Sunday Morning

Fuel a Warm Community “Warm is the new cool!”

Have you ever heard the saying, “No one cares about how much you know until they know how much you care?” There is something to this statement! May I ask… How are you showing care to others you meet here at Grace or elsewhere? We all know what it is like to feel as if no care has been shown to us. Maybe we should all work on how we show care to others.

Several things really stood out to me as I gave this chapter a read. The first is, while church structures are important, they simply are not enough. (166) The programs we put into place are not going to foster relationships. In churches growing young, warmth simply trumps programs! (167) I found it interesting to read that twice as many of the pastors used in the study as compared to young people named worship music a vital factor in church effectiveness with young people. One pastor said, “We can hire and buy cool, but we can’t hire – or fake – warmth.” (168) Young people who were a part of the Growing Young research defined the qualities of a warm church using the following words: authenticity, hospitality, caring, welcoming, accepting, and belonging. (178-179) Cultivation of warmth requires more than staffing or planning programs in order to attract young people to our worship services. (168) Also, in the Growing Young research, which included field visits and interviews, the phrase “like family” surfaced as the most common term young people used to describe their church. (169)

What comes from a warm congregation? Specifically, churches with close intergenerational relationships show higher faith maturity and vibrancy.” (179) Two of the best ways to build relationships and warmth are through mentoring and worship. (173) This means there are valuable roles for all age groups within a congregation and valuable opportunities to not just “pass down” the faith… but to also “pass around” the faith. (175)

Five questions we might assess personally and within our own church are as follows. 1. Do young people describe our congregation as relationally warm (welcoming, authentic, hospitable) overall, like a family? 2. Do we avoid relying on programs and structures alone to build warmth? 3. Does our church foster honest friendships in which struggles can authentically be shared? 4. Are we intentionally connecting the various generations within the church and supporting intergenerational relationships? 5. Do our worship gatherings feel warm and inviting to all people? (194-195) As we assess these questions and chew on this topic, we may find some bright spots and some challenge areas. I am certain that each of us has the ability to make a difference here at Grace and in the community.

Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, Brad Griffin, Growing Young (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2016).

Next month’s theme: Prioritize Young People (and Families) Everywhere. Until then… May God bless you all as you live out your call and as you fuel a warm community with one another!

Joyfully in Christ,

Serena