I am excited about the future of the LCMS. I know we are facing financial difficulties, restructuring, an aging church body (the average age of an LCMS member is 57), and (like all other church denominations) a lack of young adult members…but I am still excited about the future of the LCMS. My optimistic enthusiasm is the result of interacting with the young women at the Women’s Leadership Institute Conference last week.
The WLI is an institute of Concordia University Wisconsin. (check it out www.wlicuw.org) Their mission is to equip women for Christ-centered leadership and service. According to conference speaker, Dr. Mary Hilgendorf, leadership is influence. Women are already a strong influence in our church, so giving them resources, training, and encouragement to be the best leaders they can be, will only help them point others to Christ. It is their goal that like the women at the well, people can say of us “many believed in <Jesus> because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39)
At this conference of about 200 participants, there were a number of college students. The young women I met are on fire for the Lord! Their passion and drive to reach the lost and encourage the weak is inspiring. Many of them are leading ministries on their college campuses, some of them even started new ministry groups to met needs not being met by existing ministries. They clearly see young adult ministry as their mission and their lost and searching peers as their mission field. If this is the future leadership of our church I couldn’t be more thrilled!
Watching these young women interact with each other was exciting…but watching them interact with the older women at the conference was incredible! I heard them inviting older women to their Bible studies, asking them to share their stories and become their mentors. The college age students sought out the fellowship of “more seasoned” believers and took the first steps in crossing the age barrier, and forming a connection.
These millennials and gen-x-ers sincerely want to build relationships with baby boomers. You should have seen the reaction from the baby-boomers! “You really want to spend time with us?” “Are you sure you wouldn’t mind having me at your Bible study?” “I didn’t think you young girls would want to be my friend.” The older women wanted to be in fellowship with the younger women, but thought they weren’t welcome. It was beautiful to see how joyfully these older women responded to the invitations of friendship from the younger women. It was like watching Titus 2 come to life!
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5)
I am excited about the future of the LCMS. The unchurched masses of American young adults haven’t been forgotten. With leaders like the young women I met at the Women’s Leadership Conference, it is clear that the fire of ministry is burning bright and the light of Christ will be passed on by the next generation.