Get this: One day I show up for chapel in the gorgeous theater at North Central University* to hang with my son, Ryan, who studies music at the school.
“Who’s leading worship today, buddy boy?” I ask.
“They any good?”
He just grins at his senile father.
Five minutes later OA begins playing in front of 600 peers and professors, appearing demure and casual and unimpressed with their own celebrity. The songs have no dramatic modulations or big endings. There are no “inspirational” solos, no heavenly smiles.
Sandi Patty and Steve Green this isn’t.
By the second tune, I’m toast. I’m taken down, captured, disarmed, humbled. OA is too good, too attuned, too understated, too mature musically and spiritually for me to resist, nor do I want to.
Curiously, all the musicians seem to be watching something as they play—something they assume is happening in the theater which is beyond their control.
I finally see it too: The Lord walking among his people.
After chapel I bump into music professor Dave Pedde who coaches OA. Late 20s, gelled hair, piercings?
Nope. Dave’s about my age, silver mane, pianist.
Two things stand out to me about OA:
1. How astonishingly well coached they are.
2. How little their music/look/feel (the whole package) resembles their coach’s generation.
Think about how tough this is to pull off. Boomer-run institution sponsors boomer coach who trains—but then releases young people to do their thing in their own way, for their peers.
I find this very gutsy.
Does your church have the courage to do the same?
I invite your comments.
* North Central University is located in Minneapolis, associated with the Assemblies of God denomination.
You know who has the hardest time doing this? It is the modernistic mainline church.
They create young people who either parrot the words and styles of their parents or who go elsewhere.
Sounds refreshing, Rick. I'm on the edge of being the gray haired dude in the mix and I hope by the time I'm silver maned I have the sense to coach like this guy.
I once heard John Stott answer the question about advice that he'd give to church leaders by saying that there should be young people on every board and committee. His reasoning was that it was too easy to miss a lot of people by not giving them representation and power at the places it really matters.
Your experience reminded me of that – an older leader developing others in addition to letting them represent and minister powerfully according to their age and stage.
It is an issue of leadership. It's also a reality that every generation needs each other.
To Charlie: So you're saying that mainline churches don't “sponsor” new ways among their young people? What's behind this?
To Jeremy: You'll always be young at heart. But yes, it's tough to shape young people into THEIR image and not so much our own.
To Una: I love the intergenerational model you are suggesting. Giving young people representation in decision-making and advisory bodies is a great idea–and probably not easy to pull off.