Churches age and churches die. But intentional leadership can make that divine journey significantly longer and much more spiritually productive. There are several things you can do to help keep your church young, alive and vibrant even though the chronological aging process continues.
This post isn’t about an ecclesiastical fountain of youth. However, I believe “aging” can pivot to “maturing” by making a few key decisions and commitments towards keeping your church young.
1) Hire young staff.
Mature staff are extremely valuable on your team. Their experience is needed for successful ministry. However, the absence of young staff, lots of young staff, is a decision to allow your church to age unnecessarily.
Some churches don’t like to hire young staff. It’s messy. Young staff lack experience, I know. But young staff will keep things alive and fun. Young staff are also full of energy and great ideas; they help you stay relevant with current culture and vision for the future.
Leadership development for your staff, and especially for your young staff is essential. There are several options you can choose from, and here’s a process that is simple and will serve you well. You can read it here.
2) Place a premium on children’s ministry.
When I say premium, I mean hire great staff, invest significant time and energy, and be as generous as possible with the budget. Without this you are absolutely capping your ability to reach your community.
Please don’t confuse relevant ministry to children with childcare. They aren’t the same. In order to reach kids you need to keep up with the world they live in. That world is fast-paced and built around technology. When you add to that mix loving adult leaders who truly care about children, you create a winning program that the kids will love.
3) Design your Sunday morning service with a relevant feel.
What is and isn’t young and relevant is subjective. But the big issues are clear. First, choose your music wisely. If you are still singing and playing the stuff we did in the 90’s, it’s time to freshen up what you do.
Second, involve young leaders on the platform. The young musicians and singers will lead you to younger music and a younger vibe overall. Again, this attracts young people to your church! If you are thinking, “What about the older people, don’t they matter?” Of course they do. I am one, and I can still make a difference. But we should be more mature. We know that this is not about us, the mission is to reach the lost, and if you reach the next gen, other generations will follow.
Last, make sure all the components of the service reflect a young culture. As you think about humor, video, illustrations, art and especially technology, think young.
Again, if you focus on a younger crowd, the older generations with join in. If you lean toward older, the young will leave.
4) Invest in the next generation.
Raise up and train young leaders, invest in student ministries, and champion the call to vocational ministry among your young adults. Communicate that you believe in the next gen! They are the future!
The vision of the church must capture the young people, and at the same time be compelling enough that older generations get excited about the vision in such a way that they will invest both time and resources. Let’s face it, middle-aged and older generations have no trouble loving and believing in kids; just watch a grandparent with their grandchildren!