The church needs a fresh start… it needs to be re-created. I am not sure if new churches need to be started to replace old churches or whether old churches can be restored, but change is critical. I think we are at that critical point.
When I say the word church, I am often referring to my version of church. My version may not be your version. The only reference point I have is the church that I have identified myself with over the years. The church I am familiar with is the American evangelical variety. I started out as a Southern Baptist in Texas, transitioned to Saddleback/Willow Creek style and those type of churches in the 90’s, and then have been involved in two or three non-denominational variety churches in recent years.
So needless to say… the church I identify with needs to change. But what is that change?
The first thing I believe that can bring about a change in the church is a youth movement. Churches that are currently in existence should seriously consider putting in leadership those under the age of 30 immediately. Obviously this doesn’t mean that churches shouldn’t recognize, serve or reach out to those in their 40’s and beyond. These ministries should and would continue. But the emphasis within the church should be the young, and it is time that the older and established among us begin to say this and say it loudly.
Recently, one church I know of was without a pastor but from what I could tell never gave serious thought to hiring anyone under the age of 45. That is very short-sighted in my opinion. Any church in existence that hires a pastor over the age of 50 to lead them in the future is sending a clear message of the direction they are headed.
Churches that currently have pastors should consider handing the reigns of the church to younger leadership. If I was a pastor of a church, I would find someone to come alongside me that was around the age of 25 and then mentor them for a couple of years, while seeking their input for changes that needed to be made in the church. Then as the elder pastor, I would help “grease the skids” for the changes to take place and seek to move the “younger person” into the lead role as soon as possible.
YOUTH AGAINST ESTABLISHMENT
I borrow this phrase from one of my favorite companies to work with called Volcom. This is their motto. And when I go to this company as a consultant two or three times a week there is an energy and creativity that is unlike any other I have engaged. Most of the employees are under 40 with a large majority of them in there late 20’s. The leaders of this company have a model that seems to force the company to get younger and younger. They are brash, irreverant, bold and leading the way in their industry. This company establishes the trends… and doesn’t follow them.
I like that model for the church. It is my opinion that a youth movement would do the same for the church. It is one way that existing churches could salvage what they have and build towards a brighter future.
Churches that aren’t interested in transitioning leadership full-time should consider another option. Maybe bring along a younger leader, and support his or her vision to build a church that is completely and utterly different than the established “mother” church. It goes without saying that, in my opinion, no one over the age of 40 should be starting a church anywhere.
We (the old people over 40) should be around to encourage, support and challenge the youth movement. When we embrace the young and show them we trust them with our future, they no doubt will embrace us as well… seeking our input, wanting our advice or wisdom… it’s a two way street that they will learn to enjoy and benefit from as will we.
We need youth in our churches, but it cannot be in lip-service only and their leadership in our services cannot be on “Youth Sundays” only. We need to believe that the youth will serve us well if we will let them. They have the energy, idealism and passion necessary to challenge the establishment at every turn.
Women should become apart of this Genesis as well. It is high-time the male-dominated church followed the path of Christ and exalted women in ministry like never before. There are several reasons for this.
First, it is biblical. Jesus and the early church welcomed the role of women in the church and never relegated them to “second-class” status even in those days and that culture. Second, women are uniquely qualified and designed for ministry. By nature, God has gifted them in ways that men can only dream about when it comes to being “shepherds” and “leaders”. Thirdly, women tend to be better organized than most men. They have the innate abilities to multi-task that most men lack.
We need young women to step forward for the revolution that is before us. They should be an equal part of what God will accomplish.
At the age of 42, in many ways I see that my service to God has actually just begun. It has taken me this many years to find my voice. But many of the reasons I felt silenced for so long is that I felt that those older than me in ministry wanted to “hold me back”. It was my feeling that they were threatened by my energy and vitality. My ideas were “off the wall” to them and were only good for the “young people” of the church. If you are told long enough to “keep quiet” eventually that’s what you do.
I just don’t think we should feel threatened by our young people. It is time we embraced them, trusted them, befriended them and assisted them in taking over leadership of the future. It doesn’t mean that we will lose our voice in the process. In fact, I believe what will occur is a unique synergy within the church that will be unparalleled in its momentum and impact on the future.