In my years of doing youth ministry work I’d be retired comfortably if people gave me a dollar every time I heard some older person say “The youth are the future of the church.” or then became even more advanced by saying “The youth are not the future but the now of the church.” Truth be told, the youth are just the Freshman team and maybe the young adults are the Junior Varsity. The problem with Varsity in the church is that there is no clear line of ‘moving on’ or giving up control, so the general behavior is that they don’t. Two big problems ensue:
- Youth and young adults see and feel the empty talk and walk away from product and business quicker than you can measure because they know you do not care.
- Because the youthful insight has walked away there is a recurring regurgitation of same ideas and lack of infusion of new thought & creativity (though a very intentional CEO can work through some of that)
I read this article yesterday of young Christian Owens who is 16 years old and has already produced a multi-million dollar company. He didn’t do anything spectacular (looks like he did a rip-off of MacHeist), but he worked hard on his idea and wasn’t afraid of it. How can you harness the “freshman” team and help it stick?
- Learn to give up control. The biggest behavior that keeps us from working with and trusting young people is that we need to be in control. Now, there are parameters that can be set to give you some comfort, but if you can’t give project and decision making freedoms to the freshman, then you are probably best to not even start.
- Be project oriented. It doesn’t work to give a youth or young person a large job responsibility list and expect performance beyond belief. Develop some project ideas that can lead to the companies ultimate goals. Have them work the projects one at a time.
- Let them talk about it. The “freshman” love to talk with each other, bragging, and feeling good about themselves and their new empowerment. Do not put strains on the communications of them with their age groups. You stand to gain a large following and new customer base if they share what they are excited about.
- Celebrate the successes. If there is one thing the young people of our world need is affirmations. So as you may check into the work or see the finished projects. Let them know what they’ve done well & what you feel is “really cool” or “crazy.” Trick here is not to correct. Remember, you gave permission a while ago.
- If needed, Call it a failure and move on. If the best laid plans did not work out it is not the end of the world. You tried something maybe ahead of its time, direction was off, something external affected the bottom line, call it what it is and move on. The coolest part of the “freshman” is that they are not swayed by a failure, IF they have a next thing to move into.