Posted by: celticanglican | November 13, 2010

Attracting Younger People to Church

http://owlrainfeathers.blogspot.com/2010/11/ah-church.html

This post brings up some good points. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with contemporary worship by any means, but some churches do seem to put too much emphasis on being “trendy”.

What points would you add? What types of things has your church done that’s helped bring in younger people?

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Responses

  1. There are some good points – the most important is to be genuine. Stop reading the bible is not an instruction I’d ever give anyone, so I’d pitch that. I don’t think you can ever be too steeped in Scripture.

    I think that churches that do well over time are those that design a liturgy that is faithful to the tradition of the church, rather than to a personality or age group; those whose sermons explain the Gospel without apology; and who care for their sheep. End.

    While she makes some good points, I’m not sure that I’d use her post to do anything other than raise discussion, as you are doing. Thanks for the post.

  2. Hi Ann,
    Thanks for weighing in. This post really does give some interesting food for thought.

    I, too, wouldn’t advise someone to stop reading the Bible. In the case of someone who’s been hurt in a Bible-based cult, I’d suggest gradually starting to read from a different translation from the one used in the toxic church.

    Good points about what types of churches thrive. In my neck of the woods, the prevailing attitude seems to be that simply going all contemporary with hi-tech devices or doing cowboy-style services are one-stop solutions to growth problems. These churches may very well reach some groups effectively, but not others who might prefer a different style.

  3. I guess it depends upon one measures “thriving.” If you talk only numbers, I think contemporary draws people in, but doesn’t always keep them. The question is how well a church can care for its people. Does the pastor know everyone, not just their names, but their lives.

    Most churches in our area are contemporary. We aren’t. We look like Anglican churches did in the 50s, with hymnals and an organ. Our priest describes the liturgy as plain vanilla. It’s holy and calm. I think that what is appealing to me is the quiet simplicity of it – which allows me to be still and worship God.

    We draw a mix of folks. Young families, medium families (us), college students, older people. Aside from having a youth ministry, we don’t aim at any age group.

    I guess my concern with her post was that it is clear that she wants the whole sexuality discussion to go away. But we can’t disregard what Scripture does say about it. Not talking about it every five minutes and never talking about it are different things. As churches we need to discuss the whole theology of life, in all of it’s aspects. That theology leads to many conclusions – not only about sexuality and gender, but also about feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless. It’s all connected.

  4. Ann wrote: “I guess it depends upon one measures “thriving.” If you talk only numbers, I think contemporary draws people in, but doesn’t always keep them.”
    Yup. I think a lot of these churches that boast 20,000 members or so probably have a lot of casual attendees or people merely on their mailing lists.
    “The question is how well a church can care for its people. Does the pastor know everyone, not just their names, but their lives.”
    Exactly. In a time of crisis, I’d prefer to have a clergy member who actually knows me and my situation.

  5. Is the role of senior minister of a church to provide pastoral care or to cast vision? In large churches small groups not pastors are the primary means by which pastoral care is provided. Those participating in the small groups learn to care for each other. This is something that we can learn from the Celtic Church in which each believer had an anamchara, or soul friend, who provided them with spiritual care and guidance. Each believer in turn provided spiritual care and guidance to another believer. In small group ministry a group of believers provide spiritual care and guidance to each other. In small groups believers can live out Jesus and Paul’s teachings in a way that cannot be done in a congregation.

  6. I attend a smaller church (~150ish ASA), so I can’t speak to what a huge church does, but I don’t know that pastoral care and casting vision are different things, at least in my experience. Maybe I don’t understand the question, but I think that pastoral care is vision, or at least has to be part of it. I think that care from fellow believers has to happen in a healthy church, and that a pastor cannot be all things to all people – particularly looking at the fact that some pastors are more gifted at preaching than care – but there are times when you need both your closer small group folks and your pastor. And the pastor can’t just drop in at crisis moments without a long standing relationship with a parishioner, as noted above.
    I’m intrigued, Robin, by the idea of a soul friend, but am not sure that I would want that uncoupled from life in a larger (or in my case not huge) congregation, which I don’t know that you’re proposing here.

  7. Hi Robin,
    Thanks for your response, and welcome!

    “Is the role of senior minister of a church to provide pastoral care or to cast vision?”
    IMO, I think he/she should be capable of doing both, with appropriate assistance from the laity.

    “In large churches small groups not pastors are the primary means by which pastoral care is provided.”

    I think lay pastoral ministries are a great idea, and especially be a Godsend when a congregation has a shortage of clergy. I see these as an extension of the local congregation. Since there are certain pastoral responsibilities normally only delegated to clergy, I don’t think a small group can take the place of a clergy member who at least has some familiarity with his/her congregation.


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