Welcome to this week’s unSeminary podcast and thank you so much for joining in. We have Lee Kricher with us.
Lee started preaching with Amplify Church in the suburbs of Pittsburgh in 2003, which was really at a moment of much needed revitalization. Amplify started in the late ’70s and had very strong growth until about 1990 when it began to decline. In the last 13 years, they’ve done everything they could do to turn the church around and connect with the younger generation.
One of the biggest indicators that a church is in decline is not only the average attendance, but the average age of the congregation. While the average age of the community where Amplify was located was mid-30s, the average age of Amplify’s congregation was mid-50s. They needed to find ways to connect with the community around them. Lee is with us today to talk about how they revitalized Amplify Church and how you can do the same.
- Make a change in mindset. The apostle Paul writes about having our minds renewed. The church needed to renew themselves organizationally because their mindset was “if it’s good enough for me, it should be good enough for my kids.” It wasn’t the values or beliefs that were the problem, it was that the mindset of the church was stuck in the ’80s. They needed to move forward from believing that what they had always done was good enough, to questioning what it would take to reach the younger generation. That change in mindset became the foundation for the revitalization of the rest of the church.
- Focus on the responsibilities of the church. To prepare the congregation for the needed changes, Lee made it a focus of his sermons for the first few months. Lee emphasized how important it is to not only live a godly life, but to also focus on the legacy that we leave for the next generation. In addition to the sermons, he also took the leadership team to North Point in Georgia to see a multi-generational church in action and how they are changing their city. This expanded the team’s horizon and gather inspiration and ideas. Within a few months, many members agreed that they could not stay the same and changes were necessary in order to reach that younger generation.
- Identify your essentials. For Amplify Church, the essentials were the weekend service, small groups and children/youth ministry. They committed that they would give up everything else and put 100 percent of their focus into those three things because they felt that those were the important factors that would lead others to Christ. As Lee notes: “Studies have shown that perhaps the highest-impact churches tend to have a smaller number of things that they try to focus on.” Determine what the essentials are in your church and put all of your energy into them.
- Make room for the younger generation. One of the problems at Amplify was that there was no dedicated space for children and teens. Everything was focused on the adults and set up for their use. They had the attitude that the children could use that area when the adults weren’t using it. So one of the changes Lee instituted was setting aside a dedicated space for the children/youth. This was met with some criticism because there were no children attending the church at the time, but Lee explained that this was the whole reason change was needed. Once Amplify had this dedicated space and ministry for kids, the members began to reach out to family and friends to invite them to come and bring their children. This began a buzz around town that something was really happening at Amplify and new people started coming with their families. The church developed the reputation of being one that really cared about kids, something that they’d never had before. It’s critical to focus on children and student ministry in order to reach the younger generations and make a difference in both the church’s reputation and the community around you.