Most of us hate being labeled. But we’vebecome accustomed to multi-generational terms: Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials. Each generation brings different values and viewpoints to the playing field, often competing – and sometimes complaining – when it’s time to work as a team. In the last two years, the Florida family of churches witnessed the appointment of three young evangelists and women’s ministry leaders who partne rwith mature leaders and bring fresh perspectives to winning communities forChrist. It’s counter cultural – andit’s cool!

Kyleand Kristin Eastman (Gainesville Christian Church), Tony and Cassandra Fernandez (Broward Church/South Florida Church of Christ) and Nilson and Elena Ramirez (Anchor Point Church in Tampa) appreciate the experience, wisdom and insight that older evangelists and elders bring to the table. Despite different communication styles, younger evangelists get the message that their ideas and their input is welcomed by older church leaders.

“We feel incredibly believed in and empowered,” said the Eastmans. “The leadership team listens to our suggestions and values our insights, even on the most sensitive matters. They include us in their decision making, far beyond just campus ministry related topics. They entrust us with responsibilities that affect the whole church. We really feel like partners.”

Sharing the gospel is the call for every disciple of Jesus. Reaching this generation with the message of good news presents a challenge these young church leaders readily embrace. When Nilson and Elena moved to Tampa, they were eager to learn from experienced leaders and, at the same time, were ready to pursue dreams of making outreach and Sunday services more “visitor friendly.”

“We’ve worked very hard at updating our church website, expanding our social media presence, and live-streaming our services. The goal is for anyone who walks in on a Sunday morning to be able to understand the sermon (by taking out typical church and religious lingo), sing along with the worship portion (using more contemporary songs that people may have already heard on the radio), and know where to go to get connected after service (by introducing a Connection Table that has a map of all our house churches and people to answer questions). These may seem relatively simple, but we’ve already heard so much positive feedback from members and visitors about their ‘Sunday experience’,” said Elena.

One year after Tony was appointed an evangelist, the Broward Church lead evangelist moved to the mission field to lead a church in Scotland. Although blessed with natural leadership skills, Tony understands that forging a collaborative leadership team is a wise way to lead a church of nearly 500 members. He and Cassandra describe working with the elders as “nothing but joy. They believe in us, inspire us, guide us and work right by our side.” Whether considering repairs or a remodel to the Broward Church building, a sermon series, or church member concerns, Tony and Cassandra meet regularly with the elders and their wives and opinion leaders to form decisions that will benefit the whole body of Christ. Under their leadership, the Broward Church is on a healthy course after a year of growth.

All three couples experienced parenthood for the first time in 2017. During state wide retreats, conferences and leadership meetings, at some point you will find them together – laughing and swapping stories about taming their toddlers; comparing notes on media trends and encouraging each other to fight the good fight of faith. As church leaders, they are determined to defy the generational divide, with a little help from their friends!