Passing the Baton

by Rev. Don Pellikan, in The First Word, June 14, 2017

Our church is in the middle of the Changeover Zone. Changeover Zone is an analogy Jim Ozier and Jim Griffith use to describe a pastoral transition or change. The Changeover Zone is a track and field term referring to the zone in which a runner passes the baton to the next runner in a relay race. A dropped baton dooms the relay race.

The church is not in a relay race; however, we are in the midst of change. Pastor Goodrich has completed his leg of the relay race. Now he is passing the baton to John McLarty, our next Senior Pastor. Rev. McLarty’s first Sunday will be July 9th. Between now and July 9th, we, the church, are carrying the baton of ministry. We do not want to drop the baton. How can we faithfully carry the baton and hand it to Rev. McLarty?

First: pray. You may not be directly involved in the church leadership who is assisting in the transition. You can pray. Prayer is the most important activity we can do to successfully pass the baton. Pray individually and in your small groups and Sunday school classes. Continue to pray for Paul and Maggie as they transition into retirement. Pray for John and Jennifer McLarty and their family as they settle into a new home and new community. Pray for Rev. McLarty for guidance and wisdom as he takes the baton and leads us forward. Pray for the church. Change can be exciting and scary at the same time. Anxiety will be present; pray for peacefulness.

Second: continue your participation in the ministry. Ministry does not stop. Sunday school classes, Bible studies, youth activities, children’s activities, Downtown Dinner, etc. will continue to meet. For us, passing the baton successfully requires our continued participation in the ministry. Remember, the church is more than a pastor; it is the people.

Third: support worship. It will be easy to sleep in or choose to do another activity because we are between senior pastors. Guests seeking to connect with God will continue to visit our worship services. We want to offer our best hospitality and worship. The staff and choir will do their part. We want your help through your attendance and participation.

I hope you will join me in passing the baton successfully to Rev. McLarty.