Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Day “the Program” died and all the leaders died with it

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The Day “the Program” died and all the leaders died with it
Yesterday I met with a group of people that experienced a great loss.  In about 1999 the entire organization they had been actively involved in fell completely to pieces.  What they had invested time, talent and in fact their whole life in – simply dissolved.  It all fell apart.  But not just falling apart on its own – someone was intent on pulling it all down… and they had succeeded.
I joined into this group for the simple reason that I had also been part of the whole group and in fact the top leader of the group. I had also invested my total energies and effort into building the best group that had ever existed.  And without blowing my horn too loudly, all that effort had paid off. The group was growing, the group was strong and the group had a life all of its own. In community after community across Canada, the West Indies and even in Asia the group was large doing a super job… all that it was intended to do.
I was pulled from the group leadership when I moved from Canada to Hong Kong in 1980.  However I didn’t stop working at the group’s work and in fact was given the role of leading this group in Asia helping to it continue to grow even greater.
Yesterday’s group of leaders of this former group spoke of the great loss they had felt when the group work they were doing was told that the whole group would no longer exist as it had but would get a new name, the styles and program would be washed away and they no longer could conduct business the way they had in the past.  NEW was on its way and NEW was good for everyone – please accept it NOW!
It didn’t matter if their business had been successful or not. It was done.  A new idea was coming and the old one had to go.
New people have new ways of looking at things and the old people MUST cooperate for everyone’s good.  And in the eyes of the poor people that had poured so much into what they did – this was a catastrophic decision that was made. They had not been consulted and I truly believe many had no idea what had been decided.  When the news arrived of the change they were confused and hurt that what they were doing was considered useless and unwanted anymore!
From the leadership’s point of view, and the role of the people that I had once been in, they saw the changes vital to connecting with the future world around them. The old terminology was outdated and no longer relevant. In some areas the old terminology was even offensive. These particular areas were a million miles from where these leaders I met yesterday, lived and worked so faithfully.  The older leaders really had little to do with that other, possibly offended world. They couldn’t understand at all the newer thinking and the change that was adopted.
I was caught in the middle with the “old people” that had been involved with what they loved pouring out their hearts to me as their former leader… and wanting answers to vital and important questions.  I personally had poured so much into the old way of doing things that I too was also confused with the loss of all the good I had done.
In the middle I was caught because the new group came to me to ask for support in launching the New Idea.  They also asked me to be one of the artists that would draw the illustrations for the new group… thus connecting the “old guy” with the new program – and perhaps legitimizing what was being doing in the eyes of the folk that were so hurt.
The request came for me to illustrate the drawings that were needed.  They also offered me money to do this job – and a “poor minister” in a smaller church I needed all the help that I could get financially.  I am sure that some thought of me as a “Judas” taking the pieces of silver as a traitor. Yikes – that hurt.
Yesterday a large group came together. A long with these faithful old folks came the former leaders that had led these people each step of the way.
They welcomed me as I had taken the position of being the “Dominion Commissioner” this group – the very highest position there was. I served in this position for 4 years from 1976 to 1980.
Following me was a good friend of mine at that time named Doug Lindsay.  He became the next “Dominion Commissioner” and stayed working at that position for 9 full years.  Doug and I at that time didn’t know that our kids would fall in love and marry – but that is just what Bruce, Doug’s son did with my daughter Dana!
Following Doug’s tenure, another of my old friends, Dave McConnell, stepped up to take the position of “Dominion Commissioner” – but not too long after that position would no longer be needed so accepting something that would not exist was a little strange.  But the leaders that recognized Dave in this position would not know of the planned changes that were coming from above Dave… and from above us all.
That may or may not be a good way to explain what happened – but it is what I saw.
Yesterday another friend of all three of these former “Dominion Commissioners” hosted this special day – a reunion of sorts.  His name is Ken Powell and he had served as the intermediate as “District Commissioner” under the top people… that meaning he served in Ontario.
All three of us were invited to speak to the former leadership that was assembled at the camp near Paris, Ontario.
I shared my part of the “whole story”. Then Doug shared his 9 year story.  Following that Dave shared what his part had been. Each person shared what they did from their personal perspective.  And it all fit together in an amazing way.  It told the leaders the whole story. Like it or not – there it was to think about.
The program did die an almost immediate death.  The program was about these leaders conducting weekly meetings with the children that they brought to the church each week. In many cases there were well over 50 to 100 kids each week meeting with these committed leaders.
The old names and terminology were flushed first and a new name given.
This mysterious name that I have not yet revealed was named “Pentecostal Crusaders International”.  The word “Crusaders” was one of the issues that any church within a short distance of a new citizen to Canada – that may just have come from the Middle East and might have Islamic roots… could and would be offended – they were quite sure of that.
So the whole idea was changed to the “BG Clubs” – which meant “Boys and Girls Clubs” with no uniform and none of the quasi-military stuff the old Crusaders used to have.  Uniforms were gone. Saluting your leaders was gone.  Line ups were gone. Inspection of your dress up apparel was gone.  Whatever looked like Crusaders, the old was no longer there.
The elements were still there that made a good club and interaction with kids great… but the leaders started losing interest almost immediately.
Then more politics came into the situation they faced. Local and Regional management felt strongly that their local and regional management should and could make better decisions locally These decisions would be way better than ones made in a Head Office in Toronto or Mississauga, Ontario!
Oh yes… I know all of the story well. I was caught in the middle.
But yesterday… I heard how it all fit together. It was very good for me to hear and see what all of us faced.
Today in our churches across Canada there is nothing that exists like the program that once was.  There are millions of reasons for this… and in the eyes, ears and minds of each one that will tell you a reason – it is their reason.
Yesterday was good for me.  It was good for all of us.
~ Murray Lincoln ~
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