I think we all found Ian Bentley’s input to our gathering in Basingstoke extremely helpful. Ian’s own life journey into leadership had been influenced by people and incidents along the way. He had received and been grounded in the faith often by quite unlikely people. We saw how Paul’s nurturing and encouraging of the young Timothy is a pattern for us all in our churches and, in this case, in Shechem. The questions which followed make a good basis to use locally too to support people undertaking different aspects of leadership.
Is handing on the baton important? Who handed it to you? How?
What is God saying to you about this? How might you be involved? How might you encourage your church to take this more seriously?
The importance of handing on the baton was easily answered: Yes, it’s an integral part of our 'Christian family' life, relevant for all and in all areas of life. Jesus told us to and showed us how in his discipleship/apprenticeship of his followers. Some thoughts on what it means and how we can do it:
- Pray throughout that we are in God's will and hearing the Holy Spirit’s prompting;
- Hand on the baton whilst we/you are still running fast – before we run out of steam;
- We might need to pick up dropped batons;
- We need to 'find' and be ready to grasp our baton, sometimes from known strengths but some where our gifts/opportunities may surprise us:
- Handing it on includes passing on knowledge – receiving the baton can involve challenging the status quo – an acceptance that it’s OK to do things differently – a balance between status quo and change;
- Communication is important at every stage, plus generosity and humility;
- Observation/discernment is important (observing when the runner is coming and how the baton is being offered) and we must be willing to learn;
- It's about shadowing, team work, sharing and engagement by all involved;
- The 'environment' affects how easy it is to pass on batons – does our environment recognise gifting, allow for gentle challenge, etc?;
- We need to be allowed, and allow others, to make mistakes;
- Some need to step up, others to step out – but over time;
- We need to be ready for the Holy Spirit to develop and change the baton and that it is appropriate to carry different batons at different stages.
What do we pass on?
In Shechem we have a Christian way of thinking and way of life to offer which we believe is distinctive. We have the core values of community, ethos – love – healing; passion/enthusiasm for our ideas, spirituality, a particular way of 'doing things'. We need to focus on our thinking and our teaching, being clear on this ourselves so that we can be clear to those we encourage to join us.
(If we don’t act on all of this, are we saying Shechem must 'shape up or ship out'?)
- Firstly, we have a special responsibility to develop and pass on the 'rule of life' to our children and young people;
- We need to be working with other communities, work to gain new members, tell our churches what Shechem means to us and can mean to them; we need to meet to support and develop each other;
- In other words, who do we know who needs Shechem?
- Our organisation and events are the vehicle to enable others to taste what we experience in Shechem, the practical expressions of our core values, the way we encourage others into leadership at all levels;
- We need to improve our marketing: our website and publicity;
- Shechem should be the ideal place to try out gifts without fear of criticism
- Everyone needs to be ready/eager to volunteer; we need to invite/ask new people to take on leadership in worship, prayer, organization
- To enable this to happen we need to know one another well enough to encourage and support this development
- Volunteers need to know what their role will be, its boundaries and that it’s not a life sentence;
- Within ourselves, we need to work out our standing on today’s issues and how to share the gospel in such a secular world, thus helping each other in our approach to those outside the Christian faith;
- We need to refresh our current leadership team – our Executive. Some may need to step down, some to step up;
- We need to find and maintain effective ways of reaching decisions;
- In all, we recognize that Shechem is caught and not taught: we have to work together to strengthen bonds and develop a ripple effect with our families, friendships and wider contacts
Pause for thought:
Relay runners need to look forward (and backwards when receiving the baton). Shechem is very good at looking backwards (to Post Green etc.) and valuing where we came from – do we look forward enough and know where we are running to? Are we prepared to change as the Holy Spirit leads?