So I had to set up this talk. I actually had almost 90 minutes at my disposal. How was I going to draw everyone in? How did I maintain energy throughout the talk and keep it from dragging on? I had so much information, I didn’t want to bog down under the weight of a LOT of really good information. So here’s how I set things up.
During these all staff meetings, we sit at round tables and eat lunch during the first part of the meeting. I got up a few minutes after everyone was situated. We had notes for everyone at every table, and I turned everyone’s attention to the discussion questions at the top of the page. I asked everyone to discuss the first two questions for 5-7 minutes as they finished up their lunches. These questions were carefully crafted. I wanted everyone at the table to have something to say, an opinion at least…even if they are not even remotely interested in ministry to young people.
The key question was the first question. “What would Gateway look like if Next Gen didn’t exist?” It’s actually a loaded question, but nobody knew it. It was a setup, and I knew the way most people would answer this question. It would take everyone in the room right where I wanted them, but I’ll get to that later.
After the table discussions, I shared the mission statement of Next Gen, showing how we have aligned our ministry with the mission statement of the church. I also brought my staff up on stage to introduce each of them and clearly define what their roles were. It’s funny how people really don’t know what your staff does even though it seems so obvious to you. I also took a minute to clearly explain what my role was since many still saw me as just a Children’s Pastor.
I then shared how everyone on my team believes that Next Gen is the most important ministry at Gateway. Shouldn’t they? However, everyone in that room probably felt the same way about their ministry. Shouldn’t they? So I let the tension out of the room and informed everyone that I wasn’t going to take the next hour to convince them that Next Gen was more important. However, I shared how we are all co-laborers and teammates, and as the pastor over Next Gen, it was essential that they understood Next Gen. That even for a few moments, they saw what I see. As staff members, they represent Next Gen to everyone they come into contact with, and I need them to not only be knowledgeable, but to even be excited about the vision.
Then I concluded my introduction by asking a few tables to share how they answered the question, “What would Gateway look like if Next Gen didn’t exist?” I knew what their answers would be. You do, too. It actually generates a lot of laughter. We imagine a chaotic place. Kids running everywhere. We imagine a noisy auditorium with squealing kids. Maybe even roaming gangs of middle schoolers roughing people up in the parking lot. These were some of the things people said. One person said, “We’d have a lot less people.”