For the past few months, I have had the great privilege of leading a group of church members in reading and discussing the book Growing Young by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin. This group started meeting in-person on February 16, and ended meeting by Zoom after in-person activities were suspended due to COVID. Our final meeting was May 26. This group included Anna Leavitt, Skip Still, Hannah and Hayden Maxey, Suzanne Morse, Barbara Blackmon, Marlena Dixon, Trina Baldwin, Madison Kotewa, Pam Willoughby, Jennifer Rygg, and Chris Cottingham.
Growing Young is subtitled “6 Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church,” and mainly discusses six “core commitments.”
· 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
· Fuel 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
These discussions were deep, but often fun, as well. Many great insights and questions were shared, and we were able to identify ways in which our congregation is serving youth and young adults well, as well as ways in which we can strive to serve our young people better. A couple of members of the group have shared their “take aways:”
“The two main takeaways for me were:
— to give the young a “key,” which is symbolic to giving them responsibilities they can do and will enjoy
— to pair young people up with adults to tackle projects or issues. This was powerful to me because we seem to be very comfortable in our own age groups. We need to find ways to become intergenerational.” — Skip Still
“The Growing Young discussions encouraged me to reflect on how young people in our community perceive our church. I was reminded of the need to communicate our commitment to loving our neighbors not only to our congregation, but to the community.” — Jennifer Rygg
Our formal discussions have ended, but the group hopes to continue to listen well to young people in our church and our community. Once we return to in-person church activities, we hope to explore “next steps” further.
Rev. Cara Morgan
Volunteer Minister to Young Adults