In what was probably one of the best interviews I have seen at Orange, Reggie Joiner sat down with Gordon MacDonald. Gordon was a pastor for over 40 years, and he still volunteers with the youth and children in his church. Through his years of experience, he says, “I am convoked that most of us will do our best work in ministry in our 60’s, 70’s, & 80’s.”
Gordon spoke about ideas contained in his two books, Building Beyond the Waterline and Who Stole My Church? Because there is no way that I could ever try to recreate this time, I will share the thoughts I was able to write down as he spoke. While I have not read his books yet, you can know they are now on my “to-read list.”
One of the big things he started out with was for parents in ministry. He urged them to make sure your children know that they come before your ministry.
He also spoke about how one of the virtues we need to cultivate is ‘productive compassion.’ Jesus always engaged someone when reaching them with compassion. It was never about a program.
Finally, he moved on to speak to the older generations in the church. He stated that none of us can underestimate how much pain there is in the American church today. For the first time in history, we have five culturally designed generations within the church.
One of the most important principles to apply when looking to change is to put the most impressionable young people and older generations in the same group. Also, remember to give it some time. It will take years.
God has promised that the church would never disappear, but He never promised the institution will never disappear. God is always raising up new models. The new baby is the most important person in the church. The parental types need to understand their role as nurturers. The largest personalities of change in the Bible were either very young or very old. Smart Christian leaders bring these two types of people together.
I know that I am looking forward to finding some of the older generation to serve with our student ministry, especially after hearing from Gordon. Unfortunately, many churches in America are fighting internally instead of working together. I am excited to see what will happen when these two generations come together1
Gordon MacDonald is an author, speaker, and teacher. He was a pastor for more than forty years, serving most recently as the senior minister at Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts. Gordon has also held the titles of president of Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship and Interim President of Denver Seminary. Gordon has written more than a dozen books and co-authored additional titles with his wife, Gail. His most well known book, Ordering Your Private World, has won the Gold Medallion and the Platinum Awards from the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association. He writes regularly for Leadership where he also serves as Editor-at-Large. Gordon’s most recent book, Who Stole My Church, was released in January, 2008.
Gordon and Gail MacDonald, married nearly 50 years, live on an old farm they call Peace Ledge in Canterbury, N.H. They find great satisfaction in their two married children and five grandchildren.