Ready or Not: Here They Come! A 5-part Series on Partnering with Our Sons and Daughters for a Great Commission Future

By Ed Stetzer and Philip Nation

Part 5 – What’s Next?

In the previous parts of this series we looked at some of the issues we must address if younger leaders are to be included in a Great Commission Resurgence among the churches in the SBC. It will require established leaders to understand younger leaders and invest in relationships with them. Established leaders will see younger leaders thrive when they do encourage them, do not alienate them, and do not demonstrate hesitancy toward them and their ministries. The proper response to the change that younger leaders bring is to take a deep breath, hand them the convention keys and pray.

We also looked at the values necessary to driving the relationships with our sons and daughters: work to preserve the relationships, keep listening to the hearts of the younger leaders you know, keep the lines of communication open, be an advocate for them, strategic intercessory prayer, and view our younger leaders as family. Finally, we considered how our denominational sons and daughters will use their generational uniqueness to spread the gospel because they are relationally wired, theologically conservative, methodologically diverse, socially conscious, and technologically savvy.

Where, then, does that leave us? What’s next? To find out, we need go no further than the Apostle Paul. His advice can move us from our current realities to a movement that touches the world for the cause of Christ. Paul struggled with the young leader Mark, but multiplied himself through young men like Timothy and Titus. It will not always be easy, but it will always be worthwhile.

Paul gave ministry away to young leaders, valued them as sons and released them as co-laborers. Remember how he addressed them?

“To Timothy, my true child in the faith…” (1 Tim. 1:2)

“To Titus, my true child in our common faith…The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town…” (Titus 1:4-5)

“I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as my forefathers did, when I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day” (2 Tim. 1:3)

“Now you, man of God…Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of eternal life, to which you were called and have made a good confession before many witnesses” (1 Tim. 6:11-12)

Paul recognized that the future of God’s mission went beyond what he could physically protect and accomplish. The ongoing growth of the early church had to pass from his influence to the hands of those he had influenced. And it did.

You, as an established leader, can provide what no technology or trend can do. You can become a leader to the next leaders. You can become that person who cares enough to pray and invest in young leaders. You can help keep them accountable and encouraged as they take the keys and get behind the wheel of the SBC leadership.

We want younger leaders to love the Southern Baptist Convention. But we must allow them “in” so they will see the benefit of our cooperative system. It will require that we move beyond a mere “welcome” to pastoral events and more investment in their development as leaders. Even more than that, established leaders will have to take the same risk some did a generation ago: allow a group of wide-eyed, unproven leaders take charge of our denomination’s future. Many of us have been given that trust. Soon, it will be time to pass it on to our sons and daughters who can carry the gospel into their unique generational settings.

We believe that the SBC leadership is committed to remaining biblically grounded and faithful to the Great Commission. In doing so, we should encourage the young among us to unleash different expressions of the mission of God. If we will do that then young leaders will find the SBC to be the kind of partnership we all know it can be.

One day, our sons and daughters will possess everything that once belonged to us. They may give it away, abuse it, enjoy it, or make more out of it than what they received. For now, it is our opportunity and responsibility to prepare the next generation of leaders to be good stewards of the trust they will inherit. The greatest legacy you leave behind may just be helping a young leader find a lasting impact in God’s kingdom and His church.

This five-part series is based on the ideas included in our chapter “Ready or Not, a New SBC Is Coming” written for “The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Time.”

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  1 Comment

  1. Larry Rising   •  

    Ed, I was wondering how many guys who graduated from SBC Seminaries that no longer are associated with the SBC?

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