THIS MONTH’S QUESTION is from Elaine Morse, our State Point Person for Washington – What is the latest in curriculum? What works well for moving a younger (30 something) crowd toward spiritual growth and action in their communities?
We received a great answer from Jen Hurst of California: One way I’ve been trying to address community action in our church is by writing a blog. It’s a way to address questions that are asked, to update people on service opportunities and announcements, and to model easy serving and engagement with the community. We started using a blog as opposed to emailing or handing out a newsletter so that it is easily accessible and so that we can track how much it is actually read. Those who don’t have email are mailed a newsletter quarterly.
In my graduate program, I was given the opportunity to survey the leadership of Bel Air Presbyterian Church in regards to outreach. We found that curriculum wasn’t the primary issue; the leaders’ confidence in their own understanding of outreach was. They felt like they didn’t know how to get involved, but the data showed that they knew more than they thought they did.
If your situation is anything like this, it might be enough to focus on making the link between what they’re learning in their Small Groups and what they can do in their own lives—that picking up trash in the neighborhood is service, that even if they do something that the church doesn’t know about, it’s valuable to their community and the Kingdom. You could also try finding out what they are passionate about, and helping them find ways to serve in their passion.
In my study, I looked not just at whether they were involved in outreach, but also what stage they were in based on David Daugherty’s “Six-Stage Mobilization Strategy”. The stages are:
Unaware > Aware > Interested > Concerned > Involved > Mobilizers.
These can be phrased as three questions:
Do they know about it? Most of the 31-40 year old respondents knew about the programs we have in place for serving, but they didn’t know the overall purpose of the outreach department.
Do they care about it? These leaders were passionate about serving. Many of them have a specific ministry, people group or area of the world that they care about, and even feel capable enough to lead mission trips and service projects. However, most of them feel like they don’t know enough about what the church offers them for service opportunities.
Are they doing it? The young adults follow the same pattern of involvement in different areas as the rest of the congregation. The one area that they came in lower was in financial giving (which is generally to be expected given the lower income that younger people tend to have).
Jen Hurst is a Regional Point Person for the Los Angeles area and Associate Director of Small Groups at Bel Air Presbyterian Church. firstname.lastname@example.org
NEXT MONTH’S QUESTION: WHAT TYPE OF CELEBRATORY/VISION CASTING GATHERINGS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUR SMALL GROUP LEADERSHIP? Email your answers, or questions for next month, to PDSG Network Coordinator, Cheryl Shireman at email@example.com