Churches don’t appear out of nowhere. Someone has to start them. Starting a church requires vision, courage, and energy. It requires people who are willing to take risks for the kingdom of God. There are a lot of churches that were started 40-60 years ago that have reached a stage that makes keeping young adults around very challenging. Over time church leaders often have less vision and energy in the twilight years than they had in the infancy stages of the church. What also tends to happen is that as church leaders age, the input and influence on decision making gets held onto by those “elder statesmen” who invested their whole lives into the congregation. No one wants to challenge them out of respect for their life’s work. They don’t want to be challenged by the young people who haven’t yet invested their whole lives into the congregation as they have. The church comes to an impasse that is never communicated but exists under the surface or just by default. Rather than challenge the system and lead where there is no room or permission given to lead by those in authority, young people often go to a place where their voice will be heard and valued.
As churches age and leadership ages, it is vitally important that they give the same room to young leaders that was given to them in their early years. Because that baton has largely been failed to be passed by one generation to the next that we have lost many of our best young adults and will continue to lose them and not reach new ones. So if you are in leadership, always be looking for ways to pass the baton. Keep developing new leaders. Remember, we all get replaced eventually and we don’t want to leave the church in a spot where no one is ready to take on the next set of leadership challenges. That means equipping people in their teens and twenties.