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‘Replicate and duplicate’ ministry no longer effective, educator says

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–The historic practice of “replicate and duplicate” as a ministry approach for Christian education is not effective in many churches today a minister of education told his peers at Glorieta, a LifeWay Conference Center.

“Just keep doing what you’ve been doing, and teach others to do the same thing has been what we’ve thought and what we’ve taught,” said Steve Stege, minister of education at First Baptist Church, Lubbock, Texas,

“What works at your church might not work at mine,” he said during Sunday School Leadership Week at Glorieta, June 25-29.

The principles of education don’t change, Stege said, but the methods do.

“I’m a ‘sunny’ type of guy,” he said. “I’d work while the sun was shining, but when it rained, I’d just stop and wait until it quit raining and got sunny again. Then, I’d go back to work. But what I have found through the years is that I’ve had to learn how to work in the rain.”

He said one way he has had to change is in the area of culture. “We don’t have a generation gap. It is a culture gap” between the older and younger adults in our churches.

Quoting Leonard Sweet in his book ‘Aqua Church,’ Stege said people under 30 are natives of this new culture, while people over 30 are “immigrants” to this new culture.

The key to reaching this culture is communication, and that means more than just language. “We have to understand the values and culture of this group.”

“For us, the immigrants, we learned to work on a landscape. Things were basically constant. But for the natives, things are more of a seascape, constantly changing, constantly in motion. As ministers of education, we have to stay on top of things, including change,” he said.

Stege said, “Our generation [Baby Boomers, people born from 1946 to 1964] has always believed things were going to get better. Young adults today don’t necessarily believe that. They don’t see that happening.”

Referring to this under-30 group as the “dot coms,” Stege said that unlike the boomers, the fundamental motivation for them is to change the world, not just to acquire wealth.

“That’s something we over-30s can learn from them,” he said.

Stege is the author of “Sharing the Living FAITH,” a resource for the FAITH Sunday School evangelism strategy. For more information about FAITH, Call the FAITH toll-free number, 877-FAITH98.

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