Pastor: Pass the Baton Like the Early Church

A picture of one person passing the baton to the other
A picture of one person passing the baton to the other (photo:
By Li ShiguangJanuary 8th, 2024

Up to now, modern Chinese churches have journeyed for three or four decades. Many churches have reached the point of transition between old and new, with the increasingly apparent issue of passing the baton.

Reverend Jin has served at a church in the southern region for over thirty years. The matter of transitioning leadership in the church left a deep impression on him.

He observed that in some churches, the older pastors are unwilling to pass the leadership baton, while in others, there aren't younger staff members ready to take on the responsibility.

He believed that in some cases, the pastors are already quite old and could step down, given that there are capable and excellent young workers within the church. However, due to a love of authority or concerns about the younger staff's capabilities, they refuse to step aside from their positions of leadership and pass on the reins to the younger generation.

"Passing on the baton is crucial; it must be done well. Only with a proper transition can a church avoid falling into division. If the transition is successful, young staff members can emerge, and there will be hope," he said. "Furthermore, after the older pastors step down, the new leaders and church staff should give them full respect and dignity."

Jin emphasized that highly capable young workers within the church often become disheartened and feel as if they'll never have a chance. Those who have a good temperament and patience become discouraged. But those with less favorable personalities might rebel outright, thinking, "Since I have the ability, followers, and resources, I'll find a way to sideline the church leader." Some choose to leave, either establishing their independent ministries or serving in other churches.

Regarding the issue of the church's inheritance, Jin believed in five crucial points: based on the Holy Scriptures, rooted in prayer, finding joy in suffering, being proud of the gospel, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. He said, "Many solutions, referring to the problems including passing leadership in the church, can be found in the churches of the apostolic age."

He continued, "At that time, believers often gathered together to pray and share, based on the Bible, which serves as the guidelines for the church and believers. They found joy in suffering, like the Apostle Paul, who was physically in pain but full of joy. Taking pride in the gospel, Paul said, 'I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God and also the glory of God.' Finally, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. We can learn these from the early church."

If people could go against the grain, setting aside their thoughts and seeking God's will within the scriptures, solving the issue of passing on church leadership wouldn't be so difficult, the pastor finally concluded.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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