Mess of Pottage Blog

Luke's "Pro" Blog

The Church and Young People

The Pew study that came out this week revealed that in just the last seven years the median age of Mainline Protestants went from 50 to 52. Looking at stats like that, you have to wonder if we’ve reached a tipping point.

Last month, at the 2015 Catalyst Conference (West), Andy Stanley said:

If your church is designed by 50 year-olds for 50 year-olds to the neglect of teenagers, shame on you.

That’s a hard pill to swallow. I don’t know of a better communicator in the church than Andy Stanley. He didn’t use the word “shame” lightly.

But consider what the 17th Century Puritan John Flavel said:

If you neglect to instruct them in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness. No. If you will not teach them to pray, he will to curse, swear, and lie. If ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring.—The Mystery of Providence

Of course, the devil doesn’t do that by whispering in young people’s ears. It happens, mostly, because the world is a fallen, broken place full of fallen, broken people who prey on the weak and vulnerable.

Jesus changed that. He said that that young people have angels in heaven who see the face of God in heaven and woe to those who harm his little ones.

His followers changed the world. Eric Metaxas wrote about how the church challenged the thinking of the ancient world about children:

Into this world came Christianity, with its condemnation of abortion, infanticide and child abuse, its glorification of faithful marriage. … This ethic, which the Western world takes for granted today, is a direct heritage of Christianity.

There was a time when the church thought about how much God loved young people. The church improved the status of children so much we are incapable of imagining how bad it used to be. What does the future hold for children if the church puts the needs and desires of 50 year olds ahead of teenagers?

Cross-posted from my new JLP Pastor blog.

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Jim Collins on Excellence in Church Employees

I happened on an excellent session from Catalyst 2008 with Andy Stanley interviewing Jim Collins about keeping employees who are a poor fit in a position. Andy says that churches are all about mercy — so sometimes, out of compassion for the employee, we keep people in positions for which they aren’t a good match. Watch Collins’ reply here.

There’s a great point in there, too: “The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve probably made a hiring mistake.” (Watch Stanley’s face when Collins says that.) That’s an excellent clue and we ignore it at peril to our mission.

Another excellent point: instead of giving people titles and rules, give them responsibilities. People should be able to say, “I am the one person in this organization who is ultimately responsible for [whatever it is].”

(I found this video on Catalyst’s Youtube channel which has a ton of other content that ranges from Dallas Willard and John Ortberg all the way to Trip and Tyler.)

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