As Randel Everett has traveled the state, he’s had the opportunity to visit with media members in cities across Texas. I’ve been with him for some of the interviews, and the questions have been interesting. Reporters want to know about the future of denominations. They want to know about the health of the convention.
Most of all, they’ve asked Randel about reaching out to those who are younger than 35. They note that this generation has not had the same allegiance to churches as previous generations. To me, Randel’s response has been the most encouraging and at the same time most dangerous thing he’s said since he’s been executive director of the BGCT.
From the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:
Two of the most frequent questions pastors ask the new executive director are, “What are our priorities (in the state convention)?” and “How do you reach those under 35?”
He tells the pastors that the under-35s will reach their own generation, advising them to trust younger leaders to come up with the methods.
For years Christians have lamented the loss of younger generations. We’ve bemoaned the lack of church interest from young people. No one seems to know what to do.
As an under-35 who spends most of his time with other under-35s, I’m not sure we have any magical answers either. But it seems to me that we would be the most culturally-appropriate group to share the hope of Christ with those in our age range. We hang out at the same places as non-believers our age. We share common jargon. We have the same life markers — Challenger explosion, the Gulf War, 9/11, the Iraq war. We network the same way.
It’s refreshing to hear someone who holds a position of influence such as Randel express a need to trust younger generations. Too many of my friends say they don’t have the freedom to grow where they are. They feel cramped, restricted, unable to express new perspectives or attempt new ways of doing things. Put simply, they’re unable to succeed or fail on their own.
As a generation, we have such potential. We seem willing to go to the ends of the earth if God calls us. We are networking in new ways, utilizing the technology that is before us. We care about hurting people close to us and on the other side of the world. We want to work together with other Christians.
But with the trust of others comes great responsibility. And that’s something as a generation that we haven’t lived up to well. We’re somewhat reticent to grab hold of the responsibilities previous generations already had grabbed by our age. Some criticize our generation for failing to grow up.
If we’re going to be entrusted with reaching our generation, we’re going to have to step up to the plate and deliver. We need to find effective ways of reaching out to those around us. We need to find ways to embrace the good of what has worked in the past and blend it with new ideas to create outreaches that work today.
We need to dialogue with people older than us in order to grow off what they know and avoid the mistakes they’ve made. At the same time, we need to travel our generational journey, redefining what may need to be refined.
The key to this process may be mentoring. Some of it will be formal, but much of it undoubtedly will be informal. Next week, Emily Prevost, a 20-something who works in the BGCT Congregational Leadership Team, will share her thoughts on effective mentoring. She’ll share what she sees that’s working and what’s not working. I look forward to reading it. I hope you’ll enjoy as well.
We hope it adds to the discussion of how younger people can grow, accept the trust Randel is encouraging and take hold of the responsibility of reaching a generation. For us, grabbing hold of all three of those notions is a must.
A generation may be counting on it.