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Friday, August 29, 2014

can you spare some change?

As a postscript to the three previous posts on change, I want to add one further observation prompted by a side-question during our Scotland conference. As Diana Butler Bass was sharing statistics about the shifts in religious affiliation across the generations (builder, boomer, GenX, millennial) and focusing on the "Rise of the Nones" among the millennial generation, one of my friends and colleagues, Christopher Edmonston, commented that GenXers (to which he and I belong) are always getting overlooked.

We moved on to all of the conversation about change, but his comment kept rolling around in my mind until I had this thought: as the generation that has one foot in what was and one foot in what is emerging, GenX leaders are just now coming into the places of 'power' to let go of the structures that have been and welcome new vision and structure.

My earlier post with the three illustrations from the Presbyterian Church may be a good example of this. The General Assembly is still largely governed by older generations (reflecting it's avg-age-of-62 demographic), seemingly not yet ready to dismantle or release what has been so effective and dear for so long. NEXTchurch was effectively "blessed" by some older leaders handing off direction and control to younger leaders, and seems more of an empowering outside the realm of the PCUSA institution. (I rejoice in that!)

My particular experience in the Presbytery of Charlotte seems to be one good example of GenX leadership, not particularly tied to the old institution and structures (though thoroughly trained and understanding of it), willing to let it go. And to the credit of those involved, it was the willingness of an older Boomer generation of staff and leadership that was willing to put two GenXers in a place of leadership in the first place.

All meant to be descriptive, not prescriptive.... for what that's worth.  :)

I recognize, at 46 years old, that I have only been "given the reins" of leadership in the PCUSA in the last 3-5 years... and there is some sense of something... loss? disappointment?... to realize that the best act of leadership I may now face is to more quickly than slowly give that leadership away to those younger than I. But that would be real leadership, wouldn't it?  :)

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