I am just coming down from an incredible high. Last week our Path 1 New Church Starts staff hosted a national event for church planters and annual conference leaders in Nashville, TN. This “Innovation Forum”, as we named it, was the first of its kind for us. Seven church planters, fresh from the trenches and in varying stages of their new church’s development, shared their experiences with a packed house. These mostly young adult leaders rocked the crowd with stories of innovative, real world, practical experience in reaching a younger generation for Christ.
We celebrated the cutting-edge work of After Hours, a new kind of church led by Jerry Herships. Herships is a former comedian and bar-tender with a passion and giftedness for reaching young adults (mainly in taverns and bars) and pointing them to the Denver area to “be church” by serving alongside the homeless. We heard about the ministry of Amanda Garber, who founded Rise United Methodist Church out of her campus ministry in Harrisonburg, VA. Her church is thriving as a growing young adult community of faith. We celebrated the 18 month old ministry of Chicago’s Urban Village, led by Christian Coons and Trey Hall, already a three campus multi-site with a fourth in the works. We heard from Adam Weber in South Dakota and Jacob Armstrong near Nashville TN, both young men whose new churches have quickly grown above 500 in worship. Signs of new life (young life) are popping up all over the country!
We are constantly bombarded with news that our church is declining (we already know that), that not one county in the United States of America has a greater churched population today than it did ten years ago (yep, no surprise there), and that when asked about their religious affiliation nearly half of young adults will respond as “other than Christian” (sadly our Sunday morning services bear witness to this truth). I know all of these things. I get it!
But what I experienced in a crowded room this past week brought me great hope for the church and for our denomination, but mostly for the young people we all yearn to reach with the gospel. Not only can it be done, it is being done through innovative campus ministry and new church starts, and our younger folks are leading the way! I don’t know about you, but I am one older dude who is standing with them to fan the flame.
Maybe you know of some other great churches being started and led by the younger generation. Maybe you also know of churches which are actively attracting the younger generation. What are some the best ways you know to get the younger folks involved in ministry?