A grandma of one of the confirmation students came into the office today. She’s a rocking grandma (well all grandmas rock, but this 1 is particularly cool). Recently she was talking to her grandson who had just arrived home from going with a pal from another church’s mission trip to Duluth. She asked him, doesn’t our church have anything like that, though?
He said he’s never heard of anything – no, he was pretty sure we don’t have anything like that.
Okaaayyyyy – I’ve only spent most of my hours since March trying to line up summer stuff (events, trips, serving opps, whatevs) for my families and here’s where it always always always falls apart. We’ve got a wordpress. A twitter. A flickr. I send out tons of Constant Contact emails (probably more than i should, but their templates are too fun and i love being able to spy on who has opened what and when…). We have a Remind text-blast system. We have a closed Facebook group. I put announcements in the church bulletin each week. Short of going door-to-door, sky writing, carrier pigeons, or phone banking (please God don’t ever make me phone bank again, yuck), in my opinion, it’s very difficult to not know what’s going on.
But my lament doesn’t count. It doesn’t matter, because here’s a family i was called to serve and for any number of reasons, they aren’t getting my notices. No email template will make a difference here. Whatever fonts i chose and pictures i selected matter. Reality is, this kid didn’t get the note – and he’s not connected.
You know, so of course i pull up the family’s email to make sure they’re on our list and then check their history (yes they are on the mail list and yes they’ve been sent tons of emails the last 2 years we’ve been e-blasting) – and most have not been opened, but some were. Tried to explain to grandma – this is life now. I fully know i’m one of MANY pieces of communication that family receives, and … if they choose not to worship with us (where they would probably see this stuff in the bulletin) and choose not to communicate with me… well…?
Every youth worker knows what i’m talking about. She wasn’t exactly mad or accusatory – but it calls into question a lot of things. I get a paycheck every two weeks, and sometimes i have to be honest – i worry someone’s going to be like, dude, there’s nothing going on for youth here… Even tho i plan so much stuff. What do we pay her for? [I am being super vulnerable to admit that, but it comes with due cause – I was laid off once and left 2 churches in part because of finances.)
I told grandma – times have changed. These families today have at least 3 awesome valuable offers for every night of the week (not counting reality tv – which i really miss, because Wednesday nights are usually good show). I don’t fault the families for not staying connected – they want to do everything! It’s not because kids are stomping their feet saying they hate church and don’t want to go. Most of the time its because the schedule is over-crowded and something had to give. And we are Lutheran so there’s that stupid grace flag flying over the whole thing and messing up my chance to be law! (That was a joke – if you think i’m saying grace is stupid, you don’t read this blog very regularly). And the missing piece? Her grandson never made any friends at our church, so why would he want to be connected?
He had a connection to a friend at another church, and i didn’t exactly earn my paycheck when i chose to rejoice with her instead that he found a church that was fun, a friend to go with, and had a transformational experience on a mission trip. I know the youth director at the at other church. They are much bigger than us, have had a lot more stability in staffing than we have had, and their ministry has a ton going on, bearing fruit. Part of me wanted to say, please encourage him to switch to over there – friends make all the difference. I can’t give him friends here.
Ready to launch another ministry year (i hate the “launch” concept – that’s another blog post tho), and it’s my expectation that we’ll do better at connecting students this time around. Lessen the excuses: “We have students from close 40+ schools going here, but no more than 3 at any school…” “Parents are to blame, they lost the priority of Church!” “Sports took over the world…”
Nah, i want to just keep kicking at the gates of hell and say – no matter what I’m here to serve and i want these students to affirm their faith loudly. Let’s do it!