Your E-mail is Under the Couch

Romans 10

Verses 14:17 But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,

A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
    telling all the good things of God!

Today, being sent is not just about a physical proximity but also about being sent via the media that people actually use.

We all rely on e-mail.  What if our reliance is misplaced, especially with large segments of our community?

I waited to hear back recently from a young adult after I sent an e-mail follow up to a telephone conversation.  I waited. I waited. A week went by. Then I reached out to her again by phone.  She had never seen my e-mail response. It happens all the time.  There was nothing wrong with her. Nothing at all.  I had chosen to send my response to a space to which she wasn’t paying attention.

Young adults use e-mail very differently than older generations. They use it at work, because they have to.  But they avoid using e-mail for communicating with each other.  There are many reasons why they don’t like e-mail – it is their parent’s medium of choice, it is slow, it takes the form of a “permanent record,” most e-mails are too long and unfocused, attachments are too often unreadable on their smartphones, etc.

UnderTheCouchWhatever reason that younger people avoid e-mail, the reality is that they do.  So when our churches choose e-mail as the main, even exclusive means of communication they are unintentionally throwing their e-mails under the couch. Half of the population in your community is likely under the age of 35.  I want to say clearly – young people aren’t looking under the couch to dig out your e-mail communications.


Read what Lifehacker has to say about e-mail.

The alternative for churches is to inquire from the young adults in their circles how they prefer to receive information from the church. Use the media that they prefer and your words have an infinitely greater chance of being heard.  The medium of choice for younger people is a moving target so there isn’t a single good answer for every circumstance. SMS, Text, FaceBoook, Twitter, Tumbler, YikYak, FaceTime and other media you and I haven’t yet heard of are all possible methods to use.  Don’t abandon e-mail, it is still used by lots of people. For the foreseeable future, church leaders who connect with young adults will frequently ask the preferences of young adults and make adjustments to their communication practices.

In Romans 10, the apostle Paul was talking about people being sent to where people actually were to communicate the gospel. Today, being sent is not just about a physical proximity but also about being sent via the media that people actually use.  God has a preference that we use the media people actually use to share the lovely news entrusted to the church.

It isn’t as hard as it seems.  You really can ask and learn from the young people you know how best to communicate with them.  Ask someone today!

Zits Comic Strip 2014-10-1

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