of vision often breeds confusion and chaos.
Maybe the Canadian church needs to come up with its own version of “insaka”. Maybe we need to find a tree somewhere, or at least a good coffee shop, and have an inter-generational conversation. Is there someone who God is raising up to succeed the present leadership? Does the church leadership need to find a way to have someone come alongside the present pastor so that the vision is not dismantled when he is ready to leave? Vision needs to be remodeled from time to time, but why should it be demolished every time there is a change of leadership?
I would love to engage in conversation with those who have discovered a good succession plan in ministry. If you are interested in having an “insaka” on the subject, please feel free to comment on this blog and let’s dialogue together.
Until next Monday…