EMPOWER. INSPIRE. VISION. CHANGE. THIS IS LEADERSHIP. RON GLADDEN | DIRECTIONAL LEADER
“Wow, that was amazing! That was probably the healthiest, most positive hand-off of leadership I have ever seen!”
Jack was serious (although he evidently hadn’t witnessed the handoff of power from Jimmy to Ronald and from Bill to George W). It was Saturday, April 2, and Jack wasn’t the only person who was impressed. His comments were echoed by a number of other people who watched as we handed the lead pastor mantle at Epikos Church from Ron Gladden to Tim Geisler. “If only it had happened like this at the last church I attended!” one woman volunteered.
We at Epikos have never been impressed with titles. It’s part of our DNA. From the very first service with six of us in a living room, we made it clear that we just want to do what works. It worked for me to start the church, for Sam McKee to become the lead pastor, then for Sam to hand it back to me when he needed to spend more time with his coaching business.
At the end of the service on April 2, I gave a mini-speech, Tim gave a mini-response, then Mike, Sam, and I prayed for God to completely saturate Tim with His blessing. “One of the tests of a mature church,” I instructed, “is that we can take the church that all of us worked so hard to create and we can pass it on to a new generation of leaders. And we know that not only will the church carry on its mission, but it can prosper and grow to become an even more powerful force for God.”
My remarks weren’t intended to be an oratory masterpiece. The time had come to hand the position to a younger man and I simply recommended Tim. “I have the highest confidence in Tim’s leadership, his relationship with God, and the strength of his family,” I announced. “I am 100% committed to doing everything I can do to help Tim succeed in this new role.”
Tim approached the microphone with the gentleness and confidence of Billy Graham at a Toronto crusade. “I definitely didn’t come to Epikos thinking this would happen,” he told the church. “The pastoral team knows that I haven’t sought this out. If anything, I wrestled with it.” (We wondered, at first, if we might have to cattle-prod him into accepting.)
“My resume is very unimpressive. You have to understand: My idea of ambition has been to spend time talking to people about Jesus. All of this is quite humbling and astonishing to me.”
Hundreds of eyes were glued on Tim as he continued. “I’m being asked to lead a church I did not start, to serve alongside a team I did not train or recruit, and to reap the harvest that others have sown. And yet, I want you to know that I do believe that I am called to this task. I believe God himself has placed a call on my life, a call that has been confirmed by our leadership team, our elders, and our trustees to be the next lead pastor at Epikos. So, I am full of faith. I have left my reluctance behind and I am eager to continue earning your trust as a leader.”
On most Saturdays, people would already have been eating popcorn, drinking coffee, or helping us put away the Bibles and stack chairs by this time of day. Yet everyone sensed that God was stirring, so no one blinked as Tim wrapped it up.
“I would not be able to take on this responsibility apart from those who surround me. However, the primary reason I am down for this transition is the faithfulness of God. Ultimately, — this is about the unrelenting, unstoppable faithfulness of God to his people.”
Rousing applause and spontaneous smiles spread everywhere. We ended with prayer, hugs, and fist bumps. It was a beautiful thing.
You probably know that this type of transition doesn’t happen in the denomination. The local church pastor is an employee of the conference. They sometimes have input in staffing decisions, but they never have the final authority. Which pastor is chosen, how many are on staff, how long they stay, and when or if they are ordained are all decisions made in an office distinct from the local church.
Within the Mission Catalyst network of churches, the local church employs its own leaders. Each church is free to make changes in order to be more effective. They also recognize, approve, and implement the licensing and ordination of all pastoral staff.
Whenever Epikos, or any other MC church, recognizes the need for a change of leadership, they pray, process with their leaders, and Boom! — It’s done.
In the Old Testament is a story of a great leader named Elijah. When the day came that his leadership needed to be passed on to a younger man, Elijah prayed that God would bless Elisha with a double portion of His power. We did the same for Tim. We will do whatever is necessary within our power, then know that God will work!
Epikos is about to celebrate its 100th baptism. God is granting frequent and astonishing life change. Please join us in praying for Tim Geisler and his family – and for Epikos – as we enter this new season!
Warmly in Christ,
Ron Strategy Architect, Epikos Church Directional Leader, Mission Catalyst