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Raising Up Twenty-Something Leaders

By Steve Nicholson

My father was a Pentecostal pastor as my grandfather was before him. So I have some awareness of what can happen in a movement over several generations. If you don't deliberately work at bringing in each generation, you'll tend to lose a huge chunk of them.

The movement will age, over a period of time. In the long run that will sap your vitality. By intentionally raising up young leaders at a consistent rate, you keep your movement on the edge, insuring a longer-lasting impact and influence in the world.

I'm interested in training "twenty-something" leaders because I've reached the stage of life where I want to influence things after I'm dead. How am I going to do that? By writing my life on the hearts of other human beings who are going to be around.

Many Vineyard values harmonize with values of the twenty-somethings. Although they generally hate media labels like "baby busters" and "generation X" I have observed some common elements about this generation. For instance, they are much more relational. To that I say, "Voila!" Isn't that what the Vineyard has always been about! It certainly hasn't been organization. We're always trying to get just enough organized to avoid total chaos.

The Key: Building Relationships

Building relationships between Boomers and "Twenty-somethings" is not as formidable as the media would have us believe. Substance always wins over style. I'm not going to grow my hair long, and I'm not going to shave it either. If they want to wear a nosering, fine, but that's not me. And they don't appreciate it if I try to be something I'm not. They’re interested in people who are genuine.

"Twenty-somethings" - even more than previous generations - are awaiting for a radical challenge. They really do want someone to send them off on a crusade. They want meaning in life. They already know that meaning isn't going to be found by owning a BMW so they don't have to be weaned from materialism to the same degree as my generation.

If our church had its own facility, I would put a great big cross up front because they relate to symbols. Find the people in your church who are under thirty and you'll see a lot of them wearing crosses. I don't think it's an infatuation with symbols for symbols’ sake. I think it’s because they're interested in spiritual reality.

That's a tremendous opportunity. The Vineyard movement has an incredible mixture of pragmatic, relational leadership with a tremendous openness to spiritual reality and power. That rare combination seems to appeal greatly to the young leaders I've had the pleasure of mentoring.


Copyright: 1995 Steve Nicholson. Reprinted from Equipping the Saints, Vineyard Ministries International, P.O. Box 17998, Anaheim, CA 92817 USA.

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