I just finished the Webinar, which was pretty surreal. I was talking into the phone and clicking through a power point on my computer. Meanwhile there were about 80 participants that I couldn’t see. There was no interaction, no facial expressions (except for emoticons. Surreal, I tell you). Then, we had five minutes for questions. There were about ten questions… and you know how wordy I am. So, I didn’t come close to answering them.
For the sake of ongoing discussion, let’s talk about them here. I’ll tell you what I said, what I meant to say, and what I should have said. And, we can gather the wisdom of the ‘nets. How would you answer them? What questions would you add?
How do we get young adults in our doors?
Well, the front door for most young adults is actually your website. If you’re going to put money and energy anywhere, you’ll probably need to put it into your site. Try to get an online presence, with blogging, Yelp, and things like that. Mac makes it really easy to build sites.
If there’s a college or university near by, you can begin there. Western received 15% of its membership directly from the campus ministry. And 10% of its attendance comes from students.
But… the best advertising for churches is word of mouth. (Here’s a post on it.) So, if you can get people talking about your church, talking about their own spiritual journeys, then you’re in good shape.
Basically, you need to get a few young adults in church, give them some substantial power, let them begin their own things, and let them tell their friends.
Good preaching’s pretty important too. Post your sermons on the web, so people can email them to one another (amazingly, this actually happens).
What about in rural settings? Web sites are okay, but what about rural communities?
When I was in Abbeville, I hung out in the local coffeehouse, put flyers up for events there.
Oh! Interesting letters to the editor work well in rural communities. Or sometimes you can get articles in the paper.
In a rural community, you actually have an advantage when it comes to word of mouth. People talk about things. Word gets around quickly.
I can’t get the different generations in our congregation to be in the building at the same time. How do you build intergenerational community, when you can’t get them in the same place at the same time?
That’s a struggle. Retirees can make it during the day, and young adults at night. Families? It’s always hard for families to find time…. We can always count on young adults on Sundays, but it’s hard for them to make it at other times. Worship is central, and then build your other interactions around worship.
We also have a men’s group (Wednesday 7 a.m.) and a women’s spirituality group (Sunday 8:30 am). Both are intergenerational.
Usually when people talk about churches for Generation X, they are churches only for Generation X. Why do you talk about intergenerational connection?
Right. That’s what I read about a lot. But it hasn’t been my experience. Intergenerational ministry is what’s always worked in the churches that I’ve pastored. And in the churches that my friends pastor. So, I felt like there was a missing voice in all of this. Our society needs intergenerational understanding. And, I know many young adults and college students who really appreciate the community.
There were some questions on worship styles. Maybe I’ll try to get the original questions from Alban… Stay tuned. And what would your answers be? What do you agree with? What do you disagree with? What would you ask?