Photo Credit: video grab from a Diocese of Barbados / Caritech Solutions live stream
[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] Churches need to do things differently, using social networks and technology to draw the younger generation back to church, according to the Bishop of Barbados, Michael Maxwell, who said there was a significant age gap in many congregations.
Speaking at a lunchtime lecture in St Mary’s Anglican Church, Bridgetown, the Bishop said he had seen the demographic in the church change over the years with many more mature people now attending and a gap of those aged between 15 to 25.
Addressing the theme of the church as an oasis in the city, he said: “The Church as an oasis is not to be a place that is dry and has nothing to offer for life, but rather it is to be one to which persons can turn, maybe even unexpectedly and find the living water to be refreshed and find the sustenance and strength to overcome the wilderness experiences in life.”
Bishop Michael said that Anglicans might have to do things differently in order to gain and hold people’s attention in a changing world. “They [young people] don’t just want to come to church, receive a word and go back home,” he said. “They want to share what they are going through and hope to get a response that will help them.”
According to the Bishop, the church has a responsibility to be the space where people could come to find and encounter the presence of Christ.
Encouraging the church to look at new ways of approaching young people, he said: “We need to find more informal ways of offering the spiritual wisdom needed to meet the challenges and issues they face either in their homes, in their workplaces or in their relationships.”
He advocated programs for mentoring via the use of technology and social networks, saying it would enhance communication and enable them to stay in touch and connected with the church.
Bishop Michael Maxwell became the 14th Bishop of Anglican Diocese of Barbados earlier this year. He shared with the congregation how he had been active in a thriving church group and that one of the reasons he went to study theology was because he believed God was calling him to reach out to people between the ages of 25 and 40.