We are a couple months into our empathy talks and have learned so much already! Our goal in these discussions is simple, yet significant. We want to hear:
The feedback has been fascinating and instructive! Below we summarize what we have heard from our teens and from folks in their 30’s - 40’s…
We learned that our teens are looking for:
We learned that our folks in their 30’s - 40’s are looking for:
These conversations offer a glimpse into how teens and folks in their 30’s - 40’s experience our church – the challenges and opportunities they perceive at UCC Medfield – as well as a glimpse into what will make UCC Medfield a place where everyone follows Jesus together.
We will be holding conversations with folks in their 20’s and with folks 50+ in late May and or early June. Stay tuned for more updates. We are excited to hear from all ages – stay tuned for updates through the summer!
This week a friend sent me a blog by Holley Gerth entitled “Your Generation Is Needed Here.” It’s a story that contains important Growing Young Together wisdom for those that are older, those in the middle and those that are young. I love the idea that together “we can be a glorious timeline of God’s love.” Enjoy the story below!
"I’m attending a tea party in the Fellowship Hall of a small town church about an hour from my home. This is where my parents had their wedding reception, where my grandparents had their fiftieth anniversary party, where my great-grandparents held hands in the pews.
Today the tables are covered in white linen and each place setting includes a vintage china cup, the kind that tempts you to stick your pinky out when you drink from it." Continue reading...
One of the areas that our church-wide assessment shows that we need to address is called “empathy today.” It is one of the six characteristics that thriving churches are good at, and we want to be good at it too! Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The Growing Young Together team has been working to learn more about how to design opportunities for high students, young adults, middle-aged adults, and older adults to create genuine empathetic connections across generations. Empathy joins others in their experience. It is what the old invitation to “walk a mile in my shoes” is all about.
Nurse researcher Theresa Weisman talks about “perspective taking” as one of the important qualities of empathy. Empathy begins with listening. Perspective taking requires the listener to connect with what the other person is experiencing by being brave enough to listen and FEEL what the other person is feeling. It’s not fixing, it’s not telling a story that relates, it’s simply saying something like, “Wow, I didn’t know that’s what you were going through. That is hard.”
The Growing Young Together team is hosting several opportunities to listen to:
1) high school students 2) folks in their 20s 3) folks in their 30s 4) folks 40 and up. Each of these Empathy Talks is designed to hear the perspectives, share the hopes, and feel the fear and frustration with these generations as we grow young together.
Stay tuned for more details - we hope you come and connect!
Growing Young Together is all about embracing young people! Come this Sunday (both at the 9:30 am and 11 am services) to embrace our confirmands as they join our church.
ATTENTION 30/40 SOMETHINGS AT UCC MEDFIELD! you are INVITED to the First gyt gathering on sunday, may 6 after the 9:30 am service.
An invitation to UCC Medfield's 30/40 Somethings!
The Growing Young Together Team we’ll be hosting their first in a series of gatherings on Sunday, May 6 after the 9:30 am service. We invite the 30/40 Somethings of our congregation to join us for Brunch and a discussion in the Parlor. We will be providing some answers to questions about what Growing Young Together is about and why we are excited about the work we are doing.
Children's programming and nursery care will be provided during this 1 hour meeting.
Please RSVP so we can plan accordingly.
Liz Lisciandra, Karen Munn, and Wendy Ludwig
Some things in our church have incorporated Growing Young Together ideas for a long time. The Maundy Thursday evening worship service is a good example of that. Every year we reenact the desertion of Jesus' disciples. We are always looking for a diversity of ages to represent the disciples. This year we have some amazing elementary school students, middle school students, high school students, and even adults! What a blessing to have all these participants having an inter-generational touch-point during Holy Week. Thank you to all who have volunteered!
The Growing Young Together (GYT) team had a busy and productive trip to Fuller Youth Institute where we refined our mission statement to “revitalize our church by embracing young people,” and mapped out a concrete plan for next steps.
We brainstormed a list of all of the GYT initiatives that have been implemented to date at UCC Medfield. The list surprised some of us on the team, so we know there were probably many in the congregation that will be surprised by the list as well. Included in the list are steps that were started by the GYT team. But, we want to highlight that many of the actions taken were initiated by others in the church within their existing ministries. Some examples are:
We also reaffirmed the need to continue to focus on our weakest area of the survey and began to map out a practical strategy to begin the process of building empathy across generations. We are going to stop trying to understand millennials (and Gen X, Y, Z, etc.) Instead, we’ll be hosting a series of gatherings targeting teens, young adults in their 20s, and 30-40 somethings, in an effort to get to know real people as opposed to broad demographics and to ask about their hopes and dreams for our church. In addition, we will be hosting a series of book discussions on “Who Stole My Church: What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century” by Gordon MacDonald for those who might be feeling left behind. Details will be coming soon.
As Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” We encourage you to look for ways to engage people from all ages in your ministries, events, and in your daily interactions.
Nor’easters wreak havoc on travel plans. The Growing Young Together (GYT) team has the second seminar at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA today and tomorrow, 3/8-9. Wendy Ludwig, Arturo, and I were able to get earlier flights and are enjoying the 75 degree weather in Pasadena. We couldn’t risk missing this important seminar. Fortunately, the rest of the team was able join us, as scheduled, yesterday.
The leaders of the GYT seminar will present some material, but most of the time the eight of us will work together with our coach and other churches attending the seminar. Our goal is to find ways that UCC Medfield can change to do a better job connecting younger age groups - 40 and under - with Jesus, as well as integrating them more fully into our church so that we are truly intergenerational. The more connected the generations are, the healthier the church, and the more we can “Love and worship God and love and serve others as Spirit filled disciples of Jesus Christ.”
We are all excited about both the challenges and opportunities that lie before us, and we covet your prayers for our time here. We look forward to what lies ahead and how the Holy Spirit will lead all of us—the congregation and the cohort—as we discern God’s will together!
- Pastor Phil
This past Sunday, Pastor Phil and Pastor Karen met with our high schoolers to discuss their experience at our worship services. The Deacons were also represented at the meeting to hear the feedback from the high school group. The high schoolers were given a special invitation/challenge to attend worship for a month prior to their meeting with the pastors. They had a very thoughtful and productive conversation and we look forward to further discussions!
Members of the Growing Young Together Team, Pastor Phil, Pastor Karen, Arturo Rodriguez, Liz Lisciandra, Wendy Ludwig, Tim O'Loughlin, Jen Carlson, and Cian Savoy, will be traveling to The Fuller Youth Institute in California on Wednesday, March 7 for their next Growing Young Cohort. Please keep them in your prayers as they journey west! We look forward to hearing what they've learned and the next steps we will take in our Growing Young Together initiative.
We had a great turnout at the three listening conversations held over the past few weeks. There were a lot of important questions asked and thoughtful suggestions made. One suggestion we heard from several people is that the Growing Young Together (GYT) team should communicate regularly about what we are working on. So, we are starting with this update and plan to continue these updates throughout this journey!
As many of you know, the Growing Young research identifies six traits that thriving churches exhibit. The Growing Young survey was designed to measure our church’s success along these traits. Based on recommendations from The Fuller Youth Institute, we started this process by listening. We conducted 50+ one-on-one interviews with members of the congregation. We continued to listen at the recent listening conversation meetings that were held on February 5 and 11. We have taken time to study the results of the Growing Young survey, which was completed by 185 church members.
The Fuller Youth Institute suggests that we focus on our church’s weakest characteristics and use the data we’ve gathered from the listening phase and start doing some experiments and making some small changes. Our congregation scored lowest in the “empathy today” and “keychain leadership” traits. We chose to start with “Empathy today.” The word empathy refers to the work you do to understand people. The characteristic of empathy today is defined as the practice of habitually “stepping into the shoes” of young people, and meeting people where they are, without judgement. (Young people being all those under age 40.)
You may have already noticed some small changes taking place! We invited youth to serve as lay readers in worship and incorporated their help in planning the intergenerational worship service. We expanded the Knitting for Others ministry to include some children interested in learning how to knit. The Missions team added a high school student to their team. We held a Pizza and Game Night for everyone who wanted to come (we had 55 people!) We also asked Senior High Fellowship students to attend worship for one month and then meet with the Pastors to ask questions and to provide feedback on the worship services.
In January, The Growing Young Together team expanded to include a total of 14 members. Led by Pastor Phil and Wendy Ludwig, team members include Pastor Karen, Arturo Rodriguez, Liz Lisciandra, Jen Carlson, Tim O’Loughlin, Cian Savoy, Heidi Willson, Christi Barney, Susan Holbrook, Adam Krauss, Jean Mineo, and Carrie Quinlan. We made these additions to broaden the representation and reach of the team. We have been meeting regularly every 2-3 weeks since September.