Sunday, February 14, 2010

What Can a New Generation of Leaders Offer?

My friend Mike Young’s response to my last post was this: “What could we call these young leaders to do for churches and organizations? Rather than merely complaining about where these organizations are failing them, can they approach these organizations with things they have to offer?”

Mike has a good point. Although I am sure that there are any number of things that young leaders can offer, here are some ideas.

First, they can bring new life to ministry. With their personal energy and relationship skills, they can give a boost to the external ministries of a church or organization. They can make connections that an older generation may have missed.

Second, they can provide a fresh perspective, especially on worship. Although there are some unchanging elements of worship, real worship is always being renewed to speak more effectively to a people immersed in a particular culture. Although we regularly sing anthems, gospel songs, and praise hymns in worship, each was created in a particular time and place to meet a need. We are still reinventing worship today, and we need help to do it.

Third, they can bring questions that will help us to sharpen both our theology and our practice. Hard questions produce fresh thinking. Difficult times have produced some of our greatest theologian. What does the Bible have to say about poverty, sexuality, and race? What is unique about the Christian faith in a postmodern context? What does God expect of me?

Fourth, young leaders must not only be willing to work and question, they must be open to learn. A teachable spirit can open any number of doors. Each of us was born into a rich culture and each of us has been reborn into a rich ecclesiastical culture. The church has been at this for two thousand years so there are mistakes to avoid and successes to emulate. Young leaders call us to reflect on that rich history.

Something we can give to each other is an authenticity based on love. In a group this weekend, we talked about authenticity that is based on love rather than trust. An authenticity based on a trust is a transaction—the more trust you give me, the more I will give you. This approach makes developing an authentic relationship a long, slow process. An authenticity based on love is a gift. A real gift is offered with no expectation of something in return. A relationship motivated by love puts it all on the line. If we really want to have authentic relationships with young leaders, we must practice agape!

What do you think? What can young leaders offer the church?

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