If you've been reading my posts (rants?), you'll know that Stodgy Presbyterian is a church that claims 270 members, 70 to 110 show up on any given Sunday, and is slowly dying; although the long-time members really do not realize that.
Over the years they've tried reaching out to the youth with a youth pastor (ordained), youth director (non-ordained), and a number of parents who thought they had good ideas to attract young families and youth to SPC.
None of them worked, and the reason is that this church; as I mentioned above, has a majority of exiles. 1st and 2nd generation exiles, to be precise, where anything that reeks of a change in the way their home is setup or things are done is anathema. They are afraid of CHANGE ... it rocks their foundations, and it would not be 'their' church any longer.
What I've been trying to do for the last two years is to make them realize that its NOT their church, but HIS. As they keep things the same, they are losing members who are leaving not by walking out, but carried out. The original settlers are mostly gone, except for a few that are still hanging on in nursing homes. However, they are never seen, and are kept on the roles because we just can't remove them. Occasionally, we'll get a bequest from an estate, and sometimes that's the only way we know they've passed on.
Then there are the 1st Generation exiles. These are the sons and daughters of the settlers, who fought in WWII and Korea, and who are also passing on to the Church Everlasting. They helped to fund the endowments, build the sanctuary in the 50's, and brought their Baby Boomer kids to SPC, who are the 2nd generation exiles. They are the kids who grew up in the 50's and 60's, and who are now parents and wondering why the church can't attract their kids as they were.
In the early 90's, when the Baby Boomers were having kids, who will eventually become nomads, they had a youth pastor. Evidently this person did a lot of good things, and attracted kids from all over the area, problem is some on Session did not like these things, and became all passive-aggressive when a new idea came before Session. Evidently there was always the "well, its a good idea ... but ...", then the reasons why it would never work here were given. Basically they were that it was never done that way before ... sound familiar ??
Eventually, that youth pastor got frustrated and sought another position. Over the next 10 years they had one or two good youth pastors/directors, but they all got frustrated and left. The ultimate illustration was when the last Christian Education/youth director tried to change the way Sunday School was done, along with the curriculum. Again, the passive-agressiveness kicked in, and the two C.E. Elders did not back up the director, so she just up and quit. The person they now have is also one to try to change things, and she may be getting things done, as the Elders in question are no longer on Session.
So they are trying to hire another youth director. The good thing about this is that we're looking for someone who is young, and the Session thinks it a position we need. Now we need to see what happens.
However in my opinion, we've already lost the senior high school youth, the middle school kids are still coming to church. The problem is, the parents are not always in church, and the parents are the nomads. So can we capture the youth if the parents are not regular church goers, thus unable (unwilling?) to get up to get the kids to Sunday School.
Which gets to the root of the problem. Many of our exiles and nomads do not realize that being a member of a church does not make you a Christian. They are treating church as a club, where they can come when needing a baptism, a wedding or a funeral. They certainly have no need of Sunday School, Wednesday night services, or any other fellowship except their glad handing on the Sundays they show up. These types are also less likely to pledge each year, and are also less likely to put more than a token amount in the plate. As mentioned above, the nomads want value for their buck; one of the main problems with trying to evangelize to the nomad is that "never done it" syndrome, which means that we either won't do it, or won't fund anything that will change the way things are done.
Again, you don't change anything in my church.
And so it goes ....
NOTE: This group of posts will not have any logical grouping. It will probably be a complete stream of thought set of posts. I'll apologize to my readers in advance for my A.D.D !!