It’s simple, really: disciple them, and then follow them.
OK, here’s the longer version.
Often I hear the cry from congregations that they would love to let young people take over leadership in their church but they just don’t have any.
They speak truth; and all too often it’s of their own making.
The conversations I have with young adults particularly throughout the church is when they express an interest in leadership or getting involved in leading something they often feel ill-equipped, and if they’re given the opportunity to lead they feel isolated and alone. It’s no surprise that when this happens those young leaders make a hasty exit and the leadership responsibility stays with those that remain.
So it’s on us old people to help develop our young leaders by discipling them after the greatest leader we know – Jesus Christ. Helping them understand the model of Christ as a servant leader and how they can live out their life deeply connected to this example will set them up with the most robust base that can be offered as they seek to develop their leadership skills.
Being more like Jesus, no matter what the leadership opportunity, will help them as they then lead us.
That’s not where it ends though. Once we build them up and settle them into a mentored opportunity of leadership it’s on us to follow where they lead us. Cutting them loose as leaders and not supporting them once they are in leadership is our part of the bargain.
Disciple our young people to be more like Jesus, and to take Jesus’ message seriously.
Encourage them and support them as we hand over the keys and welcome them into leadership opportunities.
Have the courage of our convictions to follow our young people as they lead us.
Holding onto the leadership positions because we think young people aren’t ready for them is a challenge we need to own, and acknowledge that it’s our failing that hasn’t prepared them for those opportunities.
Trust God, and continue to pray for your young leaders. Support them unequivocally. Be ready to wander into the places where the wild God is already at work with them.
Molk is the Senior Field Officer (North), and Young Adult ministry leader as a part of the PULSE team.