Our Presbytery Resource Center just purchased the book "Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to help Young People Discover and Love Your Church" by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin of the Fuller Youth Institute. This book addresses the church's challenge. After a four year project researching 250 congregations with effective ministries with young people, they identify 10 commonly held myths, and offer six strategies.
Debunking the Myths, 10 Qualities your Church does NOT need in order to Grow Young:
- A precise size: There is no correlation between church size and effectiveness.
- A trendy location or region: Location does not have to be a limitation.
- An exact age: New start up churches can be effective, but research shows just as much life change, in churches with a history.
- A popular denomination...or lack of denomination. "God is working through churches of all stripes."
- An off-the-chart cool quotient. Some do have a hip factor, but "for young people today, relational warmth is the new cool."
- A big, modern building: "For teenagers and young adults, feeling at home transcends any building."
- A big budget: "A small budget does not have to mean small impact."
- A "contemporary" worship service. "While the churches we visited were likely to prefer modern worship in some or all their worship contexts, they didn't depend on that alone as a magnet to draw young people."
- A watered-down teaching style. "For today's young people, growing young doesn't mean we talk about Jesus or the cost following him any less."
- A hyper-entertaining ministry program. "Faith communities offer something different," than entertainment, "Slick is no guarantee of success."
- Unlock keychain leadership. "Instead of centralizing authority, empower others--especially young people."
- Empathize with today's young people. "Instead of judging or criticizing, step into the shoes of this generation."
- Take Jesus' message seriously. "Instead of asserting formulaic gospel claims, welcome young people into a Jesus' centered way of life."
- Feel a warm community. "Instead of focusing on cool worship or programs, aim for warm peer and intergenerational friendships."
- Prioritize young people (and families) everywhere. "Instead of giving lip service to how much young people matter, look for creative ways to tangibly support, resource, and involve them in all facets of your congregation."
- Be the best neighbors. "Instead of condemning the world outside your walls, enable young people to neighbor well locally and globally."
This is not rocket science. It's basic relationship building, discipling 101. It's about nurturing intentional relationships, paying attention, listening, understanding, empathy, caring, empowering, living kingdom values, discipling, walking the walking.