Great read if you are in any kind of church or faith based nonprofit leadership including pastoral staff, campus staff, elder teams, or board of directors.
Almost weekly, someone at Fuller Theological Seminary quotes this powerful axiom from beloved senior trustee Max De Pree: "The first job of a leader is to define reality." The unfortunate reality is that most churches are not growing, and they aren't getting any younger.
All around the country, these hundreds of "bright spot" congregations are effectively loving and serving young people. Some of them quietly, and without flash. Others with great magnetism and fanfare. We call these churches that grow young because
1. They are engaging young people ages 15 to 29;
2. They are growing - spiritually, emotionally, missionally, and sometimes also numerically.
By keychain leaders, we mean pastoral and congregational leaders who are
* acutely aware of the keys on their keychain; and
* intentional about entrusting and empowering all generations, including teenagers and emerging adults, with their own set of keys.
[Keychain leaders - great illustration.]
The 'priesthood of all believers' doesn't mean leaders are absent.
If we are going to empathize with today's young people, we have to explore these questions. They are often what keeps today's teenagers and emerging adults awake at night.
Who am I?
Where do I fit?
What difference do I make?
As today's young people seek a more coherent sense of identity, the stress that formerly hit them in college, or even after college, now begins in middle school (or younger).
[Profoundly true. If you don't believe it, offer to housesit a high school junior or senior for a few days during the school year.]
Moralistic therapeutic deism still threatens to distract young people from Jesus.
Moralistic - equtate faith with being a good, moral person.
Therapeutic - faith becomes a means of feeling better about themselves.
Deistic - God exists, but this God is not involved in human affairs with any regularity.
Warm is the new cool.
* The chapter entitled "Fuel a Warm Community" is totally worth the price of the book.
See this article
Create both on-ramps and road trips. [Metaphors for increasing levels of commitment to community.]
Churches growing young prioritze young people not just for the sake of making young people happy but because the whole church benefits. One pastor of over 40 years put it like this: "Everybody rises when you focus on children and teens." Adults in another church reflected, "Young people are like salt. When they're included, they make everything taste better."
Myth: Good leaders and programs automatically lead to priority.
[Written about making young people a priority, but this could be said about a lot of other things too.]
Wise neighbors help young people discover their calling.
Churches that grow young people provide this vocational guidance by helping teenagers and emerging adults locate themselves and their work in light of a grand narrative.
Experiment on the margins.