I’m racing against the clock to finish a project for our Shepherding Elders before I leave Bethel Church at the end of May. I’m passionate about this project because it supports a beautiful vision the Shepherding Elders have recently adopted. First let me tell you about their vision, and then I’ll tell you about the project. I think you will understand why I am so passionate about it.
The Shepherding Elders vision is to “grow young”. By that I mean that they are committed to being intentional about identifying gifted younger adults to serve as Shepherding Elders.
It is vitally important that churches grow young. The older generations need to be passing their passion and the keys to church leadership to successive generations or the church will die. We are all aware of churches that have gone totally gray because they failed to bring the young people along with them in their pursuit of the faith. These churches are like a train engine that has been decoupled from all of the cars it was intended to pull.
The movement to grow young started several years ago at a Church retreat when Council, staff and ministry leaders decided to become intentional about pursuing a healthy, inter-generational future for Bethel. Now, years after that small beginning, take a look around the church. Notice the variety of ages represented in our worship bands on Sunday mornings. Notice (next time you are able to come to in-person worship) the many young people running our church’s worship technology. Consider the average age of the staff. Notice, also who is running our church’s ministries, including, most recently, the 24/7 prayer week. You will find that young people are well represented on a continuum of ages from young to old.
God is doing something good and life-giving at Bethel. The younger generations are stepping up as leaders and vision carriers. This is why I am so passionate about the project I am doing for the Shepherding Elders.
The project is to create a training manual for the Shepherding Elders. It will be a way for them to pass on information to incoming office bearers about what they do, how they do it, and why it is so important. As they discuss their role and responsibilities and learn skills together each generation will be able to learn from all the other generations represented around the table.
Bethel has definitely not arrived when it comes to growing young. The church will always be a work in progress, but I believe God will continue to bless the church as we cooperate with him by staying intentional about being truly inter-generational.
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