Giving, Receiving and the Kingdom of God
"Thank You For Teaching Me"

Shifting the Focus

There is one more thing that didn't really pop into my head until I was speaking with Anne at the end of the night, and I think it's worth saying.  I'll start with a quick story.

When I arrived in Kenya, I piled into one of the vans that Edward (the pastor at City Harvest Church) was driving.  A bunch of people began asking him about his church and one person asked, "How big is your church?" .  He replied that it was actually quite small, maybe 200-250 people (City Harvest Church was planted 4 years ago).  Right after that another person asked, "But how many people does your church serve?"   Edward replied that they served a couple thousand people in their community. 
Over the course of the next few days we visited several of City Harvest's ministries, and every single one of the ministries we visited served people in their community - a free AIDS clinic, free counseling for people with AIDS, a school in the Kibera slum, AIDS support groups, microfinance initiatives, etc.  What became clearer and clearer to me was that City Harvest never organized things at their church in order to entice people to attend because they weren't focused on growing in numbers.  City Harvest was naturally growing due to their involvement in the outside community.  People they were serving in the community began attending City Harvest because City Harvest attended to them. And I think it's so important to underscore here that City Harvest wasn't serving their community with a hidden agenda to recruit people to their church.  There was natural growth within their church because they relational engaged with others while serving their community.
I tell you this story because last night there were a lot of heartfelt thoughts thrown around about what, if anything, should KC do in order to attract people in their 20s and 30s to attend KC without having to sacrifice KC's style of worship.  My suggestions are these:
1.  Don't assume that people in their 20s and 30s aren't attracted to KC's style of worship.  I was!
2.  Don't change anything about KC for the sole purpose of attracting a younger crowd.  It's important for the community to stay genuine and not try to be something it's not.   
3.  KC has been asking "How can we attract a younger crowd?"  But maybe a better question would be, "How can we serve the younger crowd in our community?"  Similar to what happened on the van in Kenya, shift the focus of the question from the inside to the outside.  Shift the focus from what KC should change on the inside of its walls, to what KC can do outside of its walls.  Find volunteer opportunities or create your own where you can engage with people in their 20s and 30s, and do it with no agenda other than to love and serve your community.  I have learned an immense amount from the KC community and know how much you have to offer - Love, time, wisdom, experiences, resources, encouragement, laughter, and a heck of a lot more.  And through all this giving of yourselves you may, like the Good Samaritan, end up receiving so much more.  A new friendship, a new insight, a new perspective, a new younger population at KC.  And even if the younger population at KC doesn't naturally grow from this outreach, I don't think there will be anything lost in serving this age group in your community.   
I hope these thoughts are helpful, and I'm more than happy to carry on this conversation...although it will have to be over email for now!


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Ken & Harriett

Great observation. Very helpful (and beautifully written!)Thanks so much.

Anne  Yenchko

I was so impressed with your thoughtfulness and deeply felt connection to KC and to us, and I wanted to respond to your comments about being in relationship with our youth and young adults. I am working harder at being a listener in relationship and I hope to be able to share that place with more young men and women like you. Thank you for your observations and cautions. They really are becoming part of my own deeper understanding of what it means to be connected to a community of worshipers at KC. Bless you on your journey to Portland and beyond. I look forward to hearing from you in your new places.

Frank Turban


I want to thank you for your insight into a question that has us scratching our heads because, as you said it, KC has much to offer with no strings attached. We may be getting older but not wiser. We need to get out of ourselves for nothing else but to be with the younger and see what they can teach us.

Sharon Setzer

Caitlin, I am so grateful for your comments about going outside of our walls to serve the 20 and 30 year olds. I am also so sad that I did not get to know you. Let us know how it is for you in Portland.

Ruth Smith

Thank you Caitlin,

Your good suggestions remind me of why I so admire Church of the Savior. The churches grow by attracting those who respond to the outrech programs AND those who want to be involved more in Outreach.
Blessings on your journey. Ruth

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