The Church of Tomorrow Speaks about Authenticity

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On March 1, 2012, the Leadership Network hosted groundSWELL, a three-hour online conference for teens. Speakers ranged in age from 13 to 19. In this 6 minute interview, A.J. Benfield, a 17 year-old high school student, talks about what the church needs to change in order to reach his generation. 

As you watch this session, take notes and write down thoughts about how this session can impact your role.

A.J. sugarcoats nothing as he calls on the church to:
  • End stereotypes that make people feel "not good enough" for church .
  • Figure out how to reach the homosexual community and love them.
  • Get involved in college life. Make campus ministry a priority.
  • Stop peddling the prosperity gospel. Preach the Word.
  • Lead by example and make accountability a two-way street.
  • Give teens opportunities to lead.

Which issues on the list above resonate with you the most? Is your church already doing something about any of them? If not, what will you do to change that? If so, how can you raise the bar even further?
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It saddens me to hear A.J. say that his friend won't come to church because he doesn't feel "good enough." Whether it's peer pressure, harassment, or outright bullying, teens run the gauntlet every day. The church ought to be their refuge, but it sounds like we have a reputation for exclusivity rather than inclusivity. How do you plan to talk to your teens about this issue and then empower them to help your church solve this problem?
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Teens need pastors, youth leaders and mentors to be real with them. Undiluted authenticity requires raw honesty and vulnerability—truth telling of the highest order. What topics are you shying away from with your teens? What conversations cause you to hesitate? Bring these struggles for authenticity before God. Ask Him to embolden you so that the reality of His truth will flow through you and into the lives of your teens.
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For more information about groundSWELL, please visit