Intergenerational Leadership

Bambang Budijanto – General Secretary

A. INTRODUCTION

Most of us are familiar with the terms, “succession of leadership,” or “transition of leadership,” and probably “regeneration of leadership.”  In most cases they are understood as the passing of baton from one generation (usually older) to the next generation (usually younger) of leader(s) or leadership in an organization, company, church and network.

This short paper will challenge this prevailing concept and argue that the Kingdom of God will be greatly benefited if we develop an intergenerational leadership model instead.  Intergenerational leadership is where leaders from different generations will sit together on the decision-making table and contribute based on the nature and perspective of their respective generation. 

This is different from what many churches and organizations often practice today, where we see the younger leaders operating on low levels waiting for their chance to climb the ladder with the more senior leaders on the top leadership.  The Intergenerational leadership is operating at every level of the organization and network structure, but the implementation must begin at the top level of the decision makers. 

B. THE ASSUMPTION:

In every stage of life, we think, perceive and act differently, due to our mental (brain), psychological and social states of our lives. 

People in their late teens and mid-twenties are characterized by idealism and camaraderie.   They have a lot of energy, both mental and physical, to explore new things in life and work.  They engage in a lot of daring initiatives and risk taking endeavors.  Many great and impactful ministries were started at this age window.  Among others, Billy Graham’s first sermon was delivered in 1937, when he was only 18 years old.  The great Chinese leader, Wang Ming Dao, came to Christ at the age of 14, and decided that the church “needed a revolution” and that God had entrusted to him the mission of bringing about this spiritual revolution.  At the age of 24, he began his pastoral ministry. 

In their late twenties to late thirties, most people would build their careers.   They move within their existing space and path, and use their full energy to push toward maximum impact, productivity and “success.”  Some accomplish through a fierce battle, while others through maturing skills of relationship and negotiations.

Leaders at their forties and probably early fifties, based on their extended learning years and broad exposure in an organization are best at building strategy (choices of path) to achieve outcomes and gain success. 

Good leaders in their mid-fifties, sixties and seventies seek legacy and significance rather than success and position.  They serve best as sounding board for the executives.  They function best as encouragers and as mentors, to produce more great leaders, to remove obstacles, to model organizational culture, to model servant leadership, to create as much space as needed for other younger leaders to operate, to contribute insight and continue to learn new things.

What a rich and great impact would be achieved if the best representation of these different generations in our church, network and organization could sit on the decision-making table, learning and walking together for the common goal.  Each generation will contribute their best, through their passion, risk taking, innovation, wisdom, strategic mind, and persistence in pursuing God given goals:  One heart, one mind, one focus with diverse and rich contributions from different generations in the decision making processes.

C. THE HINDRANCES IN IMPLEMENTING INTERGENERATIONAL LEADERSHIP

1. We Choose the Easy Path – Unintentionally

The problem with our human nature is, we naturally prefer to work with people who are of the same generation with us.  Why? Because we speak the same language, which is much easier to manage.  Therefore, in most cases we will find a church or an organization led by a group of leaders or executives who are all around the same age, who are all at their sixties-seventies, or all at around twenties.  We tend to hire and work with people who are like us in temperament and speak our language (our generation).

This is a huge tragedy for the church, by having top leadership who are all at the same age (generation), the Kingdom of God has lost a huge contribution that He entrusted to the other generations.  If a church or an organization is led by a leadership (executive) team,  who are all between the ages of sixties and seventies and if they operate with “executive” mind rather than “mentor” mind, focus mostly on success rather than significance and legacy, then most of their decision making perspectives would be on how to run the show themselves, how to avoid risks, so that they will finish well in the organization.  There will not be any breakthrough or innovations.  It will be much less inspiration and daring endeavor to follow God. Similarly, if a church or an organization is led by a leadership (executive) team who are all in their twenties, it will have missed a lot of rich contributions, which God has entrusted to the other generations of the thirties, fifties, and sixties.

It is true that to communicate intergenerational is harder and takes intentionality, but it is also true that through intergenerational leadership, the church will be much impactful and fruitful in building and expanding the Kingdom of God on earth.

2. Focus on Tenure in Organizational Culture

Many traditional organizations were built upon the leadership concept of “tenure” or seniority, instead of functions, giftedness and performance.  This culture has significantly hindered the formation of an intergenerational leadership.

3. Worldly Leadership Paradigm

When leadership is seen as position instead of function or role, then the focus of the organization and the energies of the leaders are no longer on common impact, but on the “position” of top leadership.

4. Social and Economic Deficits and Pressures

In conventional succession plan, the former leader(s) will retire and the younger leader will assume his place as the top leader.  When leadership is seen as a position, prestige and primary source of (level) incomes, in many developing world, in churches and para-church organizations, leaders would tend to hold the leadership position as long as they could, because there are other important factors in play, such as social access (status) and family livelihood.

D. CLOSURE:

The Intergenerational Leadership model is not only a good leadership concept, but one model that will promote unity, collaboration, synergy for all generations existing in the church today in ushering toward the full manifestation of the Kingdom of God, through holistic disciple making; one model that will maximize the impact of the richness of God’s gifts he entrusted to each of the generations.

Both the World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly 2019 in Indonesia and the Asia Evangelical Alliance General Assembly 2020 in Malaysia, and especially the AEA Conference on Intergenerational Leadership (May 14-15, 2020) will give greater significance and emphasis on learning how to operationalize this model.  Join us in this discovery journey.

Intergenerational Leadership – Problem at a Japanese Local Church

Rev. Paul H. Ueki – Chairman of AEA

“Give to those of the faith, so that they may be teachers of others.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

It was about twenty years ago, when I was a missionary teacher at Caribbean Wesleyan College in Jamaica and assisting a pastor at a local church. One of our youth members visited Japan for a learning project. When she came back, she told me what she experienced in Japan. One of her observations surprised me. She said, “I did not see any pregnant woman during my stay in Japan.”

I knew that Japan had a serious problem of a decreasing birthrate. However, I did not see this issue as my Jamaican friend saw. Now I am in Japan and engaged in pastoral ministry at a local church. It is my third year at this church. I recognize that we do not have members of twenties and thirties of age. It is my earnest desire to have intergenerational leadership at our church. The church board should be consisted of experienced members who worked and led the church in the past, and active members who now carry out what the board decides, and young learners who are expected to be active leaders in future. In any level of the board—a local church board, a denominational board, a national alliance board, a regional board, or a world alliance board—it is healthy to have leaders from various generations.

Japanese churches ought to emphasize in winning young people. Then they must train young people as leaders through on-the-job training. We tend to wait until young people become qualified and accepted as leaders among other members. If we wait, we may fail to draw abilities from our young members. Another important thing is to have Christian families and raise children in the church.

Intergenerational Leadership, Parent-Child Relationship

Rev. Dr. John Yates, Chairman of Australia Evangelical Alliance

I spend a significant part of my time in one on one meetings, generally with younger men. They may be pastors, teachers, evangelists, even a few apostles and prophets, ministering in the Church (Eph 4:11). But they also include those called to represent Christ in business, the arts, law, trades, education and so on. Some would describe my ministry at this level as spiritual direction, others might call it mentoring or using the gifts of wisdom and knowledge (1 Cor 12:8). The categorisation is secondary, what is relevant is that much of the substance of the reflections below is much based on ministry experience.

We have all seen the lack of “succession planning” lead to the collapse of a ministry. So, the subject of intergenerational leadership is a vital one. Nevertheless, the lens through which it is approached requires much care. Firstly, to restrict discussion to leadership always denies the practical outworking of the “priesthood of all believers” and incidentally tends to degenerate into patterns of hierarchy and control that are unbiblical.  Secondly, such foci often place outcome ahead of relationship. There is nothing to suggest that, for example, megachurch pastors are the godliest leaders. All of Paul’s congregations after all were in houses! Even the useful expression “intergenerational discipleship” suffers from the rarely commented on fact that this sort of language disappears after the middle of the book of Acts (9:25).

For several reasons I think we need to revert to a fundamental parent-child connection when we think about these issues. The greatest treasury of cross-generational wisdom in the Old Testament is Proverbs, and it is founded on such a pattern. “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching,” (1:8). This flows into Paul’s matured theology of leading churches and relating to his younger protégé, Timothy. “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.  For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent  you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ” (1 Cor 4:15-17; cf. 1 Tim 1:2, 18; 2 Tim 1:2). At the most basic level  “intergenerational leadership” should be thought of in terms of a “father/mother” – “son/daughter” relationship.

In Australia we are confronted with accelerating moral decay across the culture and declining spiritual disciplines in the Church. Only 20% of Aussie Christians read the scriptures daily! Amidst this crisis the Evangelical Alliance is working, not on another “strategy”, but joining with the Lord to expand on what he is already doing intergenerationally (Acts 11:23-25). This will involve partnering the many thousands of older believers across our networks with younger people who desire to grow in the Lord across all the spheres of culture, education, the arts, science and technology, law, business, media, sport, politics etc. Matured men and women have learned the wisdom of God through decades of experience in these fields that can greatly benefit emerging leaders in like vocation. This partnering must be done prayerfully in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25).

An older man passed on some infallible wisdom to me decades ago, “Pay attention to those who you know God has placed you in relation with.”  If the Lord makes the connection, then the natural result will be “a building up in love” (Eph 4:16). The criterion for partnering across generations is not institutional position, success, reputation, credentials, or superior knowledge, but an unwavering commitment to the centrality of Christ. Where the Lord himself is kept as our focus God’s plan for impartation between generations will move towards its appointed goal in the power of the Spirit. I am constantly amazed at how in thousands of one to one meetings brothers from a huge range of ethnicities and traditions, from Catholic to Pentecostal, have freely submitted to direction, correction and instruction. Since money never changes hands and none of this is institutionalised ulterior motives are kept away.

What is happening in the Spirit is not submission to me as a formal leader (Heb 13:7), which I am not, but a share in Jesus’ submission to the Father in going to the cross (Phil 2:5-11). What is submitted is the Spirit’s secret wisdom (1 Cor 2:7-8) that there can be no ultimate glory without walking Christ’s path of willing suffering (Luke 24:26) for the sake of the kingdom of God. The voice which must be heard in intergenerational fathering for the raising up of succession in leadership is the voice of God the Father. And, according to the scriptures, the Father is most lovingly revealed in the realm of painful discipline (Heb 12:5-11). This cannot be reduced to a set of procedures or principles, even if these are biblically derived. The Father’s presence is made known in the pain experienced as I am constrained by the Spirit to correct one of my spiritual children. I am often anguished in talking to people about their sin (cf. 2 Cor 12:19-13:4), but in the Lord such admonition carries an astonishing authority that is very rarely resisted. I can only believe that the Father’s love for his Son is being mediated through my life in the Spirit. This is tremendously humbling.

The Evangelical Alliance in Australia is prayerfully seeking to guide a pragmatic but mostly spiritually shallow Church back to the building blocks of relationships flowing from the life of the Trinity. We envision that God will raise up a marvellously inclusive movement. With masses of older mature believers moving into retirement, and an emerging generation of young people dissatisfied with costless forms of discipleship robbing them of proper nurture, things are providentially set up for a major work of grace. Glory to God alone.

TOWARDS A CULTURE OF INTERGENERATIONAL LEADERSHIP IN THE COMMUNITY OF FAITH

Rev. CB Samuel

Broadly speaking, there are five generations in any community. For want of  better categorization, I begin with the popular terms: (1) Traditionalist, born between1929-45), so in the age group of 74 and above (strictly speaking 74-90), (2) Boomers, born between 1945-1960/64 and currently between 55-74, (3) Generation X, born between 1961/65-1979 and now 40 -55 years old, (4) Generation Y, born between 1980-95 and in the age group of 24-39, (5) Generation Z, born after1995/96 and in the age group of Age 9 – 24.

The different generations are the same in the church too. The last category, Generation Z, is broken into three groups: Pre-teens (9-12), Teens (13-16), University Students (17-21) and Early working groups (22-24).  

Most of our churches, especially those in the cities are multi-generational.  Each generation has assigned space for functioning and expression. In some cases, there are sub-groups that  are also gender based or interest based.  Each of these groups function independently, defining their activities and purposes.  However, usually these multi-generational groups function not  as inter-generational.

Before I proceed further, it is important to spell out what I understand as the key task of leadership. Leadership is about decision making. While an important component of leadership is influence, the key task of leadership is decision making. So when we consider the generational inputs into leadership table, one important criteria is their ability to add value to the decision making process. Where do we go? What values encompass our directions? How do we ensure the assimilation of vision and values? These are some key leadership questions.

Another important aspect to remember is that irrespective of the generation types, there are essential givens about the church. First, the church is the body of Christ, and every person belongs to that body because of the redemptive work of grace, and our belonging being affirmed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. It is therefore, obvious, that a person belonging to the Traditionalists generation may be a new believer and a child may be spiritually ahead in years. So the popular categories of generations, may be in relation to physical years and even emotional and mental age, it may not reflect one’s spiritual age at all. Second, the church is built by the Spirit who gives gifts to enable everyone to make their appropriate contribution; and the gifts are given irrespective of the generation one belongs to; and the gifts are given according to the will of the Spirit.

It is obvious also that the generations go through a certain process in their shaping. Some of the key external factors that shape each generation in specific phases in their lives are family, community, peers, the economic pressures, understanding of success and of failures. For instance, those in the age group of 74 and above, passed through the history of world war, the movements for freedom and independence. Those would have been their initial years. Then they moved on therefore to be builders of their own aspirations against all odds. Today they are rich with resources of experiences of perseverance in all aspects.  They are most likely done with work hours, pay checks, and the likes so bring to the leadership table and its decisions a desire for peace. They will place a very high value on people and regard people as more important than programs for the most part;  this generation more than any other will ask the question “how does this decision make everyone happy” They are still with us, but to some extent they are like the great cloud of witnesses whose learnings could be very useful to discern what matters from what does not; to go deeper as much as extending our tents.

The Boomers as they are called in the Western literature, in the Asian context generally those whose early years belonged to the early years of the independence of their nations. I prefer to call them Dreamers, instead of Boomers. While they may not have struggled for freedom, they were recipients of hopes, and worked to make the dreams a reality. It was a generation that make things happen and shape a new future. And in most situations, they worked to make what is seen today from what was not. They are confident on possibilities. They bring to the table today the capacity of planning and developing a blueprint to translate plans to reality. This generation would probably be in a phase of life where they are riding the wave of their own time and relational investments. 55-70 is generally a time when you are working in a consultancy role given all your experience and expertise at whatever you spent your life doing. They will bring to the leadership table that concept of “what’s the focus, the most important one thing you want to do”.

The next generation belongs to the age group of 40-55. Most often they have rich experience in managing the implementation of the plans. Like the Dreamers, this generation too inherited the freedom and opportunities. They were driven by the desire to consolidate, upgrade and expand. They bring to the leadership table the strong belief that with hard work anything can be achieved and the focus on growth is their very valuable contribution.

Generation Y, is largely driven by being alternate and innovative. This group brings to the leadership table, the enquiry of doing things differently and out of the box. 

And finally the Generation that is soon to be more than 40% of the population.  Up to the ages of 12 this group is catered to in the church by teaching and opportunities to participate. The ages of 13-16, has a strong desire to express opinions and is predominately shaped by their peers. It is in this age group many even come to know Christ and are filled with the desire to know and are open to be shaped and directed. However, in this generation, the leadership value is brought to the table by those in the age groups of 17-21 and 22-24. They have a high level of energy, relevance-driven, capable of innovative use of technology, sensitivity to broader issues and keen on public involvement. While the 17-21ers are confident of working things out, the 22-24rs are realistic due to experiences of difficulties and failures. There is a good mix of aspirations, and caution to risk taking.

So intergenerational leadership is bringing the strengths and learnings to the leadership table in shaping directions of impact. The caution however is that as much as there is a divide between leadership and management, even here it is possible to mistake intergenerational leadership to intergenerational management. Some generations are richer in leadership resources and others in management.  

Christian leadership is essentially spiritual leadership. At the heart of spiritual leadership are essential characteristics such as hearing God, recognising and discerning God’s voice, keeping to the text, perseverance despite difficulties and opposition, and attitude of Christ-likeness in success and failure. These are not competencies that come from the world but through years of faithfulness.

Intergenerational leadership, therefore, thrives in an environment of hearing God, discerning God, hunger for God’s word, discipline of obedience to the Word in personal life and perseverance in public space witness of the gospel. It is not a strategy but a culture of the faith community. If not, it gets reduced to making space for each other with an attitude of condescension and desire to be entertained by each other. In contrast, where a culture prevails there will be an attitude of learning rather than applause and mutual fan-club groups.

Support and Prayers from Evangelicals Alliance Leaders on Easter Sunday Attack in Sri Lanka

Leaders from The World Evangelical Alliance and Evangelicals Alliance were deeply distraught and condemns in the strongest terms the Easter Sunday (21 April) terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka targeting the Zion church in Batticaloa, St. Sebastian’s church in Katana, St. Anthony’s church in Kochchikade and leading luxury hotels in Colombo.

Continue reading “Support and Prayers from Evangelicals Alliance Leaders on Easter Sunday Attack in Sri Lanka”

Jesus Our Saviour and King

The Bible is full of men and women of God whose journeys of faith have inspired us. But the leader who inspires me most must be our Lord Jesus, whose earthly life, though short was impactful and a model for our own earthly journeys. Born in a manger among animals and growing up in the humble neighbourhood of Nazareth as a carpenter’s son, he could not boast of the pedigree and privilege many of the rich and powerful would desire for their own children.

Yet Jesus was a leader par excellence, pouring out his life among the poor and needy, healing and touching those who were sick, not only in body but in mind and spirit as well. He revealed the wisdom of God and raised the despised and rejected to become leaders of the world, who would follow in His steps.

It has been said that Jesus was God Incarnate, the God became man, the paradoxical God-man who came as the perfect sacrificial Lamb. He rightly offered Himself to be crucified, the perfect atonement for the salvation of the world. But most importantly, as N.T. Wright and other theologians have pointed out, Jesus came to inaugurate the Kingdom of God, to reveal Himself as the King.

As the King who revealed His reign and rule, Jesus demonstrated what the standard of God’s Kingdom would look like. He was the Messianic King in history, full of grace and love, mercy and justice to show us what the prophetic banner “The Lord is Our Righteousness” means. In His earthly life and ministry, He has set a model for leaders of His Kingdom to follow, to live out His vision and values with all the authority granted Him in heaven and on earth. He revealed the justice and righteousness of God and gave hope and faith to the hopeless and helpess, to point us to hope and meaning, no matter how depressing our situations may be.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, He reminded us that we are to love God by serving our neighbours, the ones who live next to us, whom we encounter daily in the streets of the city and along the road of life, the ones who have needs which we can meet. This ethic of loving and serving our neighbor is the vision and mission of life, of discipleship He has commissioned His followers to live out. That is why Christology is so crucial in our missions because Jesus Christ is our leader and model for life and missions.

In the season of Advent and Christmas, we re-enact the wait for his historic birth. We are encouraged by His promise that He is with us always, Emmanuel to the end of age. But we also wait in anticipation for His Second Coming when His Kingdom will be fully revealed. That is why we celebrate the tender mercy of God and His light which shines on those living in darkness… to guide our feet into the path of peace.

Greetings from Singapore:
May God bless and inspire us this Christmas, as we make room in our hearts to follow Christ, to reach and touch lives, from our household, from our community to the nations.

Lawrence Ko

Nehemiah: A Visionary Leader

Bishop Noel Pantoja
National Director, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC)
President, Philippine Relief and Development Services (Philrads)

NEHEMIAH: A VISIONARY LEADER
Every successful organization whether it is a business enterprise, government, civic, or church, need a clear vision – an image of the future. In all history, visionary leaders are called by God to communicate the vision clearly and to engage the people to embrace, own and live the vision. Continue reading “Nehemiah: A Visionary Leader”

Haggai, the Lord’s Messenger

Rev. Ok Gi Lee

Haggai was a prophet who encouraged the rebuilding of the Lord’s house. There were reasons for the Israelites to stop building the house for about 16 years. The Samaritans interrupted the building of the house. Furthermore, they bribed the Persian officials to prevent Israelites from building the house. Because of these difficulties, the Israelites proclaimed, “The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.” (Haggai1:2) Instead, they were busy building their own houses. Continue reading “Haggai, the Lord’s Messenger”

Leaders in Glory

Rev. Dr. John Yates

I spend a considerable part of my time in ministry talking and praying with leaders; pastors, leaders in parachurch organisations, a few politicians, business people and so on. I find that in every case their lives mirror tendencies in many of the outstanding leaders in the Bible, a paradoxical combination of holiness and imperfection.

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