I’ve been spending some time reading through various articles and blogs around the topic of reaching people my age, late-twenty to late thirty somethings.
I thought Thom Rainer’s article, “Five Ways Some Senior Adult Churches Became Younger” was concise and helpful as I try to wrap my mind around how to be a minister of reconciliation to young people from the perspective of an older congregation. These are five descriptions of things churches have done that have been successful, according to Thom Rainer:
- They were willing to change. There is a natural tendency to resist change as we get older. Colloquially, it is often expressed as “getting settled in our ways.” I spoke with one 77-year-old man who made a visit to the church in town that was reaching young people. He saw what attracted those younger generations in contrast to what was taking place in his church. He prayed that God would give him a heart that was other-focused instead of me-focused. He would later become a leader of the older congregants urging them to let go of things that were simply their preferences.
- The members expanded their social circles to younger people. Relationships are key to reaching people. If older adults are intentional about connecting with younger persons in their social settings, those relationships will soon transfer to the church.
- The members started Bible studies with younger adults. The example where I have familiarity is a senior adult man who began a Bible study in his home. He invited people in his neighborhood to attend, many of whom were younger families. Eventually he invited them to church, and some responded positively. An elderly woman took the same concept and began mentoring some younger women.
- Younger adults are asked to be “missionaries” to the older-adult congregation. One church successfully received two-year commitments from five young families to be a part of the older congregation. These younger families were highly intentional about inviting their peers, and the church grew with younger people. A word of admonition is in order here. You cannot simply ask younger families to join you. The older congregants must be willing to listen to the younger families and act on many of the changes they suggest.
What are some things your church does to reach young families?