One of the first books I read when I started doing some part-time study at Durham University three years ago was Don Tapscott’s Grown up digital (New York: McGraw Hill, 2009). For some reason I keep coming back to it. Perhaps that’s because, like some Old Testament prophet, he seems to be bellowing at the cloth-eared people of God, about something that should be like… DUH!
And that’s ironic, because Tapscott, as far as I know, isn’t all that interested in the church. He engaged on a $4m research project, ‘The Net Generation: a Strategic Investigation’, with over seven thousand ‘net geners’ (approximately 12-30 year olds), and comparative samples of those aged 30-41 and 42-62, in twelve countries, including the U.K. He gives some strong clues as to what attracts and equally what repels Net Geners or Generation Y.
The last thing on your Christmas list is a church council full of 27 year old rebels. So if you want to make sure you keep young adults well away, simply apply these eight principles.
Don’t be tempted to offer variety. Young adults value freedom and freedom of choice, so beware of their calls for a range of worship styles and gatherings and opportunities. They are trying to trick you into consumerism.
Value your tradition above all else. After all it has been round for a long time and has never changed, and young adults are always wanting to customise things and make them their own. Look at the way they mess with their ‘smart phones’.
Preach and teach for all you are worth, but don’t encourage disagreement or questioning.
Make sure you stay tight-lipped about the inner workings of your church. They don’t need to know what goes on behind the scenes.
Say one thing in church, do another out of church.
Take church life very seriously. Goes with out saying really. Young adults who desire fun, at work, school and in their private life, can’t expect to have that in church too.
Take your time. The church has been here for 2000 years and isn’t disappearing tomorrow.
Avoid experimentation at all costs.
So thank you Mr Tapscott for saving the church from the future.
Comments on this blog are interesting — like one way to keep people of a certain age out of church is to call them “young people.” Read more about each of the 8 ways here.
See also Daily Episcopalian: What is healthy about the Episcopal Church