Saving your church from Young Adults – a HOWTO guide
Conversation | | 28th August 2020
The following post is a satirical, tongue-in-cheek look at “the church”. We know that no church intentionally excludes young people or anyone… and we know that sometimes the choices we make have an unintentional impact on others. The PULSE team acknowledge that there are many congregations who are working hard to love and encourage Young Adults and work side by side with them in ministry for His glory, and we’d love to be a part of encouraging that.
Is your congregation struggling with a small, noisy group of young people aged between 18-30? Don’t know what to do with them, and would prefer they didn’t keep reminding you that they’re a vital part of your community too?
To help you address this imbalance the PULSE team offer this list of handy tips – the first in a series of HOWTO guides – that will empower your congregation to lean in and remind young adults that the church doesn’t need them.
INSIST ON SEGREGATED SERVICES
You can’t call it worship if there aren’t hymns, and they aren’t hymns if they aren’t played on an organ. If they don’t like it they can hold a service at some other time when older people aren’t using the church, just as long as they pack their noisy guitars and drums away and don’t leave anything lying around that someone could trip over.
If they really must move something it has be put back exactly where they found it, because the sanctuary – in fact, the entire church building – has specific places for things that hold deep spiritual significance to us. The Baby Jesus would roll over in his grave if the welcoming table that holds copies of the latest edition of Conservative Christian Propaganda Monthly wasn’t put back in the right place.
LIMIT WAYS YOUNG ADULTS CAN BE INVOLVED
As we age it becomes impossible for us to be involved in running youth group or listening to young people talk. The best way Young Adults can be in ministry is to run the youth group, or assist with the Sunday School (but not run it – Mavis has done that for years, so she knows what she is doing).
Young Adults don’t have enough life experience to be lay preachers so there’s no way they can offer a message or sermon.
If they really want to be involved maybe they can read the bible during the service just as long as they use the pew bible so we can all follow along, starting with chapter, verse, and page number, and then talk slowly and clearly. This is the sacred word of God we’re talking about!
CUT THE BUDGET FOR YOUNG ADULT MINISTRY ENTIRELY AND MAKE THEM FUNDRAISE FOR EVERYTHING
They seem to have so much money for festival tickets and overseas holidays however they so rarely put money in the plate on Sunday. Certainly none of them tithe (which is a great reminder to speak with the Minister and tell them they should include teaching about giving in their upcoming series on “What it means to be a Christian”).
If they only channelled all that extra money into giving to and supporting the church we could afford to make the youth worker position available for more than 10 hours a week. If only they could see that.
LITURGY EXISTS FOR A REASON
For so many young people who attend university you’d think they’d have an appreciation for call and response liturgy and the delight it offers. There’s so much depth and meaning in those words, yet they mumble them along with us every Sunday morning like they don’t understand them. Didn’t they cover the creeds in their confirmation classes? The Basis of Union?!
When we gather we must together take part in every single component of the liturgy so that we don’t leave anything out. It’s not proper worship if the declaration of forgiveness doesn’t happen before we get to the offertory hymn. It feels eerily sacrilegious that we’re able to celebrate the Eucharist in our homes without the minister being present to bless the bread and the wine (even though we don’t believe in transubstantiation like the Catholics – I mean really)… I just hope that young adults don’t think they can preside over holy communion at any time now that we’re doing it in conjunction with the live-stream.
MAKE EVERY ENGAGEMENT CONDITIONAL
It has to be about give and take, and quite frankly young people give so little and take so much. They demand time from our minister even though they barely contribute to cover his stipend. The younger ones used to take all the best cakes and biscuits at morning tea before we had a chance to get there but we fixed that by setting them up their own table with a limited amount, and Frank guards the adult table like a hawk for us.
They have to learn that they’ll get their chance at being on Church Council when they grow up, and if they prove themselves they might get voted in as an Elder and hold a position of real responsibility within the congregation. They have to learn the ropes first though, and that means getting on the mowing roster, the flower roster, the morning tea roster (International Roast coffee is fine), and especially the cleaning roster. Then we’ll see they’re serious enough about our church and not just swanning in whenever they feel like it.
REAL LIFE IS TOO CONFRONTING TO TALK ABOUT IN CHURCH
The Bible is pretty clear about sex, teen pregnancy, drug taking, homosexuality, relationships, tinder and dating apps, climate change, “depression” and other made-up mental health problems, working out what you are supposed to do with your life, respecting your elders, not using your smartphone in church, which version is the most correct translation, not needing to undergo safe church training (we all love Jesus, right?), 5G causing the Coronavirus, and so much more. If only they read it properly!
ONLY EVER TALK ABOUT HOW GOOD YOUNG ADULTS HAVE IT TODAY
Remember when you used to go off to youth camps or regional youth gatherings to find your sweetheart? They were highly anticipated and allowed us to search out a nice young Christian boy or girl that our parents would be so proud to meet, but we only could do it once a month or once a year! It’s incredible we even crossed paths – God must have been involved.
There’s so many labour-saving devices they have they really don’t understand how difficult it was for us. The hours we spent preparing for and dressing up for church so we could come along and speak only when we were spoken to.
Young Adults really don’t understand how easy life is and how welcoming we make the church for them. If only they asked and listened to us they’d understand.
NEVER LET YOUNG ADULTS FORGET THAT TIME THEY LEFT THE LIGHTS ON
We trusted our Young Adults once and after their gathering they went home and the last person out didn’t turn off the lights before locking the doors, meaning they were running all night racking up an expense we shouldn’t have to carry on their behalf. Ruby, who goes to a different congregation, still remembers the hole they put in the wall of the church hall and that it took them two whole weeks to get a tradesman in to fix it. Her husband George nearly went and did it himself but she reminded him they need to learn and deal with the cost of their mistakes.
THERE ARE RULES
Every thing and every one has their place. When we all gather we must be reminded that there’s a certain order that things need to be done in, and a certain way to do things. Young Adults don’t understand how upsetting it is to us if they don’t follow these processes and rules because they are so important to us and they help us worship God. We worked hard our entire lives giving to the church – now it’s time for the church to serve me a little.
Remember you can put up a lot of signs (handwritten ones are best) gently reminding young people how to leave the room just so, and include specific details for placement of items. The more signs, the better chance they have of seeing them!
As for the rest of their issues Leviticus exists to remind us how to live our lives. If only Young Adults paid attention we wouldn’t be in this mess.
This HOWTO guide is by no means exhaustive. You’ve probably got great tips also – make sure you reach out to the PULSE team and let us know so we can add them to this helpful list.
Alternatively, if you’d like to do the complete opposite you can contact Karen, Joyce, Ofa or Molk to discuss a GROWING YOUNG consultation that is designed to radically transform your church’s culture so that young people – especially young adults – will want to be a part of your congregation.
Molk is the Senior Field Officer (North), and responsible for young adult ministry as a part of the PULSE team.