FOR A NEW GENERATION
Comments, Conversations and Considerations
Notes From Six Study Groups
(YAG denotes Young Adult Group, YG denotes Youth Group)
June 3, 2019
o More youth time in evenings, model other churches’ youth
programs, different teaching
o Casual dress code
Collect offering/donations/tithes in a “box in the back” instead
of formal offering
Small groups adopt community service projects
o Discouraged about past attempts at change
o Websites of “visited” churches have photos of people,
information about VBS (May),
social (coffee hour?)
o OHFUMC’s site not updated/up to date
Music—teach new songs to congregation
o Project score on screen
o Run-through first time
Continually in flux, tired of “hoopla,” making excuses
Concern about $$$ being spent/considered
Don’t feel we understand what “real” change will attract/bring
in younger generation
Are Sunday services relevant to Youth?
Create and stream podcasts of the service; have available to
What would Youth like in service, and how would they like to
help? (Ask/interview them…)
(YAG) Younger generation cares about older
o Our Young Adult (YAG) group is natural, relatable
o Need to be personally interested in church to actually get
something out of it
(YG) Worship is slow, boring, doesn’t grab our attention
(YG) Preaching is long, not relatable
(YG) We would enjoy more if it were more interactive and we
understood it better
(YG) Many youth would feel more comfortable if church more
LGBTQ and others
Place/include young people in leadership roles on Sunday (pray
over pastor, scripture
reading, usher, communion, children’s moment)
Wednesday night youth/families don’t necessarily come to Sunday
(YAG) Reaching young people
o Good we want to “fix problem” of reaching young people
o Has been a lot of talk for years without much action
o Will this time be different?
o Past staff had big impact on young people
Connecting and building relationships
o Some people were more loyal to youth director(s) and
pastor(s), left church after
Pastoral transitions have been difficult also
(YAG) Be real about what your purpose is (no “bait and
How are the youth doing mission, helping others, social justice
(YG) (This is from the youth, not the group in the above bullet)
We could do more for
o Are we made aware of the ways that we are serving others?
o Help us become aware of work that’s happening “in the
background” so we know how
we can help
o We are a family, not always great at being a healing
o Need to be sure we are supporting congregants during hard
(YAG) question: How do you notice/interact with new people
o Social norms for older folks may not be the same as for
o Think about how we are interacting with people (of different
ages/generations) as well
(YG) Enjoyed Convo
o Speaker well-received
Got to points quickly
o Upbeat music
Varied/many instruments in praise team
Demographics…average age in Oak Harbor is 29 (includes Navy
OHFUMC dealing with two issues at once—General Conference vote
plan/non-inclusiveness of homosexuals and current members
possibly leaving because of
New/next generation must be considered now for future; many
churches with same issue
Add additional staff, i.e. Children’s Ministry Director
Offer more engaging Sunday school curriculum
(YAG) Sunday school needs to be safe, comfortable for
(YAG) Can’t just put “Jesus Loves You” stickers on programming,
Politics and hierarchy of our church
Congregation/new members not clear on what our district/OHFUMC
stand for (re: sexual
Music…new is repetitive, monotonous; old is familiar but not to
Is there a need for chancel choir? Bell choir?
Quiet time before service
Omit prayers for individuals from pastor’s prayer; forward to
Move the nursery upstairs, offices downstairs
Adopt three-deep mentoring
Have chair and co-chair of all committees
o Having difficulty getting chairpersons, team members
o How to mentor people who aren’t present
(YG) Have you been mentored?
o Partners in Mission
o Youth Leaders
(YG) Can you mentor younger people?
o Sunday school (youth teaching younger)
Services are too repetitive
o Eliminate praying over pastor, life-change moment
o Decrease number of songs from 3 to 1
o Use organ for offertory music
Contemporary service was researched, discussed, tried
o Much work went into prep and practice
o Advertising? Time offered?
o What happened?
Children’s moment—children get lesson downstairs, however adults
have opportunity to see
them in church
Lord’s prayer when children are upstairs, i.e. at end of
children’s moment, so they can
Sunday school is breaking for summer, is it a good idea to
Add Saturday night service identical to Sunday
Reduce committees and week-night obligations to focus on weekend
service(s) and weekday
Focus more on sermons and small group studies on books of
Incorporate more “back to basics” studies
o Red Book
o Specific books of Bible
Sanctuary décor boring, outdated
Don’t put walkers in Narthex; first thing newcomers see as they
walk in the door
(YG) First impressions
o All the people you first see are 50+
o We could contribute, be trained as ushers, help out
o Unappealing, outdated décor inside
Landscaping not well-maintained, poor first impression
Is there a need for chancel choir? Bell choir? Are they of
interest to new generation?
Book emphasizes worship service, is bigger issue getting people
If younger generation can’t relate to the music, they won’t
(YG) We know many older love hymns
o Don’t take them away completely
o Youth would love to see more contemporary, upbeat songs
If music is too loud for “older generation,” they won’t
(YAG) How can youth be a part of worship
o Not just the way older folks want to see them
o Needs to be personally important to youth/young adults
o communal aspect as one body is valued by younger
Some praise music can be too strong, “jivey,” members not put
into worshipful mood
(YG) What are God’s priorities/purposes for church?
o Praise God
About half the church is “into” worship
More older people are
o Younger aren’t
Learn about GOD
More comfortable w/discussion in small groups
Convo—go from worship to small group discussions
o Grow in Faith
Difficult to “catch up to” long-time Christians
Need to appeal to young people whose faith is not as mature
What brings people to mega church?
o Younger people attend because of social issues
o Separate services, great music, superb speakers
o Not formal, more entertaining
Why young people don’t need/want church
o Judgmental, Jesus would be understanding
o Read opinions/input “against” religion online
Coffee fellowship essential
o Coffee in church?
o Burden on kitchen people
o Plan a coffee area in the remodeled narthex
Security for children?
o Safety sheet for parents
o What we do for safety
o Lots of work
o Apply time/effort elsewhere to core mission areas
o Unfinished work downstairs, unfavorable impression i.e. moms
taking children to nursery
o Reader board on front of church—replace with newer style
o Tile in sanctuary instead of carpet
o Coffee bar in narthex after expansion completed
Enlarge narthex, move stained glass window
Passion for faith, website, relationship are priorities—do
better, research results
Social Justice issues important
o Participate in doing something
o We give money, open building to organizations (Spin Café,
Haven, Garden Club, Scouts,
o What DOING is happening by us, the church?
Hard to implement change “until the room has changed”
o New people to help change
o Modest change isn’t enough, significant change required
AV team and equipment needs more attention
Do we need bulletins?
Older folks feel they are being pushed out
o Book says “say goodbye” to those who don’t like change
o Hard to say goodbye to “family”
o Most children coming to VBS already attend church/Sunday
school--is it really outreach?
Incoming Director of Music
o Select carefully
o Excellence in music portion of worship service
o High quality music presentation
o New vision
o Style to attract youth/young adults
Taking care of “our own”
o Stephen Ministry is a lot of work
o Should it continue/be revitalized
o Is the same work being done in small groups?
o What about those who are not in small group?
Every church team/committee should have a younger generation
(i.e. teen) member
Website needs updated and kept up-to-date
o Appeal to younger generation
(YAG) Practical actions to reach next generation
o Embrace the question
o Doing this study!
o What would you do if you want your grandkids/kids to come to
church with you?
o Ask the young people what is appealing to them
o Make it personal
Need to target young adults/families (particularly Navy
Need younger people “up front”
Don’t do something just because it is “trendy.”
o Base on research/philosophy/other than “hot” idea
Is OHFUMC up to the challenge to change?
o We keep doing things the same way with the same people and get
the same results.
o It’s time for a change of mind and direction
o One group feels largely overcommitted, reluctant to take on
o Once progress is made/excitement generated, individuals would
be more inclined to get
FOR A NEW GENERATION Book Study Insights and “Aha” moments
June 3, 2019
The best plan for the church is to honor the past while planning
for the future.
What drew me to the church was the loving interaction of people
of my age.
Relationships are some of the best features we have at FUMC.
We need to learn more modern songs; many of us experienced them
Sunday. We need to get used to
Youth-inspired ministries, “better music” will attract more
Hymns are “comfort food” to me.
We can/must “remix” the old hymns to new rhythms and tempos.
Youth think in terms of Facebook, phones, music—need to think in
their language, address them at their
We get so caught up in little things we forget the big picture.
If we want the youth to be involved, we
need to discover what they want to do/are interested in doing to
The family study group was animated thinking of the
possibilities of adapting FUMC for their generation.
Youth loved the idea of being more involved.
We need to commit to whatever we need to do for our
children/youth, as did the Amplify church.
The Youth Sunday at FUMC this year blessed so many of us!
Reduce the distractions—too many favorite projects and routines
that deplete energy levels, impact
personal and worship time, and affect the impact of church.
Nobody wants to give up their favorite
Let’s be sure we don’t throw the baby out with the
Be careful—don’t encourage those who may be resistant to change
to leave the church.
Our church has many outside groups using our building. Let’s
remember to prioritize our purposes and
programs when scheduling outside groups.
One thing at church will never change—our core mission.
(Animated consensus from the group!)
Distractions—choir? May need to consider different ways to
organize musical groups and musical
Parents’ groups—animated and energized when talking about
barking dogs and things that distract from
worship. (What or were there specific comments? (ed.))
Newcomers often see what we don’t see/are used to seeing:
Welcome sign from the 1950’s, walkers
lined up in Narthex, etc.
The heart of our church is to be servants to one another. Be
sure we don’t lose that heart in attempting
Setup in the front of the church is “awful!” Distracting…why is
everything “off to one side?” Pulpit isn’t
used, why is it there?
Screen in the back for pastor and “up front” folks is
Band-Aids and new coats of paint won’t fix the problems we are
We need to elevate our goals, encourage young families/next
generations. We do well attracting retired
people…is that our goal?
We have to be careful not to exclude “the average person,” i.e.
auditioning for excellence in choir, praise
Are we planning to offer a “Las Vegas show?”
What keeps us here is the people, our “family,” who love each
other. We want to keep that heart.
All of us need to concentrate on inviting other people to our
Remember, it’s everyone’s responsibility to talk to more people
who are new, who we don’t know, in
order to extend our family.
How can we add new volunteers? Let’s use our young people
outside to greet people, “middle-aged” in
narthex welcome booth.
Bring back family-focused activities, i.e. picnics, cider press,
Incorporate three-deep mentoring with committees, mission
groups, and age levels.
FOR A NEW GENERATION
June 3, 2019
So What, Now What??
Naming Our Fears and Hopes for FUMC
Final, Live Comments, Conversations and Considerations
Celebrate service, impact on others
Who can we mentor in jobs we (all) do, so they can carry on?
There are good ideas, we don’t want to spread ourselves too
thin. Find the whale!
Fear we are going to try so hard to compromise and be modern
that we update too much. Have a
more relatable band/keyboard.
People talk about music; how do we know if it’s a fad? Don’t all
remember the “old/new songs,”
but do remember the old ones.
I don’t/can’t do loud.
More youth involved in decision-making. Ask the youth what we
would like. Contemporary
music does not have to be loud. Get them involved in more.
Blend old school and new. You can make old new again. Back
Street Boys are old now (so are
Peter Paul and Mary). Make them new again!
We are talking about $$$ remodeling the church. We need to
consider how we really want to
spend our money. Use it to encourage more younger people? We
will have input on the
architect’s design, let’s put our money to good use.
Do we know what we need to change to get the younger people in?
We need to find out how; just
copying another church is not going to be our personality. Be
careful about radical change. Don’t
limit the “up front” age; you will lose a lot of people who want
to serve and share; it’s part of our
Should we invite some of the other churches to discuss with us
their approach to their programs,
get ideas, see what is working for them? A task force of OH
Our church is “tucked away,” not easy to get to. When we invite
people, they need to find it. We
need to make it easier to find.
Get people to usher, especially younger people! Get them
involved/mentor them. Think outside
Music – one of the toughest parts of the service. Everyone has
If we always do what we’ve always done, we will get what we have
Forward and Introduction (pp. 15-29)
Focus: “Building a church that reaches, and will continue to
reach, the next generation” pg. 15
“It may seem too hard or too risky to change your church’s
MINISTRY MODEL to reach the next generation” pg. 15
Who: “My definition of a new generation church is a church with
whose average age is at least as young as the average age of
community in which the church exists” pg. 18 (“Median” age of
is 29, which is 20% lower than the average of Washington State
at 38, and
the USA at 37).
Message: “If you want to embrace the Christian faith, you will
need to find
another church. My church is designed primarily to be meaningful
me---not to reach you.” Pg. 19 (unappealing approaches)
Perpetual Church Revitalization: “We need to think in terms of
--- putting appropriate
strategies into p[lace to ensure that a church will continue
with and stay connected with the next generation.” Pg. 20
Story of Amplify Church: Founded in late 70’s; near death by
2003; “We decided to put our
hearts into becoming a new generation church, to do whatever
would take to become a church with attendees whose average age
at least as young as the average age of the community in which
church exists. THIS WAS NOT AN EASY DECISION.” Pg. 21
Resolve: Change our approaches, not our core beliefs. Pg. 21
Result: “About a third of the people who have been attending our
during the first two years after we started our change journey.”
Uniqueness: Each church must wrestle with what it needs to do.
This book is meant to be
PROVOCATIVE but not PRESCRIPTIVE.
Foundation for Change: “The single most important ingredient to
renewal is the power that
comes from INTERCESSORY PRAYER” pg. 24
Your Role: “You can be a blocker of change or a catalyst for
change” pg. 25
Oak Harbor First United Methodist Church
Council Leadership Study
Monday, January 28th, 6:00 pm - God’s Hall
A Brief Summary Of
FOR A NEW GENERATION A Practical Guide For Revitalizing Your
By Lee Kricher
Lee Kricher’s book is about Amplify Church, a nondenominational
church founded in the late
1970s in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. As with most
churches, it had experienced seasons of growth and
decline. By 2003, the decline was so severe the survival of the
church was in doubt.
Mainline churches have many things in common. They have played
meaningful roles in the lives
of many of us. And each one is at risk of being one of the
thousands of churches that are closing
their doors because they have lost touch with the next
What is a new generation church? It is a church with attendees
whose average age is at least as
young as the average age of the community in which the church
Of course no Christian would purposefully hide the timeless
truths of Christianity from the next
generations. But our approach — the programs, ministries, and
practices can be so unappealing
to young adults and children that the message we are sending
them is, “If you want to embrace
the Christian faith, you will need to find another church. My
church is designed primarily to be
meaningful for me—not to reach you.”
#1 - Adopt a New Mindset
#2 - Identify the Essentials
#3 - Reduce the Distractions
#4 - Elevate your Standards
#5 - Build a Mentoring Culture
The best way to honor your church’s past is to plan for the
future so that your church
continues to have a positive impact on future generations.
Please Note: This book is NOT about changing your church’s
statement of faith or core beliefs
to make them more attractive to next generation thinking.
WAITING FOR THINGS TO COME BACK AROUND
No matter how hard we might wish, some things
will never… go back to the way they were.
Findings by the Barna Group in its book, Churchless, confirm
that the United States has seen a significant decline in church
attendance. The number of unchurched adults in the U. S. has
increased by more than 30 percent in the past decade.
2014 Estimations Unchurched adults = 114 million
Unchurched children and teenagers = 42 million
Total = 156 million U.S. residents not engaged with a Christian
Realities that cannot be ignored: change is happening much
faster than previous generations,
one third of people under 30 are identifying as “nones.”
The way the next generation tells you that your church has lost
with them is simple — they stop coming.
STRATEGY #1 - ADOPT A NEW MINDSET
We needed to start building our church around
one key question: What will it take to reach our children?
Suggestion: Form a “guiding coalition,” a group of people whose
support and involvement are
most crucial in making significant change happen and made up of
key staff leaders and lay
leaders led by the pastor.
For church members change can be hard but committed members know
their pastor cannot bring
revitalization without their help. You can decide to become an
agent for change rather than a
change blocker. This may even require supporting changes you
don’t agree with.
The church is bigger than the wants, needs, and preferences of
any single individual. The church
exists for God’s sake and it must be committed to God’s mission
of reaching people. God’s
priorities and purposes for the church need to be front and
MISSING THE WHALE
We spend our time focusing on so many good things that we lose
sight of the most important
reason our church exists.
“Missing the whale” is not unique to churches. Organizations of
any kind can easily lose sight of
the most important reason for their existence. The proper first
response to a changing world is
not to ask, “How should we change?” but rather to ask, “What do
we stand for and why do we
exist?” This should never change.
Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement - A mission statement
describes why we exist while a
vision statement points to a desired future state. A clear and
compelling vision statement can be
a powerful tool for directing and redirecting the way we spend
our time, energy and resources.
STRAGEGY #2 - IDENTIFY THE ESSENTIALS
Church services, meetings, programs, and ministries demand time,
resources, attention, and
energy. Most accomplish good things … but when combined together
they can have a
devastating effect on your ability to achieve your vision.
At Amplify Church we decided to focus on things that will have
the greatest impact on our
ability to fulfill our vision. Example: Sunday service, small
groups, children’s and youth
Sunday services - needed attention and were perceived to be
boring or irrelevant. New goal was
to make each service so that it could make a tangible difference
in the life of each person in
attendance. We had to plan and conduct our services so that
people would want to come and feel
excited about bringing others with them. Sunday mornings are
often not free for adults and
children so we decided to add another option. Saturday evening
services became a popular
Small groups - Features that worked best: (1) Located in church
rather in people’s homes, (2)
Developing a core curriculum plus options to bring unity, (3)
Groups taking a break over the
summer which results in renewed energy and enthusiasm in the
fall, (4) New groups each year to
foster new friendships and avoid people getting “stuck” in
groups, (5) “Closed” groups to allow
Bible study with other committed Christians rather than
unchurched people, (6) Monthly
“Connect or Serve Week” to demonstrate importance of doing more
than study and prayer by
having a meal together or volunteering together at an
Children’s and Youth Ministry - Created new environments
designed specifically for these age
groups — irresistible environments. This is where a new mindset
became critical. We live in a
Disney and Nickelodeon world (not Captain Kangaroo). Times have
changed and so must the
way we connect with our children and youth.
Most churches have their share of barking dogs— things that
distract members and visitors from
the church’s mission.
We all know there are times in our lives when we need to
eliminate good things - even things
that we like - from our schedules so that we can focus our time
and energy on the most important
things. The same principle is true for churches.
Because someone champions, nurtures, or defends them, some
church programs and ministries
continue to exist long after they should have ended. But we need
to exercise wisdom and
discernment regarding when our church programs and ministries
have run their course.
Strategy #3 - REDUCE THE DISTRACTIONS
At Amplify Church we looked for anything that had a negative
impact on our vision to lead as
many people as possible into a growing relationship with Jesus
Christ. Our conviction was that
every distraction we eliminated could open the door wider to
people we were trying to reach,
including the next generation.
In his book Deep and Wide, Andy Stanley writes about the
importance of being willing to let go of things no matter how
meaningful they have been in the past. “Nothing is new or
FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER - • Aging, out-dated sign on front
corner of building • Parking lot in bad shape • Unsightly radio
tower on top of church • Church foyer painted out-dated color
(Pepto-Bismol pink) • Bulletin boards lining the walls • Meeting
rooms with outdated and/or donated used furniture • Rooms that look
like grandmother’s parlor • Aging green pews and stained chairs
INFORMALITY - We relaxed our dress code, urged congregation to
call pastor by first name,
removed reserved parking spaces for staff, pastor sits with
congregation during Sunday service,
moved prayer requests to small groups, eliminated other unique
practices such as open
microphone and individual displays of worship (dancing and
waving banners as part of worship).
NAME CHANGE - If changing the name of your church can help you
better fulfill your vision,
you would be wise to make the change.
To sum up our approach, we simply put everything on the table —
everything but our core
beliefs and the vision God had given us for the future.
The pursuit of excellence is all about “minding the gap” —
between where you are as a church
and where you have the potential to be.
That is the gap you need to identify and close.
You can’t fix serious problems with a new coat of paint. That is
true for old cars and also true
for a church in decline.
Jim Collins said in his book Good to Great that “good is the
enemy of great.” It is understandable that churches with stretched
resources tend to conduct services, ministries and
programs in a way that would not be called excellent. But if the
church is the hope of the world,
we cannot be satisfied with mediocrity.
STRATEGY #4 - ELEVATE YOUR STANDARDS
Your church’s weekend services are perfectly designed to reach
the people you are reaching. If
you want to reach others, things need to change.
At Amplify Church we were reaching people who were in their
fifties and older who had
attended our church for many years. We had to elevate the
weekend experience to reach people
who weren’t coming. We changed a number of things to appeal to
younger adults: we formed a
creative team who helped with planning the service and added
volunteer roles, set up a “cafe” room to encourage personal
connections, played upbeat music before and after services,
service length, reduced the time devoted to announcements, used
recent translations for scripture
reading, added video screens in the sanctuary.
MUSIC - Knowing the importance of music in all of our lives,
each church must decide if its
style of music will appeal primarily to those who are older or
to those who are younger. In their
book Comeback Churches, Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson share that
“most comeback churches are playing contemporary music. Not all
American churches are contemporary but the ones in
the study would seem to be and that should make us take
Whatever musical style is chosen, elevating the excellence of
your music should be a priority.
Amplify Church also added audio, video and lighting components
to complement the music and
painted the sanctuary a darker color to make it more
ISSUES - The commitment to become a new generation church is a
very costly one in terms of
internal and external conflicts that arise from change (some
parishioners said “I don’t even
recognize my own church!”). It also costs a lot of money.
No matter what type of church you attend, you will find little
comfort in preserving traditions if
you are not reaching people.
DON’T BE LIKE JOSHUA
We are either living out the birth of a new vision or
the death of an old one.
We cannot control what will happen to the next generation when
we are gone, but we can do
everything possible to pave the way for them. Most of us do our
best to set up our children and
grandchildren for success in practical areas such as finances.
We must also pave the way
STRATEGY #5: BUILD A MENTORING CULTURE
“We all need to be committed to empowering future generations to
do even greater exploits in
God’s name than we have done and to believe that the Lord will
give them vision for things we
could never imagine. Put simply, your vision is not just for
you, it is for those to come.” Brian Houston, “For This I Was
I believe we need to think in terms of perpetual church
revitalization — putting appropriate
strategies in place to ensure that a church will connect with
and stay connected with the next
generation. Every leader at Amplify Church commits to mentor at
least two people who can
effectively carry out each of their key roles.
We expect every leader in every role to embrace our vision and
model our core values.
One of the many ways that young leaders in today’s culture
positively influence the church is in
their approach to diversity and multiculturalism. As a result
our church has naturally become
more diverse as we have put young adults into visible leadership
Building a new generation church was tedious and trying,
especially in the first two years. Our
church probably could have survived as it was, at least for
several more years. All we had to do
was let other churches worry about reaching the next generation.
But we decided that it was
worth the hard work. We decided it was worth the fight. How
Accepting the status quo is the greatest threat to your church’s
core mission and, perhaps, to the
very survival of your church.
I hope that when my days on earth are over that it is said of
me, “He paved the way for
generations to come,” I hope that it is said of the people of
our church, “They paved the way for
generations to come.” My hope is that the same will be said of
Mission/Tag Line: Loving God, Serving Others, Changing the
Vision: Becoming a loving and life-giving family,
a healing community, and a Christ-centered
Values: Radical Hospitality
Intentional Spiritual Growth
Courageous Mission and Service and
Verse: Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with God
(Micah 6:8, NIV)