You don't have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump. Lace knickers won't hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in the length of hemlines doesn't necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word. --Elizabeth Bibesco

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to Get Young People to Come to Church

Since our move to Chicago, my Woman and I seem to spend a lot of time church-shopping-- you know, finding the church that's right for us. In the meantime, we've seen how blessed we were before with two wonderful churches --thank God for St. Clare's and Canterbury House-- and how hard it is as "young people" to find a Home in the church. So, although this is rather off topic, I have a list of things I'd like to say to every church I've been to that's trying to recruit "young people."

How about you? Does this list match up to what you wish you could say to your churches or synagogues or mosques? What would you change?

So, here we go: Allie's 10 Sure-Fire Ways to Recruit "Young People" to Church

  1. We get enough advertising campaigns from Apple and Ikea. Skip the marketing and be real!
  2. We like pop. (Some of us.) We also like hip-hop, rock, jazz, techno, country, 18th Century Charles Wesley hymns, and genres you’ve never even heard of.
  3. Talk to us if we show up to church.
  4. If we’re not showing up to church, don’t give us flak about it! Our reasons for going or not going to church are just as complex as anyone else’s.
  5. Try not to beg for money too hard. When you need to beg for money (because don’t we all in this economy!), refer to #1. It’s not about give-the-church-money-or-you’ll-rot-in-Hell; I’m pretty sure God would be just as content with my donation to Unicef. A church is a business just like everything else. You need money to keep the lights on and pay the priest and buy materials for the Sunday School classrooms. Tell us that.
  6. We, like everyone else, need to participate. This doesn’t mean we need our own special group, although that’s sometimes nice. Welcome us into your choir, let us teach Sunday School, or invite us to Bible studies.
  7. If you have a group for us, please stop trying to be cool unless you’re already that cool to begin with. Why? For starters, not all of us are cool, so we don’t need a church that has all the same cliques as the rest of our lives. And lets face it, we can tell when you’re faking it, so please refer to #1.
  8. Don’t make us choose between our faith and our friends of other faiths. If you do, odds are good we’ll pick our friends-- not because we don’t believe, but because we don’t want a church we can’t bring our friends to.
  9. Don’t be stupid about science or social issues-- if you have to be stupid about them, be stupid quietly. Lots of us stay away from church because all we ever hear about church is how church-goers “don’t believe” in evolution or gay people. If church focused more on worshiping together than pushing beliefs on people, it’d appeal more to us.
  10. On that note, don’t force us to believe things and be open to doubt. Everyone doubts-- think Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane or Thomas after the Resurrection. If we have to have all our doubts cleared up before we walk in the door, you'd never see us! (You probably wouldn't see half your older parishioners for that matter, either!)