July 19, 2022

Passing the Baton

When is the right time to hand over responsibilities in our congregations and ministries and how to do so effectively are important questions to consider? Whether it is the Vestry, Altar Guild, Diocesan Council or ECW, we need a plan.

In determining when to handoff, for some, term limits are the necessary guardrails to ensure that we do not keep the same responsibilities indefinitely. For others, the term “over my dead body” was created, with a staunch refusal to handoff, threatening instead to leave the ministry or withhold their tithes.

The obvious advantage for letting go is that it allows new ideas and perspectives to be introduced and it makes room for the gifts of others to be exercised. This is especially important as we strive to allow young adults to have meaningful responsibilities and also welcome those who are newcomers to the church or to our faith or existing members who feel left out of church life.

How we handoff responsibilities can either enhance or damage relationships and ministries within our congregations.

As the person handing off:

a) Are we willing to be a mentor and guide, or do we step back to watch our colleagues fail or struggle?
b) Do we share best practices and resources, or do we hide or withhold important information?
c) Do we introduce collaborators and share contacts or are people left to develop these partnerships from the ground up?

As the person receiving the new responsibilities:

a) Are we receptive to the information or advice being shared?
b) Are we building upon the foundation already established or determined to remake it?
c) Are we respectful and gracious to our predecessors or dismissive?

To formalize the handoff, it helps to reflect on what we were missing or wish we knew when first introduced to the ministry and document those items now.

We pray for the refusers that they may open their hands and hearts to offer the gifts that God has so wondrously given.