Recently I was reading an article about church leadership, the gist of which was that any pastor at any given time does not have the task to lead the local church from A to Z, rather from A to B. The preferred outcome of that gist seems obvious; it is not the work of one man or woman to do the whole journey in the space of one pastoral placement, and this needs to be understood by the pastor and the people. For me, where and when I am (here and now) I should be encouraged by the thought that I have at least three years in my current placement to get from A to B; there is nothing to panic about, and anyway the goal is only B and not Z.
But I don’t like that, not one bit, and here’s why. The churches that I pastor each have a century or more of history behind them. Kaniva and Serviceton are nineteenth century settlements, and the Methodists and the Churches of Christ were present as believers gathering in homes well before the church buildings we meet in today were erected. So why am I getting the people to move from A to B? Seriously, after 130 years of continuous presence and ministry I would hope that at the very least I’m responsible for moving the churches from J to K, or maybe even R to S, or even T. A to B? No, no, no, that should have been done a hundred years ago.
The point is more than semantics about the metaphor of alphabet, the point is that the church in this generation, (so all the Christians active today regardless of when they were born), is part way through a relay toward establishing the Reign of God in The Wimmera/Tatiara. We are not called to reinvent the wheel but to change the tyres (or bearings) if they’re worn. The race has already started and we gain nothing by going back to the start every time there’s a new minister arrived. Let us continue the race with the baton handed to us by those who have died, and let us run forward until with our final breath we pass the baton to those not yet alive. Let us today prepare to launch tomorrow the church of M and N, or U and V, or maybe even Z. But not C, the church of C is surely in our past.