What type of culture do you have in your church and ministry?
The North American youth ministry vision for the last eleven years has been to be a catalyst to raise up a new generation of Christ-centered leaders through the simple strategy of Reach, Disciple, and Empower.
If you have read my recent book Smooth Hand Offs, you are familiar with the idea that passing the baton is a key part of empowering leaders for the future. The book of Judges is a great real-life lesson of what happens when leaders don’t pass the baton of faith to the next generations. Statistics from the Barna Group indicate we haven’t done the best job of making the handoff in the last few years. Sixty-one percent of today’s young adults were “churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged (i.e., not actively attending church, reading the Bible, or praying).”
We may need a paradigm shift, a shift that focuses more on empowering and helping students and their families own and live their faith than on spending all our time on bigger and better programs or flashy things to wow students. Hear me, I am not against doing things with excellence and having top-notch programs, but we need to think more about engaging the family system and how to hand off ministry than spending our time doing all the ministry.
I remember in my first year of ministry: We had a Sunday night service, and every few weeks we would let a teenager who felt called into ministry give the message that night to the entire congregation. I know most churches don’t have Sunday night services anymore, and this wouldn’t be a good idea in many churches because of their size. The point is that there used to be an avenue to empower and help students grab the baton as someone was running beside them to help them with the pass off. Currently my interns are pounded with this message: How are you setting up the next generation of interns that follow you? You should set them up so that they can stand on your shoulders and go to the next level. I am trying to do that myself, and I challenge you to always have that mindset.
My challenge to you is to ask the questions: Do you have a culture in which the baton is handed off? Who are you handing the baton off to?
Written by Andy Stephenson PhD who is the Leader of Youth and Family Ministries at Church of God Ministries.