20s & 30s Ministry Firing on All Cylinders

We had a great meeting with our 20s & 30s yesterday. Last year we had 10 people show up who wanted to be involved in leadership. This year we had over 20. What is amazing to me about it is that their perspective has grown so much deeper over the last 6 months as many of them have had leadership roles within the ministry. Those who are changing roles are eager to train those who will fill their shoes and we will have many more leadership positions with multiple people filling them. I can’t give any greater piece of advice on making a 20s & 30s group work than to keep it God centered and to let them run the nuts and bolts of the ministry.

What has also been helpful to our ministry is our congregation’s push for energetic worship. We had Keith Lancaster back last week for his Praise and Harmony Workshop but not even just that. Throughout the year we have been pushing forward energetic worship that has encouraged a high degree of participation from the congregation. Our 20s & 30s really connect with it and what is more, they feel safe inviting their friends to Bible class and worship knowing that it will be an uplifting experienced. I applaud our elders for two things in particular. 1 – For their vision to see the need to reach out to young families. 2 – Their desire to keep our worship contemporary even though there are always some who don’t like the new songs. I also appreciate our congregation for being open to change and also for being so loving and friendly to each other.

0 Responses to 20s & 30s Ministry Firing on All Cylinders

  1. Clint P. says:

    Our church has long focused on what is the now the “Hilltoppers” group. Our elders have asked me for some advise on how to reach the 20 to 30 year old members. Can you give me advise on some practical starting points for developing a place where 20s and 30s to connect with each other and to more importantly see the importance of connecting on a deep level with God?

  2. Richard Kruse says:

    Questions:
    1. Are you training them to be spiritual leaders or managers? Many elders seem to be like CEOs running a business rather than spiritual leaders.
    2. What are you using for training materials?

    Thanks

  3. mattdabbs says:

    Clint,

    Here is one older post that might be of help – http://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2008/06/15/transition-from-traditional-bible-class-to-missional-20-30-somethings/

    We started with Bible class on Sunday morning. You probably already have a core of people in that age range who come already. Give them a class of their own and make sure the teaching and material is quality. We have found that video series really connect with our 20s & 30s (Rob Bell’s Nooma videos, Andy Stanley, and even a little Dan Kimball). What is nice about this is that you get someone who is a master teacher right their in your midst and you can discuss the video afterward. When the Bible class is quality people will come and they will have a place they feel safe to invite their friends to.

    Once our Bible class was solid the attendance started to increase. We had periodic activities to try to draw in those from our class as well as people on the fringe within the congregation. These activities ranged from devos to service projects and social outings.

    The next move was the transition from me being the leader of the group to me being a facilitator of the members of the group becoming the leaders. I laid out what I thought the group needed for organization and leadership. I wrote up a list of leadership positions and specific job descriptions for each area and then had a meeting where people could sign up for a specific area. Here were our areas and our goal was to get most areas having 2 leaders for accountability and convenience:

    Devo director (2)
    Service project director (2)
    Social director (1)
    Evangelism director (1)
    Encourager (1)
    Prayer team (4-6)

    This year we added women’s ministry positions. Here are the descriptions we laid out to make sure people knew their specific responsibilities:

    o Devotional Director – Point person to keep us grounded in scripture and worship
     To coordinate monthly devotionals, set up time, location, and topics
     Advertise to our group, visitors, and outsiders about our activities through email and phone calls – asking other group members to help with these contacts.
    o Service Coordinator – Point person to keep us engaged with our community
     Coordinate at least one service project per month and to advertise the project to our group.
    o Prayer Team – 4-6 people who are regularly praying for our group
     To pray for the prayer requests of our group, spiritual development, and outreach.
    o Evangelism – This is a point person to keep us focused on the lost.
     Keep up with visitors – who has come in and are they still attending. Coordinating people to contact first time visitors and give them a warm welcome through a phone call.
    o Encourager – pass cards and mail on a regular basis. Maybe something eventually with birthdays.

    Once we had them leading the group the group took off. We went from having 20 people in class to having over 40 in a matter of months. As the group grows we continue to add positions and continue to find ways to keep people involved. One place that helped me see the need to have them do the ministry was Rainer’s book – Raising Expectations. In that book he lines out how growing churches know how to get members involved from the get go. We have implemented that policy pretty well and it has worked so far.

    If you have any more specific questions they are welcome here.

  4. mattdabbs says:

    Richard,

    I have seen the spiritual growth and well being of our group members/leaders increase with this added responsibility. They would tell you themselves that yes they manage things and yes they have grown closer to God in the last year. They want responsibility. They want to be a part of something larger than themselves and I am happy to give them that opportunity. I would cringe if I thought I was training a group to be CEO material. I am training people to help change the lives of those around them. God has certainly been working on them!

    As far as training materials go, if you know of anything good out there I would love to hear about it. I don’t really think this is a “one size fits all” kind of thing. What has worked for other people might not work for us and what works for us might not work for you. Our training is done twice a year and it involves them giving feedback on what is going well in the group, what is going poorly in the group and then we dialog as a group about our future and how we can continue to impact our congregation and community for Christ. Their training is not so much from a set selection of material. Their training is getting out there and getting some things done. I act as a resource for them if they need leads, contacts for service projects, encouragement, help with advertising, etc.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Hi, I am a member of a small aging Church of Christ on the GA coast. I have been really wishing we had a 20/30’s group. I have been thinking about talking to our elders. I think it would have to start out as a class or bible study because there are only a hand full of us that fall into the age category. Is this a co-ed group or only men? I am very interested to know what changes your congregation made to attract young families. Also do you all meet separate from scheduled worship (Sun/Wed)? Do you create the lessons or are you using purchased materials? Is the group taught/lead by an “older” member or a 20/30? This is something I have really been thinking about. I was raised in the church but have always attended rural churches of 30-100 members with few young people. I’ve even trying to find a different job to move to a larger city in hopes of finding a larger congregation to surround myself with other Christians. It seems like most churches “teach” and support youth until their teens and then offer nothing in the most impressionable time in one’s life 20-35. I would love any insight. Thanks Elizabeth

  6. mattdabbs says:

    Elizabeth,

    Great questions. It is important that the elders see the importance of reaching out to this age group. In the early 20s people are really starting to launch out and figure out who they are. They are establishing families, etc and it is crucial that we keep them plugged in. It is also crucial that we see the mission field of 20s & 30s that is all around us. So this is more than an in-reach for us. This is also a big outreach and we have been able to bring in people who have not grown up in church as well. I will do my best to answer your questions:

    1 – This is a co-ed group. Our leadership is also co-ed. We have ladies planning social activities and service projects alongside the men. That may not work in every church but it has worked well for us.

    2 – The biggest change that has attracted young people is our worship. We have said it is okay to sing some newer songs. It is also fine to sing older songs. But whatever we do in worship, it is done with energy like we actually mean it! Slow draggy worship is not very attractive. I am not being critical when I say that I am just stating the truth. We are blessed that we have several song leaders who are able to keep the energy going in our worship.

    3 – Our class only meets on Sunday morning. The reason for this is I don’t want to isolate them from the older/more mature members of the congregation. So on Wednesday they assimilate into the other classes. Sunday morning is prime time for us where our class takes place specifically for our 20s/30s.

    4 – We create the lessons and used purchased material. I have found video curriculum works great if you are going to purchase material. Rob Bell’s videos are particularly useful but some are a little edgy if your congregation is more conservative. I am respectful of that.

    5 – I teach the group and I am a paid staff person. That works for us but would be harder to do in a smaller church. The main thing is that you have someone who has made this their mission who can continue to push forward a God-centered vision for the group.

    We typically lose over 50% of our youth when they go off to college. The number is actually closer to 70%. That is messed up and we have to address it or else the church will die. Plain and simple. Thanks for the great questions.

  7. Clint P. says:

    Thanks! I may have more questions after I meet with our elders on Saturday.

  8. wjcsydney says:

    Wow, Matt, you are doing some great things. In my opinion, this is a vital demographic. It’s the future of the church. I belong to a church with a dynamic young adults focus and it’s an awesome place to be!

  9. Matthew Robert says:

    This is great stuff Matt. It seems like you’ve got some great stuff going on. I’ve got a question though.

    Does your congregation have any type of a campus ministry, and if you do, how does that work with you 20’s and 30’s ministry?

    The reason I ask is that I am on staff at a congregation, working with one of the largest universities in the country, but we are extremely small. We do however have a a fairly large 20’s and 30’s group, but they have kind of formed their own little clique. I have been trying to assimilate our campus ministry and the 20’s/30’s group since I’ve been here, because I think it just makes sense. It’s not working particularly well though.

    Thanks

  10. mattdabbs says:

    We don’t have a campus ministry as there is no major university in St. Pete. We have several small colleges in the area. We have combined our college with our 20s & 30s for now but we have plans to change that eventually. When you are starting small like we did I think it is easier to combine them. But if you have two people who are willing to spearhead each ministry (one for 20s/30s and one for college) I might try that split. It is a real reach for a high school freshman to come for the first time into a class with someone who is nearly 40 and who has four kids. Some don’t mind it but others do. So ideally you could do both but it will take a lot of man power and extra work. Just make sure that by splitting your resources into two groups that you don’t do a less good job by trying to do more. If you can do both well and provide a quality class/teacher for both groups and have people willing to organize activities for both so both can be good ministries then I would consider doing both.

  11. Matthew Robert says:

    Thanks Matt, that makes sense. I we have two people on staff with the campus minsitry (myself as an intern, and a partime minister), and so the man power isn’t really an issue for us, and the 20’s/30’s seems to be surviving well enough on their own. Continuing with the current set up of split groups would certainly be easier, so I’ll have to give some thought to being content with it as is. Thanks.

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