By Rob Wilton, Pastor of Vintage Church in New Orleans, LA
We need each other now more than ever. Just as in the days of Acts, younger men are seeing visions. Older men are dreaming dreams. These visions and dreams are not at war against each other. They are battle cries, but not ones of division and rivalry. No, these visions and dreams are a rallying battle cry against the darkness and a battle cry of the gospel of our Lord.
What excites me the most about the SBC is our capacity to unite the God-honoring dreams of the old with the God-honoring visions of the young. You will find this not only within our local churches, but also in every SBC entity. Legacy churches are partnering with church plants. Conventions are sharing their platforms with the next generation of pastors. Church planters are welcoming the legends of the faith to lead them and their congregations.
On the flip side, what concerns me the most about the SBC is anything that threatens unity between the generations. For every leader and church that has recognized the necessity of multi-generational partnership, there are as many leaders and churches that are not working together. Many have attempted to launch new visions as if they are the only show in town. Others have continued to sustain an old vision, dogmatically and inflexibly, as if they are the only show in town.
I have the privilege of serving on the NextGen Council for GNO Inc. This organization has executed a phenomenal multi-generational strategy for the future of New Orleans. At the Katrina 10 year anniversary, Michael Hecht (President of GNO Inc.) shared that our first 10 years have been record-breaking, but easy, because we have picked low-hanging fruit. The next 10 years and beyond are going to be much more difficult. One essential change that he highlighted for this success is a multi-generational partnership of the old and the new in our city.
Although we are experiencing great progress in the SBC, it remains a challenge for the young and old in our convention to work together. For those who are planting new works as if they can do it alone, time will show this strategy fails. But for those who have established a strong work without raising up the next generation, time will also show this strategy fails; fruitful ministries will become lifeless monuments.
Regretfully, I have often been one of the young men who has arrogantly forged ahead without seeking the counsel of the previous generation. I wish I could take back some of those conversations and actions. It has been a hard-fought and painful lesson to learn that my ministry would not survive without the strategic wisdom and partnership of those who had gone before me. I had to become a pastor to realize that I had no clue about being a pastor. Thankfully the Lord has been gracious to teach me how to depend on others. There is no way that Vintage Church would have survived these past seven years without a multi-generational partnership. I am incredibly grateful to all who have not only served us, but those who have invited us to serve with them.
As I have prayerfully reflected on this important multi-generational partnership, the Lord brought me to King David’s powerful reflection of God’s call on his life. This reflection is a challenge to both young and old.
To the young seeing visions: God calls by his grace, not by our works.
“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God!”—2 Samuel 7:18-19
King David was not only humbled before God; he also recognized that the Lord had been doing a great work for a long time. This vision God has given you is an incredible gift of grace He has been giving to His church for generations before you. You didn’t build it, and you didn’t earn it.
To the old dreaming dreams: God calls in his power, not in our performance.
“And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it.”—2 Samuel 7:20-21
King David knew any accomplishment for God was because of the power from God. This dream that you have seen fulfilled has not happened because of your performance, but rather because of the empowerment of the Spirit of God. God didn’t move because He loved your strategy. He moved because He loves the lost.
To the young and old, God calls for his glory, not for our gain.
“Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”—2 Samuel 7:22
King David boasted in the Lord because he understood any vision and dream from God is for God. Keep serving the Lord in such a way that God alone receives all glory and praise!
Rob Wilton is the Founding and Lead Pastor of Vintage Church in New Orleans, LA. He also serves as Chaplain for the New Orleans Saints. Recently, Rob has founded the Gx Network which unites the church plants that Vintage Church has sent out around the country. Rob graduated from North Greenville University (B.S), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (D.Min.).