I tend to read a lot about church and faith, both in trying to discover and learn more about the Anglican expression, exploring other styles of churchmanship to those of my own and the CofE, but also to understand the world outside of the church (in it’s widest sense) and their perceptions and understandings of the church.
As a “millennial” myself (by the skin of my teeth admittedly!) I loved the latest article I read. I found myself agreeing (and tweeting profusely (it’s what we do!)) many of the statements made within it. It is actually about church technology and the message it sends to millennials. I thought I would take the opportunity to blog a little about it as one of the phrases made me think about millennials and stewardship / generosity.
You can read the full post here. (I found it interesting I promise)
The quote I particularly like is:
Millennials want to go to a church where they can contribute. They want to give of their time and their resources, but they want to feel like what they do is going to make a difference. When a church ignores technology, young adults begin to question that church’s conviction to reach the culture.
If the church they’re attending is already running at a deficit in the way it handles cultural changes, they feel like everything they give is only helping you play catch up, instead of making true advances forward.
It reminded me of in the early days of me in my church and my excitement of sponsoring a child through an organisation the church partnered with. I came from a very different church background, and a huge part of my testimony is God bringing me through that. In the process of learning the true character of Jesus and him not being an angry God with a big stick, I learned that people like me e.g. regular everyday people with jobs could actually play a part in helping church, I could contribute even if I wasn’t a talented worship leader or preacher.
If people come into our churches do they know how they can contribute?
How long do they need to be in church before they find out OR before they are allowed to contribute?
What if them being able to contribute to something was actually a deciding factor in them deciding to stay in church?
Although this article is about millennials I do feel there is actually something in all of us that is intrinsic in our design that we want to feel like what we do is going to make a difference. So many people are searching for themselves we see in magazine about “finding yourself”, trying to find their calling or purpose. I think often, even in the secular world people are searching and maybe even don’t quite know what it is they are searching for. Is there something in that, that the church can meet people where they are and help them on that journey as they explore? Can the church be providing opportunities for people to contribute to things and to give of themselves surely because we are the church those things will be making a difference. Peoples generosity with time or their gifts can be running kids clubs or helping with the church grounds or the flowers, maybe there is a worship group or a café in the church. Maybe actually, people who work long hours might just want to help financially and feel like they’re “doing their bit”
What would help that – What would limit that? Are we obvious with what we spend and where peoples generous financial giving goes? Would it be obvious to a new person in our churches what good the church does, would we know about their presence in the parish community?
Another interesting quote from the article;
Think about it this way: Would you continue to go to a cash-only grocery store? It wouldn’t make any sense—would it? Our culture no longer relies on cash exchanges for goods and services. A cash-only store might have solid reasons for eschewing credit and debit purchases, but are they more important than meeting customers where they’re at?
We are operating in a changing culture in terms of money and finance to even that of 10 or 20 years ago. Never would we have foreseen paying for something without signing your name, we have progressed not only to using a pin number but beyond that to using contactless payment. I always make jokes about being like the Queen, I literally never have any cash! I give to my church in different ways, not often is it by placing money in the offertory. I budget and arrange my bank accounts based on monthly outgoings in terms of Direct Debits or Standing Order.
Are we offering enough options AND the right options to people in our churches that is going to mean they can give whichever way that fits into their lifestyle?
Are those ways presented or are we too shy in case we scare people away?
So many considerations and questions to reflect on and think about, and I am quite sure there won’t be one answer that applies to all of us. But while we think of our church and our vision within our communities there will likely always be the question of resource (whether that be time, skill or finance) it’s a responsibility as good stewards to help people, to provide them with opportunity, to make things easy, accessible and available for them to be able to contribute BUT most importantly for them to be able to walk into our churches and feel welcome and comfortable enough to want to come back and involve themselves. We aren’t called to connect people solely to a church – in doing that we are connecting people to each other and connecting people to the most important element which is Jesus Christ.
I’d love you to take a little time and read the original article maybe your perspective allows you to see completely different questions or maybe even you can see answers and solutions!
I originally posted this on my work blog (www.generousgrowingchurch.wordpress.com) on 16th Jan 2017