Planting a seed may seem a simple act, yet it bears tremendous potential for growth and fruitfulness.
By Cara Garrity, Development Coordinator, US
Last month I suggested that we exchange transactional and utilitarian models of investment in emergent generations for transformative and disciple-making models. When I think of transformative and disciple-making investments I think of planting a seed. Planting a seed may seem a simple act, yet it bears tremendous potential for growth and fruitfulness. Not only a one-time fruitfulness, but a fruitfulness that produces more seeds and potential for an expansion of fruitfulness. In the hands of God, even simple day-to-day acts of investment in the discipleship of emergent generations holds tremendous potential. My prayer is that we would partner with God to plant with intentionality, trusting him to bring fruit.
Here are some practical considerations to get you started:
- Invest in depth of discipleship: Push beyond models of attraction or consumption towards consistent rhythms of discipleship. What spaces exist for emergent generations to grow as disciples within the church community? What opportunities exist to contribute to the life of the church?
- Invest in shared vision: Don’t go at it alone. Invite church members to join you in investing in emergent generations. Create a shared vision for how your local church will invest in emergent generations as an expression of healthy church. Build beyond activities and programs towards a culture of mutual investment.
- Invest in intergenerational community: A discipleship-shaped investment in emergent generations happens within the context of the church community, not in a generational silo. Intergenerational church community provides a context for transformational and mutual investment.
- Invest in discernment of calling: God has better plans for his people than you ever could. Invest in making disciples who are responsive to God’s calling. Facilitate the process of discerning gifting and calling. Avoid transactional and utilitarian models of investment that expect a specific outcome, regardless of alignment with God’s calling for that person.
- Invest in a posture of learning: Generations have nuanced experiences and contexts that sometimes mean what worked for one generation does not work for another. Invest with a posture of listening, learning, and discerning rather than trying to replicate or superimpose your own journey. What is God doing in their midst and in their time?
- Invest for the long-term: Some investments take a long time to mature. Some investments we ourselves never see come into maturity. Do not let this hold you back from investing in emergent generations. You may never see the fruit, but plant the seed anyway.
- Invest time: Invest your time to build meaningful relationships as mentor and apprentice; learn from, and journey with young people. Remember that things may take longer when you bring an apprentice along. Embrace this as an investment of time rather than a waste of time.
- Invest finances: Put your money where your mouth is! Budgets reflect our spoken and unspoken priorities. Be intentional about choices to financially invest in emergent generations. Consider funding robust cross-generational care rhythms within the life of the church, sponsoring young people to attend GCI gatherings and development opportunities, or contributing to funds for emergent generation development.
- Invest space: Provide opportunities for emergent generations to be themselves, contribute to shaping the life of the church, and participate meaningfully in ministry. Allow space for exploring different areas of church ministry and discovering passion and gifting.
- Invest in risk-taking: Creating meaningful participatory space for emergent generations in the church is not risk-free. Mistakes, miscommunication, discomfort, and failure will happen. The risk is worth the reward: becoming the healthiest expression of church we can be.
- Invest in planning: Investment in the development of emergent generations won’t happen by accident. Plan the church calendar and budget in advance. Plan ministry activities in advance to provide space for young apprentices. Plan time to have fun and connect. Plan to build a culture of cross-generational care.
Ready to get started? Gather a group of local leaders and start with some prayer, reflection, and discernment:
- How will you create a shared vision for emergent generation investment?
- What resources (people, space, skill, finances, time) do you have access to as a church community? What would it look like to intentionally invest some of those resources in the development of emergent generations?
- What challenges may arise? What new possibilities can you imagine?
- What next step will you take towards investment in the development of emergent generations?
May God guide us as active participants in seeding into the future of his church.