This week I’m reflecting on some “big ideas” that struck me at the Orange Conference last week. Join the conversation . . . I’d love you hear your thoughts on these macroscopic ideas shaping our culture as we seek to minister to families.
Kara Powell spoke during one of the general sessions on Friday about her book and research she’s done called Sticky Faith. The Fuller Institute set out to understand why nearly 50% of all students don’t return to church after they attend college. They followed hundreds of students through this transitional time in their lives and found that the one predictive factor to students with a thriving faith post-college was they had multigenerational relationships before leaving for college.
She used some really stark language to describe what happens in the church with youth ministries. . . she framed the discussion as age segregation. After opening with the light story from the video above . . . a fun illustration about the “kids table and parents table” at family gatherings . . . she went straight for the jugular and described modern student ministries in terms of segregating young people. Behind her was a massive black and white photo of a “whites only” drinking fountain. When she said “segregation” she meant segregation. You could hear a pin drop in that room of over 5,000 people.
This thought has been chewing away in my brain since last week. Have I been aiding and abetting a ministry type that is ultimately harmful to the spiritual development of students? What the study has found seems intuitively right . . . students need to experience a wide variety of backgrounds and ages to cement their faith. In my own life, it hasn’t been learning from my own peers that has driven my faith deep but from taking in experiences with people from a mixture of life experiences. What if we deliberately reframed student ministries to ensure that students got plugged into relationships with people from across the church?
- Should we stop running student ministries in time slots that take them out of the main service and integrate them into it?
- How can we encourage students to serve (and lead?) alongside people of all ages?
- Are dedicated youth facilities really student ministry ghettos? (In the Jewish Ghettos manner?)
- What is our ministry doing to encourage the development of kidults? (Those 20 somethings that seem to fail to launch into adulthood.)
Am I trusting young people as much as I was trusted? As a student I had tremendous leadership development opportunities and training. I’ve often reflected that I was trusted more as a 17 year old than some pastors twice that age. What am I doing to ensure that students are given the chance to be develop like I was? How can I give away more influence? (Ouch . . . this is getting too personally convicting.) 😉
What about your ministry? In what ways are you seeing student ministries develop a healthy cross generational approach? [I want to learn from you! Leave a comment now!]