Where are the Young People... our Adult Children?
If you’re interested in the subject, a lot of books, articles and studies have been written on the subject, most of them written by people smarter than me. But here is my take on the question.
Some young people have, at least temporarily, given up on religion.
It’s a long list.
· The Church has become a tool of the political parties, both left and right, or…
· The Church is too afraid to say anything about politics and is therefore irrelevant.
· The Church has sexually abused children, and systematically covered up its abuse.
· The Church is overly concerned about money, (pastors in private jets), or...
· The Church is too impoverished to inspire.
· The Church chose its traditions over its children and young people, or...
· The Church changed my favorite translation of the bible, hymn, doctrine, or liturgy.
· The Church is too bound up in old irrelevant doctrines; or…
· The Church is so soft and mushy we don’t know what they believe anymore.
Take your pick.
Some young people have moved away from some denominations and congregations to others.
· New congregations often gear their approach specifically to younger people.
· There was a time in the last 100 years when Grace, Saint James, Saint Marks, Faith and Hope where all ‘the new young church in town.’
· There will always be the next “new young church in town” and it will always draw a significant share of young people.
· Mature churches that continue to be healthy adjust to meet the needs of the young in ways that continues to serve the needs of older generations.
Also, the services people use to get almost exclusively from the Church are now much more available from other sources, often at a higher quality: music, counseling, educational enrichment for children, entertainment, fellowship, opportunities to serve, etc.
Also, we have become sooo busy. I was born in 1964, so I’ve started longing for the ‘good old days.’ It seems to me when I was a kid, there weren’t a lot of organized activities for children outside of the public schools. We had 4H, Little League, Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts (for the city kids), a few camps (mostly church camps) and that was about it. Today and for quite a few years now, children and their families have a million great activities to choose from. These options are not a bad thing, but it means the Church is less important in the lives of children and families than it use to be.
And, despite all of the above, there are reasons to be hopeful.
The Church and its mission belong to God.
Remember…”I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints,” etc, etc. God is in charge, and Almighty God cannot fail.
The Church has often gone through periods of dramatic change.
· In the year 337, the Roman Emperor converted to Christianity… and that changed everything.
· In the year 1054, the Church split in two, East and West… and that changed everything.
· In the year 1517, Martin Luther began a protest… and that changed everything.
Some people think we are experiencing that 'once every 500 years event' that changes everything. Maybe so.
And there are things that Faith Communities (like the Church) do better than anyone else.
· Speak to the mystery of God in the context of a community.
· Teach Ethics.
· Mark transitions in life from birth to death.
· Provide genuine and enduring Christian fellowship that transcends age and place and gender and ability and social status.
Our task it seems to me is…
· To endeavor to be faithful to God.
· To keep our eyes open to the changing world around us.
· To be responsive to the needs of each new generation.
· To Trust in and Proclaim the Love, Mercy and Grace of God.
P.S. This blog and I are on sabbatical until September. Have a great summer!
©️ 2022, Pastor Bill Bernau.