Friday, August 8, 2008

learning from other leaders - from those who have gone before

Learning from other leaders . . . that's what I've spent the last two days (yesterday and today) doing. I had the privilege to attend a leadership conference called Leadership Summit. It was really good! There were some speakers that I definitely enjoyed more than others. But I couldn't really ask for a greater opportunity over the last two days.

Especially as someone who is just starting to step out into leadership roles, it was incredibly valuable. People who have been leading both inside and out of the church for so much longer than me have an incredible amount of wisdom that I need to seek to learn from. I am blessed to have personal connections/relationships with people who lead in various capacities in my own life, but, in my books taking time to spend learning from more people than you normally would is an opportunity that shouldn't be wasted!

I often look around at the church and the segregation by age that naturally happens and wonder what we're missing. There is nothing wrong with having ministries that seek to reach specific groups of people, but there also needs to be times when the entire church from the kids to seniors is together and can learn from one another. I talk to many young adults who say that they have no connection with the older generations outside of their parents and extended family (which not all of them live close to). For me, luckily, this isn't the case. I grew up surrounded my much family and many other people in my church family of all ages that have played a part in my life. (What a huge blessing that is!)

But, I see the truth to what I hear many young adults around me saying. And it makes me wonder about what we (young adults, 18-30, as a collective group) are missing by not having these interactions. I know from experience that there are people who have walked the road before us that we can learn from if we have the opportunity.

Like these last two days, I had the privilege to hear from the hearts of people who have gone before me in leadership roles, some who are just a few steps further down the road than me and some who have been doing this stuff for years. And I wouldn't trade the last two days of sitting in a church pew, getting a sore butt, for anything. I'm still working to make sense and apply to my life much of what I heard, but I also know that I heard an incredible amount of wisdom that I'm glad to have heard.

All of this makes me wonder . . . how can we create space for those meaningful connections between the generations to happen? What do we need to do so that youngadults can truely learn from the vast amounts of wisdom of people who are in the same building as them on a weekly, or more, basis? There has to be a way to bridge this dis-connect. Young adults are the future leaders of the church . . . and we need to learn from those who have been leading for a while.

I think this is something that requires a change on the part of both sides. As youg adults, we need to et past the idea that we can do it ourselves and be willing to admit that we don't have all the answers - that we can't do it ourselves. We need to get to the point of being willing to go to the corporate church and ask them to teach us - to mentor us - to share their wisdom. And, as a corporate church, the all too common attitude that young adults don't want you around and just want to drive you away from the church needs to change. Young adults do want you around! We may not always express it very well, but we do. You have the wisdom and experience that we need to learn from. And maybe we can pass along some of our energy to the rest of the church.

The church should not be a one generational thing. We (all people, of all ages) need for it to be multi-generational. All ages and stages of life need to be learning from one another. This is how the church is supposed to be. Not some building we go to once or twice a week, but all ages learning from one another and growing together.


  1. Ah yes, once again the church needs to be counter cultural. All too many of us young people (and not just in the church) think the older generations have nothing to offer us because they're not "hip" to use an outdated popular term. This positivist attitude tells us that our pespective is not only the most contemporary perspective but also the best persepective. We beleive it cannot be improved upon by someone from a previous generation. Difficult situation...not sure how to find solutions except to say that we need to stop generalizing and treat each other as people rather than "generational groups"