Monday, August 30, 2010

Giving Young Adults a Seat at the Leadership Table

In most churches very little room is made for young adults to have a seat at the leadership table. Older adults hog the leadership, shutting out the next generation. It’s one of the main reasons churches stop growing and lose their evangelistic touch around the twenty-year mark.

Ironically, most churches are started by younger adults; they are maverick types whose faith causes them to put it all on the line. But soon after getting the church established and nicely furnished, they start to marginalize the next batch of young adults, asking them to wait for their turn at middle-aged leadership.

To counteract that tendency, I’ve made it a personal priority to ensure that young adults have access to ministry and leadership opportunities at PCC. I see it as (part of) my role to enhance their influence and visibility in our church, making sure that they are supported, protected, and listened to.

But I’ll have to admit, it’s not always appreciated by the middle-aged leaders who think that tenure (or seniority) is the best system for filling important roles. I understand their reluctance. Young adults can make a mess of things. They lack the wisdom that comes with experience. In short, they make the same dumb mistake that middle-aged leaders made when they first started out.

But that’s not the real reason that middle-aged leaders keep young adults from the leadership table. The real reason is that one person’s emerging influence is always another person’s waning influence. That’s why making room for young adults is a hard sell, especially to those who already have a seat at the table.

Myself, I love the “idea” of servant leadership and putting others first, as long as no one actually cuts in line in front of me. That’s a real challenge. But it has to be done or we (PCC) will fall victim to the predictable twenty-year death cycle that causes most churches to plateau.

As a church grows older, if not careful, it will develop a generation gap. Then it starts to wonder, “What happened to all the young people that used to be around here?” When that happens it’s a sure sign that the younger generation has been shut out for a long time and have gone elsewhere.

Young eagles are born to fly. It’s their nature. It’s how God made them. If they can’t fly in our church, they’ll bolt and fly elsewhere. And sadly, if and when they do, they’ll take most of the life, vitality, and future of our church with them.

More about this tomorrow…..and what we're doing about it.

1 comment:

Carole said...

If you wait to give the younger generation any responability until they become of age, according the middle aged elders of the church, the younger one will have no clue as to what to do. It's like being a parent bringing up their children, as they grow up you teach them the right and wrong way to do things. Not that they won't make mistakes, they all do including mine. But they will know how to be productive adults. The older ones should be there to mentor them so that they will know how to handles situtions as they come up. They need to know "how" to carry on the vision of the church. Such as you and Renae wanting to get away for some alone time. There should be people willing and ready to fill in for you. It was great seeing Jodi playing the paino Sunday she did a great job.

Carole B.