Succession and Sustainability: Our Year 3 Theme.

Robert the Bruce tableau, Edinburgh Castle cc-by-sa/2.0 - © kim traynor - geograph.org.uk/p/2179366
Thumbnail and main image: Robert the Bruce tableau, Edinburgh Castle cc-by-sa/2.0 - © kim traynor - geograph.org.uk/p/2179366 

Early on in the life of this grant, we found ourselves giving general advice about how to spend the considerable funds we gave out. We told our tier one churches that we were going to give them $10,000 a year for 3 years. This was substantially more than the budgets our young adult groups were used to spending, many of which were only in the triple digits.

The first year we suggested Team Building as an area on which to concentrate. Specifically, we suggested forming a leadership team or maybe just building a sense of togetherness within the larger young adult community. This idea really came from telling the teams to go on all-expenses-paid retreats for young adults, who often don't have a lot of extra cash for such things.

The second year we suggested Partnership as a theme. This could look like young adults partnering with other ministry groups within their own churches. It could involve communing with other young adults groups within their denomination or other hubs associated with this grant. It could involve partnering with a community organization to promote a cause about which the young adults felt passionate. The idea was to help young adults grow in faith together by externalizing and challenging that faith. Also, we wanted them to expand their sense of the possibilities and power of their community.

Assuming that years 2 and 3 are successful at building both relationships and purpose, the logical next focus should be how to avoid losing those hard-fought gains. Thus, our third year theme is how to navigate succession and plan for sustainability. In these first two years, we saw how some transitions led to either an influx of energy or a loss of momentum, and so did our churches. We hope to mine some of the wisdom gained and have asked our churches to codify their ideas for maintaining momentum or successfully navigating the organic rhythms of young adult involvement in church communities.

In your own contexts, how has a simple loss of momentum caused a breakdown of an otherwise healthy group? Was it by a change in leadership, a loss of critical mass, or other unplanned stress? What steps could have been taken to minimize the loss of momentum or identity? What would you do differently to make the community more resilient to change?

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