Transition Update: Pastor for Preaching & Vision
Dear Bethlehem Family,
With my joyful agreement and encouragement, the Council of Elders voted on September 11 to recommend to the church that Jason Meyer and I switch pastoral titles on January 1. Here is the motion we will be bringing to the December All-Church Annual Meeting:
Moved: That Bethlehem Baptist Church call Jason Meyer as Pastor for Preaching & Vision effective January 1, 2013, and that John Piper’s title be changed from Pastor for Preaching & Vision to Associate Pastor for Preaching & Vision, effective January 1, through March 31, 2013.
This timeline is slightly different from our original plan, which gave Jason the lead role April 1. Here’s why we are recommending this change. This is what I wrote for the elders:
There is a growing and exciting sense that good things are coming together organizationally (structurally) for the new season of Bethlehem’s life under Jason’s leadership. As these new ideas are being formulated and pursued, it is increasingly clear that Jason needs clarity as to his prerogatives.
In a discussion about staff and structure where he and I are both giving input, whose voice should be carrying the most decisive weight? My answer: By January 1 (and de facto sooner), it should be clearly and officially Jason’s voice, not mine. Jason needs to know that I believe this and the elders believe this. And the way to make that most clear and official is to change our titles (and thus our roles).
In a relay race the handoff is crucial. If the baton is dropped, the race is lost. Neither runner is running at peak performance during the handoff. The arms are extended instead of pumping. And the most delicate and dangerous two seconds are when both hands are on the baton. We will benefit most from this handoff if I take my hand off the baton more quickly. Jason’s arm will swing into action then, and he will be able to run in full motion.
This is not about honor. We have a clear teaching from our Lord Jesus on this:
You are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:8–11).
I get to be the greatest for three months!
This is about realistic wisdom and the flourishing of Bethlehem. If Jason is not invested with senior authority before I leave, he will not be able to lead effectively so that all the structural and staffing pieces are put in place to make for the strongest launch of Bethlehem’s new season.
Jason needs to know he is free to meet with anyone to discuss any possibilities without the least fear that he is out of order or overstepping his rights. As long as I am seen as chief, that will be awkward.
We are in a moment in the life of the church where changes will not wait for my departure. And those changes call for Jason’s long-term leadership. Hence the need for putting decisive leadership into his hands sooner.
Those were my words to the elders. I pray you will rejoice with me that God has brought us to such an amazing and happy point of transition.