As church leaders and communicators, we are always seeking ways to reach different generations for Christ. Often this includes using new ways to communicate, following worship trends, or finding the latest discipleship tools. There is nothing wrong with trying new things. And it’s important to evaluate ministries and programs to be most effective. But when the “new” is just a gimmick to reach the “next” generation, it often fails because it is inauthentic. New often makes those who enjoy the traditional modes of communication, worship, and discipleship feel discounted and overlooked.
So how do we reach new audiences without alienating our current ones? The answer is simple. Tell your story, don’t try to change it.
Not all churches are contemporary in style, nor do they want to be. Despite popular belief, younger generations aren’t always impressed by the latest bells and whistles. Sure, they want effective communication, a clear way to connect and serve, and positive experiences, but who doesn’t? Regardless of your age or stage of life, we all desire connection. In fact, this is why so many of our members want to hold on to traditions. It’s where they had their first connections with others.
Incorporating the stories of these members is a strategy that will exhibit to your existing members that you are listening to them. Stories will also paint an accurate and engaging portrait of your church culture for those who you are trying to reach. This can facilitate intergenerational conversations that leads to deeper connections.
Here are some easy ways to honor the traditions of your church through storytelling that engages the next generation and leads to bridging the generation gap in your church.
Blogs are a great way to share the story of various ministries in your church. Find great stories to tell. You could do this by seeing which small groups have been meeting the longest or tell the story of a seniors group that volunteers in the community together. Is there a tradition that seems strange to newcomers? Explain it in a blog post!
Social Media Series
Do a series on your social media, posting photos of members of the older generations in the church. Tell an interesting fact about that person or share how they volunteer at the church.
Ask long-time church members to share their “first time at church” experience or how they got involved with a particular ministry.You could even share about how they’ve stayed in the same church for so long!
Video is an efficient way to allow people to share their story in a way that can be heard time and time again. You can also use these interviews as the basis for blog posts and social media posts.
Create A Magazine
Another way to bridge the generation gap is to make sure the older generation knows what’s going on with the younger generations of the church. Sure, you may post on social media or have a blog on your website, but not all of your members may be accessing those platforms. Take blog posts that highlight good things that are going on with children and youth ministries and create a quick magazine or newsletter to share with those that prefer paper communications.
These are just a few ideas.There are many more, so feel free to get creative and use tools and methods that connect with your audience. As we allow our church members to share how they have connected through traditions, ministries, and experiences within the church, we open the possibilities of creating authentic connections between church members of all generations.