These thoughts really are connected.

ConnectAbout thirteen years ago, I was part of a group of guys who met to create a space for younger (and older) youth ministers to come together, be encouraged, be mentored, face their struggles, and be held accountable to the lives of service, leadership, and example to which they were dedicated.

We travelled to the mountains of Colorado for a week of rest, contemplation, confrontation, relationship-building, study of the Word, counseling, and refining.  The years I co-led this experience were some of the most memorable and meaningful in my life.  I genuinely looked forward to each fall, knowing I would reconnect with old friends and meet many new ones…and be able to pass on wisdom in life and ministry that others (and experience) had taught me.

A few years back, the organization I was partnering with started to have a shift in leadership.  Younger guys began replacing the older ones in positions of influence.  There was a subtle (at the time), but noticeable culture shift in the priorities and structure of the whole organization.  Two years ago, after all those years of investing my time and my heart in this thing I had helped create, I was simply not invited back.  No email.  No phone call.  No Rolex watch for years of service.  I found out by accident.  I assume it’s doing well without me.

If you see the sadness in my face and melancholy in my voice, it’s not because of this shameless act of age discrimination and shunning (this is a joke, people).  I was over it a long time ago.  No, the doom and gloom in my life right now, is more related to the loss of innocence and wonderful memories of my life as a fan of the San Diego Chargers and what’s become of them.  Because of political in-fighting, greed, the machinery of the NFL, and a myriad of other contributing factors, my beloved home team is imploding.

With the threat, and now probably reality, of relocating to Los Angeles, this personal little piece of mindless, entertaining diversion… namely, my lifelong support of the San Diego Chargers… is being shredded.  Opposition fans now outnumber the locals at home games.  Ownership has undermined the team’s ability to put a championship team on the field for years.  Financially hostile transplants to SD refuse to support ballots to build a new stadium.  Being embarrassed by the Oakland Raiduhs yesterday is nearly the final nail in my emotional coffin.

For a guy who has championed change at every intersection, I just want a little stability.  Something from my past to hang on to.  Is that too much to ask?

Our church family is at a crossroads.  Those who God used to build it are aging.  We have been the providers.  The backbone and steadiness that formed the foundation is as strong as ever, but the time is coming for the mantle of leadership, financial support, heart and “ownership” to spread to others.

North Point has meant so much to so many over the years.  Home to the wanderer.  Friend to the rejected.  A place of refuge for those torn apart by the toxic structure of modern church machinery.  A breath of fresh air for those suffocating under the weight of legalism, heavy-handed leadership, doubt, or guilt.

We have never, ever, been the church for most.  We probably never will be.  But for those who have, and will continue to call North Point “home”, the future must remain a reality.  The baton must be passed.  New voices must be heard.  New strategies must be formed.  New people must partner with those of us who are older, to create a new and sustainable leadership in the years to come.

To be honest, I have mostly embraced my aging process.  I am not afraid of growing older and the senior discounts are pretty cool.  I know I cannot keep doing what I do forever.  I am comfortable knowing I am not irreplaceable.  Far from it!  A true test of our effectiveness as leaders, parents, teachers, ministers, counselors, coaches, civic leaders, and the rest, has always been to leave behind a stronger, healthier, bolder legacy.  This must be true of North Point as well.

It’s time to step up, youngsters.

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11 thoughts on “These thoughts really are connected.

  1. Wow Mike!! I don’t even know how to respond to this. New Voices must….Be heard? Kind of left that one open ended. Was it meant it meant to be that way?

    I for one thoroughly enjoy your Sunday sermons, your leadership, and your tireless dedication to the North Point family. I realize that our leaders are aging, and that we need our young people to be more involved, take ownership, and allow those who have dutifully served to rest and enjoy the fruits of their many years of labor.

    We have benefited directly from your leadership and the leadership of others over the years and is the main reason we serve today.

    Whatever batons are passed, whoever those new voices are, we stand ready to support them however we can.

    1. Not as ominous as it sounds to you, Raeshel! New voices, fresh ideas, creative perspectives are all needed to help build for the future. It’s true for any organization or family. This was not some cryptic statement. As someone else has said before, “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” I hope you hear my voice for many years to come.

  2. Well…okay. I’ll take over when youre ready. 😆💒 Actually…can I have LARRY’S job? I can make sure everything is turned off and accounted for just as good as anybody! 😉

    In all seriousness though….it would be a sad day when and if leadership changes. Youre the rock that makes us roll!

  3. As one who is older than you and one who receives lots of senior citizen discounts, I understand the process of reflecting over one’s life. This is only natural to sort through one’s life accomplishments and separate the meaningful from the unmeaningful. Wisdom is also found here, on the mountaintop of one’s life. The youth would do good to seek out this wisdom. It appears you have persevered and made the world better seeing the hand of God on your life. Celebrate and hand over the baton to the younger generation with faith and humility that God’s work will continue till we see Him again. You will always be needed regardless of age with your attitude to embrace change for the better. The past is for reflection, not a place of habitation and reflection of yours is good..

  4. -At least when you ‘retire’ you will get a gift card to a steak house that will make you puke.

    -My 22+ years of service to date as a musician/bass player, not a worship leader, yields a good strong hand shake from the elders.

    I feel bad for the lowest on the totem pole, sound people.

    -It will kill you the day the Raiders become a Class organization.

    -IMO, If there is such thing as absolute middle, that is what NP is. That’s what makes it work. Being consistently in the middle.
    The aging leaders have some really, really, really big shoes to be filled by youngsters.

    I love this bar…I mean church.

    1. Sorry. Way more fun not to be a Cowboys fan. Whataburger just wouldn’t be the same if I had to share your misery. I like my own. I’m thinking about shifting all of my emotional energy and fandom to my fantasy team. Especially after this week. Dude.

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