I was born in Lagos to a middle-class family, and just like my father I studied philosophy at the University of Lagos, he was a civil servant and my mother traded. He was not very religious and did not place a lot of emphasis on being “culturally correct”; we did not prostrate to greet him or respond with “sir” when he called. My only interaction with the church was perfunctory at best, as my he was Roman Catholic and my mother was Muslim. Occasionally, my father would take us to attend early morning mass at the cathedral, conducted in Latin.
Being a Pastor in RCCG has given me the opportunity to fulfill God’s calling on my life. RCCG provided the platform but in many ways the catalysts were the mentors through whom I learned the dynamics of ministry. Through this informal mentoring process, I learned how to be a Pastor. I believe we need a deliberate and carefully thought out process to prepare people for ministry in RCCG. And Workers-in Training was certainly not enough. But not just as a prerequisite for ordination, but as a preliminary foundation for a successful ministry. Jesus Christ spent about 3.5 years with his disciples in an apprenticeship program. They were apprentices before they became Apostles.
As a Pastor in North America, I realize that the next generation, particularly the millennials, have formed an impression about the church. If we are to remain effective, we must counter that impression. This then means we must reexamine our emphasis on traditions; traditions are comforting but we must remember that today’s traditions were yesterday’s innovations. To reach the next generation the church must be open to innovation and creativity.
We must ask ourselves why we do the things we do? For example, why do we have Sunday School and Digging Deep and Workers’ meetings and Sunday service all in the same week? If our most cogent response is so that we can disciple the people that God has called us to, we must reach deeper to examine if those are the only ways. Will anything be lost by doing those same things using the technological tools that are readily available? Asking ourselves candid questions will free us to do church in a way that is not only innovative but also relevant. Church as we know it is over!
This concept should not hit us as something new, as it is a testament to what the Bible says. Every generation of Church leadership over the ages has had to deal with this reality, scary though it may be. Regardless of the fear that rises within us, as we contemplate these changes, I believe it is the foundational premise from which we must operate if we want to be effectively and joyously multi-generational.
We must confront the fact that we might have detrimentally, yet subconsciously, allowed the prevailing culture in most of our congregations to too strongly resemble the “elder-driven” culture found in many non-Western countries. In these nations, a lot of value is placed on the wisdom that comes from age and rightly so. However, as a denomination in 21st century America, we must be careful to recognize that technology has made knowledge more readily available, and young may no longer necessarily equal dumb. The church must intentionally make space emotionally, socially, and mentally for the younger members of our congregations (Matthew 28:18-20). This means that we might want to very seriously consider making the cultural shift of giving these younger, but vibrant, members of our congregations positions of real leadership versus the seemingly appropriate errand runs. Some of these “gopher” youth supervise teams larger than the entire congregation in any of our individual churches at their secular jobs, and potentially manage annual budgets in the millions of dollars.
Dear Senior Pastor, ordained ministers and heads of church departments, please prayerfully approach this topic of necessary culture shift with the powers that be at your churches (1 John 5:4; Hebrews 11:6). Please know that making this change in the culture of your church will almost undeniably birth an organizational climate that is attractive to the millennial who desires relevance in their own place of worship (Romans 8:14-17). As you stir the enthusiasm of millennials in your church today, be assured you are taking a bold step towards passing the baton in the future. Succession plans more easily emanate from such organizational climates and would put your congregation almost light years ahead of most of our churches.
Remember that how you start your race is less relevant than how you finish it (Revelations 2:7,11,17,26 & Revelations 3:5,12,21). Please look to the Scripture for encouragement when you are assuaged by doubt. The word of the LORD to you who are called in this direction is to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1; Isaiah 43). May the LORD richly bless you, sir and ma, as you fulfill your ministry.
where he dynamically leads a sizeable number of young adults in the RCCGNA equivalent of a “model parish” of the days of yore.