It’s one thing to enjoy a good news story on Chester in the Delaware County Daily Times. It’s even better when they come back with an editorial to remind us why the story was so good.
Much of today’s editorial presents itself as a condensed version of the original story of churches in Chester, but there are a couple important points that shouldn’t go overlooked concerning young people’s perception of what church is to them.
I’m a firm believer that the physical layout of the old traditional churches is a turn off to young people. When they walk into a space with stationary hard pews, throne looking seating on an alter, stained glass windows with images from another day and time, and white washed walls, they’re immediately turned off.
Young people are all about open space, modular design, bright colors, and movement. When they walk in a traditional church and are forced to sit on a hard bench (making sure they’re not sitting in the Queen Mother’s seat) they immediately feel disconnected with everything behind them, and most of what’s in front of them, while they wonder why so many seats are empty.
It’s not just getting young people to services, but to push them into service – helping the city and meeting the needs of the next generation.
Michelle Davis, pastor of Communications and Strategic Planning at Bethany Baptist Church says,
“What I’m finding is that to them church is service and is experience, it’s not necessarily sitting in a service or traditions or things we call church. Millennials want to know how the Word is going to impact their lives and how you can make it relevant to what’s going on now.”
She’s exactly right. Millennials would be better served in the church basement where they can pull out the exact number of folding chairs they need and arrange them in a manner that makes sense to what’s going on at the moment.
I love how the Daily Times called out what’s going on a New Life Ministries. The converted grocery store has been chopped up into several open spaces that transform into what they need the space to be for what they’re doing. When it’s time for a play, the entire sanctuary becomes the stage and it remains that way for the entire run of the play, which is usually 3 to 4 weeks.
The new directions the church is taking in their appeal to youth is perhaps best embodied by Pastor Joyce Scott and her daughter, Youth Pastor Joy Scott, at New Life Ministries. They put on a series of theatrical productions this summer. The thought was to make the church an attraction all week, not just for a Sunday service.
“Ministry is joy and fun,” Pastor Joy said. “I want to reach people who might not sit in a service, but will sit through the message in a play. They’ll get that same message of Jesus Christ and that message of hope.”
I probably sound sexist, but I think the ladies understand how to attract the youth better than the guys do.
Young folks don’t respond to statements like…
For Chester – this is my belief and I’m sticking to it – the city is under spiritual attack,” Rev. Dr. Dexter Davis said. “Demonic forces have been operating here big time.”
As true as that statement may be, young folks don’t respond well to fear, doom, and gloom. The new generation is about fun and adventure. They can’t sit still and have miniscule attention spans. They need to be engaged in an open, loving, transforming environment with a lot of stimulation and variety.
The church that can learn how to do it best will be the one who will have the greatest impact on the Millennial generation and also have the best chance to survive.