One of the most significant and indeed profound disciplines of our great country has been the consistent unity and order that has surrounded almost every transfer of primary (presidential) leadership in our nation.
Despite seasons of heated political rhetoric that seemed impossible to overcome, every 4-8 years our entire nation witnesses the pomp and circumstance of a smooth transition of power from one outgoing leader to another incoming president who may extend his predecessors political agenda or introduce an entirely new one.
In the church world, the matter of “succession” has become much more critical with the rise of non-denominational churches throughout the country. Through many decades denominational churches had a very clear process by which pastors were prepared and then in time were assigned positions of primary leadership; sometimes early on if it was a small congregation, and sometimes quite a bit later if it was a large church in a growing suburban or urban area.
This past weekend the members and friends of North Way Christian community experienced one of those treasured moments of a smooth transition of leadership from the second generation leader to now the third generation leader, only the second time there’s been a transition in 39 years.
For those who were privileged to attend one of the services at the Wexford campus or even at one of the five other campuses in the Greater Pittsburgh Area, there was something very special about these moments.
It was a major achievement for the elders of North Way Christian Community and all it’s campuses to appoint a transition team and to do the diligence of almost a year’s worth of prayerful evaluation and investigation as to who God was preparing to take on the responsibility of this growing church movement.
Pastor Scott Stevens, who took on the challenge of leading North Way into it’s second season of leadership 8 1/2 years ago said with great clarity and conviction that he knew this calling for him was to be an 8-10 year commitment. Scott capably and faithfully fulfilled that commitment and recognizing that his season was coming to a close initiated the process that was culminated approximately 15 months later.
The transition team enthusiastically recommended Pastor Dave D’Angelo who had joined the North Way team about 3 1/2 years ago as in ideal candidate for a lead pastor. Dave brings a slightly different skill set and giftedness than either Pastor Scott or this pastor provided the church family.
Most clearly, Pastor Dave also brings the energy and passion of being a younger man who simply has the strength, endurance and focus that effectively leading a growing ministry often requires.
However, the real beauty of this transition was not so much the three lead pastors who were on the platform together this past weekend, but rather it was the very clearly declared and affirmed focus of the great leader of the church, the Lord Jesus, who was most honored in those gatherings. As Pastor Dave very humbly declared, “If we make this transition about the hand-off from one man to another, it’s much too small. Our eyes need to be on the presence of Jesus and His headship over His body, the church, which we celebrate this day.”
The response from those folks with whom I had the privilege of interacting after each service was unanimously positive. Some, such as Grant Smith, who have journeyed with us for the entire life of the church, knew just how miraculous this God-honoring and celebratory event really was.
Those who are newer to the life of North Way will come to see that the honoring of leadership at all levels is absolutely essential to the ongoing fulfillment of our vision and mission as a church in the Greater Pittsburgh area and far beyond, and many other expressions of ministry and world missions. In our ever changing culture, there are doubtless going to be new challenges and opportunities for our church to continue to declare the life changing love and grace of the Lord Jesus who is alone the answer to the deepest longings of every heart. However, having witnessed now our second very orderly and powerfully demonstrated transition of leadership, I have a great anticipation for what the future holds for us all. As Pastor Scott shared, we have gone from a long pioneering phase, to a necessary establishment phase, and are now prepared for what we believe will be the multiplication phase of the ministry of Jesus through North Way Christian Community.