A recent article in Harvard Business Review caught my attention. “Strategy Making in Turbulent Times,…
NextGen Ministry, Part 2
By Jeff Jamba
How to do NextGen Ministry well when your church is not large enough to have a NextGen or Family Pastor:
Okay, hopefully you’ve rallied a team since my previous blog and have 6-8 people who are willing to meet and work alongside you to develop a plan to reach the next generations in your community. Now what? Here are two do’s and don’ts of how to build a NextGen team when you don’t have a NextGen staff role:
Don’t leave it exclusively to either volunteer leaders or your lead pastor.
You may be tempted to wait until your lead pastor can be in on leading your NextGen strategy, but your lead pastor gets pulled in a thousand directions each week. He or she likely does not need to be convinced of the need to reach the next generation and grow younger. What your lead pastor really needs is an individual or team that can create a clear starting point to see this begin to take place.
Volunteers are key, but the complexity of ministry today and the difficulty of reaching younger generations will most likely overwhelm a volunteer led team. They will have hours of discussion with few, if any, actions steps taken. So, if you have paid (full or part time) kids min and/or youth ministry staff, they need to be part of the team. Along with the other team members you’ve brought together, create a simple one-page plan of where to start (limiting the size will force you to make manageable first steps), and then bring the plan to the lead pastor. You’ll make progress more quickly and in a broader way than if you make it dependent upon your lead pastor or a group of volunteers to lead the way.
Do give stories to your lead pastor and senior leadership.
You want the lead pastor and your senior leadership to become cheerleaders for your NextGen strategy. Stories are the pathway to making that happen. If you are just getting started, the stories may be small ones like, “We have 8 people who are meeting twice a month with us, because they really want to see our church become a place their children and grandchildren would want to attend. Their enthusiasm for this is contagious!” Or, “Joe, one of our adult volunteers who is an empty nester, has really made an impact in Aiden’s life recently. He’s a student in our ministry with some anxiety that he’s been struggling with and Joe’s presence in his life has been a huge help. We’ve got some great ideas on where to start on how to help even more students like Aiden.”
Facts and stats can be helpful, but it is story that captures our hearts and causes us to take action. Your stories are there. Look for them. Communicate them both digitally and in person to your senior leadership at your church, and you will be surprised how quickly they may become your most vocal supporters.
Don’t forget to celebrate the progress you make
Create a dedicated place to see the wins and progress you are making on getting started with a NextGen strategy. A physical place at the church is great, but a closed Facebook group could be something that volunteer leaders from your church can have easy access to and be reminded of the steps you have already taken. They will be motivated to keep taking steps forward with you if they can see what you have already accomplished together.
Do pace yourself.
This isn’t a go-to-conference, buy-the-kit, just-add-water kind of thing. This is a long-term commitment. It will test your resolve to keep grinding away at it. You will experiment and try things that will fail. You will have stories of breakthrough moments followed by lulls where nothing seems to be moving forward. Keep pressing ahead one step at a time.
Be encouraged – what you are doing matters more than any of us will ever know this side of eternity!
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