Now to the five strategies:
Strategy #1: Segmentation
Segmentation is the most common approach for churches. It happens whenever empowered leadership lets younger leaders “do their own thing” in a separate environment. For example, a church launches a “contemporary service” to reach young people. Or a youth group has its own events and programming as it spins in its own orbit.
While all churches do segmentation at some level (children and youth), the general approach warrants some caution. Here are some things to consider:
- Segmentation usually occurs because a more natural approach doesn’t (see strategy #2). Therefore, it may reflect a lack of the leadership gifting (Romans 12:8-9) in the leadership team.
- Segmentation may lead to a fragmentation. It reinforces a personality-based culture, rather than a shared vision, if two sub-congregations form around preferences of different leadership styles.
Strategy #2: Sharing
Sharing sounds simple because it is. And for Holy Spirit-gifted leaders, it happens naturally. Sharing means that younger people are consistently and seamlessly being integrated into the empowered leadership core of the church. Sharing means that a senior pastor who is the primary preacher is not threatened by sharing pulpit time. Sharing means younger leaders are given real authority, not over a segment but over the whole. And make no mistake; sharing is how our most effective churches reach young people. Examples include:
- At Faithbridge Church, Senior Pastor Ken Werlein spends less than one-third of the time in preaching. Two younger leaders preach regularly during the other times. Other young men play key roles on their lead team.
- At Clear Creek Community Church, Senior Pastor Bruce Wesley brings younger men on the elder team. One is Yancey Arrington (a teaching pastor ten years younger) who preaches just as often as Bruce during weekend services.
- At North Coast Church, Larry Osborne keeps a younger leader, Chris Brown, in front of the congregation 50% of the time.
Keep in mind the general rule that a typical communicator’s “sweet spot of connection” is 10 years older and younger than their current age.