‘NextGen’ ministry is becoming more and more popular amongst Churches, and with good reason. The more that Churches are breaking down the generational silos, the more integrated and intergenerational the young people become. This in-turn results in seeing young people not only continue in their faith, but leading others to Jesus.
Perhaps your Church doesn’t have a NextGen ministry mindset; then how can you help champion it? Here are seven basic (and easy) steps:
- Begin the conversation
This one is easy; start talking about NextGen ministry both in formal and informal settings. Ask people what they think about the idea of consolidating the different ministries in a more intentional way. You aren’t necessarily trying to get validation; you are just talking about it.
2. Be honest about the current outcomes
This one is a bit trickier. Look at the current trends of the ‘checkout’ rate; that is, at what age are the young people disengaging with their faith and the Church? Where are the generational ‘black holes’? It’s usually in the transition phases, but it could be even earlier. It’s the old adage; if nothing changes, nothing changes. Be honest about the current state of your NextGen-aged ministries.
3. Combine your language and thinking
It’s simple; you need to begin training yourself (and eventually others) in using inclusive and united language when talking about the children, youth and young adult ministries. This is where a title such as ‘NextGen Ministry’ is helpful; it encompasses all the separate ministries into one powerful strategy. The best part is, people will naturally ask you what ‘NextGen Ministry’ means; what a great opportunity to share the heart behind it!
4. Form your vision & mission
Putting it simply, those we lead need to know that there is an end goal to the ministry; that is, they want purpose. When leaders have purpose, they have passion. So forming a vision and mission is crucial. But make sure you involve the leaders in this conversation. Sit the kids, youth and young adult leaders around a table and talk about it! What do they want to see? The key here is to dream big!
A vision and mission should be short and succinct because let’s face it, no one wants to learn a 500-word vision statement.
My previous youth ministry’s vision statement was “To see our young people become passionate and unshakeable followers of Jesus”. It’s short, sweet and impacting! And best of all, the leaders all knew it because it was brief.
So get a vision and mission sorted with your NectGen team; dream big and don’t hold back!
5. Break down the strategy
Now you have the vision, it’s crucial to break it down into bite-sized pieces. It’s great to to have a huge goal (the ‘why’), but if you don’t focus on the ‘how’, you will get nowhere.
This is how I’ve done it in the past: I would write the agreed vision on a white board right in the centre. Then we would brain storm ideas as to how we could achieve this. The conversation that comes from this is excellent. Not every idea will be fantastic but it’s important to give everyone a say.
Once you have the bite-sized pieces, you can place them in a timeline. It could be 1 year, could be 5 years. But it’s important that the team knows what is realistic in regards to outcomes and timelines.
Make sure you regularly bring the strategy to every meeting so you as the leader can lead the conversation about progress or the strategy.
Filter down the importance of the strategy to the department heads to ensure there is consistency across the board.
Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.
6. Celebrate the wins
As your team goes along, you’ll get a mixture of results. Some undesirable (which is okay, but make sure you call it in alignment with the strategy and vision), but often things will go right. It’s absolutely crucial to celebrate when things go right; to celebrate the wins.
As leaders, we can sometimes default to only recognising the BIG stuff, and while this is good, it’s also crucial to celebrate the small things, too!
Encouragement is often the currency of leadership morale, so make sure you keep celebrating the wins; big and small!
Andy Stanley has said something that has always stuck with me: “Marry the mission, but date the strategy”. What this means is that it’s important to have the mission/vision as static (or permanent), but the strategy can be changed. What may have seemed like a good idea at the time of strategy formulation may not be viable anymore. So instead of stubbornly trying to force a square peg into a round hole, it’s important to be open to recalibrating and changing things up to have greater impact.
Be honest and make sure you acknowledge your own mistakes and oversights as a leader; this will set an excellent culture amongst those you lead!
NextGen ministry is about combining previously segregated ministries back into the same conversations; the same strategy. We need to start thinking about ‘cradle to college’ in how we teach, disciple and lead our young people. Otherwise, the fall away will continue.
Do you have any thoughts? Let me know below!