Last week at staff lunch Clif’s wife Laura joined us, and had a great question. How do you get in front of people of Generation-X? I’d never thought about this in-depth yet, so it immediately intrigued me, and I mulled it over a great deal last week and this weekend.

People of my generation have installed “salesperson filters” within our heads. For the most part we hate spam, direct mail pieces, and tv advertisements, and dismiss them immediately. I’m not sure about the majority, but I won’t even answer an unexpected knock at my door most of the time. If you think about it, we’re a really hard audience to reach! So how does a growing church-start get in front of Gen-X and let them know the church exists?

My wife and I discussed this and decided upon the two most effective ways of reaching us., and word of mouth and outreach.

For those looking for church, most of us will hit the Internet. This is a passive method for the church of course, because we have to be looking for church. Your church should be on the first page of results when searching for a church in the local area. From there, you need a website that reaches us, and has a primary goal to get us to show up. (There are entire books written on effective websites. Don’t Make Me Think) We will not pick up a yellow pages to look for a church. Also, make it easy for people within the church to reach out to others. Electronic invites, monthly newsletters, online conversations, etc., that we can forward on to others.

The active methods are word of mouth and outreach. Direct mail pieces will probably be thrown away as another advertisement. Don’t spam with e-mail, just don’t do it! We like person to person interaction, but beware the salesperson filter. Think of creative ways to tell them you are there and care about them. One thing my wife thought of was leaving a gift outside their door. (If you knock, we probably won’t answer the door.) Perishables are tough in the summer but use some critical thinking. Small baskets with mugs (my wife collects church mugs believe it or not), Kool-Aid or lemonade mix, candy molds / Popsicle molds, etc. This has cost limitations, but it’s that compassionate outreach we will respond to.

It sounds silly, but I’d give a church a chance if they left outside my door some beef jerky and a note of what they’re about and their Web address, because it’s outside the norm and took some creative thought. OK I may be weird, but you get the idea.

These ideas are nothing new, admittedly, but what I’d wager to say is different is the way of approaching us. Don’t go out selling the church or prodding that we should really come visit. Salesperson filter switched to ON. Go out making us aware the church cares about us, hopes we are well, and is a we can come to. Compassionate outreach. Appeal to the challenges we have with faith. It’s that difference that will touch us over missing us. Be prepared to touch us a few times too, because like most people it’s easy for us to dismiss a one time event.