Multiplication, Millennials, and Multigenerational Ministries: An Interview with Ed Stetzer Blog Feature
Marian V. Liautaud

By: Marian V. Liautaud on February 01, 2016

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Multiplication, Millennials, and Multigenerational Ministries: An Interview with Ed Stetzer

Church Design | Millennials

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of LifeWay Research, a prolific author, and well-known conference and seminar leader. Stetzer has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees, and two doctorates and has written dozens of articles and books. He's also a contributing editor for Christianity Today and a columnist for Outreach Magazine.

In this interview with Aspen Group, Stetzer shares his thoughts on multiplication, Millennials, and multigenerational ministries.

AG: Dave Ferguson talks about church planters needing to live in the tension of moving from here to there. How you can’t build buildings fast enough to keep up with what God is trying to do. What role should buildings play in a multiplication strategy?

ES: Having led several church plants into buildings, you have to be very careful that the building remains a tool and not the goal. My experience has been that the building does become the goal and once you achieve that goal, you’ve lost the focus. The goal would be the making of disciples, the advancement of the Kingdom. Not confusing tools and goals are key. Building utilitarian facilities that enable you to continue the multiplication of the mission is key.

AG: What about Millennials? Is there a correlation between church attendance among young people and church architecture?

ES: I don’t think it’s stunning that more people say they like Gothic buildings better, but they don’t actually attend church in Gothic buildings. People like appearance, but they’re drawn to community. Millennials may have aesthetic preferences about church architecture, but that’s not what’s causing a shift in their attendance.

AG: How do you get a whole church behind a movement of multiplication, especially among older adults who often have so much ministry experience, and professional, relational, and financial capital to leverage?

ES: Multigenerational involvement in church planting is a challenge since most church plants are started by younger people. That’s not always the case, as I’ve seen church plants made up of all senior adults. However, it is mostly the case.

There are times when planters have worked hard to be sure that there is age diversity in the launch team. That takes some extra time—just as ethnic diversity takes more listening and community, so does generational. But, it makes for a stronger (and I think more biblical and sustainable) church plant.

Sometimes, older adults will go out in a new church plant, but more often they will be engaged in it as a kind of parent. For example, they can help organize special activities to rally people for the new church plant. I know several churches where classes of senior adults sponsored “baby showers” for the new church, gathering equipment for the ministry of the new church. Or, middle-aged adults can lead small groups and help train young adults (the Bible actually mentions older women mentoring younger women).

Regardless of the approach, it’s a better church planting experience when all of God’s people are part of it.

This interview also appears in the NewThing Toolbox, a free downloadable resource created by Aspen Group and NewThing Network.

 

About Marian V. Liautaud

Marian served as Aspen's Director of Marketing from 2014 to 2021, sharing stories about how Aspen designs, builds, and furnishes space for ministry impact.