At the Gathering in Aberystwyth, (see previous blog post) panel members were asked to present a challenge to the churches as they think about a Church Uniting in Wales. This was Bethan’s:
Before I present my challenge to you, I want to share with you the thing I enjoy most about going to church and the thing that I feel is unique about going to church. And that is that it’s a place for me to communicate and be friends with people of all ages and all walks of life. The reason I’m telling you this is because I feel that more more people should have this opportunity, and although we as churches are all welcoming and welcome everyone, people just don’t seem to come to events or walk into churches anymore. But why is this?
How many of your churches have notices and news sheets or posters up saying that you welcome all sorts, or saying what’s on during the week? It’s really useful for people who come to church to hear the notices or get the news sheets… but what about everyone else?
So my challenge to you, as the church, is to change the way you communicate or advertise the church to none church goers.
We are bombarded these days with different ways to communicate, telephone, meeting for tea in a cafe, texting, email, facebook, twitter and blog spots, but yet churches don’t seem to make full advantage of them.
I ’m not saying that these ways of communicating should be used to evangelise as in making online ‘statuses’ of Bible quotations and praising God because, from what my friends that don’t go to church have told me, it is more likely to push people away than encourage them to come to church. It feels like its being pushed upon them and to be honest things like that make me cringe. But I would say that things like a facebook page for churches and a chance for churches to ‘tweet’ would give the space to advertise activities that are going on in the church and also give church members a place to communicate with one another, other than on a Sunday.
Blogs would also be beneficial for churches to show what has been going on and it also gives people who have an interest in writing and blogging a chance do so. But obviously if people don’t have an interest, there’s no need to force people to write one!I also think that using social media would be a good way of getting young people more involved in the church because, from my experience, it is impossible for a young person to go on a computer or smart phone without checking facebook and the church news would come up on their newsfeed!It’s a way of showing that the church is the people not the building; facebook‘s where ever gods’ people are praising!I know my challenge has been all about technology in a way, but I’d also like to challenge the leaders of the churches and organisers of events to remember why I enjoy going to church. Because whenever there’s a Synod day or big event there’s always separate activities for the children and young people, which is good in one way but in others means you lose the opportunity to communicate with people other than your peers. Why can’t activities cater for all ages? Because that’s the thing I appreciate most about church.