When I was in sixth grade, the Director of Christian Education at my church asked me to be one of several teen representatives on the Youth Board. It might sound silly to ask an eleven-year-old to sit through the business agenda of monthly meetings, but I took on the responsibility with genuine passion. This one person saw me, challenged me, equipped me and ultimately moved me towards pursuing professional church work. Raising up young leaders can be a powerful thing.
In 2017, LCMS Youth Ministry did a research project on millennial retention in the LCMS. We found that congregations with a decision-making leader under 32 showed several markers of increased LCMS retention from confirmation to young adulthood. It didn’t matter how many young adults were in the congregation; the impact was the same. Raising up young leaders helps children and teens stay in the church.
Rural and small-town ministries are uniquely designed to mentor new young leaders. These congregations tend to be close-knit where young people are known deeply. This can give special insight into where a young leader can best use their skills, passions and abilities and prevent ill-fitting or token leadership roles. These congregations can provide a critical safe space for young leaders to try and fail with grace.
Smaller congregations can be more open to empowering young leaders, sometimes out of necessity. When they do, leaders of all ages must work together for the sake of the Gospel. While established leaders have experience, knowledge of systems and a critical understanding of history, young leaders bring a fresh perspective and new strategies. Young leaders can learn and grow in new skills while established leaders can be reenergized and help manage change.
One example of raising up young leaders is Lutheran Young Adult Corps. Lutheran Young Adult Corps provides full-time service opportunities for LCMS young adults in urban settings. Participants grow in community and share their faith in Jesus through acts of service for 10 weeks in the summer or 10 months as a gap year. During their service, our 18- to 26-year-old participants serve in roles such as volunteer coordinators, after school tutors, communications and administrative help.
The power of young leaders should not be underestimated. Consistently the young leaders in Lutheran Young Adult Corps prove to be self-motivated, passionate, adventurous, independent, and have a desire to grow in the areas of faith formation, service and community outreach. This is true of the young people in your congregation as well. Engaging young leaders helps ministry, keeps young people connected to the church and provides a chance for all ages to live out their vocation.
Julianna Shults, DCE, Program Manager, Lutheran Young Adult Corps, LCMS Youth Ministry. Contributed through the LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission monthly newsletter.
Minneapolis, Here We Come!
The LCMS 2019 National Rural & Small Town Mission Conference will be held Nov. 14–16 in Minneapolis, Minn., at the Doubletree by Hilton Bloomington-Minneapolis South.
The blessings and challenges facing rural and small-town congregations today will be addressed. Congregations will be encouraged to cultivate ways to become healthy churches, eager to bear witness for Christ, able to show mercy to those in need in communities and develop a robust life together with fellow members. We hope you’ll join us by registering now and reserving your spot!
Speakers and Session Topics
Keynote speakers will include Rev. Todd Kollbaum, director, LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission and Dr. Harold L. Senkbeil, Executive Director for Spiritual Care, DOXOLOGY. Rev. Robert Zagore, executive director, LCMS Office of National Mission, will lead the theme Bible study of the conference based on Hebrews 12:1b-2a.
Breakout topics include dealing with addictions, mental health, young adults in ministry, bi-vocational pastors, stewardship, community engagement, partnering with LERT, online education and many other topics affecting our rural and small-town congregations. There is something planned for everyone … from layperson to pastor, student to teacher!
We encourage you to bring your whole family to spend a few days together! Enjoy the Mall of America and take advantage of the special family rates that include access to all conference activities.
Don’t forget that a special track for Youth Ministry will be returning this year, led by youth peer leaders and specially meant for your youth to join you as well; this option will have a limited number of seats and require attendance in all six sessions.
Adult registration for the conference is $225/person and includes all plenary and breakout sessions, materials, Thursday dinner, Friday lunch and dinner and more. See our full registration form for discounted rates for youth, students, families, couples, meals only and groups. Contact our office with questions.
Hotel reservations must be made separately from conference registration. The Doubletree is offering a rate of $100/ Single or Double plus applicable taxes for our group including breakfast buffet per day per occupancy level; complimentary self-parking; complimentary airport and Mall of America shuttle.
More information and online registration can be found at lcms.org/rstm/conference
Upcoming RSTM Events…
Don’t forget that Rural & Small Town Mission provides free monthly webinars on topics important to congregations in town and country settings. Up next is Raising Young Leaders and the Lutheran Young Adult Corps on March 7, followed by Community Engagement Leaders on April 11. Find past webinars in our archive.
Watch for information on all our upcoming events! Register for one of our Engaging Your Community or Engaging the Wandering events at lcms.org/rstm. These partner events offer practical resources and communication skills for reaching out to our wandering members and our communities with Christ’s love. Online registration is available for both types of events. Register now for Engaging the Wandering at Our Savior Lutheran Church, Waldport, Org. on 5/11/19 in partnership with the Northwest District. Contact your district or our office if you are interested in holding an event near you. Save the date! The 2019 National Rural & Small Town Mission Conference, Running With Endurance: Eyes Fixed On Jesus, will be Nov. 14–16 in Minneapolis at the Doubletree by Hilton Bloomington-Minneapolis South. This conference is meant for anyone living in, serving or interested in rural or small-town areas, with topics and resources specifically suited for the unique mission field where they have been placed. Bring your family! Enjoy the Mall of America and take advantage of the special family rates that include access to all conference activities. Watch for updates and more information at lcms.org/rstm/conference. For more information about our events, visit lcms.org/rstm or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.