How To Build an Intergenerational Church- Bill Hybels

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This week I’ve been traveling through South America with Bill Hybels, who has been sharing leadership coaching and teaching to thousands of leaders.

During one stop in Brazil Bill was asked this leadership question:

“How do I lead my church to become more intergenerational?”

Here is Bill’s answer.

Remember the old expression, “If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time”? If you want to see intergenerational leaders working together, that must be your aim. That must be your focus.

So I’m very intentional about this around our church.

Whenever we’re making additions to our elder board I have everybody put their ages on a piece of paper and I say, “What would be the ideal arrangement for ages on this board? Do we want all really old people, do we want all really young people? And if it’s going to be a mix, how should that mix look?” And we start there.

I do the same thing with my staff and with my volunteers. I want to make sure we have older, middle aged, and younger in every strata of the church.

We had to shake up some things at Willow about two years ago. I looked around me one day, and I watched who was collecting the offering. Every person collecting the offering looked extremely old. And I said, “How did that happen?” The person who was leading that ministry did not have a vision for intergenerational ministry.

So, it took us two years to fix that. And now there are young people, middle aged, and older people taking up the offering.

You have to do this very delicately. But I think it has to be very intentional.

We often use this phrase. “We want to be an intergenerational group of leaders providing excellent leadership for our church.” So every time you say the word “intergenerational” it reinforces that value.

You know how sometimes you’ll make a little video for your church service? You make sure there’s old, middle aged, and young people in the video. If you’re going to have three or four people give a testimony you want to be sure you have all ages.

How do you ensure your church is intergenerational?

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.


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