Open Up Your Church to Future Generations

If your church is turning gray (and especially if it has been that way for several years) there are things you can do to make sure you have younger Christians to whom you can pass on the faith and the church. Having pastored a congregation that is 20-30 years younger for the past two decades, here’s a bit of what I’ve learned.

Pray—This is crucial, because if God doesn’t do something, all these steps are meaningless. It’s not perfunctory prayer. Survival as a church is at stake.

Spend Time With Young People—This is a call to the older members of the congregation. It includes your own adult kids and your kids’ friends. It’s the young neighbors on your street. Befriend them. Invite them over. Go into their worlds. Be the only “old friends” they have, if necessary. This takes courage.

Look for Key People—Whom is the Holy Spirit pointing out to you? Who, among the young people you meet, introduces you to their inner circle? Who’s the “pied piper” of the group? Luke 10:5-6 talks about the person who opens up the possibility of sharing the Gospel in a certain locale. Key people open the culture of the younger generation to us.

Let Them Work Alongside You—This means training young people to do the things in and around the church community that you do.

Give Them Authority & Responsibility—This is somewhat scary. The Boomer Generation has a death-grip on the leadership of the church and must begin to let go. This means allowing them to make mistakes—and then cleaning up the mess without grumbling.

Sacrifice—You will take some “hits” during this process. Young people will distrust you, say hurtful things, and make stupid moves. You can handle it without blowing up or quitting the process. As an added benefit, you’ll learn to be a bit more like Jesus during this part of the procedure. 😉

Go Away Sometimes—Give up control totally for a while and let them run things without you there. It’s like taking the training wheels off of a bicycle. They won’t fully learn if you don’t vacate the premises.

Pass the Torch, the Baton, the Pulpit—Just do it. Have a party to celebrate the transition.

They Will Need You Again—Your ministry in the church is far from done! Young people need old people—always have, always will. It’s like going from being a parent to a grandparent. Enjoy them without having to change their spiritual diapers. The new, young leaders will do that job.