Who are we?
One of the great things about our church is its emphasis on Family.
At some point in our history, we decided not to just be “Woodmont Hills Church of Christ.” Instead, the idea of family was considered so important that it needed to be on the sign, making us “The Family of God at Woodmont Hills: A Church of Christ” to this day.
Now, that could be the longest church name in Nashville, but I love the heart of it.
“We are Woodmont, and we are family. And family sticks together.”
Why does it matter?
You’ve probably heard me say before that I don’t want to serve our youth ministry under some veil of mystery. I don’t want the decisions we make or the changes that occur to seem pointless, thoughtless, or disrespectful to the traditions of the church. Therefore, during our season of change, I wanted to take some time to write about one of the major catalysts behind the changes in our ministry and our church. Because I know change is difficult and sometimes confusing… if anybody knows that firsthand, it’s a teenager!
So anyway… back to family… We want to be about family. Not just as a church, but also as a youth ministry. This means we want to think outside of ourselves to reach out and bless the rest of our congregation. Trust me, they need and want it more than you can imagine!
We want to be intergenerational. What does that mean? Simply put: Family.
Churches around the world are starting to realize they haven’t done family very well. Small churches and large churches alike, we’re starting to realize that we need to start changing the way we do things if we’re really going to make disciples of Jesus.
The article I linked above gives three good reasons for intergenerational church:
It removes the temptation of “church within a church.”
A completely segregated youth ministry has to constantly battle the “church within a church” battle—a teenager might be having a completely different experience then their parents week in and week out—so when youth group is gone they feel little or no connection to the actual “church.”
It makes the transition to “big church” much easier.
The handoff from any ministry to the next is always difficult; developing some forms of intergenerational worship will help ease students’ transition to the adult service environment. It will be less of a leap and more of a step.
It could help reduce the number of students leaving the faith after high school.
This is the primary driving force behind intergenerational ministry. When teenagers feel like they’re part of the whole church body “all along,” it’s less likely they’ll wander than if they’re expected to feel like part of the church body “all of a sudden” when they graduate youth group.
Just ask your buddies who have gone off to college… it can be really weird to return to a church when you’re no longer in the youth group and you’ve never really been a part of the rest of the church.
Our mission is to not make teenage disciples of Jesus, it’s to make lifelong disciples of Jesus. We feel that being intergenerational is essential in that process.
Just like anything else, being a disciple takes practice, and we want to give our teens the opportunity to practice discipleship along with the older members of the church who have walked many of the same roads already and have wisdom to offer for the journey.
How do we get there?
As David announced this Sunday, a few things are going to be changing throughout the course of the summer and fall. Most, if not all, of these changes are taking place in order to bring our church family together.
Sunday mornings are going to be more about teaching, experiential worship, and being together with the larger family at Woodmont. They will look less like a full worship service, because we believe having that on Sunday mornings is one of the primary contributing factors to the “church-within-a-church” culture at Woodmont.
We still want you to be in class, of course, but we really want you to join us in the second service to worship with the rest of the congregation. We also want you to serve in second service (serving communion, on the praise team, leading prayers, etc).
We’re going to find a spot where we can all sit together. So we’ll still be together, but we’ll be together with the rest of our church, too.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “What about the praise band? Our worship is one of the best things about this youth group!” Trust me, David and I agree with you! And that’s why the praise band isn’t going away. Instead, we’re going to try to really invest in making Wednesday nights an incredible time for youth group worship.
Life Groups will still be around too, but they will also be taking place at a different time in the fall. For the summer, however, we’re going to bless the LifeGuards by giving them a sabbath from volunteering weekly. They deserve it!
Of course, they can choose to be around as much as they’d like to. Many of them will still attend camp and host Life Group events, but we want summer to be the time when LifeGuards can fill their own cups so they have even more to pour into their Life Groups during the school year.
To be clear, this is not a “polite” way of phasing-out LifeGuards. They will be back. We will continue having Life Groups. Small groups are an essential part of the backbone of this ministry, and we want to do everything we can to make them the best they can be.
David and I have noticed that our youth group has been trying to do a lot of great things in a very short amount of time. By squeezing worship, teaching, and life groups into an hour and a half on Sunday mornings, we don’t don’t give any of them the time or investment they deserve.
Spreading out these core elements will help make what is already a great youth program even stronger.
And family does what?
Family sticks together.
To me, this means two things right now.
1) We humbly ask that you bear with us and work with us towards creating the best possible youth group experience ever.
2) In order to truly be family, we have to sacrifice, serve, and grow together.
Hardly anybody likes change… that’s just the way we are. We like comfort and familiarity. Unfortunately, there isn’t always much room in comfort and familiarity for growth.
We believe God has called us to grow spiritually, and we want to be willing to follow him wherever that takes us.
We also believe that it takes work to be family.
Going to church events/youth group events doesn’t necessarily make anyone a “good Christian,” but strong, healthy families don’t become strong, healthy families by hanging out just once a week.
That is to say, we hope that you’ll be able to make Wednesday nights a priority in your weekly schedule. Those of you who have already can attest how much it can add to the richness of our relationships.
Some of you won’t be able to come every Wednesday night, and, trust me, that’s ok. We’re not trying to guilt anyone into feeling bad for missing church, but we’d love for you to join us.
So, if you’ve actually read all the way down to this sentence, thanks for reading. If you just skipped down here to see if it might get interesting, thanks for skimming. I hope you’ve found something helpful here, and I hope you know that David and I are always willing to chat with you about what’s going on in our ministry and our church. I am certain I’ve left things out of this, so I welcome any questions you may have.
Until then, I know I can speak for David when I say we are so incredibly thankful to work in such a great church. Thank you so much for your continuing prayer over this ministry and your dedication to making it all God desires it to be.
Peace and Grace,