Leading Young People

Are you a Boss or a Leader?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

It’s easy to say “I’m a leader because I’m the boss,” but that’s not what makes a person a leader. True leadership doesn’t come from the title we carry, but from the influence we have with those around us.

As you evaluate your own influence with those you lead, which side of the equation do you think you fall on most often? Are you a BOSS or a LEADER?

Can’t see the infograph? Try clicking here.

How To Offer Amazing Ministry With Not So Amazing People

I recently visited a local gym who was offering a week membership for free. I was truly impressed. They had a wide range of workout rooms and exercise equipment and a beautiful facility. When I arrived for the first time, they gave me a tour of the facility and made themselves available to help me get acclimated to any of the equipment I didn’t understand. The offer to help wasn’t really necessary since there were instructional signs and videos available explaining how to use each machine.

They converted an inexperienced and mildly overwhelmed guy (that’d be me) into a confident individual who had the right tools he needed to get great results. At the very minimum, it would be hard to NOT have at least an average workout, though I’d definitely rate my experience above average, if not exceptional. 

Great systems turned the wrong person into the right person and quickly converted average results into maximized results.

The Systems/People Matrix

Let me introduce a revolutionary matrix that, if properly applied, just might change your perspective on how to offer amazing ministry with not so amazing people.


I call this diagram the Systems/People Matrix. It has been adapted from a similar graph I found in Nelson Searcy’s e-book, “Healthy Systems, Healthy Church“). 

The point of this matrix is simple. When you have great systems, you can often recruit people who aren’t necessarily the ‘right ones’ and eventually develop them into the right people over time. Amazing ministry happens not just because we have the best people in place, but because we have great systems that give people time to become the best people.

Let’s look at each quadrant a little closer:

Down and to the Right

When you have poor systems, but great people, your end result is frustration. That is, the people serving are frustrated, and the longer they serve in that role the more frustrated they become. This often eventually leads to volunteer or staff turnover. They love doing what they are doing and are passionate about it, but they don’t feel valued or cared for and don’t feel like they are equipped or empowered to do the job right.

RESULT: Not so amazing ministry.

EXAMPLE 1: A Sunday School teacher shows up to teach the class and discovers that the toys are dirty and put away in the wrong boxes from last week. She spends the first ten minutes putting them in order and getting all the toy pieces back where they belong. Those ten minutes were supposed to be spent preparing the craft and quieting herself before everyone arrives. The next time she arrives to teach, she discovers all the crayons are broken and the cereal box was left open so the cereal is stale.

EXAMPLE 2: The drummer shows up for worship team rehearsal 10 minutes early to prepare and make sure the drums are setup the way he likes and so he can warm up. When the worship rehearsal time arrives he discovers only two people have arrived. He waits 15 minutes before everyone else gets there and takes the stage. It then takes another 15 minutes to do the sound check and get the monitors mixed properly. He wonders if he should just show up 30 minutes late from now on and forget about warming up.

Down and to the Left

If you don’t have good people in the designated role, and you don’t have any systems to serve them, you’ll end up with failure. There’s really no way meaningful ministry can happen consistently in that environment.

RESULT: No Ministry.

EXAMPLE 1: A Sunday School teacher doesn’t really care about doing anything other than making sure the kids don’t hurt themselves. She doesn’t particularly enjoy kids either, but she serves because she knows it’s important. Since there are no systems in place to provide great toys, craft supplies and a lesson plan to the teachers, she literally just comes every week and spends her time trying to keep the kids occupied and prevent them from hurting themselves. Afterwards, kids leave the room crying or bored and the teacher leaves exhausted and ready to quit. As a result, the parents are frustrated that their kids aren’t getting any valuable teaching and don’t want to attend class and it becomes increasingly difficult to find reliable volunteers to run the class.

EXAMPLE 2: A volunteer is recruited to build a website for the church because he has some web experience. Since nobody gave him any instruction, images or content, he just creates a basic and simple site that ends up missing a lot of crucial data. And since all he was recruited to do was build the site, and not manage it, three months after it’s completed most of the information on the site is dated and some of the pages are broken. Guests who visit the site often choose to visit somewhere else simply because the website is so outdated and unprofessional looking.

Up and to the Left

The top left quadrant is the one that fascinates me the most. In this quadrant you have great systems in place, but not the greatest people serving in those roles. Perhaps the people are new, immature, unskilled, or simply not passionate about what they are doing. Despite this, the results will very often be average and sometimes above average. A great example of this in the business world would be your local fast food joint, like McDonalds, Arby’s, or Taco Bell. I’m fairly certain most of those employees don’t dream about making fast food service a career path or have a lot of previous training flipping burgers and taking orders. And yet, it’s highly likely you will receive similar service and products no matter where you make your order in the entire world. Why? Amazing Systems. 

RESULT: Nearly Amazing Ministry.

EXAMPLE 1: A hesitant single adult has agreed to do a ‘3 month test drive’ as a Sunday School teacher. At first, she is nervous she made a bad decision because she has never worked with kids much. But after attending two sessions as an apprentice, receiving great follow-up training and walking into the classroom each week with everything in it’s place and simple, easy to follow, instructions on the inside door, she has decided it’s not that hard and a lot of fun. At the end of the 3 months, she’s committed to serve another year and has already proven to be the ‘right person for the job.’

EXAMPLE 2: A volunteer that normally comes in on Saturdays to fold and stuff the bulletins calls in sick the last minute. The secretary has a substitute list of potential backups, but they have never actually done the job. She makes the call and as the backup arrives she spends 5 minutes walking her through a checklist and showing her the machinery, which is also well labelled with instructions. As a result, the job gets done as expected and the volunteer felt like she was able to help the church ‘on the fly’.

Up and to the Right

This quadrant represents not average ministry or even above average, but maximized ministry. Staff and volunteers are serving where they believe they are called to serve and they have the training and gifts needed to do it. Since there are great systems in place, they spend a lot of their time and energy actually ministering to people and improving the overall ministry of the church. Often, they move on to become the influencers within that sphere of responsibility. 

Result: Amazing Ministry.

EXAMPLE 1: The sound tech loves to do sound ministry, and over time he has learned how to do it well and is good at it. On top of that, the expectations, systems, and tasks necessary to do the job are well defined. As a result, he helps recruit and train new sound techs and is currently working on learning some advanced tech that will eventually help the church know how to best place the speakers in the room to maximize their capacity and actually minimize loud hot-spots in the room.

EXAMPLE 2: A Sunday School teacher serves twice a month in the four year old class and absolutely loves it. He actually looks forward to those Sundays. Since he knows exactly what to expect each Sunday morning there is little stress associated in the job. In fact, the children’s director has created room in the timeline of ministry to kids to allow him to personally pray over each child every week. He recently started a blog for parents of preschoolers at the church and is personally ensuring that each preschool teacher writes on it once a month. His love for the ministry is so contagious that the adults in his small group are thinking about volunteering too. 

I have a challenge for you . . . write out each area of ministry or responsibility you have delegated to other staff or volunteers. Now ask yourself which quadrant that ministry falls in, and what you need to do to improve the systems to better serve those serving within them.

Why Young Adults Don’t Attend Your Church

I used to visit a restaurant that had two separate dining areas, one slightly larger than the other. The larger dining area was always where I sat to eat, even though I had to walk right by the smaller dining area to get there. To be honest, it never occurred to me that I could sit in there if I wanted to. The reason was quite simple. It was where all the ‘regulars’ sat, who were also all much older than me. There was sort of an ‘exclusive club’ feel to the place. Everything about that space screamed, “Private Party” even though it wasn’t.

Sadly, our churches often send this same message to the younger generations, without even realizing it.

Let’s split up the ‘younger generation’ demographic into two categories, those (1) not interested in God and those (2) interested in or pursuing God, and focus on the latter group. It’s not hard to miss these people in our churches today, especially in the small to mid-sized churches. 

Why aren’t they attending more of our churches? 

I suspect the following 5 reasons might answer that question.

1. It feels like an insiders club.

Young people aren’t interested in learning the secret handshake so they can be part of the church. If they visit the church a few times and feel like an ‘outsider’ for very long, they’re not going to stick around. It is super important church leaders ask the question, “What (formal & informal) hoops have we created that people have to go through before they are accepted and integrated into the life of our church?”

In other words, how long will it take & what needs to happen before they are treated like family? More than any other age group, we need to be intentional about making this process simple, both practically and emotionally. 

2. It reminds them of their ‘mom & dads’ church.

I’ve heard young adults echo this phrase many times over the years. They leave the church they grew up in and find themselves at college or on their own. Eventually, they check out some churches in the area. From the moment they walk through the doors until they leave, their experience reminds them of church growing up. Only, for many of them, the Sunday morning experience growing up wasn’t for them, it was for the adults, for mom and dad. 

Although technically “adults,” many young people aren’t interested in acting like the ‘older’ adults they’ve been around their whole life. They want to express themselves as the younger generation. Churches who are actively reaching this group of people are also finding ways to enhance the Sunday morning environment to better appeal to them.

3. There is nothing interesting for them to do.

Despite the fact that young adults have a history of sitting in front of their devices, TV’s and xbox’s growing up, they don’t want to just sit around at church. They’ve grown up having a lot more freedom and control over what they get to see and do than those before them. And they are going to get bored real quick if they are forced to just do and go where everyone tells them to. They want to have a say in what’s going on and they want to do something important and interesting.

Churches who are thinking of this generation will quickly get them involved in ministry. They will encourage them to reach out to felt needs in the community. And they will provide lots of fun activities that are designed to keep young adults engaged with one another and the church family.

4. There is no one interesting to hang out with.

Many young adults who visit your church are looking for new connections. Surprisingly, not just with peers, but with people who can act as mentors and leaders in their life. That said, peers are important. Many a young person will walk in a church, scan the crowd, and determine to never return simply because there is no one else around their age. Churches that can reach a small ‘quorum’ of young adults have the beginnings of a foundation to build on, relationally.

It shouldn’t stop there. One of the best ways to truly connect to this auspicious group of people, is by inviting them into the homes and lives of your church families. I’ve never heard of a young person who turned down an invitation to dinner and who doesn’t secretly enjoy experiencing ‘family’ away from their own family.

5. Their questions are not getting answered.

Young adults hate watered down and pat answers. They have questions and they are genuinely interested in the answers. They want to know the Truth. But they have little patience for flowery speeches, big words, and long explanations. They want it simple. They want to get it. They want it fast.

Communicators need to brush up on their skills and not assume what worked ten years ago will work today. They need to know how to tell great stories and they need to be consistently asking themselves how they can connect with young adults. More than ever before, church leaders must, “be prepared in season and out of season.”

What other reasons are young people staying away from our churches?

The Decision Tree

decision-treeI think delegation can be a big mistake. There’s a mouthful. Did I just say that? This from the guy who just wrote, “9 Reasons Why People Don’t Delegate“? Something’s wrong.

Here’s the deal. I believe in delegation. Wholeheartedly. But I also believe that IF you’re going to delegate, you better make sure you’re delegating the right tasks to the right people. You need to ensure that you’ve identified just HOW MUCH authority you plan to give to your leaders. Make it obvious and clear to both them and you.

Give them time to prove themselves. This will honor & serve both them and you. Trust me, they may not know this, but they don’t want more authority than they’re equipped to handle.

Here’s the key, make sure both you and they know which decisions they can make and how involved you should be in them.

fierce-conversationsLast year I read a great book called ‘Fierce Conversations‘. It is full of great advice on how to be more self-aware as a leader, how to confront others with care, how to ask the right questions, how to hold performance reviews with staff and a lot more. It’s definitely on my ‘recommended reading‘ list!

That said, I’d like to highlight one of the most valuable pages in the book. The author calls it . . .

The Decision Tree
The decision tree is a tool for delegation and professional development. You know employees {or volunteers} are growing and developing when more and more of their decisions are moved to the leaf level.

  • Leaf Decisions: Make the decision. Act on it. Do not report the action you took.
  • Branch Decisions: Make the decision. Act on it. Report the action you took daily, weekly, or monthly.
  • Trunk Decisions: Make the decision. Report your decision before you act take action.
  • Root Decisions: Make the decision jointly, with input from many people.

Let’s create an example, to help illustrate how this might work. I’ll pick on the Children’s Ministry Director in a local church. Following might be what you’ve decided about that individual. Note: it could be different for each person you recruit into the role. For instance, maybe a longstanding elder or the pastor’s wife is the director, many of the decisions in Trunk or Branch might move up into Branch & Leaf.

Children’s Ministry Director:

  • Leaf: Curriculum. Classroom Decor. Check-in Procedures. Parent Communications.
  • Branch: Volunteer Recruitment. Volunteer Scheduling. Volunteer Training. Minor Discipline Issues with Children. Child Injury.
  • Trunk: Special Events. Scope & Sequence for the year. Major Discipline Issues with Children (requiring parent interaction). 
  • Root: Children’s Ministry Policies. Community Focused Large Events. Abuse/Allegations of abuse. 

How can the Decision Tree help you delegate and communicate with your team better this week?

photo credit: Steve Webel via photopin cc

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Waking the Sleeping Giant

xJosh.jpg.pagespeed.ic.o9dSnVb45tJosh Jansen is a full-time Campus Minister in Syracuse, NY. Through a dynamic speaking style, he challenges audiences to live out the key Biblical principles that God has promised will change the world.One of his dreams is to eventually pastor a local church that will harness the energy and talents of passionate college students, like those in BASIC College Ministries, to transform the way society views Christianity. Josh is a graduate of Elim Bible Institute in Lima, NY and has a Master’s Degree in Ministry from Southwestern Christian University in Oklahoma.

511In his book, Courageous Leadership Bill Hybels writes “The local church is the hope of the world.” I read that about seven years ago and since then it has been the driving force behind everything that I do. I want nothing more than to see the local church make the impact on society that it has always been meant to make.

My focus for the past four years (I am fairly new at this) has been on young adults. There are a few reasons for this: first of all, I am one. Secondly, I understand the potential in my age group. This generation of young people is a sleeping giant. They have barely scratched the surface on all that God has for them and, more often than not, churches have not fully tapped into their potential. If the church is the hope of the world, then young leaders between the ages of 18-29 are the hope of the church.

Last year it was evident that there was a lack of ministries geared towards young adults in the Syracuse area. I had begun working for BASIC College Ministries at Faith Chapel in Syracuse and I saw a great opportunity to make a big impact on the young adults. We formed a leadership team and we launched a young adults ministry. Over the past 9 months we have seen our ministry grow to 80 young adults (over 20% of our church population), who represent about 10 different churches. Some even drive an hour or more to be with us. We are still very new at this, but here are some good ideas that I’ve discovered as we’ve grown:

  • Develop a leadership team. 
    This is leadership 101 and it is easy to try and do it yourself. There are eight people on our leadership team who meet weekly to discuss future plans and upcoming meetings/events. Each member oversees an area of the ministry (worship, greeting, hospitality, service production, etc). Everything that follows this section happens because we have an awesome team.
  • Have a church service. 
    We have held to this belief from the beginning because we were not interested in having a coffee house. In my church experience, those are awkward 98% of the time. Our church service is usually about an hour and 15 minutes in length. Why do we do it? Well, we win in 3 ways: people get saved, people come back to church, and/or people start serving in their church. We are not a local church substitute; we offer a legit service with the goal to motivate young adults to return to their own local church ready to serve.
  • Preach a sitcom. 
    For our purposes, shorter is usually best. There is the old church adage: “if you can sit through a 2 hour movie you can sit through an hour long sermon.” Well, maybe, but I did not have two years to prepare this week’s sermon (the length of time it takes to prepare a 2 hour movie). Everyone can sit through a 20-25 minute sitcom though. Whoever preaches is authentic, to the point, and biblically sound. We do not neglect Jesus. Our goal is to cut to the heart in 30 minutes and then send them out to impact their churches and their city.
  • Be creative with what you have. 
    We do not have thousands of dollars to put into our ministry so we find ways to be creative. Branding is a great place to start. We spent the summer doing a series called “Summer of Heroes” and designed a graphic to go along with it. The value of professionalism with the graphics is important because they act as first impressions on Facebook (our main form of advertisement). On Friday nights after we worship we do the outrageously cliche ‘meet and greet’ but with a twist: we download clean secular songs from Spotify (it’s free) that have to do with saying “hello” to someone. You will be shocked at how happy people are to talk when Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” is blasting in the background. This little idea has gone a long way. Think of creative ways to do the same things differently. 
  • Give them a cause. 
    Young adults are quite generous if you give them a reason to be. They spend money on things that they believe in. Notice how a high percentage of people under 30 use Apple products! We had a missionary from the Middle East come to preach over the summer. After the sermon I went up and explained some of the needs that this modern day ‘Paul the Apostle’ had. They felt the need and they responded with a $2000 spontaneous offering. The missionary left with almost everything he and his family needed (an Apple computer was among the needs). Give them a cause and young adults will back you. Note: please do not gauge their generosity by whether or not they are giving to ‘Sister Mary’s Quilting Class Fund.’ 

    Opportunities are also provided for people to give their time for a cause. This fall we are launching our ‘Salt the City’ initiative (Syracuse is called the Salt City). We have partnered with local charities and have about a dozen different outreaches planned. One of these is a foot clinic that our medical students started on their own.

  • Build Relationships. 
    This is so important. We ALWAYS have food out after every service. Pizza, vegetables, chips, and drink are provided for free. Relationship is valued over spending $80 on food for the night – we welcome this financial hit. Our service ends at 8:30 PM and people generally stay well past 10 PM. My wife and I will be at the mall and see young adults who met at The. 511 hanging out together. There have even been small groups beginning organically through just having food available after the service. The. 511 only meets two times a month. This allows us to have social events on our ‘off weeks.’ We have had a bowling night, a BBQ at the beach, and an open mic night (to name a few). Couple your church services with social events; it is a match made in heaven. Tip: keep social events social. There is nothing wrong with a party that doesn’t end in a sermon or a prayer time. 

These are 6 practical things that we do at The. 511. We believe that we are awakening a sleeping giant in Syracuse, NY. If you can awaken young adults to the reality of Jesus, you are awakening that sleeping giant. Faith Chapel has young adults serving in every aspect of its church service and in several areas young adults are even leading the service.

Create an authentic environment where relationships can be built and you can grow a thriving young adult ministry that defies the statistics. 

Check out The. 511 Facebook page for more information on who we are! Thanks for reading my thoughts and if you have any questions feel free to comment or email me at josh@thebasicsite.org. 

Your Youth Ministry Strategy

youth-ministry-strategyIn my 20+ years of ministry experience I’ve watched a lot of young people cycle through children’s ministries and youth groups. I’ve seen students from a variety of backgrounds, coming from healthy homes and broken homes, having attended public schools, christian schools and home-school. And I’ve watched them grow up and choose whom they will serve. I am always so proud to see young adults who I knew when they were young, now grown, and continuing to serve God in both full time ministry and in the marketplace. 

My first two children have just entered their teen years. I have to admit I’m scared out of my mind at times. I can’t help but look back on these past experiences with other kids and try to determine what I could do to ensure my kids end up knowing Christ and fulfilling their destinies in Him. A good friend reminded me that I’ll likely have it fully figured out when it’s too late. I certainly hope not!

All said, there are three factors I have consistently noticed which seem to have a huge impact on the spiritual growth of teens. I submit them to you for consideration as you develop & build your Youth Ministry Strategy.

Factor #1: A Loving Christian Home
I’ve noticed that, when a child grows up in a loving, stable & christian environment, they tend to develop into secure, strong individuals who love God and want to help build His kingdom on earth. Please understand, I don’t mean they grow up in a perfect family. I haven’t found one of those yet. What I do mean is a home where the parents have a growing faith in God and who consistently love and accept their children. 

This is why I recommend youth ministries incorporate family ministry into their strategy for reaching teenagers. The more youth leaders can equip and empower families to succeed in the home,  the better. Unfortunately, most youth leaders don’t know how to parent teens because they are either single or are just starting their family. This is why I believe smart youth pastors will get parents involved, seek their input and advice and do what they can to push resources to families that will help them succeed.

Factor #2: Involvement In A Passionate Youth Ministry
I have noticed a very big difference between young people who begin their Young Adult years serving Christ and those who don’t. Although I can’t back this with hard numbers, I can say with confidence that I have rarely seen teens keep their faith after High School who were not also involved in a passionate youth ministry. Let me clarify here that I’m talking about a youth ministry that includes passionate worship, relevant teaching and a lot of service or missions opportunities. 

This is why I recommend that your youth ministry strategy includes an unapologetic commitment to worship, preaching and missions. Contrary to some trends in youth ministry, I don’t believe a heavy diet of ‘fun’ is what our teens need or want. That’s not to say they shouldn’t have a blast. It just means that ‘fun’ should always be bundled in with relevant ministry. I also believe every youth ministry should find and support participation in Youth Camps. I’ve heard about and seen more salvations in a camp environment than anywhere else among teens.

That said, young people are still leaving the church in droves. I believe developing a solid young adults ministry which also incorporates the Sunday morning experience is a key to the church’s success in reaching the most unreached age group in our nation. Check out this article from the George Barna group as well as these statistics to learn more.


Factor #3: Leadership & Service Opportunities
If you want to watch young people bloom where they are planted, give them opportunities to make a difference. During my years as a youth pastor I’m glad to say we got this part right more often than not. Ironically, almost 100% of the teens we placed in roles of leadership within the church are now serving in full time ministry or are leaders in the local church as young adults. Meaningful service is what teens are looking for today. They want to make a difference and they want to be given opportunities to step out of their regular world to do so.

This is why I strongly urge churches (not just youth groups!) to incorporate teens into their leadership and volunteer strategies. Let them host bible studies for other teens & kids, lead and serve on the worship team, be assistant counselors at camp, help run the Sunday service, organize crafts for the preschool VBS, put together a special drama or dance for a creative special, speak for 5 minutes in a Sunday morning service, and more. Put them in charge of something and get them involved.

 What other factors do you think contribute to strong, healthy Christian young adults?

photo credit: PBoGS via photopin cc

Mark Batterson on Reaching the Younger Generation

What a great joy it was for me to spend a few minutes with Mark Batterson earlier this year. Mark is perhaps most notably well-known for his book, The Circle Maker, an excellent and timely book on the topic of prayer. He is also the Lead Pastor of an exciting, thriving church in Washington D.C. 

In this 13 minute interview, Mark shares three (note – he says 2 but you’ll discover it’s really 3) pointers on how the body of Christ can more effectively reach the younger generations. Enjoy.


zombies, athletes and superheros

This article was originally posted on Transforming Leader the winter of 2010. Enjoy!


In a past post I attempted to convince you that you shouldn’t be strategizing, planning, and goal-setting alone. God never intended or planned for you to be the ‘Jack of all Trades’ pastor. Not convinced? Read 1 Corinthians 12 again – you probably preached on that passage or referred to it sometime this year. It applies to you too! I don’t know which part of the body you represent in your local church – but I do know that you need the other parts for the work of God to be a success through you.

One of my favorite people is my spiritual and ministry mentor, Pastor Mike Cavanaugh. He serves as President of Elim Bible Institute and Vice President of the ministerial association I serve with, Elim Fellowship. He has been a great example of someone who is not afraid to find his niche and then let others serve with and around him in theirs. I’ll never forget one instance many years ago when he was serving as the Lead Pastor of Elim Gospel Church.  He asked me to lead all of our church strategic meetings, with him sitting as one of the team members! He wasn’t afraid to relinquish control in order to see the church grow. He didn’t feel the need to do everything himself. He was open to allowing others to try, fail, and eventually grow to become all or more than he could become himself in various areas.

There are three kinds of leadership teams:

  • Solo leaders drive a bus-load of zombies. Everyone just goes where they say and nobody thinks to get much involved.
  • Good leaders drive a bus-load of athletes. They carry committed people who will go out of their way to serve, help, and grow under their leaders tutelage and coaching.
  • Great leaders drive a bus-load of superhero’s. These leaders have the self confidence to allow other leaders to serve alongside them; they love to release the team around them to excel beyond them.

One Question Survey

Where do you stand when it comes to gathering, equipping, and releasing others to serve with you in the calling God has for the ministry you lead?

On a scale of 1 – 5…

1 = “I don’t have a team of people around me. I pretty much do everything myself. I either don’t trust others to get involved or I don’t believe there are others around me capable of doing what needs done in this church/ministry.”

2 = somewhere between 1 and 3.

3 = “I have a team of people around me. They are committed to the ministry and to me. They are expanding what I am capable of doing because my time, effort, energy, and ideas are amplified with their presence. However, none of them are offering something to the team that I couldn’t offer myself. Some have leadership gifts, but most don’t have much of an opportunity to be totally released in them.

4 = somewhere between 3 and 5.

5 = “I have a team of committed leaders surrounding me. They are my dream team. Many if not all of them provide leadership and strengths to this ministry that I could not provide myself if I were in their shoes. They have surpassed me in many areas or are well on their way to surpassing me.”


Letting Young Eagles Fly

Hypothetical Question. If you HAD to pick between the following two candidates to serve as the primary leader for all adult ministries in your church (Sunday services, small groups, care, special events, etc.) who would you be most likely to choose: The Young Inexperienced Eagle or The Old Seasoned Eagle?

Your answer to that question may one day (or presently) dictate whether your church survives this decade! Last week I posted a Thursday Quote entitled, “Sticky Teams & Guarding the Gates“. Larry Osborne reminds us that finding and releasing young eagles into meaningful positions of authority and responsibility is critical to our church’s ongoing growth and success.

Unfortunately, most of us who’ve been around for a while would prefer the safety of the known, the experienced, the tried and true. Earlier this month I was talking to a church leader who told me he wanted young people to serve in his church, but that he didn’t think they should be in charge. I reminded him that HE WAS YOUNG when he was given positions of authority. I’ve seen and heard of this happening over and over.

So for today’s post I would like to direct my readers to another blog. I have recently become a fan of the leader of the Catalyst Conferences, Brad Lomenick. Among other things, he firmly believes that young people can and do make a difference.

Following is a link to his massive list of what he calls, Young Influencers. These men and women are doing great things. They are young eagles that are soaring to new and greater heights. They are attempting things that us older folk never considered when we were their age . . . and they are succeeding. For me, I’m going for the Young Eagles. How about you?

Image compliments of Tina Phillips on freedigitalphotos.net

Thursday Quote: Sticking Teams and Young Eagles

“Ironically, most churches are started by young eagles. But soon after getting their nest built, nicely appointed, and fully furnished, they start to marginalize the next batch of young eagles, asking them to sit at the kids’ table and wait for their turn at middle-aged leadership.”

I don’t think Larry Osborne could have presented a major problem in the local church better . . . and it’s becoming a major roadblock in the ongoing growth and development of the church at large. Leaders just have a real hard time releasing young leaders into meaningful and influential leadership. In his book, Sticky Teams, Larry Osborne talks about this difficulty in the chapter entitled, “Making Room at the Top”. Here’s a little more from that chapter.

When a church grows old, gray, and culturally out of touch – far more interested in protecting the past than in creating the future – it starts to wonder, ‘What happened to all the young people that used to hang around here?’ That’s a sure sign that the young eagles have been shut out for a long time.

I’d be a liar if I said that protecting and promoting young eagles is a pain-free venture. It’s far easier in theory than in practice. I don’t like giving up my personal power, prestige, or preferences any more than the next guy does. It’s kind of a drag.

But young eagles are born to fly. It’s their nature. It’s how God made them. If they can’t fly high in our church, they’ll bolt and fly elsewhere. And sadly, if and when they do, they’ll take most of the life, vitality, and the future of the church with them.

So, honestly now, how are you and your church responding to young eagles? Are they written off, tolerated, or celebrated? Are they encourage to fly or asked to clip their wings?

I guarantee you, your answer will determine your church’s future.

When working with leadership teams to determine their ability and openness to fully utilize and keep young eagles, I ask three questions.

  1. Are young eagles empowered and platformed?
  2. Are young eagles in the loop or in the meeting?
  3. Who gets to ride shotgun? 
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