Friday, July 30, 2010

The Church of Tomorrow?

For years we've heard how students are the church of the tomorrow. To be honest, I hate the statement for all kinds of reasons. First of all it assumes a definition of the church that is inaccurate. If the church is a group of people following Jesus and living life together, would we dare say anyone under 21 isn't a part of that experience?

Saying students are the "church of tomorrow" assumes students will lead someday, not today. Middle school and high school students who are growing in their faith are ready to lead now. We simply have to challenge them and give them space.

Here are a couple of examples.

Worship Experience For Student By Students

Last Sunday night we had our first student lead worship worship experience. I know, late July is a horrible time to try something new. That's one of the reasons it was so cool. You wouldn't have been blown away by the event being cutting edge or highly creative, it was actually pretty simple.

About 6 weeks ago we invited some students to think about what they would like to communicate to their fellow students. They chose 1 Tim 4:12. The "don't let anyone look down on you because you're young" passage. Pretty appropriate I thought.

We asked students to be a part of the music team, asked some students to pray consistently for the event, asked some students to help with tech and asked someone to teach. One student was mc and a girl who recently came to faith shared her story.

It was incredible! The sense of excitement was great from the students who were leading as well as the ones who were participating. Yes, I'm downplaying the work that went into the event a little, but the impact it had on our ministry was worth every ounce of effort our team put in.

Sandwiches For The Hungry Of Dallas

On our summer trips we challenged our students that mission trips and summer camp isn't a destination but a doorway. In other words, if those trips didn't somehow effect the way they serve at home it was a waste, well believe it or not they heard what we said.

Last Tuesday a few of our students showed up at the church to make over 600 sandwiches for a mobile soup kitchen. It wasn't my idea, they came up with it. I didn't discover the soup kitchen, they did. I didn't buy the sandwich stuff, they did. (I did provide my credit card). I wasn't even at the church when they met and made the sandwiches, the did it all on their own.

And yes, I'm really proud of them.

The interesting thing about 1 Timothy 4:12 is that it challenges the younger to set an "example" to the rest of the church. Setting an example means leadership. It means charting a course and showing the rest of us old people what it looks like to live out a radical life. A life that is consistently being transformed from the inside out by the gospel.

Students are the church of today. We must give them space and resources to live out the passions and gifts God has given them, then we must follow.


  1. It is very encouraging to see you continuing to equip students to take ownership of the call to serve Christ and make disciples. I'd be interested to hear your insights as to why you think the church is so reluctant to let the youth lead anything outside of a "youth Sunday." They have much to offer the church. The older generation should be with the younger in ministry and not isolate them.

  2. Thanks Jason,

    First of all most student ministries are there to get kids to want to go to church. Parents want their kids in church and don't want to fight them to go. "Youth Sunday" puts the student ministry on display.

    If helping students, develop, discover and utilize their giftedness isn't part of the core of ministry strategy we will always be limited to youth Sundays.

    Let's face it. It's easier to do it ourselves than equip students to serve. It also feels "riskier" to let students lead. Who knows what they might do?

    As far as the student ministry being isolated, it seems that's equally the fault of the older generation and student ministry. Sometimes we separate to cater to the unique desires of students. It's crucial students and adults experience multi generational ministry.

    Anyway, just some random thoughts. I really don't think I would ever do a "youth Sunday". I want students to be ministers more than one day a year.

    What do you think?

  3. Enjoyed the post David. I say disciple the students whose hearts God has already captured, equip them with the right tools (skills if you speak Napoleon Dynamite), and they'll be much better ministers to their generation than I am as a 33 year old.

  4. Thanks Anonymous. It never ceases to amaze me that God uses them to accomplish so much. They have gifts I could only wish I had.