I remember being in a hotel room at the Southern Baptist Convention with several bigtime leaders. Here were the men of the conservative resurgence talking and praying about the coming decisions. I was just a kid. Not a word came from my mouth as I watched, listened and learned.
Why was I there? My friend Dr. Morris Chapman invited me. He was my field supervisor on my doctoral work. He was discipling me on SBC matters. In one-on-one conversations, we talked about church stuff. And that included the work of the denomination.
There is always a need for this kind of mentoring in the church. Older leaders teaching younger leaders is vital. I am glad to see the North American Mission Board and the Executive Committee taking action in this realm. They are calling it the Young Leaders Initiative. Dr. Jonathan Akin has been hired to help lead the way.
The goals are two fold for the initiative.
1. Provide a sense of brotherhood for young leaders involved in the SBC.
2. Find ways to engage the disconnected and minimally involved.
This sounds like a wonderful idea to me. A large number of baby boomer pastors will retire in the next 10-15 years. Young leaders need to be invited to the dialogue.
Denominational programs can be extremely helpful. However, the best way for this to happen is organically. People like Morris Chapman needed to talk to people like me. Morris is retired now, so it is my turn.
What is it I need to do?
• Encourage Jonathan Akin
• Spend time with younger pastors
• Talk openly about the denomination with young leaders
• Support the Cooperative Program and sell its benefits
• Pray with young leaders in my geographic region
• Go to an associational event from time to time
• Find out where the young leaders gather and be a part
• Encourage a young leader to visit a retired pastor
Be assured Dr. Akin is on my prayer list as he moves forward with this exciting, vital mission.