How to Discourage Young Adults from Attending Your Church . . .

29 Jul

I know you all realized I was being ironic with the title of this post . . .

However, sometimes we older adults need to be reminded of how hard it was to be a young adult member of a congregation.  Sometimes you just wish to be taken seriously and don’t seem to find that happening . . .

And . . . I can remember some things I did as a young Christian and a young adult (I was both at the same time) that would have caused the older adults to not take me seriously.  Honestly.   

Like the time I seriously stood before our pastor’s wife, as she was pregnant with their fourth child, and stated that I believed it was irresponsible to the planet for anyone to have any more than two children.  I thought I was giving my political views.  How could I have missed the part where I was mentally stabbing her in the back.  Really!

That aside, though, I weathered my youth and so will today’s young adults.  But will they weather it within the church or as an outsider?

The first point I have found myself making a lot in recent days is that young adults, like everyone else, like to be encouraged in the good things they are doing, not discouraged about their (sometimes) obvious need for growth.

They are no different from the rest of us.  If you would find a remark discouraging if it were directed at you, so would that young adult who is facing you at the moment. 

That should not be so hard to understand (a little empathy goes a long way), but sometimes it just is.

It is far too easy for some of us older adults to assume we have a parental/scolder role in the life of every young adult we meet.  And we fail to see that we eventually cause them to stop listening to us and then, perhaps, to even leave the church to get away from us.

I must say that my pastor of my youth, and his wife, exercised remarkable graciousness in just letting my silly remarks about population control slide!!!  Sure, the pastor could have written a sermon about silly, non-Biblical thoughts that students pick up in college, but he did not.  Neither of them argued with me.  They simply didn’t respond to my remarks.  I learned later on how very ungracious my remarks had been.  But no one embarrassed me about them at the time.  I figured it all out for myself later.

My companion point to my first one is that young parents need to observe that their children are welcomed in the church!!!  That does not include overhearing nursery workers debating about who is going to get “stuck” in the nursery that night!!!

I was once headed to a major exercise at my base where I would be working outside all day, perhaps without a break.  I stopped at a local McDonalds at 6 AM to get a takeout breakfast and latte.  It was a newly remodeled facility, so I was excited to see how clean and pretty it was inside.  Until . . .

There had been a worker who had not shown up for work due to illness or something.  As I arrived, second in line, the two workers there were openly quarreling about who was going to wait on the person in front of me.  As I stood there, embarrassed, four more people joined the line behind me.  

After almost five minutes of hearing them quarrel while their customers just stood there, I looked at the two employees and said, “Let me make your life easier for you.  You don’t need to wait on me.”  I headed for the door.

The two people immediately behind me said, “Nor us” and they left, too.

Now, lest you think I just let it slide (because those employees ultimately got what they wanted–less work to do–as they are not paid bonuses for waiting on more customers), I did contact their corporate office about their behavior, offering corporate a chance to apologize.  When they did not respond, I never went back (but at least they were informed about why they lost my business).  

That business model shows pretty pointedly why people won’t come back to church if they see nursery workers quarreling about who has to be stuck in the nursery with the children.  No one wants to think that their children are a burden or that anyone feels “stuck” with them.

We need to show a loving representation of Christ in how we care for the smallest churchmembers.  It is the way to the heart of their parents!!!

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