By Leah Matthews
As churches evolve over time, many reminisce about the days filled with classic hymns such as “Be Thou My Vision,” “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” and “Amazing Grace.” These were staples at nearly every Sunday service throughout the “good old days”. But as the generations who make up the church have aged—the parents are now grandparents and the children are now parents— and new generations have come along, we must consider the best method for leading the entire body.
Why Should Church Leadership Evolve?
Staying true to the sanctity of the church without being engulfed by the culture of the world is a tall task. The need to be a trendy, accepting church is seen as important by the world. While we should not unintentionally offend anyone, ensuring that the church remains faithful to God, and not the opinions of people, is our top priority.
Yet, as is possible and appropriate, the church should seek to acclimate to new generations who need to hear the gospel just as badly as any before them. It is possible to do this without losing the identity of the church of the “good old days.” Our approach should be focused on winning the hearts of the new generation, while instilling the values and morals of the past generations of faithful churches through history. The message of the gospel must remain true to the bible, but methods of application need to be considered to engage the progressive nature of the world today. The issues that younger generations are faced with today are much different than even ten years ago. The pressure to fit in, be recognized, or praised is significant due to the influence of social media. The heaviness of the world can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to believe that one’s self worth depends on how others see you. Leaders need to be in tune with the pressures of younger generations in order to approach these subjects in a manner that draws focus to Christ and away from the approval of the world.
Inclusion for Both Generations
As we seek to accommodate new generations, it is important that we don’t neglect the concerns of those who prefer the previous methods of ministry. Churches should seek to integrate old and new ways of teaching into their leadership styles. It’s also important to take the time to garner feedback from church members regarding leadership style and the future of the church. This allows flexibility as a leader and ensures the members of the body feel that they are being listened to and understood. Leading in this way fosters trust. When we have a clear focus on the gospel and are open to the best methods of ministry, we are able to tailor our message and leadership styles to accommodate every generation of the church.
Lifeway offers several resources on the topic of leadership to help leaders discern how to best proceed in today’s ever changing culture. You can find those resources at https://leadership.lifeway.com/. We pray that God will direct and equip you in your daily pursuit to lead each generation present in your church in the most effective manner.