Here’s an excerpt from our interview with C3 Norwood, whose leaders Chris and Vicki Matthews and their team, build their health and vitality through initiatives such as this.
Read the conversation below.
VM: I wanted other people to get a sense of the fact that they could serve God without being particularly special as well. We started off intentionally by basically making jokes in front of the congregation about how the kids were one day going to take over the church and that we had to watch, because there was going to be a revolution.
The kids’ church teachers used to talk to the kids about it. And so the kids, you’d hear some of the older ones, the ten or eleven year olds, talking about what they were going to do when they were running the church.
One obvious entry way in, or the popular one, was through the worship team. I would say that nearly all our musicians and singers have come through kids church with this idea that one day they’re going to be able to be in charge of doing that. They’re going to be the drummer or the worship leader or whatever because somebody’s given them permission to actually do that.
Our current worship team started out of the youth at the time, which was our children and our children’s friends deciding that they wanted to be a youth band. We bought them equipment and had a Saturday night youth meeting. They had rehearsals and began to run a youth service.
I have recordings of that and looking back on it, we were so proud of them and they were so enthusiastic it didn’t matter. They preached in their own services, they had their own offerings and they had salvation calls. They were into it. Although half the people up the back were the parents who were there to support them, the enthusiasm that they had and the fact that we weren’t critical at all of what they were doing, has led them to be our current crop of worship leaders and musicians.
Our music director was a small boy who came to me at 11 and said he was going to learn the keyboard and he wanted to be a concert pianist. I said, that’s fabulous. Do it. And he has. He’s amazing.
So it makes me think back. I’m glad I didn’t open my mouth and say any negative things. I think that’s part of it. We’ve intentionally encouraged people to do even what we don’t think they could do at the time. Knowing that people with enthusiasm can sometimes surprise you, totally out of the box.
Even now we have a couple of girls who are backup singers in our band who are in the youth, they’re 14 and 15. They’ve been doing it now since they were 13 because their goal is to take over. They want to not only be on the band but they want to preach.
On Friday nights they’re starting to put together a band. There’s a new group of people coming up. They’re doing it secretly, so we don’t get to see it yet. They’re practising and they won’t let us see what they’re doing. But there’s that undercurrent again of, yes, you just wait. We’re going to take over, we’re going to show you.
We foster that because they think they’re taking over from the oldies and that we don’t understand. That’s a tension that youth and adults, I think, have gone through for millennia past. But there’s that key, the seed is that they own it. That they don’t just want to take over from us, they think they can worship God better than us. They think they can preach the word of God better than us. To me that’s the key. It’s not that they want to be better or be different, but their concept of God is different from ours. It’s a passionate concept and they’re enthusiastic about worship, they’re enthusiastic about knowing more. It might not be the way I’d do it, but it doesn’t matter. By the time they get to do it I’m probably not going to be around.
That’s the excitement. To get people to believe that they can do more than they believe and to let them believe they can do more than you. I think it’s very easy as a leader to be defensive. You don’t want people to be better than you. But I’ve had to admit that the leadership team I have is all half my age and they’re all better at doing it than I am.
I had to get over the fact that being in charge meant I was supposed to be the best because it doesn’t and it isn’t. You have to embrace that and it can be hard to do. I do have an ego and it’s hard not to let it get out of control especially when they become quite militant.
I now have people on my board who are in their 30’s who don’t just want to be on the board to be the pastor’s yes men. They have ideas that they are adamant that I listen to and there’s often a tension that I actually have to figure out between am I being wise or just old?
Sometimes it’s humbling to look over the argument, the discussion and think, no, I’m just being old. I need to give it up. Even when I’m being wise, often they have to discover that for themselves. So I’ve often found that my best job is to let people make mistakes. Make decisions which they think are good ones and allow them to work through it and hopefully at some point come and say, yes, that didn’t work, did it? Because that’s the way they learn. They’re not going to learn by me showing them what to do, telling them how to do it. Sometimes you have to let go and let them stuff it up. Sometimes that can be expensive and sometimes you can lose people. I’ve found that the younger generation tends to be a little less laid back than I am and sometimes the bull at the gate approach can offend and upset people.
But I think if you put them in cotton wool they don’t learn. A lot of the time my job is a rescuer. No, no they didn’t mean that. That’s not what they were saying. To try and bring a bit of balance to it. But yes, I think it’s a valuable lesson for both parties, the insulted and the insultee, to learn to come to a biblical resolution. You need to adhere to the principles that Jesus gave us for conflict resolution, rather than just blow it off and leave the church because somebody insulted me.
So, empowering young people has added a lot more tension to my life. But in the end it’s worth it because they grow into better, stronger and more capable people. I think that’s the goal in terms of leadership in the end.