Recently I performed a wedding for a great young couple. I have done so many weddings that I lose count. My goal is to make them personable, special and sacred. Usually I receive raving reviews when I perform a wedding.
However, at this wedding I made a huge mistake!
Having changed a few things up in the flow of the ceremony to keep it fresh for me and special for this couple, I missed a crucial element. I forgot to have the bride give the groom his ring! Worse yet, I never realized it. I went right on and said a prayer, transitioned into communion and led this poor couple back to the communion table. It was at this point the groom looks at me panicked and says, “I never got my ring.”
Ever have a moment when you make a rookie mistake? That was me. Check that, most rookies would not make that mistake! I blew it.
I have found that the fear of mistakes are what keep seasoned leaders from putting young leaders in positions of influence. We fear their mishaps will cripple the organization. In the process we lose relevance with an entire generation.
Years ago my church got intentional about adding leaders in their 20’s and early 30’s to our elder board. Was it risky? Maybe. Did it pay off? Big time! We started by only adding 1. This year we added 4!
Here are the top 5 reasons your church or organization should add younger voices to the decision making table.
1. You cannot reach what is not represented.
There is a strategic element to having representation of the demographic you wish to reach. If your board is all 50 year olds, that will become the average age of your church. However, be cautious to not appoint younger leaders as simply a figurehead, but a valued contributor. If they are viewed as nothing more than a political move to reach more of their age group, you hurt yourself more than you help.
2. Keeps you in touch with emerging culture.
There are vast differences in how various generations view social, spiritual and organizational issues. A 25 year old thinks about homosexuality differently than a 50 year old. Millennials are not staunch Republicans just because their parents are. Racial diversity is normative for my girls as opposed to previous generations. Technology is second nature to someone 20 years younger than me. If those of us in leadership refuse to listen to the views of a younger generation, we are distancing ourselves from having influence with them as well.
3. Infusion of passion.
Before adding some young blood to our team there were times when an Elder’s meeting could be…boring. Everyone had the same view. We all had grown comfortable and settled into our lives. While this is not bad, sadly a fire in our belly towards certain issues can be a casualty of comfort. Young leaders want to change the world, they are constantly thinking about wrongs that need to be made right, and they feel these things deeply. We needed that kind of conviction on our team. You need it too.
4. Better awareness of social causes.
I struggle being passionate about most social causes. One reason I love having younger leaders around is their sense of urgency to better the world for the less fortunate. Including these voices exposes you to some of the most riveting causes in our world. Best of all, young leaders add the energy to the cause that you need to be successful.
My church partners with Casa Shalom Orphanage in Guatemala. If you are searching for a worthy cause to help, give them a shot.
5. Allows discipleship to occur.
Often we relegate discipling people to memorizing bible verses or hanging out in living rooms with people our own age. Both of these things are valid, but it is not a holistic view of discipleship. When younger leaders are on your team it allows you to invest time and wisdom in them. Mentoring should occur across generations in the context of leadership. Here is a resource to help you grow your young leaders. Allowing a 29 year old to spend years serving alongside a 58 year old business leader will expand that young leaders horizons. The reverse affect is the older leader thinking new thoughts requiring them to grow as well.
Be challenged today to seek out younger leaders. Place a moratorium on appointing any leaders over the age of 40 for the next 3 years. See what happens in your church. My guess is you will revolutionize your team.
Oh! And that groom finally got his ring!