Future Church: Part 11

By: Justin Anderson

If you are having trouble viewing the video above, click here.

Hey guys, I hope you had a great 4th of July with your families and are enduring the summer heat!

We are continuing our Future Church series this week with an insight I’ve gleaned from my work with my staffing company. For the last couple of years, I’ve owned a company that helps churches find staff members, which has given me unique insight into staffing trends across the country. One of the most striking trends has been in youth and worship ministry. These may seem unrelated to you, so let me explain.

The single most difficult thing to find right now (by far) is a worship leader. My company charges a premium for these roles because they are so difficult to find. As a result, churches are having to pay a premium salary for the good leaders that do exist (don’t tell your worship guy this). Every time I tell a Lead Pastor that they are going to have to double what they are hoping to pay, they ask me why it’s become so hard to find good worship leaders.

There are a couple of reasons.

First, the economy has changed significantly over the last couple of years and churches are notoriously slow to respond. The cost of living has gone up but salaries have not, which creates a gap that really only appears when you are trying to hire someone new. The pastor on your staff who has lived in your town for 10 years doesn’t feel the real estate price increase, but a new guy moving to your town does.

Second, the rise of graphic design and the digital world, in general, has scooped up many of the young creatives in our churches who might have otherwise picked up a guitar. Add to that the fact that a 22-year-old fresh out of college with a graphic design degree can make $100k or more at Facebook/Google/Amazon, and churches simply cannot compete.

Third, and this brings us to today’s subject, is the decimation of youth ministries across the country. Here’s the logic. People are having fewer kids overall and at older ages, which impacts children’s ministries and then, as they age, youth ministries. Fewer high school kids means smaller youth ministries, which means less programming and fewer opportunities for those kids to pick up a guitar and lead worship. When I was in high school and then doing college ministry, every guy owned an acoustic guitar and could play C, G, and E, which meant they could play every single worship song.

Youth ministry was the minor league for worship leaders, and now it’s a shell of its former self. I think this is a bubbling crisis, both for our churches and our country. But let’s focus on the church, we’ll solve the country’s problems later.

We cannot likely reverse the tide of childlessness across the country, but we can create church communities that support families and encourage them to multiply. This starts in the pulpit, where we should champion the good of marriage and kids and build strong families that can thrive in a culture that doesn’t otherwise support them.

It extends to the way we allocate resources. We should have a proactive, not reactive, approach to children’s and youth ministries. If we take a Field of Dreams approach, we will see families inside our church be emboldened to grow, and we’ll attract families in our city. People want to be surrounded by folks who encourage and support their lifestyles, and I think we have an opportunity to be very pro-family at a time when the culture is neutral at best and moving more negatively each day.

Lastly, we should tie this vision to how we challenge our men and describe the good life. We can do this in a million different ways, but if we can remember to challenge our men to get good jobs, marry good women, and raise godly kids, we will give them a mission that will bear a ton of fruit in their lives and the life of the church.

I think this is a massive missional opportunity, and if we can take advantage of it, we will see our churches grow in size and health.