Sticky Faith

Why am I getting pushback now about intergenerational ministry?

by Fuller Youth Institute on December 20 2012

Today's guest blogger is Keegan Lenker, youth pastor at Pasadena Nazarene. Keegan was part of the 2010 Sticky Faith Cohort and currently serves as a Sticky Faith Coach.

I have learned so much about ministry in my journey with FYI and Sticky Faith. When I was a part of the cohort, I could not wait to implement the new things I had been learning into the context God had called me to serve.

One thing I learned about was the expectation for pushback as I went back and began to discuss changes for a more intergenerational purpose. As I began those conversations, I was surprised to find I was met with very little pushback from staff members and others I had conversations with.

That was in 2010.

Today things are very different. I knew going into this that change would be slow. I knew it would take time to get staff members on board to begin to look at ministry through a more intergenerational lens than ever before. Little did I know that pushback would be coming, just much later than I anticipated.

I lived under the assumption that once people felt informed and got on board we would be ready to fly. What I discovered was that many people heard, but few were listening. It was not that people were not excited about what they heard, it was that a lot of our offices had been operating in isolation from one another for so long. They did not think this affected them at all, so they continued to operate in isolation.

This has only become more obvious as new staff members have come on board. As they have jumped in with a desire to break down their respective silo for more collaborative approaches, some of that pushback has come from volunteers who had been operating in systems of isolation. In some cases when we asked for this collaborative approach, it was met with volunteers walking away all together.

This took me back again to when I first heard “Communicate, communicate, communicate; and then double it” as part of our Sticky Faith Cohort process. I realized again how important it is to communicate well among staff members, who in turn communicate clearly to those who serve alongside them.

We are finally in a process where we are getting the right people sitting on the right seats on the bus. For our context, this is risky AND exciting. It is forcing us to communicate well, forcing us to evaluate what we do and the ways we go about doing it.

Is the pushback over? I’m pretty sure it isn’t, but as Scott Cormode has taught me, “People aren’t afraid of change, they’re afraid of loss.” This means we have the opportunity to look ahead and help people capture a vision of what can be, and I’m optimistic now more than ever that we can seize that opportunity.