“Every pastor is an interim pastor.” I’ve heard it before, and I’ve been reminded of this truth several times over the past year, but somehow we seem to forget this simple truth. Unless Jesus returns or a church closes its doors, someone else will follow the current pastor. We assume permanence, but life — even in a church — is marked by continual transitions.
Whether a vacancy is unexpected (e.g., death), temporary (e.g., caring for a family member), or planned (e.g., retirement), no one serves forever. In addition to our own experience, we see this precedent played out again and again in Scripture: Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy. Each generation preparing for and transitioning leadership to the next.
But the importance of leadership development and succession is not reserved for pastors and those at the top of an organization. This applies to the entire church. We must be intentional about volunteer and leadership development at every level of service within our church.
Even though none of the disciples expected Judas to betray Jesus and hang himself, they were easily able to replace him. Why? Because Jesus prepared Matthias. Think about that. Matthias was ready to serve in Acts 1 because of what Jesus did in Luke 10 and throughout the Gospels — instructing and demonstrating for His followers and then giving them the opportunity to serve and learn. As a result, after His departure, the disciples were able to have someone step into the highest level of leadership in the early church without missing a beat.
As we look at the various ministries of our church, the same principle holds true. If it’s important, if it’s vital, then it can’t all depend on just one person. No one should be indispensable so — whether Moses or Judas — we must make sure someone else can serve or lead in any role. Ultimately, this is not about replacing servants and leaders but reproducing them and being prepared for growth and the future.
For those who are still looking for a place to serve within First Baptist Church, my encouragement is for you to find a need and fill it. Take a chance and see what God will do with your availability. For those who are already active and have been serving faithfully, my encouragement is for you to find someone to replace yourself. Move from being an experienced server to an intentional multiplier. Identify, recruit, and develop others to serve in your ministry area.
We’re here today because previous generations prepared us for this time. As we look to the future, we must remain just as intentional about investing in and preparing the next generation of servants and leaders within our church so that the mission to which we’ve been called continues long after we’re gone.
— Josh Hall