Onward: Goal Number 2
Onward – Goal #2 for This Year
On Sunday, August 28, the Deacons, Elders, and SLT of Elmhurst CRC got together from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (including a worship service) to seek God’s guidance for the ministry year ahead. We left the room confident that the Holy Spirit had given us three audacious goals for the next nine months of congregational life. Last week, I wrote about the first goal: That “All In” people come to church three out of four Sundays. The second goal is this: to highlight the presence, gifts, and contribution of the young people in our community – from high schoolers and college students to post-grads.
I believe this will be the most difficult of our three goals to measure and attain. Young people are busy. The Western Suburbs are expensive, and few of our high school graduates go to college or work here; fewer can even afford to live here. Most challenging is the reality that church leadership skews toward the middle-aged and older, and we typically prefer to keep things as they are; thank you very much! It’s going to take desire and flexibility to lean into this goal and improve at passing the baton of church leadership to the young in our midst.
During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the American men’s 4x100 relay (the favorites) failed to get out of the first round because of a dropped baton. Anchor runner, Tyson Gay, reached back for the exchange but never got a grasp of the baton. It jangled down to the blacktop along with American hopes for a gold medal. Gay blamed his own sense of timing, saying, “I went to grab it, and there was nothing there.” His teammate Darvis Patton put it this way: "Tyson Gay is a humble guy. But I know it’s my job to get him the baton, and I didn’t do that.”
In the life of the church, something similar happens. We can be running a strong race of faith. We can have strong churches, faithful personal spiritual practices, excellent music, and lively worship. But if we fail to hand off the baton of faith to the next generation, it falls to the ground like a clanging cymbal.
It’s incredible that Jesus trusted the future of his church to twelve Apostles. It’s incredible that they handed off what they had received to so many others. It’s incredible that in the 2,000 years since Jesus's death, resurrection, and ascension to glory, the baton has never fallen to the ground. Jesus’s church, despite our imperfections, is still up and running the race of faith.
So this Sunday, one of our twenty-somethings will welcome us to worship. Next week, our high schoolers and middle schoolers will be seated together in the Sanctuary, front and center, in order to help enliven and inspire those of us who are older. Perhaps there’s a way for you to encourage or empower a young person you’re connected to. Perhaps you could go out of your way to greet or welcome one of our young adults, learn their name, and pray for them this week! There are countless ways for us to embrace this crucial goal this year!
We can do lots of great things in our own time and generation. But the most essential thing we can do is to hand off the baton to those who come after us. We must pass on what we have received. It’s time for us to become more skillful at not just running the race of faith but in mastering the baton handoff. I’m grateful to be moving onward with you!