What Millennials Want In Leaders

I am called to minister to the largest generation since the “Baby Boomers”. The Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) are close to my heart as I fall into the older side of that generation. But you know, not “old” old. So I am reaching out to my own. With that in mind I count it a privilege to equip these young ‘uns (Alabama slang) to reach their peers, their city and their world. But what do they look for in their leaders?

The answer to this would help us all. Knowing this massive generation better holds one key to helping them shape our future.

Dr. Thom Rainer, President of Lifeway, posted some insightful characteristics that Millennials want in their leaders. He came about these characteristics in research for his book “The Millennials” a few years ago. You may be surprised at what he found. Dr. Rainer writes:

  1. Mentoring. This generation has great respect for those older than they are. Most of them have good relationships with their parents. They have learned from older people all their lives, and they don’t want to stop now. They want to be led and taught in their places of work, in their churches, and in their families. They particularly want to learn from couples who have had long and successful marriages. Many Millennials see such examples as heroes to emulate.
  2. Gentle spirit. This category is easier to describe by what Millennials do not want in leaders. Divisive, loud, and acrimonious persons turn them off. They loathe politicians and political pundits who scream at each other. They are leaving churches to some extent because they see many Christian leaders as negative and prone to divisiveness. They are repulsed by business leaders with harsh and autocratic spirits.
  3. Transparency and authenticity. I wish Jess and I had counted the number of times that Millennials used the word “real” to describe leaders they want to follow. As one Millennial told us, her generation “can smell phony and pretentiousness a mile away.” They don’t want phony; they want authentic. They don’t want pretentious; they want transparent.
  4. Integrity. The Millennials are weary of politicians who don’t keep promises. They are tired of Christian leaders who fail basic moral standards. They are fed up with business leaders who are more concerned about personal gain than serving others. They want leaders with integrity.

To read more see the original article over at the Lifeway site: What Millennials Want in Leaders.

Check out the book “The Millennials” right here.


A Brave Boy Named Bill

Check out this awesome story of Bill, a young man who has impacted my life in a huge way in the short time I’ve been at Willowbrook. So cool.

Dreaming With Your Feet

Me and Bill in January Me and Bill in January

Last week, I mentioned a student who would miss our recital because he would be having surgery to remove a suspicious mass. The final diagnosis came today … that student, Bill, does have cancer but the doctors are sure they caught it early, say he only needs two rounds of chemo and are confident of a complete cure.

Hearing this news takes a little of the sting away … at least it will just be two treatments, at least he will recover completely. Thank you to all of you who reached out to me after the last post, expressing your support of our organization, our students, our volunteers and the families who have suffered tremendous losses this year.

I’ve been working on two other posts for this week – a recap of our gloriously amazing recital on Saturday afternoon and another on our “Next Step”…

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The Costa Rica Effect

Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The towering mountains and lush, vibrant vegetation make it’s landscape simply breath-taking.

But aside from the aesthetics, the people are beautiful. Through their hospitality they have shown me what it truly looks like to serve others. Many of the believers here have already made a deep impact in my life: a pastor and his family along with men and women of God who are bent on serving our King with committed, humble hearts.

As I’ve examined myself and what God was teaching me it was obvious that other members of my team were experiencing something similar. Both students and leaders have shared that committed, humble, hospitable, God-fearing people here have caused them to think about the attitudes and norms of our Americanized Christianity.

Maybe it’s good to leave the familiar for the adventure. Maybe it’s good to fly away from time to time. Maybe leaving “The Bachelor” for the mission of sharing an actual love story in a beautiful, tropical, foreign land would be good for you, but bad for ratings. This love story has a Son sent to a lonely place for a lonely purpose and a lonely death, forsaken by his father. But after only days this Son defeats the sin (mine and yours) that sent him there in the first place! He is then received back by his father, who knew all along of the anguish and torture his Son would endure. This would be, and still still, a history-changing, life-altering story for all mankind; worthy of our mission endeavors.

As the comfortable shores of home vanish in the distance our Father has a way of speaking to us, showing us our misconceptions and pointing us to his own heart. One of a diverse love for all of his diverse children in every possible corner of the world. I’m very glad that in my little corner I have the privilege to serve with incredible leaders and
quite a crew of student-servants who are drawing closer together and closer to our Lord. Great things are happening!


Willowbrook: You Are Legend.

Willowbrook family,

The way you have embraced me, Mandy, Josie and Rece has been nothing short of…legendary. I will tell the tale of your goodness and kindness to us for as long as I live! It will live on in history as a stunning display of the love of God for His people in His church by His blood! We have already connected with so many great people and we look forward to growing close to many, many more of you.

In addition, you (especially parents) will be proud to know that your teenagers have accepted, loved and supported us during our transition into your ministry. From kind words, to babysitting, to food for our pantry, to a nice “welcome to the youth group” gag in our front yard (thanks Senior guys), they have risen to the occasion and represented our Lord, your family and our church very well.

We will hold dear these first memories we’ve made here and look forward with joy and eager anticipation to what’s ahead. We are here to serve you and our Lord Jesus. Let’s labor together, worship together, grow together and carry as many of the lost to heaven as we can!

Much love,

The Bedingfields

Thank you, Clements

Clements Baptist Church,

The way you have treated me and my family during this transition has been beyond our wildest expectations.  The love and support you have shown has done so much in nourishing our spirit.  Last Sunday was a “defining moment” in our life and ministry.  You will forever have our gratitude for the years we had spent there and especially for the launching of us into a new frontier over the past few weeks.  We will treasure every moment, especially those at the very end as we poured out our hearts to each other.

I will say this:  Don’t let your Pastor, church staff and other leaders go long without letting them know how you feel about them.  It will encourage and feed their soul, spurring them on to a greater understanding of their calling and ministry in our Lord.  It has done so for us.  Tell them soon…and often!

Thanks for all the cards, texts, comments, posts, gifts and prayers.  You truly have launched us in an unforgettable way.  We love you guys dearly.

Forever grateful,

Justin, Mandy, Josie and Rece

A New Beginning

Our family is embarking on a new journey.  We will be leaving Clements Baptist to begin a new chapter in life and ministry at Willowbrook Baptist Church in Huntsville near the end of this month.  Below is what I tearfully shared with our church family yesterday.

Jan. 12th 2014

Church family,

Mandy and I accepted God’s call to ministry here at CBC after heartbreak.  In 2006, we had planned on moving to Argentina and attend a Bilingual Bible institution called Word of Life for at least a year.  But God shut that door and it was a very difficult thing for us.  After that God saw fit to give us an opportunity here with vocational ministry in 2008.  Since then we have known this is where we should be.  Without a doubt.  And if He ever chose to move us from this place he would.

So, it is bittersweet news that Mandy and I have for you today.  After much prayer over the past several months (since the late summer) we must let you know that the time has come for us to answer the call of God in leaving Clements as your pastor of students, college and young singles.  God has led us to begin a new chapter in the life of our family and in ministry at Willowbrook in Huntsville as their High School Minister.  After many meetings and interviews with their pastor, staff and leadership I accepted this position from them last month.  This past Sunday we had a chance to meet their church family and that night they voted us onto their church staff unanimously.

Mandy and I would like you to know that this new position is not something we went looking for.  We have never before desired to leave this sweet fellowship at Clements.  However, the Lord laid it before us.  There is no reason for us to leave, only the call of God on our lives to do so. And that’s all it takes.  We were perfectly happy and overjoyed with ministering here at Clements with great people to great people.  We also knew for certain this was where God had planted us for nearly 12 years as husband and wife and the last 6 years for me as a staff member.  We have always prayed that we would be where God would have us.  And He would now have us at Willowbrook.

As you know, God has a way of taking our plans and intentions and turning them upside down if he deems it fit for our good, for His purposes and for His glory.  After praying hard, we knew, without a doubt, God wanted to close this chapter in our lives and open up a new one.  A fresh one.  One in a different place, with different people but with the same focus:  ministering the gospel of Jesus Christ in the lives of young people.  We are excited about the future there, but sad we have to leave this faith family.  We are not doing anything that we don’t constantly challenge our students to do:  Give God our “yes” no matter where he calls us, even if it’s to very different and unexpected places.

As I’ve told you before, we are products of this ministry at Clements.  We were saved here, we met here, we married here and we are raising kids here.  Now it’s time to leave here.  But let us say we are so very proud to have been a part of God’s work here from the first day until the present.  Anything good you can say about us is because of you, this church, and our Lord.  We are the output of this great church’s input.

With that said, two weeks from today, January 26th, will be my last Sunday here at Clements.  The following day will be my first day at Willowbrook.

To our parents:  We couldn’t have ministered without your love and support.  Thank you.

To all our church family, deacons, staff, ministry leaders, parents of students, Sunday school teachers and office assistants:  We are forever grateful for you for your ministry to our family, especially our children.

To Pastor Tim:  I am forever indebted to you for giving me this opportunity.  For seeing something in me I didn’t even see in myself.

To our students, collegiates and young singles:  You all hold a special place in our hearts.  Hold on to Jesus tightly.  Keep ministering the gospel relentlessly.  Love others dearly.  Share your faith passionately.

We love you all!

Justin and Mandy Bedingfield