Action Step 1 // Let them Lead
"Can they handle it? Are they ready?"
"They're so young."
"What happens if they fail?"
When asked about letting youth lead, these are some of the responses typically given in a church.
The Imaginative Hope report was clear: Let Them Lead (https://www.imaginativehope.ca/action/).
Yet if we look around to see who's at the leadership table in our churches, rarely do we have people under the age of 30 (let alone youth).
Jesus built his church through youth. Greg Stier in his chapter in "Youth Ministry in the 21st Century" (http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/youth-ministry-in-the-21st-century/350880) referred to Ray Vander Laan's assertion that 11 of the 12 disciples were in fact under the age of 20 years.
Think about that: Jesus' first "board of directors" was mostly under the age of 20. (And yes, I understand our context is different with extended adolescences and other distinctions. It still doesn't negate the fact that Jesus trusted them to carry out the foundational work of the church.)
If Jesus trusted teenagers (and given their context, they weren't necessarily the "best and the brightest"), why can't we?
It's not to say that we just give them the keys to the church and let them do as they wish. It's about including them at appropriate times in the evolution of God's local expression. It's recognizing that the Spirit speaks through them just as powerfully as through those who are more aged.
It's affirming, as a child of God, they are expected to lead for his sake.
So how do we do this? Some suggestions (and feel free to share other ways you do this in the comments section):
- Walk alongside them. Jesus didn't abandon them; he walked with them. When he ascended, the Holy Spirit came alongside. As adults (and those further along the journey), we come alongside to mentor and champion opportunities to lead.
- Don't just choose those who seem "successful" to lead. Prayerfully discern what areas could be handed off to those who want to step up to his challenge. They may not be your first choice, but if we listen carefully, we could discover his.
- Make sure it's something significant. It's not to say that they should be excluded from the more "mundane" tasks of the church (none of us should expect that). But let's not give only trivial tasks to youth to participate in. Provide a place for them to make that significant impact.
- Celebrate the successes and let them fail. It's important to learn, lead and review (repeat as needed). It's helping them recognize both what works well and what needs to be reconsidered in the future.
So many in this upcoming generation are primed to lead. How will you make room for them to do so for the glory of his kingdom?