You can read the intro to this series and find other installments here.
In Tim Elmore’s book Generation iY he talks at length about communicating to the generation just coming of age. He makes several observations about communicating and connecting with this generation that I found to be strikingly similar to basic ideals of the Emerging Church Movement.
#4 They Want a Guide on the Side Before They Want a Sage on the Stage
Being an expert doesn’t cut it anymore. Especially when teenagers can fact check you on their phones in a few minutes. Instead they would much rather have someone to come alongside them even when they don’t have all the answers.
In the last few years I have seen this play out in youth ministry culture. One reputable organization that sells resources advertised a great curriculum resource with the pitch that it allows you to do “real ministry”. Implying that crafting lessons was second class compared to relational ministry. Honestly I don’t have much to argue with that, other than noticing the shift.
Sure what we say is vitally important, but if a student doesn’t trust you they simply won’t listen. A common buzzword is authenticity. Best I can tell no one knows exactly what it means or what it looks like, but just about everyone under the age of 25 can spot it and its failed attempts miles away.
The emerging church tries to remove the flash and production of church, or at least acknowledging the fact that what I have called sexy church doesn’t really work anymore. What happens on stage or upfront is important, but not nearly as much as we have thought.
In my ministry I am trying to stress this need and venturing to some unknown territory. Even if this new approach fails in execution I trust the spirit of mobilizing adults as mentors instead of teachers because it is obvious that this is what students are looking for.