When our Threads team met in December to talk about what kind of content we needed on this site for the next few months, we came up with a pretty good idea.
We decided to take the most asked questions we received at Connect Conferences this fall and answer them in detail.
Here is Question 1:
“What would you say was the number one reason programs/attempts to reach young people aren’t successful?”
Great question. It’s going to be impossible to boil it down to one key reason, so I will throw out several issues that have tripped me up in the last few weeks, months and years.
Some failures are remarkably and painfully fresh in my mind.
We fail to develop, disciple and trust young adult leaders.
If you don’t get young adults themselves into leadership roles and let them truly guide the ministry, you’re wasting your time. Start with your core group and invest in them — long term. Make sure you are all on the same page with the destination you are heading toward. Then, give them ownership in decisions and directions. Expect some mistakes. Help everyone learn from the mistakes, but keep pressing on toward the goal of reaching young adults for Christ and teaching them to become mature believers. Don’t expect to be successful with a top-down, command-and-control leadership style. Teach your young adults to lead and let them do it.
We don’t understand the world of today’s young adults.
We’re a long, long, long way from Opie, Andy and Aunt Bee. The world in 2009 is unbelievably different than the world most of the Boomer generation is familiar with. Half of young adults grew up in broken homes. A majority of young adults struggle with a major challenge of substance abuse, pyschological problems like depression, and just plain loneliness. Church leaders have to sit down and talk with young adults about their lives and truly understand the world they live in. Until we are willing to truly understand and truly engage their world, we will never be able to lead them to Christ. We have to be willing to engage in their world, no matter how messy it might get. It’s important. Lives for all eternity are on the line.
We don’t choose people over programs.
If you’re Southern Baptist like me, you’re all about programs—Sunday School, Upward Sports, Support Groups, Women’s Ministry, etc. Programs are fine and good, but unless we are willing to value people more than programs, we will not reach the Millennial Generation. Maybe your church has done Sunday School for 50 years and has done it well. Are you willing to do it differently? Are you willing to go off site to do it? Are you willing to stretch your traditional hour of Bible study to 90 minutes or two hours to allow for more interaction among people who need to ask hard questions? Are you willing to do it at 11 a.m. Sundays instead of 9:30? Are you willing to offer Bible study at other times and settings during the week to account for all of the young adults in your community who are forced into working Sundays? Programs must take a back seat to people.
We don’t expect enough from young adults.
Challenge them to read the Bible through in three months. They’ll do it if it’s important to their spiritual growth. Challenge them to make a difference in their community through missions and service. They’ll do it. Ask them to create a worship service just for them and invite their friends and they’ll do it. They will rise to the challenge. Don’t worship at the church of low expectations. Worship the Lord Jesus Christ and hold up His expectations. You will be amazed at the results you see.
These are mistakes I have made. What do you think?