This is part of a blog series that has 30 practical tips for the pastor looking to start or restart well. You can get the entire series as a Kindle book. The landing page will be updated with each new post.
Sometimes being a pastor feels a bit like running for public office. Especially in that first 30-day period when people are getting to know you and every interaction feels like an awkward first date.
To some degree generational tension always exist in a local church. Almost always it is someone at the extremes, the oldest or the youngest, that feel they are being overlooked. And to be honest one of these two is overlooked. It is impossible to cater to every demographic in a church. Doesn’t mean that you don’t love these people or that they aren’t valuable it is just an organizational reality that there is always a focus regardless of whether or not it is stated.
Eventually you need to figure out the focus, but for now you have to communicate value.
I worked under a pastor who used to always carry around Pez dispensers and would give ever kid he saw on a Sunday morning a Pez. It became his thing and people started giving him dispensers expecting that he was a collector of some kind, but in reality he was just looking for a way to connect with kids. He figured out a fun way to be known by kids and express to them and their parents that he cared.
Once I coordinated these “talk back” sessions that allowed people to ask questions about the direction of the church and to express frustrations openly (and yes, it was as bad of an idea as it sounds). To better facilitate the event I broke it up into age groups going youngest to oldest. The very first comment I received at my last session with the older crowd was a sharp criticism about how I had ignored the seniors. As the final group they felt their opinions held the least value.
You can’t cater to everyone but you can express appreciation and value. Doing just that in the first 30 days will serve you extremely well for the long haul.