On June 8th we hosted Innovate:NOW! – Generation Next. Church leaders from across the country gathered to learn, collaborate and plan how to better reach young adults. Thought leaders included John Poitevent/Leadership Network, Grant Skeldon/Initiative Network, JP Pokluda/Watermark Church and Mingo Palacios/Saddleback Church. At the end of the day, each church team created their own action plan with next steps to implement some of their learnings. Below is an overview of the talks from Generation Next.
John Poitevent – Our Future, Our Calling
With millennials making up 50% of the workforce, and 75% by 2030, the future of the Church is here. What do you know about them? Statistics show that the are less engaged in church than any generation in modern history. And yes, we know that they love social media and live on their smart phones, but who are they really? What do they desire from life? Rather than merely identifying how they are different, what if we focused on the values that we share with the next generation? If you look at trends in consumer culture, it’s clear that millennials tend to be attracted to authenticity, community and purpose; three core values of the early church. Authentic, christian community that impacts the world around it is the very foundation for the book of Acts! If the Church returns to our roots, seeking to excel in these three areas, we will naturally attract and connect with the next generation.
Grant Skeldon – A Millennials Perspective
Although it’s important to be relevant, simply rebranding is not the answer to reaching young adults. Most millennials aren’t just looking for a hipster church or the latest young adults program. They are longing for something real, where they can be honest about their struggles, learn and grow. Starting with Jesus and the disciples, the Church grew and spread around the world through “come and follow me” relationships. These were life-on-life, relational disciples who invested in others who went on to do the same. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Tim 2:2) The Church must return to a New Testament discipleship model if we hope to capture the next generation. Contrary to what you might think, young adults desire multi-generational relationships and value the wisdom that comes from elders. Create an authentic “follow me” culture rather than a program driven or “meet with me” culture and millennials are more likely to be interested in your church.
JP Pokluda – Keys to Ministering Through, Rather Than to, Millennials
Be real: Young Adults want to hear from someone who is honest. Authenticity is actually an advantage in ministry. Share your struggles. Model what you want them to be and do. Teach the whole truth: Show them how the Bible addresses the issues in their lives. Don’t run away from the hard stuff. Know your people and culture and make the Bible relatable to them. Hold traditions loosely: Each church has a unique culture; many traditional elements are likely not mandated by Scripture and may not resonate with millennials. Be willing to change anything that isn’t mandated by the Bible; don’t change anything that is. Get feedback to see your blind spots. Create a path forward: Call people to full devotion to Christ. Define next steps – help them see what’s ahead in their spiritual development. Have clear on-ramps, progressions, and handoff points in your ministry. Give the ministry away: Empower leaders and volunteers to create and do ministry. Minister THROUGH people, not TO people. People own what they help create. If you don’t empower and delegate, you will be the limiting factor!
Mingo Palacios – Making Room for Next Gen Leaders
The emerging generation doesn’t want to just work FOR you, they want to work WITH you. Who will give them a chance to use their gifts and pursue their dreams? As a young adult with dreams about new ways to do ministry, my leadership gave me a “sand box” to play in. There were clear boundaries, but also space and resources to create with. Together we developed a new idea called “micro-sites”. These pop-up church services had live worship and and projector where we streamed the message from our main campus. With very little budget we were able to launch 40 micro-sites in bars, parking lots and thrift stores. It didn’t always go perfect. It was messy. My ministry today is the product of leaders who were willing to take risks, and encourage the gifts of God within me. Managing the disruption that comes with allowing people the freedom to explore and create requires an investment of time and patience, but it’s worth it. Whether the outcome is a huge success or a total bomb, just giving young adults a chance to step out in ministry is a WIN with the next generation.