Change

Ryan likes to attend his small local church with his family because he knows everyone well; members call the family to be sure everything is okay if they miss a week.  However, he gets frustrated sometimes because there are very few people his age in attendance, and he feels as if the sermon is geared towards people his parents’ age.

Johanna likes to attend the large contemporary church a few towns over.  While her dad thinks the music is too “loud” for his taste, he drives her there each week because he loves to watch her connect with Jesus as she sings and praises during song service.  Sometimes, Johanna feels bad because she knows her dad doesn’t enjoy the service like she does.

Jose likes to attend a Hispanic church about an hour from his house.  Even though the drive is long on Sabbath mornings, he loves worshipping in an environment where his whole family can understand and engage.

Churches come in all shapes and sizes.  Big churches, little churches, churches conducted in different languages, liberal churches, conservative churches.  Members who attend these churches are drawn in because that particular church meets their specific needs.

However, even within their comfort zone, are there are things that members would change?  What of our young people?  Are there things they would like to change about their churches?

In a recent study (2014) conducted by the Institute for Church Ministry, Adventist young people were asked to respond to the statement, “I would like to make changes in the way we worship in my church.”  Forty-one percent of respondents indicated that this “always true” or “often true” for them, personally.  Another 30% indicated that this was “sometimes true,” while the remaining 29% indicated hat this was “rarely true” or “never true.”

It is not surprising to discover that often, young people prefer change to sameness. With 71% of the youth desiring at least some change, it is important to consider what type and extent of change young people may be craving.

Here are some ideas that may have you connect with your youth and find out what it is they really want out of their church experience:

  • Hold a “town hall” meeting on a weeknight for the young people of your church.  Open up the floor for suggestions on how the current youth programming can be adapted to more adequately and meaningfully meet their needs.
  • Administer a questionnaire or conduct a survey of your young people.  Ask questions like:
    • The thing I need most from church is…
    • The church can help me achieve this by…
    • The thing I like most about church is…
    • The thing I like least about church is…
    • My parents help me grow in Jesus by…
    • My church helps me grow in Jesus by…
    • The church could better help me grow by…
  • Once a quarter, invite your youth to be in charge of the church service.  Allow them to select the music, the passage to be preached upon, or even do the preaching themselves!  It may feel scary to “hand over the reins” in this way, but you may be surprised at the way in which your congregation is blessed by a change in pace.

As we have discussed many times before, young people are leaving Christian churches at an alarming rate.  While we cannot put allthe focus of our church on the youth – after all, there are other members, too – we must do everything we can to raise up our young people with a passion for Jesus and His Church.  They are the Church of tomorrow!