Well, my children have given me the worst cold and it’s snowing, like really snowing, so it looks like it is Lent after all. But at least Matt sent me this. It’s so great. Let’s go through it line by line. It’s called #OKBoomer: 10 Signs Your Weekend Services Aren’t Designed for the Next Generation. I guess they heard Matt complaining about not being able to go to the “Tape” store and decided to show him how wrong he is. In the spirit of #OKBoomer, tho, the title is badly expressed. It should be 10 Ways Your…wait, what is a “Weekend Service”…is that like church? Are we talking about a “Church” service?
Sign 1: You tell people to open up their Bibles and turn to a certain chapter and verse. The next generation carries their Bibles with them all the time…on their phone app. “Turn on your Bibles would be more appropriate.
…because the “next generation” can’t understand colloquial English and none, none I tell you, bother with those old-timey things called “books.” And because the most important part of the sermon is when the preacher tells the congregation how to find the text, not the way he actually deals with the text, if indeed he will be dealing with it at all, let’s spend a lot of emotional energy on something that everyone is already figuring out for themselves!
Sign 2: You are concerned about the volume of the music, the amount of haze of the movement of the lights during the music. Yes, you will absolutely find a young adult that prefers softer music, no haze and no moving lights, but they probably have learned those preferences from their church parents. Churches that are reaching the next generation in large numbers are concerned not only for the specific music that they use but the worship experience that they are creating.
Everything about that paragraph is wrong. Everything. Church Time isn’t a worship “experience.” What does this person actually think is going on? Who is the object? What is worship anyway? It is not a time to craft something that people like in order to get them to come. It is a time to come humbly before the God of the universe who not only made everything, but then enacted a holy and perfect redemption for that creation by the power of his own blood…I’m sorry, what is “haze?” I don’t even know what that is, and I’m not even a boomer. “Churchy Parents” indeed.
Sign 3: You pass the offering plate. …unless you have a way for people to Venmo that offering plate. You’re highly unlikely to find the next generation carrying cash or their checkbook. Scratch that. They don’t even own a checkbook.
Ok, fine. I mean, I don’t know of any churches that haven’t figured out a way for people to give online. But also, it’s mean not to pass the plate. Like, do you really want to only rely on the financial contributions of the “next generation.” Shouldn’t everyone be allowed to give? You know what’s fun? Shaming old people, and middle-aged people, and even young people, especially when they’re trying to give you money.
Sign 4: You ask new guests to complete a connection card. That’s antiquated. Young adults use messaging apps to communicate. WhatsApp? Exactly
Wait, so using a pen and a piece of paper has fallen away into antiquity? Presented with a little card and a pen, the Young Person TM will not know what to do with it? Will be repulsed and sickened by the opportunity of writing some words and pressing the card into the hand of another human being? I see. Well, the use of technology has no consequences, as we know, and no privacy issues, of course, so I guess we will get busy and throw away our little cards that we put into our offensive bulletins that you nevertheless do need at least until we buy what do you call those things…oh, “books.”
Sign 5: Your message illustrations draw on movie, celebrity or other cultural references from the last decade or earlier. Yes, you need to study God’s word, but you also need to study today’s culture if you want to teach truth and help the next generation apply it to their lives. No more Lord of the Rings clips please.
I need a laughing emoji so bad right now. Incidentally, Matt opened his Ash Wednesday sermon with a detailed description of American Idol, not relying, as it were, on the whole congregation even knowing what that was, first because it is kind of “antiquated,” and second because some Old People TM who have better things to do with their time than watch TV might not have known what it was. I bring this up as a way of saying, again, that I guess the young don’t like to read good, timeless literature, and are not able to orient themselves linguistically in the preach moment, and if they haven’t heard of something, even if the preacher is carefully describing it, will have to tune out because whatever it is is just not “relevant” to them. Honestly, who are these “next generation?” We have some young people in our church and none of them are like this, thank heaven. They all read books and stuff, even Lord of the Rings.
Sir, I am not laughing. If you have people longing for the Tape Store, it might behoove you not to mock and reject the people who still use CDs. I mean, I don’t, but some still do. And you know what, one part of a good “church experience” is hanging in there with the people who have come for more years than just one, the ones who came when they were young and have now grown old. Jesus still loves them, actually, even if they can’t keep up with the cult of youth.
Sign 6: You still have a CD ministry for people who don’t know how to stream messages on their phones or computers. Don’t laugh. I saw one during a church visit within the last couple of months.
- You give people bulletins or other handouts as they’re entering your service. First of all, the next generations views that as environmentally insensitive. (And so do I, for that matter.) Beyond that, the next generation expects anything of importance to be communicated online—everywhere they might possibly go to look for it. If it’s important, it should be on your website, on all of your social media accounts, and on your app. If it’s important, it’s findable in under 30 seconds.
You know what’s really irresponsible, insensitive even? Spending more time worrying about your app than the quality of your teaching, the faithfulness of your “worship experience,” and obedience to your God. Also, there is no sharp dichotomy here. You can let people know things in many ways. Of course you should have a website and keep it fresh and up to date. But also, you should announce things from the pulpit, for all the people who can’t afford a fancy phone or computer—or do we not want the poor, just as we don’t want the elderly?
Sing 8: You still promote new membership classes during your services. The next generation is not a member of anything. It’s a foreign concept to them. They’ll subscribe to Netflix, but membership in an institution? Not a chance.
And this is a good thing? We should cater to the one who doesn’t know the value of membership in the mystical body of God’s Own Son? Rather than bringing them along, catechizing, instructing, nurturing, caring for, bringing even the young, and even the old, into the very bosom of God’s faithful people? Are you kidding me? I mean, absolutely, if some Young Person TM has wandered into a random room with a Megatron and a credit card payment option and a cacophony of apps, for sure, do not try to “become a member” of whatever that is, guacamole notwithstanding. But if that Young Person TM wanders into a room with a lot of true Christians who know Jesus and are making him known, that Young Person TM should be invited to join that body, heart, mind, and soul.
Sign 9: You aren’t creating Instagrammable moments. In other words, you need to create environments and moments that are so captivating that young adults want to let their friends and followers know about it.
Oh, I’ll Instagram you, for sure. Come to my church and I will Instagram that fact so fast…I mean, as I was saying, it’s not about “creating environments” that are “captivating,” it’s about listening to and adoring the Living God. If you want to take a picture, I guess, but that’s not the point of the exercise.
Sign 10: Your technology is outdated. I’ve been in way too many church auditoriums where the audio and video quality was poor. Most young adults have better technology in their living rooms or in the palm of their hands than many churches have in their auditoriums.
That’s interesting. I thought all the Young People TM were very poor and could not afford bread, nor water, nor their college loans. Maybe they shouldn’t be so judgy. Maybe they should just muck in with everyone. Maybe the church decided to care for the poor and downcast rather than upgrading the sound equipment this year, or maybe the heat in the building is going out and it’s still winter. Are all these Young People TM tithing? Or on vestry or the elder board? If they are upset about the sound equipment, they should get onto the Vestry and help figure out how the church is going to “pay for it.”
Bonus Sign: You planned the services and the teaching without giving any young adults a voice in the process. How can you expect to connect with the next generation if you don’t include them in the planning of your worship and teaching experiences.
Ah, yes, the everlasting admonishment that everyone’s “voices” matter. Actually, the voice that matters most is the voice of God who says things like, “Why will you die, Oh House of Israel?” and “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,” and “I never knew you” and “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” Personally, and this is just me and several millennia of church history speaking, the best way to “attract” the young’uns is to preach the gospel, in season and out of season, when they want to hear it when they don’t wanna hear it. God can handle every generation that comes slumping into a pew. I don’t want to be the first one in an awfully long time that refused to make the introduction, because I was too worried about how to connect venmo to my stupid app.