Who has the Keys to our Churches?
While we can think of a set of keys tangibly as a physical privilege and responsibility of leadership, they can also be symbolic of capabilities, power, and access.
Many Church memberships are declining, younger generations are faced with competing activities on Sunday mornings (and Wednesday evenings), and our congregations are aging.
In a comparison of declining membership in major denominations, Wikipedia says “The Presbyterian Church has had the sharpest decline in church membership: between 2000 and 2015 it lost over 40% of its congregation and 15.4% of its churches.”
How can we change these statistics? Perhaps we empower new generations to take the keys to our Churches – from Generation Y (born 1980-1994) to The Millennials (Gen Z, born 1995-2009) to our newest one – Generation Alpha (born 2010-2024).
Our Churches can empower these young people with access to Church Keys. We teach them about God and The Word. We provide fertile ground to help them develop their leadership skills and willingly entrust them with leadership roles in our congregations. Giving over more and more significant responsibilities will let them grow those skills to their full potential creating the strong and dynamic Church leaders that PC USA needs for its future.
To do this our Churches need tools and an action plan.
Developing Dynamic Leaders for Tomorrow:
The Children and Youth Workgroup, a Committee under Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery Dynamic Leaders Team, is offering to help provide one possible set of tools for our congregations.
These tools consist of challenges to grow leadership talent, service projects to remember our responsibilities in God’s kingdom, study opportunities to focus on God’s Word and His goals for us, and fellowship with other youth on the same path to enjoy and celebrate the beauty of growing together in God’s community.
The Children and Youth Workgroup will be focusing on the Millennial and Alpha Generations. But many of these challenges could also be used to inspire and grow an active 20-30 age group team as well.
The Children and Youth Workgroup is offering to be a gathering point for our Churches to share successes and ideas about ways to build teams of young Christians that can thrive in the world today. We believe that if you are willing to entrust your Church Keys to young people, they will trust you with their hearts, their energy, their creativity, and even their friends.
When God stirs something in them, we want to be there to provide them with opportunities to express those visions in positive and constructive ways. We can mentor them and trust them – and together with them we can build an incredible future!
These youthful leaders can inspire their families, their friends, and their communities to be part of the solutions our complex world needs today. They can help make our Churches a vital part of a community of people concerned about and working on issues relevant to all generations – Matthew 25 goals that address social justice from Earth Care to Public Witness.
Young leaders who see that strengthening our Churches builds the foundation for them to go out into the world. Together we fortify each other with the love of Christ and the strength of the Holy Spirit. Our unity through worship empowers our lives to serve and grow God’s Church into the dynamic vision it was meant to be.
Summer Youth Leadership Challenge
Baby Steps and Beginnings for Big Dreams
I know these are lofty dreams, yet any endeavor must begin somewhere. I am sure we will stumble and fall and learn from our mistakes – hopefully guided by the new generations of leaders we are mentoring. So here is the beginning of this dream.
For the Summer of 2023, the Children and Youth Workgroup has created a Summer Youth Leadership Challenge. This challenge is focused on using an Earth Care theme to start developing leadership skills in the youth of our congregations and to teach them about the functions in our Churches. The challenge focuses on four main areas of the Church – Worship, Education, Facilities, and Outreach.
How can your Church participate? Publicize this challenge to a youth or a youth group and let their imaginations run wild – this challenge has a wide selection of interesting ideas from dance to recycling. It is designed to let them explore their passions while learning new skills.
It is open to participation by Presbyterian youth (ages 12-18) as the team leader (with the Pastor’s or Youth Director’s mentoring). Members of the team can be of any age and a diversity of ages and skills is encouraged, but the youth leader must be the primary leader of the project.
A successful challenge will be one in which the youth leader develops leadership and team-building skills and utilizes the skills of their team toward a common goal.
Each youth leader will choose an area of interest from the Challenge Descriptions. Select a Mentor (Pastor or Youth Director). Develop a planning concept around their passion. Enlist team members of all ages. Turn their concept into an executable plan by learning about their team and utilizing the team’s talents and skills. Present the completed plan and get a sign-off from the Pastor or Youth Director. Execute the plan. Document and submit a challenge entry form by September 4, 2023, to Leigh Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each challenge will earn points to be used to send youth to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium in 2025.
We hope this first challenge, inspires our congregations to team with us to develop leadership programs within our Churches that nurture and celebrate the skills and interests of our younger generations, whether they are youth or young adults.
We are always open to ideas and suggestions. If your Church is already working along these lines or would like to be part of the vision team that is developing these leadership opportunities, we would love to hear from you.
Materials and Resources Available for this Challenge:
The details of this challenge are attached and include:
1) A flyer about the Summer Youth Leadership Challenge
2) The Summer Youth Leadership Challenge Description
3) Summer Youth Leadership Entry Form.
For this challenge, there are leadership mentors in many of our Churches and various Earth Care congregations that can provide guidance or resources for the youth leader if additional help is desired.
Awards / Points
Points and awards for this challenge will be announced at the All-Church Picnic on September 30, 2023, at Grace Presbyterian Church in Crystal City, Mo. Points and awards will be used to help our Churches send youth to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium in 2025. Don’t be concerned about starting small – partially completed challenges can be awarded points. Points are cumulative toward other awards over the next couple of years as we develop leaders for our Presbyterian Youth Triennium team and our Churches.
Next Steps – Save the Date!
The second activity is a service project related to the Presbyterian Children’s Home and Services (PCHAS). This service project will be held on December 19, 2023. The Children and Youth Workgroup, youth participants, and chaperons/parents will meet at St. Marks Presbyterian Church for fellowship and then proceed to PCHAS to sort Christmas gifts donated to the youth served by PCHAS. Details on the exact agenda and time will follow in early fall. Save the date!
How Can Your Church Stay Informed or Get Involved with Youth Leadership Activities and Development?
The Children and Youth Workgroup of Dynamic Leaders; has a Google group through which it communicates messages and information about our activities. Please feel free to send an email with your name, Church, position in your Church, email address, and phone number to Jolene Patterson (email@example.com) and you will be added to the group.
Additionally, if this is your area of interest (youth leadership development, youth mission, or children/youth ministry) please feel free to discuss how we can assist you or how you can be a resource for our team. We encourage participation from anyone with a passion in this area of the Church’s life.
Children and Youth Workgroup