Respect your… youngers???
The title throws you off, doesn’t it? It sounds a little crazy but in some circles, it is very true. We have always heard the statement, “Respect you elders!” I know that personally I have always tried to do so whether in church, the grocery checkout line, etc. I was always told by my former youth Sunday school teacher and now close friend, when you see an older member of the church stop and talk to them, shake their hand, and make them feel like a big deal. I tried to live by that advice several years and I must say it went a long way as far as building relationships with elderly church family members.
While I still live by those words we also must remember who will be running the church when others are long gone. We must use some forward thinking to determine what kind of church we will leave them. That’s where this whole concept of “Respect you…. Youngers” comes into play. We currently live in a very strange culture, so much so that I find myself now longing for the “old days” and I am only 36! We live in a culture where younger people are called by several names and are sometimes grouped together (mistakenly) into the termed “Snowflakes.” While I could type a whole other blog on true Snowflakes, I will stay far away from that. The reason I say some are mistakenly placed in to that category is because there are many young people that have a good head on their shoulders and have great ideas, passions, and talents. We should always take the knowledge young people can share and strive to use it as a tool to push the church forward! Who knows the culture better than young people, we cannot ignore this!
From my personal conversations with church going & non-church going young people I will share with you items I have been told personally as to reasons why they find church unimportant or simply why they do not attend church regularly.
I personally believe you could very easily find a correlation between the items mentioned above and the lack of giving see in church members of the younger generation. While giving is Biblical and should absolutely take place with every member of the church (and I for one could do better, I admit.) We also must understand (not agree with, but understand) that we now see a very material generation. If a young person sees a dead church OR a church that is stuck in the middle of who they want to be with no clear path forward. It is very unlikely you are going to see church growth and growth in giving in my opinion. I have always heard the statement, “It takes money to ride the train!” Okay, sounds good on the surface. One question, if I am buying a ticket for this train which one am I going to board if I want to get somewhere quick? A Tweetsie steam engine or an Amtrak? (You’re welcome Matt Sidden)
Don’t get me wrong. Are things of the past bad? Absolutely not, we must remember where we came from! But we cannot ignore the fact that if we indeed want to stay relevant in an ever changing and technological culture we are going to have to change. If we are wanting to stay relevant we will deal with situations we are not comfortable with. We will have conversations that may be tense. We will seek out the advice of the younger generation. We will empower the younger generation to get active in the life of the church! Otherwise we are only delaying an almost sure death of our churches. God bless!
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Jeremy Jenkins: Proclaimer of Christ through technology, husband, father of 3 amazing kids, and the resident PHBC computer geek and web admin!