If your faith community wants to grow younger, you've got to let the young people lead.
So says United Methodist Churchman and consultant Paul Nixon. Through his firm,Epicenter, he's consulted with churches across the country and says one of the biggest things holding plateaued churches back is the absence of youth ownership in a congregation.
In this interview Paul discusses the deep transition the modern Church is enduring - as we cope with a new generation that doesn't want much to do with established churches. He also shares with us the key to vibrant church communities: they help people go deeper in their spiritual lives. Learn from this wise and seasoned soul.
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Paul Nixon says getting more deeply rooted in your faith is the key to spiritual vitality, both individually and as a faith community. Here are my notes from the interview.
Heed the Voices of the Young
Ideas hatched by old people to attract young people always fail. It's only when young people design programs for young people that have a chance to work.
Obstinancy and Unwillingness to Change
These are the two biggest threats to declining congregations, and Paul says he sees them all the time. In what ways to we see stubbornness and close-mindedness as challenges in our contexts?
Help People Grow Deeper
Hands down, it's the most important thing a congregation can do to grow: help people make sense of the presence of God in their lives. How is your congregation igniting the spiritual fire that is a mainstay of any vibrant church?
About Paul Nixon
Paul Nixon spent twenty years as a pastoral leader in growing congregations, nine of those years at Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church on the Florida Gulf Coast. During his Gulf Breeze years, the church grew from 2000 to 4000 members, and from one to three campuses, receiving about 1300 adults as new members by profession of their faith in Christ. In 2007, Paul moved to Washington DC with the purpose of planting a missional community focused on the needs of urban young adults. Paul presently leads two organizations: Epicenter Group and Readiness 360. Epicenter Group is a leadership training and coaching organization based in Washington DC, working in an ongoing partnership with about 100 church leaders a year (many of which are church planters).
Paul is author of six books and a best-selling author for The Pilgrim Press, the oldest Christian publisher in America. His latest two titles are We Refused to Lead A Dying Church: Churches That Came Back Against All Odds, published by Pilgrim Press, 2012 and The Surprise Factor: Gospel Strategies for Leading Transformation in Faith Communities, written in partnership with Kim Shockley and published by Abingdon Press, 2013.