Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 16, 2014

'The old faithful'

Some area churches struggling to draw young people to their congregations

(Continued)

Blevins turned the neighborhood around her church into a Neighborhood of Hope with the help of Pastor Jeff Newton, also executive director at Kokomo Urban Outreach.

She’s trying to engage her community as much as she can.

On Sunday nights, she hosts community meals at the church. It started with a hot dog cookout that brought in 17 people. Now, anywhere from 55 to 75 people come for meals weekly.

They also have crafts and games for children.

The people it brings in are all different, both socially and economically, she said.

Some of them ultimately choose to become members of the church. At least eight people have joined since coming to the meals.

Some are in that 18 to 35 demographic.

It’s not enough to make a huge difference if you’re crunching numbers, Blevins said. But to her, it’s a victory.

“It’s not just about numbers on a page,” she said.

Blevins said because there aren’t 1,000 members in her flock, she knows most of them personally. They’re like family.

That’s what drew one young man to her church, she said. He felt bullied and ostracized at his previous church home but was welcomed at Main Street.

“The big churches may speak to the volumes,” she said. “But this young man felt safe here.”

The ultimate goal is to reach people and deliver the word of God to them. Sometimes that’s in the pews at church, and sometimes that’s out in the street.

If church attendance dwindles further, Blevins said her congregation will have to find new ways to minister to people.

She will never stop delivering the good news, though.

“The pathway may just look a little different,” she said.

Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune Life & Style editor, can be reached at 765-454-8585, at lindsey.ziliak@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @LindseyZiliak.

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