There are some things that just get to me.
- When I leave the Taco Bell drive through knowing, without even looking into the bag, that they have messed up my order.
- I certainly don’t like it when I end up shaking hands and it was supposed to be a fist bump. That’s just awkward.
Those are little.
What seriously gets to me is when there is a lack in how the church talks to us. Especially as a teenager in high school, I couldn’t feel more neglected by the church at times.
I would walk into a service, and I would feel like I didn’t belong. The flag people weren’t even the biggest problem, it was the fact that the clip art used for announcement slides, the sermons had no branding, just some nice title like, “Giving the Givers’ Gift” in Arial (Helvetica’s ugly cousin). Really creative. Nothing was talking to me.
We (teens) are a group who want to belong. When we step into a church, the first thing that should happen is feeling targeted and having a genuine experience:
It’s one thing to tell us we’re important, it’s another thing to show us. We can tell when you spend two minutes or two hours on an event flyer. Or if the design was by your secretary or by a real communicator/designer.
Side note: Everything matters: the colors you use, the layers you put on each other, the graphics you use or don’t use, and the way you give it to us. We can quickly tell how much you want us, by how hard you try.
If we don’t feel targeted, you lose us.
I want to be able to go into a church and have a serious experience with God. Once you’ve targeted me into coming, I have to experience something in order to both be impacted and to have that compelling reason to return.
Everyone has an experience, it’s the churches’ goal to see that experience is a great one.
There have been some things that work:
- When church logos have deeper meaning than just a picture.
- The times when churches go all out on events, they hand out illustrations, give you an experience; for example I saw a picture of a youth group that not only did a “Game Day” theme but they put fake turf on the ground put up stage lights. It looked like the real deal.
- When I’m not handed a bulletin but an illustration such as a movie ticket, 3D glasses, or anything someone can hold, and hold on to as a remembrance of what happened. I can tell you took it seriously so I take it seriously.
- When I walk in church, there’s no seats, and you just worship the whole time.
- Straight up, when you do church differently.
Side notes: Events are good, relationships are better. Anyone can have a concert, a blow up bounce house and free pizza. To be able to within that hour and a half service feel like I made friends, then you’ve got me. I’ve taken the bait.
OK, yes, I am the son of Michael Buckingham of Holy Cow Creative, so sure there are some biases, but you must understand me and my friends constantly got things in the mail that sucked and didn’t do the job well (by the way, we don’t read your emails or your postcards—send personal text messages). So please, on behalf of all teenagers, go get em’.
“Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.” -James 5:20