Harold Altamirano shares the good, the bad and the ugly from church planting.
I really recommend you take a look. Video is coming soon.
I hate the Redskins. On Sundays in the fall, I root for the Cowboys and whomever the Redskins are playing. Needless to say, this year has not been a great one for us Cowboy fans, as we saw a rookie QB shred our defense and lead his team to victory. Twice. (and the playoffs!)
Yet, there are some lessons to be learned about youth, success, and risk taking, even from division rivals. The main lesson I want to leave with you in regard to youth involvement, is this: (I stole this phrase from my good friend Jose Cortes Jr.)
The future is now.
RGIII. Andrew Luck. Russell Wilson. All first year players. All doing exceptionally well. All have taken their teams to the playoffs in their rookie year. Gone are the days, that rookie QB’s had to sit patiently behind the incumbent, for 3-4 years, holding a clipboard. Now they hold the title: Starter.
A while back, I had the chance to sit down with several young adults, and listen to their thoughts on the church, involvement, disconnection, frustration. It was a very candid conversation. Some are faithful in attendance. Some are not. Some have rejected the church of their youth altogether. All wanted to talk. From the conversation, I gathered the following three lessons.
1. Give them a chance, now. One young adult, that left the church around 10 years ago, asked me a pointed question:
“Do you have young people in place in management positions at all levels of the church?”
I answered truthfully (and painfully), and then thought to myself: Why don’t we? Maybe the reason is that we have equated youth with inexperience and think that age translates into effectiveness. Truth is, your age doesn’t automatically mean you’re able. Or mature. Or effective. This could be remedied, if we wanted to. I have decided, in my circle of influence, to do the following:
1. Mentor young pastors.
2. Create events that will develop them.
3. Speak on the topic everywhere I go. I use my platform to encourage leadership to look for young, gifted, spiritual leaders that can lead now.
2. Frustration is real. It can be a double-edge sword. The frustration in the room was palpable. Frustration about inflexibility. Frustration about mayoring in minors. Frustration about red tape, even at the local church level. Frustration pushed some of them to join other local Adventist churches, to leave the church, to become passive members in the church they attend, or to a select few, to start a brand new church. The question is, what outlets are in place in your congregation to deal with the frustration? They don’t need you pity or condescension. They need your attention.
3. Listen. I did. It was hard to not get defensive. I had to bite my tongue a couple of times. But one mayor problem we have is that we talk too much. Young people have information overload. But no one listens to them. I invite you to set up times, appointments, events that will have the express intention of listening. Listen first. Then guide.
Let’s keep doing all we can for this generation. Ask for their clipboard. Give them your support.
This semminar is practical, relevant and powerful. It speaks to a felt need in all of us, of seeking God;s presence. From the 2013 Ministerium. Enjoy!
I have had an extensive and varied experience in a number of churches and am very comfortable in multi-cultural situations. My linguistic skills are more than adequate for clear communication.
My wife, daughter and sister in law were driving cross country, from Virginia to Oregon. On Sabbath, they had to stop in the state of _______________ and decided to attend church there. They pulled in with their U-Haul truck, also towing a car. Nothing says “I’m from somewhere that is NOT here” like a U-Haul! They were lukewarmly greeted at the door, skated down the aisle, endured worship by themselves in the pew, and left without being invited to lunch. This was a medium size church, next to an academy, a church that seemed healthy. I wonder, how many times that lack of intentionality is repeated in churches across the land every week.
No one believes they have an anti-visitor church. Very few people describe their congregation as cold. I can’t imagine that church members purposefully want to send an anti-social message to newcomers. Yet it happens all the time. Here are 3 things you can do, to become a visitor friendly church:
1. Connect with people at times OTHER THAN the regularly scheduled opportunities. There are three times people usually get greeted:
a. When they come in.
b. At the “welcome” portion of the service.
c. As they leave.
It’s the rest of the time that sends a message whether you are a friendly church or not. In the three times I mentioned, you are REQUIRED to be friendly.
When you make an effort to connect outside those, the chances of them returning increase. It’s a sin for a visitor to sit by themselves. That’s right, I said it. A sin.
2. Be sensitive in the “welcome” portion of the service. Who likes to stand up, and remain standing, while 200 eyeballs are on them? The answer is…NOBODY! In a survey with visitors, this practice is what they despised the most. To complicate matters even further, (at least in Hispanic churches) they call visitors the “flowers” of the congregation that day. That sends two wrong messages:
a. The members are the thorns. Maybe accurate, but no need to rub it in.
b. Pancho, the hard drinking macho man, does not like being called a delicate flower!
This practice is done more for us than for them. Stop it.
3. Assume people know stuff, or overload them with information. Both extremes are equally annoying. Visitors don’t speak Adventese. They don’t know what words like camp meeting, ABC, AY, elders, or Conference mean. Please speak English, with a smile. Keep announcments short. I have made my case before, that next to Chinese water torture, announcements were probably created by Jesuits that have infiltrated our church. They must have been. Please: this is not 1812. People can read. Give them a bulletin and maybe an announcement or two BEFORE the service is over.
Hoping that these suggestions can improve our visitor retention. What are other ways you purposefully connect with newcomers?
Want to add to the discussion? Send your best ideas for interacting with new members and visitors to firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a blessed day,
The Title is: Levites in the XXI Century.
This is the power point:
We will post more each week,