Leadership Transition

One of the most obvious things about the book of Acts is the way that the focus moves from the original Apostles, around whom the story centres in the first few chapters, to Paul and his companions who completely dominate the second half of the book.

Before I go too far down this route, I should point out that things are little more complex than the opening paragraph indicates. One reason that Paul is so central to the narrative is that Luke, the Author of Acts, travelled with him on and off. We know that Luke wrote about what he had seen and what he could research, so it is to be expected that he would focus on Paul, but this doesn’t mean that other people weren’t doing things in other places. We know that the Jerusalem Apostles continued to play an important role (see Acts 15) and we also know about other leaders who appeared from time to time such as Apollos.

However, what is clear is that new leaders, such as Paul, were cropping up around the church as it grew and developed. The Apostles played their role in Jerusalem, but a whole new generation of people were doing stuff in different places (for example see the list of leaders in Antioch in Acts 13). This is important. If the Apostles had refused to let new leaders play a role, the church could never have grown and developed in the way that it did. We also need to note that for the most part, these new leaders were young Christians who had very little training in their roles. Certainly, none of them had Bible college degrees before being set loose on a church.

If the Apostles had refused to let new leaders play a role, the church could never have grown and developed in the way that it did. Click To Tweet

In my experience, Christian leaders are far more likely to hang on in their roles past the point where they are making a useful contribution than they are to leave sooner than they should. There are a number of reasons why this might be the case. Some leaders hang on because of a genuine (if misplaced?) desire to keep serving, others have too much of their ego tied up in their roles to be willing to let go, while some believe that there is no one who can replace them. The increasing professionalisation of Christian ministry doesn’t help with this. Far too often people are expected to have all sorts of qualifications before they can take on a leadership role, rather than learning on the job (and being allowed to make a few mistakes). In this environment, no one is ever fully ready to take up a new role, so the old leader may just stick around for far too long. There is nothing noble about staying on in ministry till you keel over if you have not prepared a successor!

Christian leaders are far more likely to hang on in their roles past the point where they are making a useful contribution than they are to leave sooner than they should. Click To Tweet

The church grew and developed rapidly in the book of Acts and new leaders were needed at every turn. Things aren’t quite like that in the UK at the moment, we aren’t seeing vast numbers of new churches planted and thriving across the country. However, as society develops and changes, we still need new leaders who understand the way things work in a way that old blokes like me never will.

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