“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom,” wrote the Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl.
Most churches want to grow younger, but many churches do not want to do what it takes to sustain youth. Stop and think about that for a second.
With Generation Z (born after 1996) and Millennials (1977-1995) composing the most significant generational gaps within most congregations, many churches deeply desire to find ways to reach them.
Growing younger is complex. It is not just about hiring the right staff and developing the correct type of programs. However, these are significant steps in the direction of growing younger. Just consider the great strides UBC has made in reorganizing its staffing structure, ministries, and marketing.
Growing younger also means embracing our intergenerational role in sustaining growth. What does that mean?
First, we must embrace that many of the young people who will darken the doors of our church will not look, think, or act like what you are accustom. Different does not equal wrong. Unfamiliar does not mean ungodly.
Second, like the generations before them, Gen Z and Millennials are passionate about what is happening globally and want to be a part of making positive change. This can often cause theological friction within churches that are not open to a diverse set of perspectives.
Third, waiting for your time is not something that young adults want to hear. They want to be a part of leading, serving and envisioning what God is doing in the local church now. This requires a bold openness to empowering leaders of all ages to serve.
Fourth, but not finally, growth means a need for systematic development to support it. More young people means more people are needed to volunteer in the myriad of the ministries necessary to connect with them, such as teaching children, mentoring through the Barnabas Project, sharing your time and presence at the Family Tree Café, nurturing an MDO class, investing one Friday evening per month to work with kids at the Young Adults Night Out, and so on.
What a growing young adult ministry means for UBC is bold faithfulness to embrace the new waves that come with exciting development