Look around the ministry landscape today, and you will likely see a lot of new — and younger — faces. That’s a good thing for churches and ministries with a vision to bring younger people into their fellowship. The millennial generation, born between 1980 and 1996, makes up half of today’s workforce, and the up-and-coming Generation Z, those born after 1996, are trickling in, too. The future of the church and ministry workforce is here, and ministries nimble enough to respond, change and adapt to these changing demographics in both the pews and the church office are most likely to flourish.
Discussing generations in the modern-ministry workforce was one of the overriding themes featured in several of the more than 35 sessions at GuideStone’s third Employee Benefits Summit September 16–17 in Dallas. The agenda’s keynote and breakout sessions focused on workplace culture, employee engagement, benefit strategies and legal issues — all of which provided practical guidance for those managing behind-the-scenes work at churches and ministries. More than 25 speakers from the financial, legal, human resources and nonprofit world shared their knowledge with the nearly 200 attendees, representing churches and ministries from 20 states.
Amy Tracy, senior talent development specialist at GuideStone®, led one of the most popular sessions, where she discussed the various generations in the workplace and how they can best work together. Tracy provided historical context to explain the characteristics and traits of the four generations that make up today’s workforce. She also provided tools to help employees of each generation respect the others and find common ground to achieve ministry goals.
“Our ministries can be stronger by drawing on the strengths and the unique experiences of each generation, rather than letting it be something that divides — ‘us’ versus ‘them’,” Tracy said.
“Every pastor is an interim pastor,” William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen, said as he quoted the opening line of his book on succession (Next: Pastoral Succession That Works, Baker Books, 2014). Vanderbloemen serves the church by helping Christian organizations with staffing, compensation, succession and workplace culture consulting solutions.
In his talk, Vanderbloemen encouraged employers to be deliberate in providing a quality workplace culture. He defined “culture” as how an organization behaves while they are working to achieve their vision.
Summit attendees also spent time learning from the U.S. Secret Service on how to prevent their churches and ministries from falling victim to the rampant spread of cybercrime; MinistrySafe on what strategies to put in place to protect children from sexual predators; and the First Liberty Institute on why it’s important to have detailed policies that outline your church’s beliefs in the event that they are ever challenged in court.
“Managing the day-to-day business of running a church requires ministry leaders to be grounded in the Word of God and to stay on top of the pressing issues threatening to derail that work,” said GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins. “We are so thankful for those who took time to attend. We are hopeful that what they learned will aid them as they continue serving in their ministries.”
Shelly Moon is senior content specialist at GuideStone®.