Millennials @ Church: How to be found?

Part 2 in a 2-part series looking at millennials at church written by Dannielle Barry. View Part 1 – Millennials at Church: Reaching the ‘me, me, me’ generation here.

Millennials are seeking community, relationships, a sense of meaning and purpose – and as we know, all of this is answered in Christ, and in the local church. We don’t need to focus so much on reaching out, we just need to be found. 

Be prayerful 

This should be the first step to everything, it needs to be. Prayer changes things (insert applicable bible verse here). This is the first step to being authentic and practicing what we preach, it shows we are genuine and that we care. Pray for the millennials that you know, and for the millennials that are now teachers, doctors, and emerging politicians in our government. 

Be accessible 

This generation has grown up accessing the internet for information. If a millennial wants to go to church, the first thing they’ll search for is ‘churches in my area.’ Don’t worry about how flashy your website looks, just have a presence with the information they need – where the church is, what time you meet, what you have to offer.  

Additionally, being accessible can also mean being visible in the community. Run fundraisers for important causes, offer emergency relief, attend events run by others. Don’t limit the church to your physical location. 

Be inviting 

Be a church that wants to know people and make them feel welcome. Don’t wait for an ‘introducing Christianity course’, Christmas or Easter to invite someone along, be a church that is open to visitors every weekend. Treat everyone as a potential new friend, someone to ‘do life with.’ Again, don’t let the physical location of the church limit you – bring church into your week, into a coffeeshop or the dinner table or a walk along the beach. 

Be authentic 

Being authentic makes the above possible. Becoming a Christian changes your whole life, it’s not limited to church on Sunday. If you want to be a church that welcomes people, become people that welcome people. If you preach about prayer – be seen praying for one another. If you preach that God loves all his children, be people that love all his children, even those different to you. 

Be patient 

I’ve said before that important to millennials is authenticity, transparency, honesty – and these sometimes take time to notice. Don’t pressure a millennial to conform, to register for a class or immediately go onto a roster. Be patient and demonstrate all the above values, being accessible, inviting and authentic – and let the millennial settle in. With the time to ascertain if the church is a good fit, once the decision is made,  you will know you have a committed church member.

Millennials @ Church: Reaching the ‘me, me, me’ generation?

Part 1 in a 2-part series looking at millennials at church written by Dannielle Barry.

Why would a millennial join a church community? 

Who are the millennial generation? 

The millennial generation is one you mostly hear bad things about: lazy, self-entitled, ‘got too many trophies growing up’, over-confident, shallow and selfish, so different to generations before. The people in this generation seem to be delaying adulthood, marrying later and postponing becoming a parent. They appear to be jumping from career to career, searching for work life balance and questioning what a ‘normal life’ means. Time magazine calls it the ‘me, me, me’ generation. 

The millennial generation spans from 1980-2000. I was born in 1991 so at 27 I am one of them, and many of these stereotypes apply to me. I’m not yet married, and I don’t have children. I’ve moved cities in search of somewhere that ‘felt like home’. I’ve changed career direction because I lost faith and satisfaction in my work and wanted a better work life balance. I’m now pursuing graduate education in an area I’m passionate about. And most importantly for this topic – I’ve left many churches because they didn’t feel right.  

In saying this, I don’t believe I’m selfish or shallow, lazy, over-confident or self-entitled. I didn’t ask my workplace to change or cater to my needs, and I never really asked all the churches I’ve left to change either. I just kept looking until I found somewhere to fit, somewhere I could be myself, and somewhere my faith could grow. 

What interests the millennial generation? 

I believe this is the key to reaching my generation. More than any generation before millennials are looking for authenticity. Millennials are challenging the idea of normal because we accept differences; encouraging our peers to be honest, transparent and to have integrity – be your true self regardless of what anyone thinks.  

Contrary to popular belief millennials are willing to work hard, provided it’s for something they believe in. Maybe we are over-confident and self-entitled, but does that have to be a bad thing? From what I’ve seen, that over-confidence and self-entitlement mean my generation are willing to be open about wanting to live in a world that is better for everyone, advocating for human rights, sustainable living, and closing the gap for rich and poor. 

What does this mean for the church? 

So, what do these big ideas mean for our little church? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News for everyone. So, we want to reach out to millennials who now make up the bulk of the working adult population (19-40) and are becoming parents themselves, raising the next generation.  

The good news is I don’t believe we need to work hard to reach out. Millennials are seeking community, relationships, a sense of meaning and purpose – and as we know, all of this is answered in Christ, and in the local church. We don’t need to focus so much on reaching out, we just need to be found.

Finding Her Voice: The Evangelical Women in Academia Conference 2018

A Long Way to Go

You may have heard that last Friday, Dannielle Barry and I got on a plane.

Melbourne is a long way to go for a one day conference but, to quote Dr. Ellen Stofan, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

The Evangelical Women in Academia conference is a chance to see the bigger picture of the positive impact evangelical women are making in ministry, theology, and academia in Australia and around the world. It is a grace-filled, encouraging conference where we all spur each other on towards love and good deeds, whilst using our gifting for the Kingdom of God and His glory.

Her Small Voice

Currently, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines have a representation of women at 25%. In Theological disciplines, the Society of Biblical Literature has a female representation of 24%. However, in the Evangelical Theological Society, this representation drops to 6%.

The annual EWA conference was begun in 2017 by three female faculty members of Ridley Theological College in Melbourne in response to such dismal statistics.

The conference connects, inspires and develops female theological students, lecturers, tutors, and ministry practitioners in the church and the world.

Keynote speakers were Katya Covrett, Executive Editor at Zondervan Academic Publishing and Rev Dr. Katy Smith, lecturer in Old Testament at the Bible College of South Australia. Their addresses and workshops all geared towards informing and enabling women to ‘find their voice’ in writing and speaking.

Carli’s thoughts…

Having gone last year, I was ready for a day and a half of rigorous networking, conversation, and learning. I gained so much; tips on how to lay out my sermons, new insights into the world of academic writing and a serious expansion of my ‘Books-I-Need-to-Read’ list.

I’m reinvigorated to keep going in my studies and my ministry. God needs more women in Evangelical Academia — maybe even me?

Dannielle’s thoughts…

”God desires us to have life, wholeness, resting in him…he can transform our brokenness, weakness and sinfulness.” These words were spoken by Rev Dr. Katy Smith in her presentation on Genesis during the conference, and they stuck with me during the whole day.

There is something powerful about bringing women together, and in a room full of women with a passion for their faith in God, for theology, for teaching theology and making it accessible to everyone, Dr Smith’s words were spot on. God really can use our brokenness, weakness and sinfulness, and coming back from the conference refreshed and inspired, I am excited and ready to see how he might be able to use me.

Listen to Her Voice

There is something for everyone (men and women!), in the keynote addresses from the conference. You can listen here.

Prayer & Praise: Blessing & Belonging

Sunday evenings are a joy for me. At 6pm at the church there is an informal, almost organic service of prayer and praise with members of our parish. I wish to encourage you to come and be a part of it. We are always blessed – and are becoming as a community of St Nicholas. The meeting fosters a real sense of belonging. We are greatly ‘lifted in Spirit’ in our praise and worship.

When I first went, I felt this was very good. I felt the Lord was calling me to be a part of it. Personally, I find it to be exciting. Something always happens- either then or later down the track. Every week we each receive a prayer from two people, without hearing what the other person is praying. This I find exciting as I wait to receive the results of those prayers.We pray for matters of the church and also the broader community. Sometimes we pray in pairs, at other times in smaller groups. We are seeing answers to prayer on various scales: personal, for the church and the ministry of the church. Hopefully, you have heard by now about the progress with the Shire for the Historic Church and the no parking signs.

We are able to believe that the Holy Spirit will move amongst us because we see it each week. Gifts of the Holy Spirit are being used as we pray – prophecy, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, speaking in tongues and healing.

Wonderfully, the children who are coming learn to pray and be prayed for. They are learning how to listen to the Holy Spirit; to believe that they too they belong in the church community, can behave in a spiritual manner – learn how to bless others, and be blessed themselves – and to become more mature in their faith.

Seeing answers to prayer is very exciting but for me, the best part of it is going there to pray with other people.

By Glory Kitson

Prayer & Praise, 6pm at the church. All Welcome.

St Nicholas Craft Group: The Biggest Morning Tea

Last Thursday, St Nicholas’s Craft Group joined thousands of others in hosting the Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea. Over $920 was raised to help the fight against cancer!

Sixty-five members of our local community joined in to support the cause. The Australind Bridge Club provided a welcome boost to the overall amount with their generous donations.

“People seemed to enjoy themselves, the donations of cakes and savouries was excellent as usual,” said organiser Fran Craig. “We do it to help people with cancer, everybody that you speak to knows somebody who has suffered from cancer in some form or other. It’s all around us. It’s a cause close to our hearts, many of our parishioners have lost someone. Cancer does not discriminate.”

Special thanks to Stephen & Julie Lucas from Australind Post Office & Gifts and Rob Bertolli from Terry White Chemmart for their generous gifts for the door prize and raffle. Lucky attendees Val, Betty, Lois, Robyn, Pat, Judy & Geoff won the raffle spot prizes and Beryl scored the door prize.

Rev Jamie assisted with the raffle and Father Brian gave an inspiring address, “Never be negative, always be positive… with your small contribution we are all part of the ultimate solution.”

This year is the 6th year the Craft Group have hosted the event. If anyone would like to join the Craft Group you are most welcome Thursdays 10am- 12noon at the church. Bring your project and enjoy a cuppa and fellowship.

How will you follow Jesus in 2018?

As we prepare to begin another year it is a good time to reflect. I am asking some  questions . What kind of community are we going to be? What kind of community does God see us becoming?

We are a gathered community of people who meet on Sundays and in small groups through the week. We are gathered because of Jesus and many of us would say we are His disciples. How then should we live? How do we follow Him?  How do we love one another well? What does that look like? How do we handle conflict well? What does it mean to be people walking in step with His Spirit?

We have articulated some thoughts on this already:

We are a community growing in being a blessing. We understand that God has so richly blessed us and invites us to offer blessing wherever we find ourselves.

We understand that belonging to a community is good for all of us as God says many times in scripture and secular psychologists now articulate clearly. Belonging allows for blessings to flow in many directions.

What we believe about ourselves influences our actions ( Behave) I am loved by God therefore I don’t have to perform to win his approval, for example. I work from grace not work for grace.

As we live this out day by day we are becoming, God willing, the human God intended and the community that brings Him glory.

Are you someone determined to follow Jesus in 2018 in this community? I am.

Shalom Jamie

Becoming Fully Alive

Over the past two years the framework for our community life has been expressed in the following Bless, Belong, Believe, Behave. At our recent Parish Council half day we decided to add a 5th B, namely  Become. In effect this will take centre as we recognise an ongoing process in all of us both individually and as a community. The other B’s contribute holistically to this ongoing transformation.

Become what?  Julian of Norwich wrote:

The greatest honour we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.

And Irenaeus wrote

‘The glory of God is a human being fully alive.’

As we are rooted and established in God’s love we begin to grow. (Ephesians 3:16-19.) We are like a tree planted in good soil. The fruit over time is love and patience, kindness and goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  Reconnected to our creator we can become the human being God intended with our unique personalities, gifts and talents, strengths and weaknesses. In community we can complement one another and together along with other churches in the area be the body of Christ in Australind. We can become people fully alive, we can become a people who live gladly. It’s a beautiful thing!

This takes time. The rescripting of our inner life is a process. There are various components to that. A significant one is the love of Christian brothers and sisters around us.  It was only after several years of following Jesus before I truly knew deep in my soul that I was loved unconditionally by God. Being part of a wonderful Christian community, surrounded by people who loved me was a significant part of that process. To my delight people are experiencing the same thing here among us, in this community, St Nicholas. With God’s grace let’s continue to become the church He wants us to be….