This experience sparks in my some reflection on what kind of leadership we need to build bridges with the non-churched populations with which we interact on a daily basis (as well as the Christian community in place that we fail to guide).
- what is our touchstone? — a touchstone tests the quality or purity of a substance or thing. What is our touchstone? What standards do we hold one another accountable to as we promote Christian growth and maturity? What are we hoping to help people become? What attitudes and behaviors will we challenge to help people grow and mature?
- how will we shepherd? — is our job just to mingle with the sheep or are we guiding, directing, prodding, nurturing and leading to greener pastures? When we see our charges — young or otherwise — straying into dangerous territory, what is our role and responsibility? The care and feeding of young faiths is important work, and helping those newer to the faith to discern the differences between acceptable and unacceptable behavior is crucial.
- what is our witness? — how are we modeling the attitudes, actions, and practices we hope to encourage in young believers? Just as there are sins of omission, there are also powerful blessings of omission — refusing to enter into gossip, backstabbing, mocking, insulting, cursing, and mud-slinging. Modeling a respectful, kind, generous, encouraging and affirming worldview can be a mighty witness to counter the behaviors deemed acceptable in a broken and dysfunctional world.
- how are we different? — when I studied young spiritual seekers, one of the most prevalent desires was connection to a counter-cultural community operating by Biblically based core values of tolerance, acceptance, decency, compassion, love, gentleness and sacrificial giving. When our leaders do not offer a counter-cultural option for young people, why should they ever bother changing, growing, progressing or becoming better than they already are?