At my current congregation I’ve been asked to be on a task force. Specifically a worship task force. This task force is charged with creating something for 18-35 year old. That something could be completely different, tweaking something which exists in the church already or creating something completely new. It could be in our building or somewhere else. It could be a worship experience, service experience or community experience. I’m really not sure what it will be…but I’m excited about the something!
Here’s why this excites me, I like ideas. I like thinking differently. I get jazzed about doing something different, thinking outside of the box, and brainstorming. In fact Ideation is one of my top 5 strengths according to Strengths Finder 2.0! This isn’t to say I’m always good at following through with ideas, that is still an area where I need to move past my fear or anxiety, but I feel the Spirit alive within me when I’m able to dream and think about what could be!
Recently I came across an article about mainstream churches having a window of opportunity to create a space of those who are turned off by other churches of fundamentalism or liberalism. But we haven’t been very good at engaging this opportunity. (Click here for the full article found on the Tennesean website.)
Mainline and moderate churches are well-situated to reap a harvest of people who have been turned off by extreme fundamentalism or radical liberalism, but who would be open to centrist Christianity if they knew about us. Unfortunately, mainline churches have not done a good job of telling our story or “marketing our brand.” Nor have we been very innovative in reaching unchurched people. And many of our churches have neglected crucial practices such as high-quality and culturally relevant worship, small groups, community service and evangelism.
What I really appreciate about the article is that the author doesn’t just focus on worship. I’m not sure that I’ve said it on this blog or not, but if you have ever talked to me in person about engaging young adults, I will be the first one to tell you that the style of worship is secondary and community is more important. Behave, believe, belong has turned into belong, believe, behave. Or at least I think it is changing and others are making the case for the change as well.
Although this task force is a “worship” task force, I’m hopeful we will look at it as an opportunity to think differently about what we think about when we use the word community. Are we willing to think differently in how we reach people (regardless of age) outside of the church. Are we willing to be innovative in how we hold onto our deep theological roots within the Lutheran tradition without letting these hold us back?
But when we tell our grace story well, and emphasize core spiritual practices, the results can be amazing.
What are your thoughts on reaching the unchurched? What methods or examples have you seen work? What worked about them?