Google Church?

The November 12th, 2007 Newsweek contains an article titled, “Google Goes Globe-Trotting.” The tagline reads, “To train a new generation of leaders, the search giant sends young braniacs on a worldwide mission.”

The article was a quick read, but left me feeling quite convicted (once again) that it is time for change within the church.

Google sent 18 of their APM (Associate Product Managers) on a sixteen day trip to four different countries this past summer. The aim of the trip was to see firsthand the unwired ways of life experienced by billions around the world. Throughout the course of the article we are introduced to Brian Rakowski, the person hired to be responsible for Gmail at the age of 22; Jini Kim, a 26 year-old prepping to make a big presentation on Google Health, and Nick Baum, the 24 year-old responsible for Google Reader.

According to the article Google’s APM program, “seeks brilliant kids and slots them directly into important jobs – no experience necessary.” These young adults in their early to mid-twenties, are running major projects for a company that is defining the way the internet works. These young go-getters are managing teams of people twice their age and learning as they go.

Which leads me to the pressing question – where are the young adults in our churches?

Denominational leaders lament the lack of young adult clergy in the United Methodist Church as well as within other denominations. Pastors and other local church leaders lament the lack of young adult leadership within local congregations. But what is being doing about it?

It has been said that systems produce exactly the same results they are designed to produce. If this is the case, it would seem that systems within both our denominational structures and local churches will need to change to attract and connect with the talented young adults making a difference in our culture and world. I imagine these changes are happening in particular locations and on small scales, but fear there is much work to be done and that it will be an uphill struggle.

Think about the church you are involved with. Are there young adults? What role are they playing? Do you know of places where young adults are leading and playing vital roles within church leadership? What does this look like, how could it be done to a greater degree in other locations?



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5 responses to “Google Church?

  1. Andrew Conard

    Jeff – Thanks for drawing my attention to this article and drawing the parallel to the church. I think that the UMC has a great deal of potential and also a great challenge in placing young people in leadership. What if this were to happen in the church? Do you think it would work?

  2. Jeff

    Andrew, I don’t think that people our age could be thrown into key upper level leadership positions and given the freedom to develop within the current structures of the church. If this were to happen, my experience tells me there would be too strong a network of people standing around saying, “that’s not how the last person did this” and “we’ve never done things like this before.” For good or for bad, I think that completely new structures will be needed to create space for a new generation of leaders within local churches and larger denominational bodies. I am cautiously optimistic about this happening.

  3. Andrew Conard

    Jeff – I think that your assessment may be right. I would be interested to hear more of your thoughts on what some completely new structures that may potentially be created. I think that this is needed and I would personally enjoy it, but I continue to think about what it really might look like.

  4. Jeff

    Shucks, I thought you might have some good ideas of what this could look like in concrete ways. My hunch is that there is no uniform structure that could be used, that different answers will arise from different contexts. Have you learned anything through the New Church Leadership Institutes that might help us see what these new structures might look like? What’s happening with Sunday night’s at 5:00 at COR?

  5. Andrew Conard

    Jeff – I think that one thing thought that has been perhaps facilitated by the New Church Leadership Institute is that as a denomination we have to be willing to try new churches or new ways of doing things without being afraid of failure. I think that at times there is an inordinate amount of pressure on new congregations to be successful in the framework of the denomination, which often means being self-supporting and paying 100% of apportionments. I am not sure that this is the best measure of effectiveness of new communities of faith. We cannot be stopped by the fear of failure.

    Sunday 5:00 PM – the only tangible change right now is that there is a different rotation of pastors that are helping to lead the service those of us who are in our 20’s at Resurrection are the only ones who are in that rotation. Also, we have worn jeans to lead worship in that service, which to this point had been completely off limits when leading worship. There is also work being done on a place for persons in their 20’s to connect after the service, but that will not begin formally until after the first of the year. Also, it will be a soft launch which is quite a bit different than things in the past. Those of us on the planning team for that have been thinking about it as an unprogram or anti-program, but instead a place where the body of Christ can be the body of Christ – making connections and building community.

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