Where Did the Young People Go?

I hear it all the time, “We wish we had more young people in our church.” In my last post, I spoke about signs that point to a future of decline in a church. One of these is the lack of young people being developed into leaders. Actually, it isn’t just small, older congregations that have this problem. Actually some fast growing young congregations suffer from the same symptom. They aren’t developing leaders.

Developing leader means more than throwing some poor kid behind the sound board and saying “How about mixing the sound today?” Or, “You are good with computers, make us a new webpage.” What I am talking about is an intentional process of developing leaders. Churches more often use people rather than developing them. They get in this desperation spiral of trying to throw everything together every week and never develop a process.

Churches that have an ample amount of young leaders tend to have a few things in common:

1. They have a process. They take people from Point A to Point B and then to Point C. This process is repeatable and reproducible. It is written down and clear.

2. They have people who are dedicated to developing leaders. There are people whose calling is to coach or mentor – and they focus on that calling. These people aren’t overloaded with a bunch of other responsibilities.

3. They have a clearly defined outcome. They know what they are trying to achieve in a young leader’s life, and they know what it looks like when they get there. Expectations from the church to the young leader and from the young leader to the church are spelled out.

4. They develop more than skills. They are interested first in developing character and a servant’s heart, and only then in developing skills. Most churches only teach skills (Let me show you how to run the sound board).

5. They allow young leaders to try. They are willing to take appropriate risks with young leaders, knowing that sometimes they are going to fail. These churches will sacrifice Sunday morning “excellence” in order to allow “air time” for developing musicians, teachers, etc.

So the next time you ask yourself “Where did all the young people go?” many of them are at that church down the street that practices these five things. They are being stretched and challenged. They are being allowed to grow and develop. They will become bored with a church that offers them anything less. Wouldn’t you?

 


 

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