July 06, 2017
Passing the baton is a mandatory part of a successful relay race in track and field. In the musical world, however, passing the baton is an action rarely seen. It’s difficult for someone regularly referred to as “Maestro” (with a master/guru-whatever-sized ego to match) to find the humility to share the baton with another musical leader.
Church should be more like a relay race than an orchestra in this regard. Christian churches should witness baton exchanges all over our communities. As in a relay race, frequent baton hand-offs are necessary to our success. As I embrace my new responsibilities as Lead Pastor, a particular phrase has grown more and more insistent in my mind: “Embrace the responsibilities, Gregg, and share the practice.”
This little phrase connects me to a profound piece of Scripture from Ephesians 4: "So Christ himself gave the [Church]...pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
Jesus didn’t give pastors and leaders to his church to be the expert doers, but to be the expert equippers. An expert equipper is an expert baton-passer by nature! This is what I aspire to be. Here are a couple of examples of how this is working out in the short term, right in our Sunday morning worship services:
Passing the baton of the Sunday morning welcome. Perhaps you have noticed that we’ve recently had a variety of staff members welcoming folks to our worship services. This week, a recent graduate of our high school youth group will do the honors. As one of your pastors, I certainly love to lead this moment myself, but I recognize that’s it’s healthy for our congregation to hear from a diversity of voices and see a diversity of faces in worship. I also trust that those who are called upon to lead this crucial moment in worship will be honored by the opportunity, and feel a deeper connection with our community as a result. Passing the baton creates a deeper sense of teamwork!
Passing the baton of sermon-sharing. I’m actively looking for ways to share the teaching and story-telling gifts of my fellow staff members and congregation members. A month ago, our Youth Ministries Coordinator Andy Pasek and I prepared a message together on the topic of Jesus' work as the Son of God. This week, Lisa Capozzoli and I have crafted a tag-team teaching about the courageous faith of Caleb in Numbers 13-14.
“Embrace the responsibilities and share the practice…” Pass the baton!
While I embrace the responsibility for the ministry of “The Preaching of the Word” at Elmhurst CRC, within that responsibility, I’m eager to find appropriate space for the gifts, perspectives, and stories of others to be shared. God has put a wealth of spiritual riches in our midst, and I desire to have more of these riches unearthed and shared.
One of the truths about relays is that they increase, not decrease, the performance of the athletes. A properly-trained 400-meter relay team will post a time that is less than the four runners’ combined personal best 100-meter times. This same principle holds true in the spiritual world. Practicing these baton hand-offs is going to make us stronger in soul and spirit.