At its origin, the Church was a place where people deeply engaged with one another’s stories, shared life and food, prayed, and invited new people to be a part of the journey. No doubt, the church has evolved over the centuries, but it continues to move towards what God intends it to be. My questions for you are as follows: 1) What is it that you like best about your church? 2) What would you like to see change? What can we do to grow our congregation?
It is an undeniable fact that churches that celebrate, embrace and embody diversity in their communities will thrive, while those that resist diversity and cling to their ethnocentric privilege will falter. Churches cannot freely conduct their affairs according to traditional beliefs on issues of church growth without some negative consequences. A significant number of research among young people show that they are attracted to a church that is welcoming, accepting, authentic, hospitable and caring. In essence, they are seeking out a church that will become like a family to them.
I am very concerned about our ministry to everyone- people of all races, socio-economic classes, and cultures, but in particular children and youth, who constitute a significant part of our community and whom I consider the “future” of any church. Our children and youth are born into a fast paced culture. They are not easily attracted to a culture of routine, tradition and stability that define so many churches. They have short attention spans and get bored easily, and this poses a huge challenge to the church. Many children and youth have left churches because of boredom. Children and youth of today and even some adults do not enjoy a church that provides only a sermon and corporate singing. The truth is that the church is not a place where all people of all learning styles can easily engage. There is need for ministries that are tailor made for people with different needs.
I believe that our Church needs to intentionally direct part of its budget to facilitate programs that children and youth perceive to be welcoming, accepting, authentic, hospitable and caring to them. We owe them a ministry that they can identify with and call their own. We should all want to attract a good number of children and youth to our church. That being said, we should all want to help them land smoothly in our church to enjoy every moment and look forward to returning the next Sunday.
My hope is that the Sunday service is more than a scripted hour, but rather a celebration of our experiences with God Monday through Saturday for adults as well as children and youth.