Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Here's a great article I read by Warren Bird...

"It’s not unusual for parents of teenagers to return home to windows thumping and music blaring—but not exactly the way pastors Jeff and Beth Jones experienced it recently.

'We came home and found our son downstairs in the basement with worship music blaring,' says Beth Jones, co-founders and co-lead pastor with her husband Jeff of Valley Family Church, Kalamazoo, MI, 'And he’s got candles burning and he’s praying and crying his heart out to the Lord…and he’s a junior in high school! We’re like, ‘What is going on? Oh my gosh...God is up to something!'

Seeing that kind of passion at home and amongst the 18-24 year-old crowd at Valley Family over the past couple of years, with their son but one example, is causing the Joneses to rethink how they prepare the next generation for ministry leadership. A group of 20-somethings are rising up to take the ministry mantle in their church—and it’s a group that requires a different perspective on leadership development.

'We are watching a big generational shift happening in our midst,' says Beth, as she and Jeff celebrate their 20th year of leading Valley Family. 'There seems to be this sense of revival among young people that is reminiscent of the Jesus Movement in the 60's and 70's. We marvel at their passion, their boldness, their heart for worship and the Lord.'

Jeff adds that it’s a group that is both deep and wide. 'They are very in touch with the needs of their culture' Jeff says. 'They're intuitive in ways that we weren’t at 20. They’re connected with God and their thumbs are definitely on the pulse of what’s happening.'

As they build their congregation, Jeff and Beth find themselves putting systems and initiatives in place to provide “bumpers and guardrails” for this younger group to flourish. 'We want to empower this younger generation to go for it when it comes to serving God - more than we’re inhibiting them,' Jeff says.

'But that doesn't mean there's no place for the older generation,' says Beth, 'On the contrary, we have an opportunity to empower both young and old to work side-by-side.'"

excerpt from an article posted on Leadership Network. Warren Bird is research director at Leadership Network, a former pastor and seminary professor, and is author or co-author of 24 books for ministry leaders. Follow him on Twitter @warrenbird.