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What Career Planning for Teens Can Teach Us About the Future of the Church

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

We ask kids that question all the time. Which is kind of dumb, because kids have no idea, and they really have no concept of what choosing a career actually entails. But it’s cute, so we do it anyway.

But by the time kids reach a certain age—17, 18, 19—the question isn’t cute anymore. It’s serious. And most young people still don’t have any clue what they want to spend the rest of their lives doing every single day, hopefully for enough money to pay their bills.

We can’t even predict what the world will be like in 10 or 20 years. How can we expect teenagers to know how to prepare themselves for a world that’s changing?

Finding the right answers is only possible when we ask the right questions. Young people can improve their chances of shaping their best future when they grapple honestly with the right questions.

It’s true of the church, too. Considering the church’s changing and uncertain future in today’s society, these are the same questions church leaders should be grappling with, too.

What do you do well?

By the age of 18 or so, teens have usually figured out at least a couple of areas in which they excel. Whether it’s sports, math, music, or making friends, they know enough about themselves to identify a key skill or two, which can guide them to choosing an appropriate career training path.

The same principle applies to individual churches. Your church is not great at everything. But you’re probably really good at something—and that should be a starting point for how you prepare for the uncertainties of your church’s future.

What do you need to get better at?

Kids just starting out in their careers have a LOT to learn. The ones who are successful are the ones who accept this fact and then do what they can to acquire the knowledge and skills they need.

With culture and society changing so dramatically around us, there are things we as church leaders need to get better at, too. The trick is discovering what exactly you need to learn and improve. The answer may surprise you, and it will likely be something you’re currently uncomfortable with.

What about the future worries you?

High school and college students may often seem carefree and unconcerned about life in general, but most experience a level of worry that borders between unrelenting anxiety and outright terror. That’s why it’s essential for them to acknowledge their concerns about the future, and then prepare themselves for it appropriately.

The Bible tells us not to worry and to trust God. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to be concerned about. And considering the recent dramatic changes in cultural attitudes toward church, we should most certainly be concerned. The important thing is to acknowledge those issues and get ourselves ready as best we can.

What’s a goal you want to achieve?

One of the best things a young person can do as they prepare for their future is to work toward a specific accomplishment. Whether that’s getting a degree, learning a new language, or simply showing up to work on time, there’s nothing better for getting a teenager prepared for the future than making a big step forward.

As your church identifies challenges and opportunities regarding your future, it’s essential to pinpoint specific goals you want to achieve. Want to build stronger relationships with millennials or Gen Z? Find out where your local young people are spending their time and make a goal of being a part of their world. A specific goal like that will bring you closer to preparing your church for the future it wants.

If you want to be a part of a community of people asking all the right questions about what’s in store for the church in the next few years, then join us at the Future of the Church Summit in Loveland, Colorado, October 21-23, 2019. You’ll be a part of a dynamic group of other church leaders, along with a diverse panel of experts, who will be identifying problems, trends, and solutions shaping the church of tomorrow. You can register here.


Refresh YOUR Church: Take the career path questions to your team and talk about how you can shape—or reshape—your church for the future. Where do you see your ministry in five years? How would a focus on building relationships with your community change the way your church does ministry?


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