Basketball / Church / World Magazine / October 21, 2014

You Can’t Win With Youth Alone

From my most recent article at

You may have heard about a little trade that happened in the NBA this summer when the Minnesota Timberwolves sent Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a package that included Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and two No. 1 draft picks. It was an unprecedented trade because of the amount of young talent the Wolves received for one of the game’s top players. It’s also just the kind of trade that gets a beaten-down fan base—Timberwolves fans like me—excited. What talent! What possibilities! What a future!

But see, that’s just it. We have a future to look forward to (hopefully), but the present is likely to be a bumpy ride. It is so easy to get caught up in the energy and enthusiasm of a youth movement and forget that with youth comes inexperience and a steep learning curve.

Winning isn’t something a team just does; it’s something they learn to do.

. . .

I work for a large Christian organization that serves and partners with thousands of churches across the country. One of the trends I observe in the church is akin to sports fans’ excitement with “youth movements.” Often the sense among leaders and congregants is that tradition and grayheads have lost value and churches would be better off if they could “trade them” for younger, fresher faces and ways. This is understandable; the emotional boost that comes with an exciting new leader looks a lot like success. But will it last? Does it have the fortitude and wisdom to overcome the inevitable challenges?

. . .

Read the full post HERE.

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1 Comment

Oct 21, 2014

I appreciate your comments. I am glad to see that you find some value in us old guys. I turn 50 next week and am currently working on earning an M Div.. This means that I am surrounded by young men and women who have that energy and zeal for gospel ministry that you mention. I also work side by side with them as an intern at our church where we have ongoing discussions about being missional and engaging the culture. To them this is new and exciting because they feel like they have discovered something no one has ever thought about. In the mean-time I am comparing this latest movement to two or three that I have observed as they came into existence and then fade away again. In the end I am not sure I would be accepted in the churches that are being proposed. It appears that these new missional churches are a sea of uniform twenty to thirty-somethings, where everyone is dressed the same and feels comfortable because they are a homogeneous group of like-minded young people all in the same phase of life. I don’t mind adapting to fit in a little. I can clean up my look to be hipster-ish. I can wear black shirts and jeans to church, but nobody wants to see me in skinny jeans. I can visit art exhibits and trendy concerts in the name of mission. I don’t even mind hanging out in a bar for a men’s gathering, but I hate beer. As the young interns talk about this missional movement, I keep asking “but where do I fit into your new church?”

One of the strongest aspects of the church that I attend is that it is multi-generational where everyone can come as they are. The “old guys” wear their khakis and polo-shirts, the pastor wears a suit one week and a turtleneck the next. The hipsters wear what they wear. There is great value in having young talent and old experience. When the young are stressed with child rearing, the old come along side and give them a night off or feed them. When the guy raising his family on a Starbucks salary needs to fly home to care for his ailing mom but can’t afford the airfare, one of the old guys offers him a ticket. I realize I am using appearances and finances to make my point, but what is true about the material, is even more true about spiritual maturity and life experience. The older generations have much to offer, while the younger generation can provide energy, new ideas, and new approaches. Together we are one body. Thank you for highlighting this important point.

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