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Working with congregations in renewal, I often hear a central goal of the congregation is to draw in young families. The idea is to move from a sanctuary filled with gray hair to one with a bit more salt and pepper look. 

I realized recently that there is a quieter and yet critically important way for a congregation to grow younger. A community must work to grow younger its cycle of life. 

Every church, like every person, has a lifecycle. Churches are born, they age, and at some point, many local congregations finish their ministry and mission. The incredible reality for churches is they can go backward in how old they are.

A church can move from being a church that is aging to a church that is an adolescent. They can move from being a church that is stepping into the mature years back to a church in its prime adult years (see picture below).

As a church gets younger, it renews ministry, impacts the community and world, and perhaps even draws in some young families. But whether the young families come or not, the church’s vitality and gladness in ministry grow. 

How does a church grow younger? Growing younger begins with knowing how old you are. When a congregation knows where it is in its lifecycle, it can make wise decisions about what to do next. Is it time for redefinition, redevelopment, or rebirth? 

Wherever your congregation is in its lifecycle, at least two things are true: 

  1. Getting younger takes time and persistence. I work with one congregation that is getting younger, but it has taken faithful work over two years. Getting more youthful is not for the faint of heart. 
  2. Knowing your lifecycle helps you discover and define the God-given, hope-filled future God has for your congregation.

Want to learn more about your congregation and its lifecycle? Vibrant Congregations invites you to watch our one-minute video and then take Vibrant’s Lifecycle Survey. They are lovely entry points for congregations that want to grow younger.

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