Tuesday, March 26, 2013

When we will see the kids on Sunday morning?

A bivocational pastor recently shared with me a successful mid-week ministry their church began for young people in the community.  It began with just a handful and has grown to around a couple of dozen most weeks.  All of the young people that are being reached by this ministry are unchurched.  A well-meaning church member asked the pastor a couple of weeks ago when the church should expect to see these kids on Sunday morning.  The individual was not happy when the pastor said they might never see these kids on Sunday morning.  The purpose of the ministry was to introduce them to Jesus Christ, not recruit them to Sunday morning church attendance.

I find many smaller churches ask the same question if their church begins an outreach to young people during the week.  It doesn't take long before they want to know when the young people who come to the church during the week will start coming on Sunday mornings as if Sunday morning attendance is how the ministry will be evaluated.  And, of course, in many churches that ministry will be evaluated by some by how many it brings in the door on Sunday morning.

What these church members do not realize is that there are many reasons young people may not attend church on Sunday morning.  A growing number visit a non-custodial parent every other week and may not be in the community that weekend.  The worship services that are meaningful to many of our current members may be extremely boring and dull to these young people.  Various barriers may exist in some churches that make some of the youth uncomfortable.  For instance, even if nothing is said, if everyone attending church is dressed in their finest suits and dresses a young person may feel he or she cannot attend if they do not have suitable clothing.  I've seen church members get very uptight when young people begin attending church services and do not know "how to behave properly in church."  More than once comments have been made to such young people almost ensuring they don't return.  I could probably list a couple of dozen more reasons without even trying, but these should suffice.

What we need to keep in mind is that these young people are more important to God than the number they may add to our attendance figures.  Christ died for these young people, not so they would attend a morning worship service, but so they might have a personal relationship with Him.  After such a relationship is developed they might begin attending church services, but it may not be in the church that had the ministry that reached out to them.  Hopefully, it will be in a church that will help them grow as disciples and allow them to engage God in a worship experience that will be meaningful to them.

A number of years ago our small church purchased several television commercials that we aired on our local cable company.  The commercials were expensive for our little church, but we were fortunate to receive free air time from the cable company to show them.  After the first year I wanted to purchase more commercials, but I knew they were a major expense for our church.  After I made my proposal an older deacon in the church asked how many people started attending our church due to the previous commercials we had purchased.  I explained we had not gained one new person because of them, but that not a week had gone by since we began airing them that I did not receive at least one phone call or comment from the public about the commercials.  He responded that he wasn't concerned with whether or not they brought people into our church; that he was only interested in knowing if they were having an impact on people, and because they were he made the motion to purchase an additional four commercials.  His motion passed unanimously.  I was so proud of our congregation that night because I knew they understood that what we were about was not just our little church but for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.  That must be the mindset of all our ministries, and if it is it won't matter if we ever see the kids on Sunday morning.

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