Young leaders today have more opportunities than perhaps any other preceding generation in history to be involved in God’s global movements. Globalism, technology, and unprecedented cross-cultural access have opened up new doors for young leaders who often have better understanding of these massive changes. Young leaders are at the forefront of mission innovation, global networking, social media fundraising and communication as they take advantage of new opportunities. Additionally, young leaders often have less personal investment in traditional models, which allows them to more easily invent and adopt new ways.
Yet, young leaders today also face unprecedented challenges. A recent book by Grant Skeldon entitled The Passion Generation: The Seemingly Reckless, Definitely Disruptive, but Far from Hopeless Millennials demonstrates how often older generations unfairly criticize younger generations without the personal commitment to disciple and relate to them. Cross-generational relationships often dispel these negative stereotypes but too few are willing to make the sacrifice and share their life experiences in order to be an effective disciple-maker.
Skeldon explains that the driving desire for young leaders is to explore their passion and pursue their purpose, which are much higher priorities than simply finding a career. He writes that young leaders are leaving the church not because they are offended or challenged, but because the church asks far too little of them. They seek much more than pastor-dependent, spectator roles in Sunday morning events. They often go around the traditional church and traditional mission approaches to seek their purpose but they need mentoring and relational guides to help them. The Passion Generation provides an excellent assessment of the shortfalls of both younger and older leaders with stories and resources to help build the biblical discipling relationships that benefit all generations.
BGU has in some cases provided the structure for this type of cross-generational mentoring to occur. Older leaders have recruited younger leaders to BGU’s degree programs and then asked to be involved in specific life-advising roles as part of the student’s degree program. All students are required to recruit a Personal Learning Community where BGU’s tools are used help discern giftedness and calling in a long-term relational community. Discovering one’s passion and purpose is not optional, but something students are required to pursue and hone throughout his or her degree program and even after graduation. Connections to faculty and alumni in courses, independent studies and dissertation advisement go far beyond academic issues. Peer mentoring starts in the classroom often continues long after graduation.
Additionally, BGU’s connections to global networks have opened doors for younger leaders to see God’s global movements through events such as The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism’s gatherings in Cape Town, Jakarta, and upcoming in June 2019 in Manila. BGU President Brad Smith chairs the task force for leadership development for the World Evangelical Alliance which has entities in 130 nations and recently conducted a webinar on engaging young leaders in global mission.
Some of BGU’s student and alumni who are younger than 35 were asked to share their wisdom and insights as part of this article. Michael Omondi, a BGU graduate student from Kenya shared his story with us. Please find the article here.
For further reading, please check out:
January 10, 2019 WEA Webinar on Young Leaders Involved in Global Mission
Nana Yaw Offei Awuku (Ghana) – Leader of Lausanne’s Generations Project
Grant Skeldon (Dallas) – author of The Passion Generation and founder of the Initiative Network
Yamini Ravindra, National Christian Alliance of Sri Lanka Legal and Advocacy Coordinator
Rachel Afeaki Taumoepeau – Director of Habitat for Humanity, New Zealand