What is Next Gen Ministry?
Does Next Gen ministry sound like something just for Star Trek fans? Don’t worry — it’s just a way to talk about ministering to the next generation of leaders! The next generation can include very young children all the way through college-age and young adults. Ministering to multiple age groups of the next generation at the same time is part of a broader family ministry movement and can make it simpler for churches to focus on an overall strategy to reach and connect the upcoming generation.
Churches are beginning to think of new and improved ways to reach our youth and young adults without causing excess burden or stress to ministry leaders, volunteers, and parents. Doing ministry the same way as it’s been done for the last few years doesn’t mean we can’t do it better. Next gen ministry might not be the perfect fit for every church, but for many it could simplify and streamline efforts (work smarter, not harder, right?!).
Your church may have an excellent ministry program, catering to each age group separately, so why in the world would you want to switch over to a next generation ministry? Let’s talk about possible reasons for the shift.
WHY DOES A CHURCH SHIFT TO A NEXT GEN STRATEGY?
If you’re not already a next gen church, then you may wonder why you need to take your current way of handling ministry and change it. Why fix it if it isn’t broke? Ultimately, your church leadership needs to decide if this is a good fit and may solve some current or future issues with ministries. Let’s look at some reasons why a church decides to shift to a next gen strategy.
Some reasons for the shift may be:
- Collaboration: By linking pastors and leaders of different age groups together, a church can cross over efforts, consider feedback and ideas from all ministry leaders, and focus on an overall family ministry.
- Coordination: Trying to keep track of lessons, activities, and events for multiple ministries can be a challenge, so having an overarching plan can help children and youth ministries work toward a common goal.
- Clarity: A next gen leader or pastor can bring together siloed ministry efforts to bring clarity and understanding to the purpose that church ministries are working to achieve.
If you’re thinking the shift to next gen ministry sounds right for your church, you’ll want to consider how to ensure success as you make that shift.
LAUNCHING SUCCESSFUL NEXT GEN MINISTRY AT YOUR CHURCH
So you’re ready to tackle the shift to next generation ministry at your church, but aren’t sure where to start? Considering the steps to preparing for the next gen shift can help your team work together to launch a successful ministry.
Let’s be realistic — this is going to take some time. The first step is having a next gen ministry champion, whether that’s a pastor or leader, and letting that person work to unify everyone toward a common vision. This requires getting input and feedback from everybody and getting the full team on board with the decision and upcoming efforts in the transition.
In order to launch successfully, here are some other things to consider:
There will be multiple meetings needed up front with church and ministry leadership to work on the overall vision and ideas on how to align efforts. And then regular meetings throughout the year will be necessary in order to keep everybody working toward the same goal, to address concerns or questions, to solve problems, and to ensure that no particular children or youth ministry ends up isolated.
With a desire of next gen ministry to ease the burden for families, scheduling activities and events must be looked at as a whole. Consider how difficult it may be for a family with multiple ages of children to coordinate all of the church youth activities and meetings along with existing school and sports/recreational activities. Plan activities and events according to family unit needs and find ways to include multiple age groups in the same events, or at the same locations.
When multiple church ministries are working separately, there is a tendency to overask and overburden volunteers. They may feel conflicted when being asked to help in multiple ministries and take on too much. Eventually, they burn out, and stop volunteering or participating completely. Better coordinating children and youth ministry efforts means making a central effort to recruit and track volunteers, so they don’t have overlapping responsibilities.
One of the goals of next gen ministry is to involve older youth more heavily in the church and ministries. While they can help as volunteers, a more important way to involve them is to let them mentor younger children. This is an excellent way to increase participation, develop leadership skills, and help younger children to further learn the overall ministry lessons from their role models.
There will be a lot to work through as your church shifts to the next generation ministry, but by taking the time to prepare and carefully plan, you’ll be able to look back at a successful transition. As you work through the transition, there will be challenges that will come up, but remember that there are multiple benefits of next gen ministry and it all comes together when working toward a unified vision.
BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF NEXT GEN MINISTRY
As we know, change can be difficult, but when it’s for the right reasons and includes proper communication and collaboration, we can all achieve a successful outcome.
Some of the challenges you may encounter in the transition to next gen ministry are:
- Time: There will be a lot of prep time needed to make a successful shift to next gen ministry, and time involved after to make sure efforts are on track. Ensuring that ministry leadership is invested in the overall vision and seeing it through will help overcome concerns.
- Teamwork: The bigger the existing church ministries for children and youth, the more moving pieces and people are involved in making a ministry shift. Having a next gen leader to keep everybody motivated and working toward the goal as a team will be important.
- Talents: Every church has different needs and unique circumstances, so planning exactly how a next gen ministry will work in your church will require some creative thinking and solutions. By getting input and ideas from everyone involved, you’ll be able to surface some new ideas and ways to tackle issues that come up.
The best way to continue overcoming challenges? Remember the why! There are several benefits to choosing a next gen ministry, including these:
- Partnership: All ministries are committed to working together toward one common goal and vision, making overall efforts more streamlined.
- Pressure reduction: By combining and coordinating ministries for the next generation, there is less burden on the pastors and leadership, volunteers, and parents and families.
- Participation: Focusing on next gen helps get older students more involved and frees up families from overscheduling of ministry activities. It allows them to volunteer and participate more, as well.
While next gen ministry can sound intimidating, it is a movement that focuses on the overall ministry vision, the family as a whole, and ways to reduce the burden on ministry leaders and volunteers. The benefits outweigh the challenges and your church may end up growing from the move to next generation ministry. What do you think? Is your church ready to make a shift to next gen ministry? How can Grow Curriculum help?
Our Grow Curriculum and Strategy can give you all of the resources and information you need to go about starting a new church ministry. Let us help ease the burden as you focus on your passion to serve others through your ministry.
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