Whats the first thing you do to help your church attract Gen Xers? Easy, toss
out the organ and add drums and a live band, right? Not according to Shaws Fork
Baptist Church in Aiken, South Carolina.
Four years ago, the congregation took a look around and noticed a lot of
gray-haired folks in the pews.
"There were no children at all. The church was made up mostly of people
nearing retirement," says Pastor Mark Miller. "Yet there were all these younger people moving into
So members initiated a rigorous campaign to reach out to the Gen X couples
who were becoming their neighbors in the largely rural area. But theyve only
recentlyafter several years of successful outreachbegun revamping the regular
worship service to include a mixture of both choruses and hymns.
So if they didnt use trendy, contemporary services to attract a younger
audience, how did they do it?
Small group fellowships so young people could develop friendships with each
other and older members
Targeted Bible studies that allowed young people to study together topics
relevant to their lifestyle
Home groups that helped to take the "church" out of meetings
"Just-for-fun" outings that built strong relationships
Periodic contemporary, acoustic praise and worship services, just every now
and then, to let young people know that the church was willing to be flexible
to meet their needs "What attracted my husband and me," says Susan Hilderbrand,
"was that they were so loving and so happy to see us there. I can remember one
Sunday shortly after my son, Alex, was born. He was crying, and I was trying to
get him to stop, and one of the men told me not to worrythe crying was music to
his ears because it had been so long since hed heard the sound of children in
the church. All of a sudden, Alex had 30 new grandmas and grandpas." And
conversely, 30 new grandpas and grandmas had Alex and his parents to look
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