POINT 2: Next Gen isn’t just about kids and students.
This part may or may not be true of your church, but it is of Gateway. So this may not apply to your situation.
Here at Gateway we have a connection path that is well-known by the staff and leaders. Essentially, a person begins the connection path by ATTENDING our church. Then we try to get them to CONNECT either in a small group or spiritual running partner relationship. The next step would be to take steps of spiritual GROWTH in the context of their small group or running partner group. Last of all, they will make efforts to SERVE, usually through their group, but sometimes individually. Gateway is fairly community outreach active, and we have lots of serving opportunities. So this is the generally accepted and known path for connection.
ATTEND >> CONNECT >> GROW >> SERVE
This is a great model. Nothing wrong with it. It works.
However, I wanted to suggest another model. It’s a good one, too. It works as well.
ATTEND >> SERVE >> CONNECT >> GROW
In the end, we want people to do more than attend. We want them to grow, connect, and serve. We don’t really care as much about the order…as long as they are growing and serving in a connected community. As long as we get there, it doesn’t matter what path they take.
I know that there are many people who don’t like small groups. The idea of meeting in someone’s home with a bunch of people they don’t know freaks them out a little. Some people have more of a ‘Martha’ complex (whether that’s bad or not). You can’t always force people through a mold. So we suggest that Next Gen provides another great connection path. As a staff or leader who is talking to a visitor or person who is not connected, we can ask them questions that might reveal the best way for them to get connected. It won’t take long to determine if they’ll do better plugging into a small group or if they should serve in Next Gen.
However, we’ve become very intentional about our connection process in Next Gen. It’s not just about the kids and students. Our leaders in Next Gen have a task role of leading program related stuff, but they also have a spiritual role of leading the volunteers that serve in their area. They work intentionally to build relationships with their volunteers and get into their lives. Our mission is that every volunteer would feel like they are part of a community and would experience spiritual growth BECAUSE they serve in Next Gen. That’s our connection path.
The last point I shared was a quote from Thom Rainer from the book, Surprising Insights from the Unchurched:
“Sixty-two percent of those interviewed gave us a response that indicated their ministry involvement to be the glue that held them to the church. From the perspective of the formerly unchurched, being involved in ministry has been the key factor to their assimilation in the church. More than any other factor, the formerly unchurched told us that their service and ministry in the church keeps them coming back each week.”
So small groups are a great way to connect people and help them stick to what God is doing. However, according to research, connecting people in ministry involvement connects people even better.
So as a staff person who is talking to someone who needs to be connected, think about these things:
- They’ll experience a greater sense of connection through serving. Next Gen might be ideal.
- Many small groups don’t have room for more people…however, Next Gen has plenty of room.
- Childcare. A lot of great groups don’t provide childcare. If you serve in Kids Quest, childcare is built in.
You see, Next Gen isn’t just about kids and students. It’s a great place for adults to find connection and growth, all in the context of serving kids and students. In my opinion, it’s the best way to get connected. But I wouldn’t be very good at my job if I felt any other way, right?
The introduction and first two points built a really strong case for Next Gen. I had the staff right where I wanted them, and they had the information they needed to communicate Next Gen well. My last point was where I practically pulled the rug out from under their feet. I presented the greatest problem we face.