Leading a Church for This Generation with Josh Finklea

Thanks for joining us for this week’s unSeminary podcast. I’m excited to have Josh Finklea with us today. He’s the lead pastor at The Rock in South Carolina.  

With five campuses, The Rock is one of the fastest growing churches in the country. It attracts people from a variety of backgrounds, ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic classes, encouraging people to come as they are and experience God. But The Rock may be most known for its passion for reaching Gen Z.

Today Josh is with us to share some of the intentional steps The Rock Church is taking to reach this generation.

  • This generation. // At The Rock, they are extremely intentional about focusing on reaching Gen Z. A focus on Gen Z will help you reach all generations because parents are excited to see that their children love church, and grandparents equally want to see their grandkids in church. This perspective even affects the language they use at The Rock, speaking of Gen Z as “this generation”. The Rock does everything they can to help young adults, teenagers, and kids understand that they are kingdom workers today. As Josh notes, this group is not ‘next’, they are now and God’s going to do great things through them today.
  • Empower them to lead. // An intentional focus on this generation means putting them into leadership positions, whether they are volunteers or you’re hiring them as staff. Children in elementary school can lead small groups of younger children alongside a coach, for example a fifth grader leading kindergarten children. Or let a group of teens and young adults lead worship during a weekend service. They may make mistakes, but you get the chance to empower them and walk alongside them as they learn to lead.
  • The weekend service is for this generation. // The Rock is clear in their services that what they are doing during the weekend is for this generation. Rather than having a separate midweek service for students, The Rock connects with them during the main Sunday experience. When serving, students are connected with coaches to come alongside them. And in his sermons Josh focuses on terms that this generation will know and understand, so he’s constantly thinking about how a teenager will receive what he says.
  • Disciple the next generation of leaders. // Many churches hire leaders from within, and it’s no different at The Rock. They began by looking at people from their church who were currently in college and had great potential. Through internships and residencies the staff then worked to develop them as leaders. As you hire staff from this generation, empower them to make decisions and defer to them when it’s possible. For example, this might look like trusting a Gen Z graphic designer to make the call on what sermon series artwork will best connect with their generation.
  • Meet the needs of the community. // In addition to focusing on this generation, The Rock is passionate about planting churches. As they felt the call to expand the church, however, their limited budget forced them to get creative and try some different things by looking at the needs of the community. This led to doing church services inside a local jail as well as opening public coffee bars in a few different locations for the purpose of marketplace ministry. These coffee bars serve coffee six days a week and hold a church service on Sundays. Rather than being a Christian coffee bar, it’s a separate facility from the church which attracts a different segment of people. People have come to the coffee bars looking for community and this has led to some great conversations about Jesus and an interest in the church.

You can find out more about The Rock at rockc3.com.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.