The New Church Lady

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DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN

Last Monday was Ground Hog Day – a day when we ask a rodent to predict the weather. In case you missed it: Spring is coming early this year. Here in Texas it seems like winter isn’t coming at all. And I’m not mad about that.

To many folks, Ground Hog Day means watching the movie of that same name, starring Bill Murray and Ande McDowell. In it, Murray’s character gets stuck in a loop of time – going through Ground Hog Day again, and again, and again, and again. Murray’s character does everything in his power to try to get out of that loop, but he can’t.

Sometimes I feel that we older Christians (men and women), voluntarily put ourselves into a Ground Hog Day loop with how we run church services and the tools we use to preach the Gospel. And then we scratch our heads wonder why the only people we attract are other old folks like ourselves.

If you haven’t read it yet, please read this thought-provoking blog, written by a very wise 4th generation Sabbath-keeper. Someone who reposted it on Facebook tagged me in their post and I am very grateful she did, because it is information and insight I just could not hope to get from anyone not actually living it and willing to talk – um blog – about it. https://honestalways.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/struggles-of-a-3rd4th-generation-christian-and-why-they-keep-leaving/

Millennial mocking seems to be a new sport among the “Boomer” and older generation. I hear it both at work and at church. Why would we, through pulpit, magazine, YouTube or blog, mock young people? We speak disdainfully of their addiction to social media. But, if we know they are all there, we know that is where we can reach them. It’s like they are saying, “Hey, here I am. Come talk to me.” And instead of saying, “I’m coming to you.” We say, “Nope, I’m going to go yell out the window on the other side of the world and expect you to hear my message.”

My grown children are typical millennials. They say, “text me if you want to reach me.” I do. I say, call me if you want to chat. They do. I guess I could say, “I don’t get this whole texting thing. If you want to hear from me, call me or write me a letter. If it was good enough for me and my mom, it is good enough for you.”

I am finding that, while with my generation the message of rejection might have been “you are weird, your beliefs are weird, your church is weird and I am not about to follow that,” the message from the current generation is this, “you don’t care about me, so why should I listen to you?” They are not worried about weird, alternative, different. There is a slogan for our own Texas Capital, which is, “keep Austin weird.” Weird is not a bad thing. 

But, if we aren’t careful, we will allow ourselves to feel comfortable in and entitled to our Ground Hog Day loop. You know, if long form booklet was good enough for me/my parents, if organ music and 100 year old hymns were good enough for me/my parents, if 2 hour church with a sermonette and sermon and formal chairs and exactly 5 songs and no more than 2 special music selections, was good enough for me/my parents… And so on. I’m thankful that my parents didn’t say, “Reading the Bible in Hebrew and Greek was good enough for 1st century Christians, so there will not be an English Bible in this home.” I would never have read the Bible on my own.

I’m guilty of those very things in my own way. For example, I tend more toward talking at folks (you could call it lecturing) instead of interactively learning together, but I’m trying to change. I congratulate myself on being a part of a Webcast (Bring on the Sabbath), on writing a blog, on promoting the NEW Church Lady Conference mostly through Social Media, on reading my Bible on my iPad. I’m good with new technology. I listen to and like modern Christian music – not all of it, of course. I’m in a praise band. 

BUT, all of that is just tactical. What I really hear from this blog (link above) is that millennials and beyond want to have us meet their needs where they are. They WANT US TO MEET THEIR NEEDS. They want their ideas to be heard.  They WANT TO TALK TO US. And most importantly, contrary to the shtick we often hear: they are not afraid to work and serve. They just want it to me more meaningful than straightening chairs. Hear that? They WANT TO SERVE. 

So, if I’m going to try to connect to a lonely, 80 year old widow, I will call or visit or send her a card in the mail. But if I’m going to reach a millennial. I’m going to have a meaningful dialog – it might start with a text – where they actually have a chance to give ideas. I’m going to listen (really listen) to their ideas and use as many as I can. I’m going to say, “How would you like to help? What opportunities speak to your gifts?” 

That blog by the 4th generation Sabbath keeper resulted in hundreds of comments just within my circle of Facebook 1st and 2nd degree connections. That’s good. Dialog is a good start. Now let’s move on to action and break our self-imposed Ground Hog Day loop. 

I’ll ask the millennials to give me credit for trying and I know they will, because, guess what: recognizing sincere effort is important to them. Wish my 4th grade teacher had felt that way. :-/

I’d love to hear your thoughts too. Write me at:

Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org. Or feel free to text me at 903-571-6339. 

About the N.E.W. Church Lady – She is just an average middle aged woman who has been a believer and church attender all her life. She is married with three grown children. She lives in a small town and works in sales. Her hobbies are fitness, reading, cooking, writing and travel.