4 Ways to Support Your Young Leaders in 2022
January 14, 2022
This pandemic has really shown us how leaders face crisis. Without the active support, care, and encouragement of our peers and community around us, we really don’t think we would have made it through.
One of the greatest encouragements over these past two years is seeing emerging leaders thrive because of the support of their families, friends, and faith communities.
Here are four specific ways we’ve seen churches have great impact on their young leaders
1. Communicate clear vision and priorities for your church, including how young leaders can get involved.
As an initial response to the pandemic, most churches transitioned online within weeks! Since then, we’ve seen worship take many different forms; from maintaining pulpit presence on camera to at-home living room style services. In the mix of online service offerings, young leaders were asked to take the lead, not just in tech support of live streaming, but in the creation, expression, and development of online services.
Technology is an easy way to encourage Millennials and Gen-Z to get involved. They are two generations who have grown up in this internet-era, and they are often willing to share their expertise. Online services aren’t just a temporary solution, this an ongoing ministry opportunity for the church to reach people like never before. Your young leaders are paying attention to the churches who are investing their energy into it. Daunting? Yes! The good news? Your young leaders can help spearhead the transition to help establish and foster a sense of community. They are already experts in the digital realm. You can support them in creating content, getting access to equipment, and by encouraging their God-given talents to flourish as they grow into it.
Your young leaders can help spearhead the transition to help establish and foster a sense of community.
It’s not just about technology, it’s about articulating a clear vision, path and list of priorities. What are the important decisions to be made? What do your young leaders think? Clarity and unity are impossible without shared vision and priorities, so initiate these conversations then delegate with flexibility and adaptability.
2. Be decisive, while being open to different approaches to solving complex problems
It would be fair to assume that none of us are experts in predicting what is normal during these times, giving plenty of opportunities to exercise grace, as we try to find the answers, together.
How are we supposed to reach our neighbours if we can’t see them, or how are we to minister to our faith community without the ability to share a meal?
We’ve seen two approaches go pretty sour.
The first one is being reactive, then passive. It can be easy to sit and wait as new regulations are presented by the government, before acting on anything. We can also be guilty of dismissing new ideas that are proposed in team meetings. While there’s wisdom in the “wait-and-see” approach, when it becomes our exclusive posture, it demonstrates our unwillingness to listen and learn from one another.
The second is an unwillingness to consider multiple options. Our local churches are facing questions they’ve never had to ask before: Do we count church attendance by the number of people online during streaming? Do we trust that people are following the teaching online? Maybe the idea from that young pastor about hand-delivering coffee or gift cards to every congregant member doesn’t seem that left-field after all?
It can be hard to admit that someone else may have a better grasp of a situation when we’re supposed to be leading. Perhaps that’s the point. Living and leading through this pandemic is teaching us to let go and share the driver’s seat, with the Spirit at the helm.
Living and leading through this pandemic is teaching us to let go and share the driver’s seat, with the Spirit at the helm.
3. Be empathetic, even when you don’t understand
While we’re all facing the same pandemic, it’s hard to understand and relate to how individuals and families are living through these times. For many young adults, feelings of isolation and loneliness existed in pre-pandemic days, but have been radically increased. Even your most confident, high-capacity, and talented leaders may feel burnt-out, discouraged, and grieving.
Our mental health is taking a major toll, ranging from mild feelings of anxiety to full-on panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. The Church has a unique and necessary role in addressing this reality.
Our mental health is taking a major toll, ranging from mild feelings of anxiety to full-on panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. The Church has a unique and necessary role in addressing this reality. Whether or not your community is equipped to support the emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being of your young adults, it’s important to have multiple outlets and spaces for young leaders to gather and voice their struggles in a safe environment.
Millennials and Gen Zs who grew up at church in Canada are leaving the Church and finding it a place where growth and development in their sense of self and leadership potential aren’t realized nor readily accessible. Despite the challenges brought on by Covid, we saw an opportunity to address some of these key concerns. Through 2021, we piloted, then launched two cohorts of a digital leadership mentoring network called Envision Greenhouse.
This resource provides a safe environment where young leaders can come together to grow. As much as you may want to understand what your young leaders are going through, perhaps we can help in providing that extra line of support, offering space to connect relationally through intentional mentorship, and to encourage and strengthen the souls of your emerging leaders.
4. Show appreciation by sharing stories
An unfortunate reality among young professionals in the corporate setting: They’ve been told to work harder than ever throughout the pandemic often carrying the digital transition of their workplaces to remote working and compensating for their less tech-savvy colleagues. Despite high earnings, many feel let down after being passed on for their end-of-year bonuses or potential raises and being given a small e-gift card instead.
How can an entire year of hard work and struggle culminate to receiving something so small? In a time where Millennials and Zenners are generalized as being lazy, unappreciative, and entitled, it’s a hard reality for the grand majority who are diligent and competent, to be working so hard without much prospect for career and economic advancement.
It’s hard for emerging leaders to stay motivated and feel empowered in their work when they are not fairly compensated. More importantly, it’s hard to keep going when their stories aren’t being told. Efforts remain unseen and competencies stay unrecognized.
It’s hard to keep going when their stories aren’t being told. Efforts remain unseen and competencies stay unrecognized.
Their stories are worth telling! We have seen emerging leaders bring revival in their church community during the pandemic, we’ve seen students rally to support each other in city centre campuses, we’ve seen an outburst of creativity and hope in places of great darkness! Be proud of your young leaders and shine a spotlight on what God is doing in and through their lives for the Kingdom! On the flip side, if you have no stories about how a young leader has radically impacted your church community, then perhaps this can serve as a prayer prompt.
In this article, we shared about Envision Greenhouse – an initiative which provides diverse young leaders in The Alliance Canada with meaningful mentoring relationships and creative environments to foster growth and collaboration that goes beyond the local context. We believe we can all benefit in learning from one another’s backgrounds, skills, and spiritual journeys for the sake of community and leadership development, as part of the Kingdom of God.
Our Spring 2022 cohort will feature 1-1 mentoring relationships where young adults will be matched with a mentor to journey for 4 months on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, as well as group times to connect with peers across the country. The focus of this cohort will be on self-awareness where together we will explore unique spiritual giftings and personalities through the Grip-Birkman – the assessment of choice for The Alliance Canada.
We are grateful for the opportunity to serve you and join in the collective effort of supporting the development of your young leaders.
PS. Loved the photos? Shoutout and credit to @priscilladupreez