Glen Eyrie Leadership Training Recap
Glen Eyrie Leadership Training 2015 Recap
We're in this together!
Thank you so much for your investment of time, travel and finances in making it to our first-ever YES! Leadership Training in Colorado. We hope you're already applying some of what you gleaned from the day of training.
And thanks to those of you who took the time to complete our evaluation form. Very helpful as we move forward to training opportunities in other parts of the country.
We hope some of the information outlined below will continue to reinforce the importance of ministry in your church extending beyond generational borders. Some of you are just catching this vision, and some have been at it for a while. Wherever you're at on this journey, we'd love to stand beside you and cheer you on!
Intergenerational ministry: good idea or god idea?
In this introductory segment, we reinforced the premise that intergenerational ministry is not a new, 21st century church leadership concept. It has been God's desire all along to see generations within the Church valuing one other. Sometimes we've allowed fences and walls to build up around our specialized, generationally-focused ministries to the point we begin excluding or downplaying the value of others outside our target group, particularly those younger.
We shared the Story of Joe Capri because it illustrates the tremendous potential of adults in their later years who grasp the importance of stepping outside their Christian retirement bubble to impact others for Christ. In Joe's case this happened between the ages of 70 and 90 after being challenged by a younger individual well under 50. In Joe's sixties, although fed lavishly as a new believer within his church, his kingdom potential was almost invisible because of his very stereotypic, spectator view of retirement---kicking back in his easy chair watching sports.
One of the challenges we face as leaders in America is that we and the adults we serve are hit by a constant barrage of commercials reinforcing a strong leisure and entitlement perspective as we/they move into retirement. How do we challenge this perspective without coming across as joy-robbers?
Paul used young leaders like Timothy and Titus to help shake up the status quo. Can we expect similar results without younger leaders working alongside us? It's our experience that transformation happens less dramatically and more slowly when we try to accomplish His purposes within a For-Us-By-Us bubble. Why set aside this biblical model (welcoming younger leaders into our leadership circle) in favor of a model that doesn't seem to be working as well?
Paul commissioned young leaders like Timothy and Titus, giving them the authority to both encourage and rebuke. This was even more radical in their top-down, age-respecting culture. The younger Titus was told to teach older men to live lives (in the present) worthy of respect (not just resting on their laurels and expecting respect because of their advancing age). Radical! Transformational!
Idleness and Laziness: Do We Dare Confront?
From our perspective most senior or second-half adult ministries have evolved into platforms where we try to encourage the timid, help the weak and show patience to everyone. This makes sense in light of the physical decline many are experiencing in their later years. But we're often completely avoiding the first item on the admonition menu in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, warning those who are idle and lazy. (Sure, this might apply to teenagers and to some folks in their fifties and sixties, but certainly adults 70 and over are off the hook, right?)
Idleness and laziness are embedded in our American retirement entitlement package, and there is some risk associated with confronting these entitlements but even bigger risks in not confronting them. Here again, we can benefit from a full court press, not going at this alone. When all generations are concerned about each generation, and when each generation is concerned about all generations---we are much more likely to bring out the best in the Body of Christ.
Unity Between, Not Just Within
When Paul talks about the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12, he makes reference first to the Jews and Gentiles, the slaves and the free. He wasn't concerned only with the Jews getting along with the Jews, the Gentiles getting along with the Gentiles, the slaves getting along with fellow slaves, etc. He knew God wanted unity between polar opposites. And for those of us entrusted with age-specific ministries and older adults, we must simultaneously love those at the opposite end of the age spectrum.
When we first entered this arena of ministry in our early to mid-fifties, we came out swinging at the ageism and injustice we saw in too many of our churches. Throwing Grandma & Grandpa under the Church Bus represented some of our initial attempts to advocate for the overlooked grandmas and grandpas in our churches. And we still believe strongly that someone needs to advocate for them. But we're now in our sixties and are grandparents. There is something a bit egocentric when only youth advocate for youth, and only older adults advocate for older adults. It generally leads to unity of the part but not necessarily unity of the whole. (Sound familiar? United political parties but a divided nation?)
Who are We Ignoring?
The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you. The head cannot say to the foot, I have no need of you. (1 Corinthians 12:21)
Three important principles stand out in the passage above.
- First person. It's easy to point to senior adult ministry as the ignored hand or forgotten foot. As leaders let's suspend our victim mentality and focus on our being the eye or the head. Whose input are we ignoring?
- Present tense. It points to our appreciating not just future potential or past accomplishment. Kids are not the future of the Church, and older adults are not the Church of the past. We are all the Church of the present.
- The value of polar opposites. In this passage, Paul refers to polar opposites, parts with differing functions but absolutely vital to each other and to the overall function of the Body.
Why do we spend so much time on a biblical foundation to second half adult ministry?
For one, we've seen some poor foundations leading to some pretty half-baked ministries, and generational tension is way too common in our churches. If you're going to do more than tickle ears, telling people what they want to hear and taking them where they want to go, it really helps to have a strong biblical precedent for your approach.
Intergenerational ministry is not weird or out-of-the-box. Mono-generational ministry can, by contrast, become a picture of light hiding under a bushel. "Hide it under a bushel? NO! We're gonna let it shine!"
Feel free to use our PERSPECTIVES skit at your church to address some of the attitudes that may interfere with hearts to serve. (Use with discretion as it may hit a nerve with some adults in your group.) It's intended to be portrayed by two couples over sixty and can hopefully lead to some healthy discussion. (Please let us know how it goes if you use it.)
The Chronicles of Not Now, Lord! can also highlight tendencies to postpone God's call to a more convenient time that never comes. (There is just a bit of irony in our calling Him "Lord" while saying "No" and holding the reins on the timetable.)
We so appreciate Lars Dunberg's gift of 123 Ways to Serve and the tagline of the ministry he directs, ServeNow...Procrastinate Later.
And please know that the YES! Ted video is another good discussion starter and motivator to help move adults outside the more common stereotypes of spiritually complacent retirement living. (At the same time, while we enjoy poking fun at leisure, God can use these leisure interests too as wonderful in-roads into relationships and disciple-making.)
UNDERSTANDING TODAY'S GENERATIONS
Pete Menconi has a wealth of knowledge related to the Characteristics of the Generations. He lives in the Denver area and would be happy to continue the conversation with you and your church. While understanding generational differences, his passion is to help unite the generations with our unique contributions and kingdom focus. Pete serves on the YES! Young Enough to Serve board and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of you purchased his book, The Intergenerational Church. Your reading will add significant depth to what you learned the day of training. His Aging Well Bible Study series can also serve as wonderful supplements to your ministry.
THE BEST OF CHRISTIAN GRANDPARENTING
And these same principles within the nuclear family apply in the Church. Many adults do not have children or grandchildren, and many young people do not have grandparents living in close proximity. Continue to explore ways your adults can become adopted grandparents, friendship partners and prayer partners in your church. (By the way, Grandparenting also spells GrandpaRENTING. :)
REINFORCING OUR CALL TO PRAY, SERVE AND MAKE DISCIPLES
Building on a more dynamic platform of intergenerational ministry can breathe new life into prayer, serving and our Great Commission to make disciples.
We love the eternal perspective communicated by Francis Chan in his rope illustration.
We did our best to whet your appetite and hopefully nudge you forward. And we've given you a plethora of links and reminders to reinforce what was shared on November 20 at Glen Eyrie.
In conversation with a conference participant this week, we expanded on some of the HOW to get started.
This podcast we just posted partially addresses bridging the gap between those who "get it" and those who don't.
- Leadership Team: Take seriously the goal of getting a younger person on your leadership team. This is one of our biggest hows that can lead to transformation. (Start with one and the one can help invite others.) Confess that you need their help in motivating some of your older adults. A peer-to-peer approach has limitations. Paul used young leaders like Timothy and Titus to help challenge and direct those who are older. A broader age swath on your leadership team can really help open some new doors. You want the whole body to show concern for each part, and the part of the body you're leading to be concerned about the whole body.
- One-on-One, Timely Nudges: When you hear someone is about to retire, schedule an appointment with that person six months into retirement. Many people feel a need for a sabbatical. But the rest of their lives is too long a sabbatical, and you can help guide them into more fruitful living---after they catch some R & R.
- Group Influencing the Group: Build on the strengths of those who get it. Ask them to pray with you about expanding the core of those who are going full throttle for God. You need them to be evangelists, who are not just out there with their nose to the grindstone but ones who also help you influence and challenge others. Ask them to invite others to something that whets their appetite in serving. They may not be ready for a week-long missions trip, but they might agree to simply attend a serving event for a couple hours, "just to see."
- Story-Telling: Keep highlighting the stories of those who are serving and making a difference in their later years---both inside and outside your church.
We deeply appreciate your continued partnership with YES! through:
Serving Him with you,
Wes & Judy Wick