Episode 1- Free to Lead. Mp3
Troy Maxwell: Hey, I just want to welcome you to another episode of Free to Lead, my name is Troy Maxwell, I’m the senior pastor at Freedom House church in Charlotte, North Carolina and today I’m going to tell you right now, we’ve got the fun in the room today,
Colby Maxwell: Oh yes.
Joel Johnson: It’s true.
Troy Maxwell: We got the fun in the room, I’ve got Joel Johnson, who is our executive director of student ministries here at Freedom House church.
Joel Johnson: So glad to be here.
Troy Maxwell: Yeah man thanks for joining us today and then I’ve got my son, Colby Maxwell, who is, tell them your title.
Colby Maxwell: I’m the director of student ministries here.
Troy Maxwell: So, you can tell right off the bat that we’re probably going to be talking about young people.
Joel Johnson: Yep.
Colby Maxwell: Pretty straight forward.
Troy Maxwell: Well this podcast is designed to help you better lead, whether you’re in a business, you’re in ministry, I know we have people leading that are pastors.
Colby Maxwell: Yeah.
Troy Maxwell: People listening that are business owners, new business owners, people that want to own a business, people that are involved in ministry serving , volunteering or just attending the church and today I just wanted to bring some fun, these two guys right here are the fun on our staff we have a blast.
Colby Maxwell: We really do.
Joel Johnson: Which actually reminds me of a joke. Alright well there were two baseball players, they were talking kind of theologically “Do you think there’s baseball in heaven?” well they couldn’t figure it out so they said whoever dies first, whenever that happens will you just promise me to come back and tell me if there’s baseball , whoever dies first would come back, they made the promise , they made the pact well unfortunately a month later one of the baseball players died and he kept his promise and came back to his friend and said, well you know, I have some good news and I have some bad news for you . The good news is that there’s actually baseball in heaven, the bad news is is that you’re scheduled to pitch next Thursday.
Troy Maxwell: That’s a bad joke.
Joel Johnson: It is bad, but it’s pretty solid and you know the listeners. You’re going to be taking that and using that freely.
Troy Maxwell: So I’m going to ask you some questions, you’re going to ask me some questions, I was a youth pastor for 7 years prior to starting this church, Freedom House, but what’s it look like, what’s the reality right now in youth ministry? What are you seeing, what are you feeling? what’s going on with young people right now, Joel?
Joel Johnson: I think that there are several things , young people are definitely purpose driven, they want to be a part of something that’s bigger than themselves , they want to invest in the world, they want to make and leave their mark in some way that’s positive, So those are the , all of the positive energy that’s coming out of young people right now that they gravitate towards to, some of the trends that we’ve at least seen in the youngest leaders up to 2000 are 1999 for the millennials is that we’ve seen something that where maybe they’ve been helicopter parented and so they have expectations on society or in the work force that the previous generation would say hey, this is work , we are not here to set up everything for you, you have to be a little bit entrepreneurial and some will call that laziness or you know like hey, I can’t connect every dot for you but a lot of the younger generation is, wanting more from their leadership so in the wake of that there’s this opportunity where leaders, if you understand , some of these young minds, you can use their positive energy and force and guide them into a place that is beyond some of our wildest dreams , with their creativity, their connectivity, all of those things but as older leaders you have to understand where the mindset is to tap into that creative energy and really, to maximise it.
Troy Maxwell: I think you’re spot on because our team, here at Freedom House, most of our team is under the age of 30 and It is a challenge I’ll be honest with you , it’s a challenge leading them because of the mindset that they have , where they came from, for many of them this is their first real job. I had probably 6 or 7 jobs before I even got involved.
Joel Johnson: I mean tell me about it, I’m organizationally I’m Colby’s boss and has a millennial and man the taxing on me has been a bit overwhelming.
Troy Maxwell: So, Colby you are a millennial.
Colby Maxwell: Yes.
Troy Maxwell: And so, what is your viewpoint and think about this in regard to developing young people.
Colby Maxwell: Absolutely.
Troy Maxwell: What do you think about it?
Colby Maxwell: I think that there is, I think that there is, just off the bat definitely a tension between where we are as a generation, millennials, Gen Z-ers with kind of the, I don’t want to say the word but old , older if you will.
Troy Maxwell: It’s okay I’m not offended. Its called, you have to say more mature.
Joel Johnson: Or seasoned.
Colby Maxwell: The seasoned, the seasoned generation that predates us substantially, So I think that there’s a little bit of a tension and its shown in social media , it’s shown in the workforce and it’s just now beginning to rear its head in an interesting way but I also think that part of this is that we are entering into brand new territory , The technological advance that we’ve experienced in the last 20-30 years rivals that of the past 4-500 years and we are entering into a world where anyone can be connected to anyone at any time.
Joel Johnson: It’s true.
Colby Maxwell: So now we have to figure out what these new boundaries are , what these new rules are , how do you work together in an environment and how do we live together and how do we connect with a generation that doesn’t come from this completely interconnected society and what does that look like for our day to day, that gap that we are feeling, I think that there is so much potential there, once that is bridged because of all this advance, because of all this amazing connectivity that we have , instead of viewing it as something that separates us , once we can overcome that barrier the amount of change for our world, our field of work, which is ministry, the amount of change that can be experienced.
Troy Maxwell: And that’s fast.
Colby Maxwell: The amount of things that can happen are amazing and even if–
Joel Johnson: Exponential.
Colby Maxwell: Exponential that we’ve never seen before and even on a larger scale than that than from just the ministry perspective, we’re seeing companies like Amazon come up in what 1999 now they are the largest market cap organization that the world has ever seen before and we’re talking an 18-year-old company.
Joel Johnson: Its crazy yeah.
Colby Maxwell: We’re talking an 18-year-old company, only because of the technology that we’ve experienced and that type of technology has never been seen in this world and is causing some cool problems I think and–
Joel Johnson: Opportunities.
Colby Maxwell: Opportunities exactly and how we live our life and what that looks like even more so than in the workplace, personally, it’s a personal thing.
Joel Johnson: and I think that’s where the older generation can definitely guide in values and vision but then help to set up these younger ones and I think it’s going to be younger and younger because you’re growing up in the technology and it’s moving so fast that you, it’s a full-time job just to stay up with technology, so.
Troy Maxwell: True.
Joel Johnson: So some of these young people who at second nature, I think we’re going to see younger and younger and younger people who will be need to given the vision, given the direction and that’s where we can help, that’s where the older generation can guide with values, vision and then unleash some of this potential and I think those leaders who understand it’s not just all about who will go out there and work, who can provide some small bridges or a path where the new generation with values, can go forward with the technology that’s rapidly changing.
Colby Maxwell: Yeah.
Troy Maxwell: And I think that obviously we’re not perfect in any way as a ministry in what we do but we have done our best to develop a young culture but also, we’re not thinking just in the future, meaning that when we talk about young people we don’t say they are the future generation, we say they are the now generation. We really believe that they are the leaders now and because they have everything at their fingertips basically, with their iPhones, their iPads or whatever they have the ability, from a content perspective to be able to handle things that we couldn’t. I know me personally being 49 years old couldn’t handle 10 years ago but now we need to develop their character and help them develop their character and their integrity so, I think we’ve talked about, less just talk about some strategies, maybe that we’re using that can almost bridge the gap. We’re going to look at that from a ministry standpoint, but I think that you can also take some of these principles and if you’re a new business owner and I was just thinking the guy who opened the yogurt shop, he’s got most of his employees are 20 or 17you know.
Colby Maxwell: That was my first job at 16.
Joel Johnson: Really, yogurt?
Colby Maxwell: Yeah, I was T-C-B-Y.
Troy Maxwell: And what that looks like for them to handle that so what do you all think about that?
Colby Maxwell: I even think that we come from a ministry kind of framework here but the reality is that we are appealing to a heart condition, we are appealing to something that for the purpose of ministry and because our purpose is different doesn’t mean that the methods and the modes change, whether or not you work in ministry, or as you guys said, you work in a yogurt shop, you’re managing these 20 year olds , the way in which we are approaching these things is consistent throughout is because we are hoping to deal with where their heart is , where these Gen Z-ers and where these millennials are, hoping to deal with what they’re experiencing in life more so than trying to get to a certain outcome.
Joel Johnson: Yeah.
Troy Maxwell: The journey is the destination basically.
Colby Maxwell: Exactly.
Troy Maxwell: You want to help them process the journey through that, I know that from m perspective as I work with us I think one of the keys , let’s just talk about a few keys that I think in developing this generation, whether they are Gen Z-ers, whether they are millennials, leaders or being lead, developing leaders I think, I would think what I’m seeing is it all stems around relationships that’s one of the most, I know for me, in the position, in the seat that I sit in, one of the things that I have to really focus on is getting in their world. It means really listening, sitting down and listening to what’s the core of where they want to go and for the most part 18, 19, 20 years old and be honest, you really don’t know where you want to be and that’s okay, I think that’s okay, it’s alright, you don’t need to have the whole finish line mapped out , you don’t need to have the whole pathway mapped out , you don’t need to have the destination completely figured out because honestly, you’re going to have lots of different destinations along the way and my job is to help you enjoy that journey and also develop what it takes to finish the race in character in integrity in loyalty, in honour, which is a lost art and all of those different things and how do you do that? Relationships. You have to get in their world, spend time and sit down and not be for purpose.
Colby Maxwell: Yep.
Troy Maxwell: Not have some sort of goal in mind but just hey how’s it going, tell me about your family, what’s going on in your world, what does this feel like, and so, what are some other key things, relationships, what else?
Colby Maxwell: Yes so I think that, I did a little bit of research walking into this, because even just, my role description is understanding myself and how young people operate and think and I think you really hit the nail on the head there is that, if you will, there’s kind of 3 filters that we should be looking through when we are learning to work alongside us young people , at this point in time I think there’s a give and take , It shouldn’t be just us trying to see where they are in life , there should be.
Troy Maxwell: Yeah.
Colby Maxwell: A meeting where you guys are–
Troy Maxwell: And I learn a lot from you.
Colby Maxwell: and I think the first one that you referenced is so important in reference to authenticity, especially in relationships, in that, as a 21-year-old I don’t even see advertisements anymore, I couldn’t tell you the last billboard that I say, I couldn’t tell you the last banner ad that happened on my phone as I was scrolling. Advertisements have completely lost their effect on me because I grew up with them and in the same way, if we try to advertise through our relationships, whether that I’m advertising that I want you to come to church or I’m advertising that I want you have a relationship with God, it’s a very noble cause and just because the advertisement is wrong, it doesn’t mean the product’s bad at all but.
Joel Johnson: Right.
Colby Maxwell: But we’re numb to that, it’s completely separated from how we approach the world, and so through authentic relationship, there is a huge potential there for people to step into brand new modes of living, into brand new modes of leadership and even brand-new relationship with God.
Troy Maxwell: So just getting real.
Colby Maxwell: Just getting real.
Troy Maxwell: They just want real.
Colby Maxwell: Realness.
Troy Maxwell: they don’t want fake, plastic,
Colby Maxwell: Nope.
Troy Maxwell: Musky that kind of stuff, let’s just be real.
Colby Maxwell: Yeah 100% and I think–
Troy Maxwell: And that’s a filter.
Colby Maxwell: And at some point, its kind of interactive, the second filter is kind of in relation to the first one, we can’t have the second filter without the first one, the second filter is the community and community is such of high importance especially in this world that we live in where people can be separated but still so close to each other through these little devices that we all carry around in our pockets.
Joel Johnson: Exactly.
Troy Maxwell: Social media.
Colby Maxwell: Social media and all that stuff and those aren’t the enemies those are simply tools but any tool that is abused can become harmful and as we move forward, as a church, our goal is to create unparallel community because that’s how Jesus operated, people followed him and these disciples that followed him created communities that change the world. They would hold these things called “Love Feast” that just sounds fun, like they’ll just have literally groups of people over their house and they would eat.
Joel Johnson: Yeah, just hang out.
Colby Maxwell: and join together in community, the third one is relevancy, and this is probably where I’m going you don’t have to wear skinny jeans to appeal to young people, that not what I’m saying.
Troy Maxwell: Thanks.
Colby Maxwell: You can, you can do that it’s just so much more than that.
Joel Johnson: Depends on how good you look in them.
Colby Maxwell: Depends on how good you look, please do not if you should not, just because you can doesn’t mean you should, but I did a little bit of research on this, the most watched, for our framework, ministry. The most watched service and the most watched content by far, not even close, is all about these things, it’s all about purpose, calling, anxiety, depression, social justice and calling, all of that, they have the highest views, the highest likes, the highest convening rate and that is because that is the sort of stuff that people are interested in and finding out about.
Joel Johnson: Yeah.
Colby Maxwell: And in our framework, how can this book that I am holding, the bible, how can this apply to my life? how does it have any relevance in what I’m doing? and from what we believe, we believe it does have relevance.
Joel Johnson: Sure.
Colby Maxwell: But we live in a post-modern culture where they are not growing up believing that that is important in their life, so you can’t go of that basis.
Joel Johnson: Yeah.
Colby Maxwell: The start–
Troy Maxwell: Yeah, yeah.
Colby Maxwell: We had to first establish the relevance and then we would walk in on technicality.
Troy Maxwell: And you know what. You are right it does build, each one of them builds on the next, you know, I have to be authentic in order to have community and I need to have community in order to–
Colby Maxwell: Speak into your life.
Troy Maxwell: Speak into your life on relevant issues, so you’re going to be irrelevant if you’re not connected with me and its not about outward things.
Joel Johnson: It’s a metaphor.
Troy Maxwell: In fact, I think that people moving away from that, moving away from the whole outward stuff. I read this recently that the 3 ways that people gain their identity outside of Christ is appearance, they compare themselves to other people and it’s based on people’s approval of them. Their identity is found in that and if we can point people in the other direction and say listen God has a plan for your life. God has a purpose for your life and listen, if you’re a business owner as a believer, you can create that same kind culture and environment at your yogurt shop–
Colby Maxwell: Yeah
Troy Maxwell: Or at your car dealership or wherever it might be.
Joel Johnson: Yeah.
Troy Maxwell: And so we got time for just a couple more things, Joel, in your role, being, overseeing this, what does it look like for you in developing these guys?
Joel Johnson: Yeah.
Troy Maxwell: Using these filters.
Joel Johnson: I think first of all we have to set the guide roads and the values of the organization of what we’re doing, we set the big map and then with those lanes that are there to run in we have some things like no under currants, if there’s an issue you talk it out, set the table, we’re going to present atmospheres and environments for people where they can connect and grow and have community all of these things , we lay out the groundwork and then we let these guys run with their creativity , their ingenuity, you let them have lee way and your job often is hey hey we got out of our lane a little bit here, like this is good but lets do it in the context of what were all about and that’s something that any business owner, any leader , whether you’re non-profit or your for profit , if you’re a leader and your thinking that how am I going to make a difference, I may not understand how to be authentic with a 16 year old , you’re in your 40s or 50s, I may not know how to totally relate but I can take somebody who is, maybe 25 and we can connect there and then that 25 year old connects with our 18 year olds, or in Colby’s case he’s 20.
Troy Maxwell: Twenty-one now.
Joel Johnson: Yes, just had a birthday. He took a couple days to recover, anyways, just keeping on track here , but he is the one that who has the 15 and 16 year olds who he connects with and who he’s learning from, so I would just encourage everyone to go deep with your organization , start thinking about okay who can I connect with?, who are the main influencers in my organization?, if you can get them to get the values and them to reproduce themselves into the younger ones , then anything’s impossible. So those, that would be my main thing, you don’t have to totally get them, you don’t have to understand where we are on technology but if you’ll be real with them even sometimes vulnerable with them , don’t act like you have everything together.
Colby Maxwell: So true.
Joel Johnson: But you relate on your vulnerability and authenticity they’re going to respond to that and then let them run, rein them in.