Last week we talked to author, Dr. Terry W. Dorsett about his book “Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church”. Today we focus on his other book, “Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church”.
I was blessed to grow up in fairly large churches that were well funded. As a result of that, we always had a professionally trained staff member who oversaw youth programs. That kept my siblings and I interested in church and is probably one reason all four of us have worked for churches, or other faith based organizations, at various points in our careers. When I moved to Vermont it quickly became apparent that the churches were too small to have staff members running those kinds of programs. Sadly, many young people left the church as a result. My wife and I, along with a small core of other parents, decided to do something about it. We built a strong youth ministry in Central Vermont based on volunteers. We currently have 180 young people enrolled in it, with no paid staff members. This book basically shares how small churches with limited budgets can have effective ministries to people under 30. It is based on our own experiences, and on extensive research about what is working in other places.
Again share a little bit about where you live and how that impacts your writing.
I live in the small state of Vermont. From a pure beauty standpoint, it is a wonderful place to live. The mountains and valleys and lakes and streams and small towns and village greens are just a fabulous setting for life in general. It is a great place to raise a family. However, from a spiritual perspective, it can be a challenge to be an evangelical Christian in Vermont. Vermont is the least religious state in the United States and has the highest proportion of people who claim “none” on various surveys about religion. This impacts my writing because though am a conservative Christian, almost all of the young people that I work with in youth ministry have a different world view. Many are agnostics. Few easily accept Christian ideas and concepts at face value. When I began to write this book, I wanted to show people who share my world view how they could build bridges to communicate with those who have other world views. It was very challenging, but I think this book does it well.
What was the motivation behind the book?
I often serve as a guest speaker in small churches. I became burdened for how “old” the congregations looked in most small churches. I knew from my own experience that small churches could reach young people. But since people always tell me that our church is “special” I wondered if any small church could do it. Occasionally I would find a small church with a lot of young people, so I began to ask a lot of questions. I found certain common elements in small churches that had young people and those that did not. I took those ideas, matched with my own experience, and mixed in a lot of research of what was happening in other places across North America, and the book emerged.
What do you hope this book accomplishes?
Many small churches have become so discouraged about the lack of young people that they have given up trying. My number one hope is that my book will reverse that trend. I want small churches to know they CAN reach young people and they can do it well.
Who is this book written for?
This book is written for any person who is a member of a small church with less than 200 attendees on Sunday morning, which includes most churches across North America. If you care about your children or grandchildren, and they are not in church, read this book. You can help your church do this!
Is there anything else you want your readers to know about you that would give us a glimpse into your personality and passions?
Though I appreciate people of all ages, I think the greatest hope for revival in North America lies in the next generation. Because so many of them are post-Christian, when they discover faith in Christ, it is fresh and new to them. That infuses them with an energy that is infectious and greatly needed in most churches. My wife and I have dedicated much of our energy the last two decades in reaching the next generation and we long to see a great revival sweep that generation.
You can order the book at: