Unlock Keychain Leadership - Growing Young Series 1 of 6In late 2016, a team from Fuller Youth Institute published Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church. That book is accompanied by several free resources that can be accessed here.
Through their research, Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin identified six things that churches who engage in meaningful ministry with young people do well.
The researchers identify keys as “the capabilities, power, and access of leaders that carry the potential to empower young people.” Keys provide physical access to a building, and metaphorically they have the ability to welcome people in or lock people out. Leaders in power are those who hold the keys. The more power one has, the more keys that leader possesses in a church. Key chain leaders are aware of the keys in their possession and they are “intentional about entrusting and empowering all generations…with their own set of keys.”
A keychain leader does not horde, or keep keys. They do not lend keys out expecting their prompt return. Instead, they are willing to make sets of keys and hand them over to leaders of all ages in the church, and be willing to go along for the ride. Keys are not handed over haphazardly, but they are entrusted to those empowered as fellow leaders in a community of faith.
At a church in Franklin, TN, the fall of 2015 was a time of discernment. An area church had a proposal going to General Conference 2016. That church was collecting statements from other churches in favor of their proposal, and this church had been asked if they would sign on in support. The church leadership planned a series of three “Town Hall” style listening events, that a small group of leaders would each attend to listen, discern, and pray together with church members before this small group made their decision. Included on that smaller leadership team was a seventeen-year-old boy, Jacob. He was tasked with listening to the youth ministry concerns as well as all of the feedback from the Town Halls.
Now, the important part of this story is not what the outcome of the meetings were, nor what the youth ministry thought of the final decision of the church. One important part of this story is that church leadership invited a youth to be on the deciding committee! Additionally, Jacob was fully trusted and listened to in the process. He was not a “token young person.”
However, the most important part of this story isn’t actually about Jacob at all. The most important part of this story is the culture of the church and the personality of the pastoral leadership. Jacob could not have been just inserted at seventeen years old and asked to have the spiritual maturity to listen and discern along with adult members of the congregation. Jacob needed to be encouraged, equipped, and empowered from the time that he was a child so that he understood that his role and voice would be as a full member in the life of his church. He was tabbed as the right person to fill the role of a youth on that decision-making group not just because he was in the right place at the right time. He was the right young person because the leadership of the church had shown Jacob what leadership meant and gave him chances to lead while he grew in faith.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER.
Do you see young people like Jacob where you are in ministry at Peace?
Are you a leader who is comfortable handing over the keys?
Are you part of a community that empowers young people to lead and welcomes their input equally with adults?
Serving together as a family is something special you can all do together to help teach your kids about thinking larger than themselves. Summer is a great time to get started
Create a Neighborhood Prayer Board
Read the story of the Good Samaritan together in Luke 10:25-37. Then try this Prayer Board Project to connect with others in your own neighborhood.
Take a walk through your neighborhood with a digital camera or your phone’s camera. Photograph people, places, and things in your neighborhood. Take time to visit with your neighbors and share about this project before taking their picture. After viewing the photos, print some of them to create a picture display on a bulletin board or a large sheet of poster board, along with a map of your neighborhood. For at least a week, pray daily for the neighboring people and places on your prayer board. As a family, how could you serve those in your neighborhood this summer?
2. Make Friendship Cookies
Read the story of the four friends who helped a man who couldn’t walk in Mark 2:1-9. Then bake some Friendship Cookies together to deliver to friends.
Buy some refrigerated sugar cookie dough, frosting, and toppings such as chocolate chips, mini candies, and colorful sprinkles. Slice the dough into circles and press your thumbs into the dough of each cookie twice to make a heart shape. Bake the cookies according to the package directions. When cool, frost the cookies. Outline the heart-shaped imprint with chocolate chips, candies, or sprinkles. Plan a cookie delivery trip to share the cookies with some friends who have helped your family. Then say a prayer thanking God for friendships!
3. Celebrate the Gift of Water
Read the story of Jesus changing water to wine in John 2:1-11. Then enjoy some splashy fun together.
Families can enjoy water during the summer by drinking cold water, swimming, or watering flowers, just to name a few ways. We can enjoy water, but we are also called to be caretakers of this good gift from God! How could your family save water this summer? Maybe you could fix a dripping sink, install a low-flow shower head, or have a shortest shower contest. Or, if your family knows a couple getting married this summer, give a gift with a watery theme such as matching water bottles, fun ice cube trays, or a cool watering can.
4. Throw a Health Kit Party
Read the story of Jesus healing the ten with leprosy in Luke 17:11-19. Then invite friends to create and assemble some health kits to donate to a local or global organization.
Learn about a local agency or global organization that needs health kits to find out their specific needs. Invite friends to join your family for a meal, whether a fun breakfast, picnic lunch, or barbecue dinner. Give a list of items for guests to bring and take time to assemble the health kits during your gathering. Kit items may include wrapped bars of soap, nail clippers, combs, bandages, and dark-colored washcloths and hand towels. As you assemble the kits, let your guests know when and where you’ll donate them and who the kits will assist. Finish your gathering together with a prayer of thanks for friends who join you in service.
5. Tell Malaria to Buzz Off!
Read the story of Jesus healing a girl in Mark 5:35-43. Then develop a plan for your family to tell malaria to buzz off!
Mosquitos may be a nuisance where you live, but they can kill when they infect children, youth, and adults with malaria. Check out the World Health Organization, UNICEF, or Red Cross web sites to learn more. How could you raise money to support these efforts? Try a lemonade stand, donate the amount you would have spent on a restaurant meal, or ask kids to give part of their allowance. Ask at your church about a recommended campaign or initiative to eradicate malaria where you can give your donation. Additional Idea: Local agencies serving people in need sometimes need summertime donations of bug repellant and sunscreen. Check if these are needed in your area. What could your family do to help?
Photo by Annie Spratt
Watching a toddler take that courageous first step without assistance.
Ensuring a backpack is full of essentials for the first day of school.
Celebrating the birthday marking the start of the teen years.
Fostering the freedom and responsibility accompanying the first set of car keys.
Unashamedly wiping away a tear while hearing the full legal name of your student walking across the stage at high school graduation.
From the bar mitzvah to the walkabout, virtually every culture has a unique way of celebrating milestones which mark a significant transition or achievement within a person or a family’s life. The unique milestones in your family or mine speak to the value of recognizing change, development, and transformation for all it is worth. These moments in a family’s life within the context of a church community create natural opportunities to engage some of these key moments together. Celebrating milestones within a church allows the spiritual village to name successes as well as prepare for the challenges ahead with a confidence rooted in multigenerational wisdom and collective faith. READ MORE
Here is a wonderful article on discipleship and us, the church. Non-discipleship in the church is the elephant in the room that we do not really ever address. Take a read and share your thoughts and comments below.
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