Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Acts 8: Raising up young leaders in The Episcopal Church

The Acts 8 Core Committee asked bloggers to answer the question:

"According to Pew Research, adult GenXers and Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers by nearly 2 to 1, but when we look at General Convention the statistics don't match up. In what ways can the church create opportunities to lift up younger leaders, lay and ordained, to serve as Deputies to General Convention?"


Bishop vonRosenberg and the deputation from The Episcopal Church in South Carolina
At 36, I was a deputy to the 2015 General Convention in Salt Lake City from The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Depending on which website you choose to believe, I can be classified as Generation X or Y. The Generation X part of me still has a land line, writes handwritten thank you notes, and appreciates cocktail party conversation. But the Generation Y part manifests itself in that I communicate mainly through social media, would prefer not to check voicemail, and am pretty proficient at emoticons.

I sneaked in as the fourth lay deputy from our diocese and was the youngest by a decade or two (We did have a clergy alternate that is my elder by 2 months). But I didn't let that stop me from having my voice heard in our deputation. I did my research and made sure they all knew that I deserved a seat at the table. Did I do a little extra reading, and dress a little nicer to make sure that wasn't questioned? Maybe.

But all that is to say that I have some experience being a "young"-er leader in the church. Here is how the church formed me as an example of what worked. I know it is not the only way but it is something to ponder.

1. I was a part of the community from the beginning.

My earliest church memories include Easter Egg hunts, playing in the nursery, sneaking into the EYC room to sit in the bean bag chairs, and singing in the church choir from the time I could see out of the pew box. All four of my grandparents attended our church so Coffee Hour meant taking my painfully shy self and parading through their friends.

2. Youth are not the future of our church, they are the church.

As I grew older and entered youth group age, I joined the bell choir, was on the youth group planning committee, and went to an Episcopal summer camp every year. Eventually I found the Parish Youth Ministries (PYM) board for the Diocese of Virginia. Happy Pullman shaped me as a leader. We planned the Jr and Sr High retreats, served as small group leaders, volunteered at Diocesan Council and even got to count the ballots for a bishop's election. It was the beginning of me finding my place in the greater Church outside of my own parish.

3. It is okay to lose kids in college.

I was the poster child to become an active member of Canterbury in college but I didn't go. Not even once. The Grow Christians blog explored that this week. It was a time for me to grow up. I didn't have to go to church so I explored my faith in different ways. I was still a pretty active church attendee because my home parish was only 30 minutes away. Going home for church meant not only a free meal and clean laundry, but to reconnect with the church family that loved and supported me. This doesn't mean we shouldn't try and keep kids and connect them with campus ministry but don't assume that if they leave for awhile that they are gone forever.

4. Raise up leaders

My leadership in the church as an adult was because people saw potential in me that I didn't see it and asked me to do things. First, I was asked to help raise money to build a playground. Then I was encouraged to run for vestry. Then I was offered a job at the church. Then after a few years, I was offered a job at the diocese. Not just our priests, but all of our church leadership should be constantly reevaluating our parishioners and how to "plug" them in to the congregation. Not everyone has the gifts for the kitchen, or vestry, or to teach Sunday School so discernment is necessary. Don't wait for people to sign up for something on the bulletin board. It isn't going to happen.

So I challenge every diocese before their General Convention deputies are elected (and some will be soon), to go out and find a few young people. They are in your churches. They are doing good things right now. Invite them to put their names in. Sitting and waiting for them isn't going to happen. They are busy. They have jobs, and kids, and dogs, and houses, and not enough money and a million reasons why it isn't the right time. But if we don't know until we ask. It is the same task nomination committees should be looking for in finding diverse nominees from various geographical areas, genders, races, etc... The same 6-8 deputies should not attend General Convention for 30 years in a row!

I will say that it is hard for someone my age to go to General Convention. They have to take vacation days, find babysitters and dog-sitters, and not see spouses and friends for weeks. But for me the hard parts were still worth it. I got to be a part of the church now and share my voice. We have things to say.


According the Pew Research, adult GenXers and Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers by nearly 2 to 1, but when we look at General Convention the statistics don’t match up.  In what ways can the Church create opportunities to lift up younger leaders, lay and ordained, to serve as Deputies to General Convention? - See more at: http://www.acts8movement.org/blogforce-getting-the-generations-to-general-convention/?utm_content=buffer6cea7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.U4Virds2.dpuf
According the Pew Research, adult GenXers and Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers by nearly 2 to 1, but when we look at General Convention the statistics don’t match up.  In what ways can the Church create opportunities to lift up younger leaders, lay and ordained, to serve as Deputies to General Convention? - See more at: http://www.acts8movement.org/blogforce-getting-the-generations-to-general-convention/?utm_content=buffer6cea7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.U4Virds2.dpuf
“According the Pew Research, adult GenXers and Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers by nearly 2 to 1, but when we look at General Convention the statistics don’t match up.  In what ways can the Church create opportunities to lift up younger leaders, lay and ordained, to serve as Deputies to General Convention? - See more at: http://www.acts8movement.org/blogforce-getting-the-generations-to-general-convention/?utm_content=buffer6cea7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.U4Virds2.dpuf
“According the Pew Research, adult GenXers and Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers by nearly 2 to 1, but when we look at General Convention the statistics don’t match up.  In what ways can the Church create opportunities to lift up younger leaders, lay and ordained, to serve as Deputies to General Convention? - See more at: http://www.acts8movement.org/blogforce-getting-the-generations-to-general-convention/?utm_content=buffer6cea7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.U4Virds2.dpuf
“According the Pew Research, adult GenXers and Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers by nearly 2 to 1, but when we look at General Convention the statistics don’t match up.  In what ways can the Church create opportunities to lift up younger leaders, lay and ordained, to serve as Deputies to General Convention? - See more at: http://www.acts8movement.org/blogforce-getting-the-generations-to-general-convention/?utm_content=buffer6cea7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.U4Virds2.dpuf
“According the Pew Research, adult GenXers and Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers by nearly 2 to 1, but when we look at General Convention the statistics don’t match up.  In what ways can the Church create opportunities to lift up younger leaders, lay and ordained, to serve as Deputies to General Convention? - See more at: http://www.acts8movement.org/blogforce-getting-the-generations-to-general-convention/?utm_content=buffer6cea7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.U4Virds2.dpuf
“According the Pew Research, adult GenXers and Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers by nearly 2 to 1, but when we look at General Convention the statistics don’t match up.  In what ways can the Church create opportunities to lift up younger leaders, lay and ordained, to serve as Deputies to General Convention? - See more at: http://www.acts8movement.org/blogforce-getting-the-generations-to-general-convention/?utm_content=buffer6cea7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.U4Virds2.dpuf
“According the Pew Research, adult GenXers and Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers by nearly 2 to 1, but when we look at General Convention the statistics don’t match up.  In what ways can the Church create opportunities to lift up younger leaders, lay and ordained, to serve as Deputies to General Convention? - See more at: http://www.acts8movement.org/blogforce-getting-the-generations-to-general-convention/?utm_content=buffer6cea7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.U4Virds2.dpuf
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1 comment:

  1. That was a really motivating piece of writing,I loved reading it,The best part of your post was its topic.Keep writing such good posts.

    ReplyDelete