One of the secrets of reaching and keeping young families is to think young. Many times leadership in church work is made up of older and more mature people. There are obvious reasons this happen, but there is also a downside that needs to be brought to our attention. Older people think differently than younger people. Here are a few areas to ponder, or at least the ones I can recollect.
- Words and expressions can differ. Just as the last sentence in the above paragraph proves! When is the last time a 25 year single mom ever used the word “ponder” or “recollect”? Probably never. Terms are important. Download that! Lengthy sentences are out. Short is in. Texting, twitter and pop culture slang affects the way younger folks think and speak. Be cautious about big words, theological terms, lengthy sentences and even common Bible terms. Take time to listen better, but also take time to explain more. Got it?
- Young families look toward the future. The older generation looks to the past. The kind of families your church is trying to reach are made up of moms and dads that sit at the kitchen table and dream. What will the kids become? When will the car be paid off? When will the raise in salary come? All of these look forward. My generation looks backwards to all that happened and used to be. When ministering to a church of oldies the past is going to be emphasized over and over. When ministering to a young church, we must cast vision for their future.
- A young mind changes quickly. It has been trained that way. Television, quick moving commercials, and instant access to information has indelibly marked the thinking and concentration patterns of the young parents. Multitasking is as easy for them as receiving and sending a text while reading this paragraph. Bible truths and lessons from the scriptures need to be well thought out and placed into small and concentrated capsules. A well crafted phrase with a singular emphasis works better than longer, logical and didactical reasoning. Repetition, repetition, repetition is the key, but not in a boring way, but a creative way. 360 preaching approaches the same point from many directions. Object lessons, visual and stories are are part of the way a young mind works.
There is one advantage that older, more mature church leaders have in this area. They are wise enough to know that some things change and some things don’t. Our Bible stands true and immovable but trends, fashions, technologies will always be moving about. We know that, and it is OK. We don’t dress like John Quincy Adams, we all use microphones at our churches and we probably have a computer in our pocket. We can handle change. In fact, to reach out to young moms and dads we need to do more than handle it, we need to embrace it.
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