We live in a world today where families are scattered and fragmented. The current virus floating around the world has led us to see just how many people are scattered across the world as they try to get home away from the most dangerous locations for the virus. Families are scattered across our own country from sea to sea because of job locations, preferred lower rates in state taxes, warmer climates, and more. Families are fragmented because of divorce, death, and jobs.
After we were married, in 1979, we have never lived very close to our families. The closest we ever lived was an hour and a half from my wife’s folks. Other than those few years, it was always hours and hours and a couple of days when we lived in Virginia. The reason was the demands of the ministry with churches scattered throughout our country.
Therefore, it was vitally important that we establish a sense of community with our congregation at the time. In many respects, we became closer to our church family then we did our biological families. In our world today, with the scattering and fragmenting of families, a sense of community will be a very strong motivating factor for the success of any congregation. The question is often asked by church leaders, “How do we successfully reach out to our community.” We have been seriously asking that question for months now at Deer Creek Baptist.
The answer is in part how well a church can provide a sense of community. The church that can vibrantly get across a message by actions and words, an opportunity to belong and be with people who care, will be a church that can successfully reach out to their community. In other words, compassion is contagious. The latest adult generation is more concerned about compassionate needs than they are about buildings, programs, and membership. It is a fact that today unchurched people will be drawn more to churches that care. Successful churches soon are going to be those who can convey high-compassion and high-community.
As we are about to study I Corinthians 13 in our Sunday school, the subject of love is the dominant theme. Let me give a couple of examples of how that might play out in a growing congregation. How do you get a young adult today motivated to teach a class of kids?
You will not be successful if you preach entirely a sense of commitment to younger Christian adults today. This is true especially in our current society. That motivating sense of commitment and responsibility usually comes later in a Christian’s life anyway and usually not with the younger adult generation.
You probably would be more successful if you could convey the idea that this is an opportunity to love kids and have them love you. This moves more toward a sense of compassion and community as a motivating factor in recruiting.
Even with offerings, the latest generation want to see how their offerings are helping someone and not necessarily how ornate the church buildings can be built. At my age, I love historical church buildings and am amazed at the Tiffany stained glass windows and will go out of my way to see them on trips. I honestly don’t care for these fabricated metal buildings today that don’t even look like a church. In today’s world, such elaborate expenditures are seldom affordable anymore but at least a church can look like a church. Then again, I’m am showing my age by what I consider important along with compassion and community.
The younger adult generation, by and large, sees such historical treasures as a waste of money that could have been put to better use helping someone. Different generations will have different values that they place as most important at the time. There are always exceptions in every generation.
Churches that focus on small groups are going far to build a sense of community. That need to be intimately acquainted, sharing our lives, finding support, and developing close and caring relationships along with any Bible Study, is paramount for success in reaching younger generations.
The point to remember though is the average man in the United States lives to be 76 years old. The most important generations to reach are those far younger than me. That generation is having less and less to do with the average congregation. My task is to connect with my leaders on the direction of compassion and community. Then we must move together to motivate the younger generations in our community with the fact that our congregation does care about people. Our scattered and fragmented society today desperately needs a place to find a genuine and real sense of community.