Example #1 – The Visitor
I was cleaning up the Sunday School party yesterday at Valley (the institutional congregation I serve) when one of the youth brought a visitor to talk with me. She was a thin woman in her mid forties with two teenage girls in tow. She started the conversation off with, “Hi, I was wondering what programs you have for youth.” She didn’t make any attempt to introduce herself or shake my hand and there was an aggressive tone to her question.
“Hi, I’m Jeff.” I said trying to soften the coming conversation, “Well, on Sunday morning we have a time of discipleship…”
“You mean Bible study.” She corrected me.
“Um, Bible study is part of it,” I answered tentatively because I was afraid of being cut off again. “We also spend time praying for one another and debriefing the week.”
“Is there anything else?”
“Um, yeah. We also meet on Wednesday night for team building games. It helps the kids build relationship with one another. You know…building trust through shared experiences. Are you new to the community?” I was ready to turn the questioning around.
“No,” she replied dissatisfied. “We’ve been going to the same church for 14 years but they have no programs for youth so we are being forced to look for a new church. Is that all you do with the youth?”
The conversation trailed off from there. I tried to engage her girls a little, she seemed to frown upon that. I asked a few more questions hoping to get more of their story. The conversation softened a little. The three of them came to the worship service but left a third of the way into the gathering. The whole experience left me wondering what answer she was looking for. If I had provided the right list of activities would she have cared what lifestyle I was encouraging?
Example #2 – A Fantastic Question
Earlier this week one of the youth from Valley came up to me and asked a wonderful question. I’m going to do my best to get it word for word.
“So Jeff, I’ve been coming here now for a while. And I do a lot of stuff. You know, I’m here on Wednesday nights, and Sundays, and whenever the door is open really. Don’t get me wrong. I love it and all. But what is next? I feel like there should be something else? What happens next with all this stuff?”
My answer was, “Well bro, right now your faith is all about doing. We need to make it more about being. I would love to help you with that…”
You can find a description of Activities Centric Church Thinking by clicking HERE.