Monday, July 11, 2005

What if teens ran church?

That, kind of, was our topic at bible study tonight. It should be noted there were only two guys (one is in the picture with this post), and another leader type besides me. I want to do a few weeks talking about the church, so I wanted to get the students thinking about what the church is, which is we are the church, and what that looks like. A lot of this is pretty surface-level stuff, but hopefully the discussion can grow in the coming weeks.

What do students like about our church?

The variety of people. We're a big church, so we have a diverse congregation. Students appreciated that everyone’s accepted. They feel our church is welcoming and creates a safe environment for new people.

One thing they really like is the focus on young people in our church. Between high school and middle school youth group, we have a few hundred kids who come every week during the school year, and hundreds of elementary age kids too. We have an active nursury and children's ministries. Students like that young people are included in things. They think the church does a nice job of nuturing young people

On a practical level, they like that there's stuff to do. It’s fun. There's always stuff going on. Youth group has lots of activities. The church has volleyball, roller hockey, even putt putt golf that a lot of men show up for. They think this stuff builds relationships.

They feel the church services go beyond preaching. They say there are opportunities for hands on ministry. They also feel the church encourages them to make relationships, and meet in small groups.

There's a sense the church is willing to try new things. The students say it's important for the church to speak in their technological context. They like that the youth group has an active website, pastors use videos during their sermons, there's good sound and lighting.

Community outreach is something the kids value, and say our church is pretty good at.

There's a focus on missions. This year alone, the church will or has sent teams to Mexico, the Bahamas, Chicago, Germany, and Africa.

One student said they like that the church is not being a closed community - not segregated. Welcomes new people.

Youth group and other ministries are open to everyone, regardless if this is their church home (or if they have a church home).

So what don't they like?

The amount of people. Don’t get to know people. Can’t know everyone. "I don’t know half our church," one said.

You know people from your ministry, but not others. Hard for new people, hard to adjust to big church. This was a common concern.

Music always comes up in these discussions. I got the 'we need more hymns' line that I expected. And the 'we have too many hymns' too.

The preaching is hard to listen too, they said. 20 minute sermons are hard to listen too. They're not interactive enough. It's easier to listen in Sunday school where they bounce ideas around.

The service needs interactivity. It's a very segmented service – too predictable. Everyone knows what's coming next. It would be cool if things were integrated better. And if there were more opportunities to participate during the service.

So what do they value about church?

They value the church's relationship with the community

Students think it's important for staff to know the congregation

Relationships – personal connection between people is important

Prayer is important facet of church life. Something we probably don't think about enough. Students think we get stuck in a rut and don't think about prayer enough.

One guy said he likes it when the pastor leads singing. Having a pastor involved in different things is something they value.

What could we do as a church?

Build an addition for youth and kids

Newer technology. Podcasting, online community, stuff like that is stuff the students say they'd connect with if we had it

The open field by the church should be used for something

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