The best presentation of the first day of the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit was the last message of the day by Craig Groeschel, pastor of LifeChurch.tv (yes, that is the name of the church) in Edmond, Oklahoma. He addressed the need for intergenerational cooperation in leadership development. His comments were both inspiring and practical.
Groeschel pointed out that if generations are going to work together and learn from each other, it must be intentional. He suggested three ways to do this.
Create on-going feedback loops so that various generations can talk to and listen to each other. He uses listening groups made up of older and younger congregants to give him feedback on his messages.
Create specific mentoring moments. This is not only older to younger mentoring, but also includes reverse mentoring where an older leader can learn from a young leader.
Create opportunities for significant leadership development. Don’t just delegate responsibilities but also provide young leaders with the authority to carry out the task.
Although he had some harsh words as he identified the younger generation as the “entitled” generation where “everyone is a winner,” he also pointed out that our young adults and youth will not be satisfied with the injustices they see in the world that they are receiving from us. They are ready to do something about the needs they see around them.
This fit well with the comments made earlier in the day by Marc Kielburger, the co-founder of Free the Children and co-CEO of Me to We. Both organizations mobilize youth to help their peers around the world. Fast-talking and charismatic, Kielburger and his brother have tapped into the idealism of Canadian youth and are now expanding their movement to the United States and Great Britain. His enthusiasm is contagious. As I listened to him, I thought, “If the church does not engage this generation in global leadership, we will loose them as well as the world.”
Our youth have more opportunity than any previous generation to know what is going on throughout our nation and around the world. They are widely traveled; most high school seniors from even middle class families have traveled outside the United States at least once during their teen years. Many of our college students are doing overseas trips or cross-cultural immersion experiences as part of their studies. They are world citizens.
A good example of this world awareness is a young woman in our church who just graduated from high school and has already joined with friends to establish a not-for-profit organization to raise money for a village in Haiti. In addition to raising funds, they have also gone to the village and worked with the people. Remember, she is not even in college yet!
If the church does not encourage and empower our youth and young adults to address the needs they discover, they will find other means to do so. This was my big take away from day one of the Summit.