Friday, March 28, 2008

Ministers and accessibility and the difference between the older and younger generations

As I mentioned last week, one of the things that is important with younger generations in particular is openness and transparency. However, I noticed when visiting High Pointe that the minister's office was in the back of the offices. I thought, hmm. I would not be able to see people as they come in the offices back there, and they wouldn't be able to see me. People already have to be buzzed in to get into the church (due to the security that is needed for the Christian school). I wonder if there is another solution?

Then Kirk, our facilities manager, generously volunteered to switch offices with me so that I could be more accessible. Even though the office down the hall was a lot bigger, I really didn't care about that. I still have enough room for my most important books and to have people in that I could talk to. For Boomers and up, the other office might have worked. But for younger generations--which this church and community is filled with--it just signals distance.

Do these kinds of things make a difference? Yesterday, a young guy named James dropped by to see me and asked me to go have some coffee together. James is an upwardly mobile, young executive type who works for Ralph Lauren. A definite leader here who loves the Lord (and exhibits "cool"). The first thing that he mentioned was how he noticed that I was in the office up front (with windows) where people could drop by, and that that was great. He wanted to be able to know his ministers, and to him, that signaled an openness and desire to meet and interact with people.

You see, whether we realize it or not, everything that we do is theological (a line that I learned from my D.Min. director, Kurt Frederickson). Everything that we do sends a message.

This also points out the great need for ministers (and other church leaders) to stay up with culture, to spend time with younger people, and to listen to them. There is no excuse for ministers not at least reading about these things and continuing to learn. There also is a great need for teaching about generations and for cross-cultural learning in a church. Younger generations have grown up in a world where video, cell phones, blogging, texting, and coffee are ubiquitous. It is how they learn and function. It is why they want worship to be more interactive (like at a "supper" table?) and multi-media oriented.

Younger generations can learn from older generations the value of walking with the Lord for years. Godly wisdom. Stable families. Staying faithful to one's spouse. Getting through difficult times. And the interesting thing is, people like James want older mentors to help share some life experience. Not to criticize, but to challenge them, to encourage them, and to shed some biblical wisdom and insight.

Is it surprising to you that something like an office location or blog could be so important for younger generations?


James said...

I must confess that I have never really gotten into texting. It costs money, and email is free. But teens today and some young adults text more than they email. In fact, teens will sit around in a room and text each other--when they are in the same room.

All of us must keep up. Because the pace of technology is so fast, we each have things which will come up that seem strange. How about a sermon that is text-messaged? As current as I want to be, I have to admit this would be hard to really get into! I have to make adjustments too. I can only imagine how hard this is for those born in the 1930s . . . Makes you more sympathetic, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

I think when you are there to hear the sermon you also have the fellowship that you do not have with text-messaged. I believe that is what God intented for us to do. I am enjoying you blog.


Kirk said...

That Kirk must be a really great guy...

James said...

Birgit, there is definitely something in real human action that technology can never substitute for. Kevin (Faith's husband) called me today on my cell, which is great. We can stay in contact with one another in a lot of ways. But nothing beats a real handshake, voice, hug, or the sight and sound of human laughter.

Glad you are enjoying the blog.

James said...

That Kirk is definitely a great guy!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being open and available. I look forward to the future at High Pointe.


Anonymous said...


So much of what you do shows your accessibility and openness. Whether it is what you say here in this blog or by changing offices in order to be closer to the action, those are great signals to all who watch and listen.