I have a lot of conversations with people about who is and isn’t relevant enough to lead young adults. Believe it or not, I’m usually the one advocating that someone is relevant, or at least that they could be.
First- I actually don’t like using the word “relevant” in this discussion. It’s not that I don’t think that some leaders might be relevant and that others might not be, it’s just that the meaning of “relevance” is not objective. For some it refers to age. For some it might refer to the way they dress. Still others might see it as pertaining to musical interests and other types of media intake. Once I even heard someone ruled out because of their chosen career.
Many of the conversations I’ve been a part of deal with relevance from an the perspective of age; which of course implicates cultural differences as well. At this point, even if some folks are still unable to articulate the details of these generational-culture gaps, we all know they exist. Still, is leadership relevance age based?
The idea that one person is irrelevant simply because of their age is simply ridiculous. I won’t even touch that here. The idea that a person may be irrelevant because of cultural differences is the real issue, but I think too that we’ve made this a larger stumbling block than need be. For me, the question is no longer about whether or not an older person is culturally different from the younger generations; that generally goes without saying. The issue at hand is whether or not this person has the capacity to relate to people cross-culturally.
In this light, relevance for young adult leadership has essentially little difference from what gets discussed in terms of missions and youth ministry. This is interesting food for thought. I see a lot of people in my church who are totally culturally irrelevant to the generations below them and yet I still believe that they have what it takes to make these connections. I’m just trying to figure out how to empower, train and encourage them to do it!