You know the group—the newly graduated from high school, the ones you are glad to see off to college. You might be happy you don’t need to deal with their questions, challenges and whining anymore, but somebody has to. Fortunately, USAToday (8-21-2012, by Mary Beth Marklein) recently published an article, “What makes cyber-weaned college freshman click?” that provides some insight into these thorns in your flesh.
Here are a few phrases that describe them:
- “Addicted to all things electronic and ‘think nothing of texting a friend whom they know is only a block away.'”
- “Electronically far more sophisticated than their parents or teachers.”
- “A generation with an average of 241 social media friends, but they have trouble communicating in person.”
The perceptive among us can see digital communication is very important to this group.
Therefore, following are five ways you can use this to your advantage to keep them out of your church:
1. Make it known that you do not and will not answer emails.
If someone wants to say something to you, they need to make an appointment with your secretary like the rest of the congregation does. If you can’t see someone face to face, the other person might have an ungodly attitude you need to correct.
2. If your church has a Facebook page, be sure all content has to go through the church office and is edited and approved before it is added.
Allowing anybody to add material most likely would result in gossip. The same rules apply to websites.
3. Don’t even think about having a personal blog, a Twitter account or—horror of horrors—a Pinterest account for fun.
You must keep a properly pastoral distance from your congregation. “Familiarity breeds contempt,” they say, and you must be respected, revered and obeyed.
4. Forbid anyone to use an electronic device while you are preaching.
They might say they are looking up Bible passages and maybe even have the nerve to suggest they check out some original language studies to give them more insight. You know that’s not true—they are either watching cat videos or porn.
5. Don’t even think about suggesting they look at thought-provoking video channels like Rainn Wilson’s Soul Pancake.
Some borderline reprobates might suggest this as an excellent challenging insight to the questions of spiritual seekers, but you know that’s just a smoke screen for toying with evil. While you are at it, make sure your distaste of all things YouTube is well known. If people need to watch TV, they can watch the major networks at home with their family gathered around the set as God intended.
Do these things, and you won’t have to worry about having any of this disruptive age group in your church. That will give you the opportunity to preach in peace to the people already there. They might be shrinking in numbers, but they are manageable. You are being faithful to care for your flock—can God possibly want anything more?
Postscript: Of course, if you do want any of these challenging, extraordinary people in your church, do opposite of all the above.
Don’t fear you aren’t able to interact. Age means nothing to the eternal servants of the kingdom of God.
You can learn all you need to. Just ask one of the kids at your church to teach you. It’s a great way to start a conversation, and they might just stay around church to continue it.