- Baptist Beacon
Becoming a multi-generational church
by Illinois Baptist staff
SPRINGFIELD, IL – “When a church closes it’s doors, it says something about the power and glory of God that we don’t want to say.”
Mark Clifton, Senior Director of Church Replanting and Rural Strategy at NAMB, said that when a church closes its doors, it undermines the message of the power of God in the community. “They hear you preaching that God is the answer to your problems, but he can’t keep this church open.”
Pastors need to be equipped to revitalize churches because it magnifies the true glory of God. One of the essential qualities needed by pastors in church revitalization, Clifton said, is an affinity for multi-generations. A pastor must possess a love for both younger and older adults, as well as understand how to lead them together.
Practically, he advises two starting points for pastors seeking to become multi-generational in a church revitalization: First, focus on reaching and discipling one young man. Second, love older people for who they are.
When trying to reach young men, “don’t try to dress like them,” Clifton urged, instead “listen to them.” Young men want to be discipled by older men and they want the opportunity to lead.
An affinity for multi-generations recognizes that for a church to become vibrant for the next generation somebody must let go, and somebody must grab on. But if the older generation does not let go of leadership, he cautioned, the younger generation cannot grab on.
Only valuing young people will not create a multi-generational church. Change is often difficult for an older generation, where their church seems like the only thing in their world that hasn’t changed. Clifton said pastors need to recognize how difficult change is for older members. But instead of avoiding change, he said, “an older generation needs to be loved into change.” The older generation will find joy in the multi-generational church that will never exist if changes aren’t made.
An effective revitalization pastor will lovingly help older members make changes because it is what is best for them, not bad for them.
Clifton gave his presentation at thee 2022 Midwest Leadership Summit held earlier in the year at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield. Watch Clifton’s entire presentation below or at MWAdvance.org.