Smart Churches Do This With Their Youth

Teenage and young adult brains are specifically and fantastically wired for passion, creativity, invention, dissatisfaction with mediocrity and status quo, and the demand that things make sense. (Oh, and in addition: They are at the pinnacle of learning capacity, which sharply trails off starting in the late 20s.)

Let me reverse-engineer that last paragraph for church leadership:

Not including the highly specialized brains of young people means that a group is intentionally choosing to continue with the way things are currently done, embracing a lack of creativity, completely missing cross-current re-direct options and settling for mediocrity.

Too often, church leadership team members are merely selected for their donation levels or the impressiveness of their business world job titles. But the best teams (in any context) intentionally include some divergent thinkers.

Teenagers and young adults = divergent thinkers.

Including young people at the highest levels of leadership and decision-making in a church won’t necessarily lead to brilliance. It can be messy. Teenagers and young adults lack the maturity and experience that, hopefully, others will bring. And I’m certainly not suggesting an entire leadership committee made up entirely and exclusively of teenagers and young adults. A team comprised entirely of divergent thinkers is—I’ll spare you hyperbole on this one—not best.

But the first time that 19-year-old member of the church oversight committee asks, “Um, can someone explain to me why we’re doing this?”—now you’ve got movement!

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Mark Oestreicher
Mark Oestreicher is a 30-year veteran of youth ministry, and the former President of Youth Specialties. Marko has written or contributed to more than 50 books, including the much-talked-about Youth Ministry 3.0. Marko is a speaker, author, consultant, and leads the Youth Ministry Coaching Program.

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