October 23, 2009
I have spent the past nine and a half years of my life actively involved in the ministry of my church. My focus has been with middle school, then high school, then college, and now, something else. This something else has been new place for me to be. In all these years that have passed, I have been responsible for making sure things happen - studies, events, and whatever else in an oversight capacity. However, I am now working in a role that doesn't involve these things. In January, I handed over my most recent set of responsibilities, leading our college ministry that I helped build four years ago, to a rapidly rising leader from within. I still participate in the same sort of activities that I had in the past, however I am no longer responsible for their execution.
The reason for this transition has been obvious, but also not so obvious. This year has been a big year in my life. Getting married, and now with a baby girl on the way, it makes sense that I would need to stop and adapt my old normal to my new one; figuring out how to optimize my life to accomplish the work of ministry that I have focused my life to do.
However, the not so obvious reason for transition involved the personal struggles of figuring out my ideal position of ministry, wondering if what I had to offer could actually meet a need that existed within my current setting. At that juncture, the needs of our college ministry could be better met by another so the most responsible action I knew I could take was to ensure that the need was met.
Shortly after I made this decision, another ministry opportunity presented itself before me. Instead of looking at things from the ground level as I have spent almost a decade, I now had the chance to look the at the big picture because I had decided to take a step back.
I have spent 2009 thus far meeting, learning, experiencing, talking, listening, and reading. After deep reflection, last week I had my "a ha!" moment.
You know how you like to kill two birds with one stone? Or when you are lucky, three? Or when you have one of those obnoxiously productive days where like all your errands are off of the very same road? Like like everywhere you need to be for the day is right off of 29?
This is like that, except different. By virtue of my church involvement, I have been able to experience ministry teams from every age group. The one missing link that I have come to find that can explain a multitude of problems that I have seen over the years is the lack of inter-generational ministry.
While some take this to mean that teenagers could be paired with a responsible adult, I believe it needs to be of a far larger scale. Anybody, regardless of age needs to be deliberate in developing relationships with those who are older than them to learn from, but also finding those who are younger who they can mentor. Actively.
Additionally, this means coming to the understanding that generations truly approach the world differently. These differences are shaped by various societal issues taking place as they come of age: war, technology, social unrest. But regardless of why, the sooner we accept that people of different generations will try to solve the same problem using their own approaches, the quicker we can join together in actually solving it in the most effective way. Together.
The solution is not simply to sit around a table with every age demographic represented. Instead, it is the idea that regardless of a persons age, each provides something of value. The goal would be harnessing and utilizing it. This is not each generation marching side-by-side. Rather, this is a giant blob of people of varying talents, gifts, and age all working in sync with one another. Instead of a fruit cocktail, a fruit smoothie. Instead of a random, yet distinctly obvious, assortment of plastic parts sitting together in a bin, a fully assembled Mr. Potato Head.
The nuance of the difference may be lost on some, but this is what I have discovered to be my new approach to ministry. The beauty of the situation is that it works in every circumstance. There are studies to prove it. The benefits are huge, but for some reason very few are talking about it.
But now, I will be.