The church [the wide Christian church] is suffering from an absence of young people fully participating in churches. From my own experience of the Catholic, (old) Baptist, Episcopal, and even the a few non-denominational churches, suffered a loss in youth presence after the model of youth group failed after 2000’s. Youth in my families were pushed [or even dragged] to church based on the ideal that families needed “church”. Now, families don’t need “church,” they need a security of their faith…however, mainline churches have severely severed how young people see church. Church was believed to be a place of comfort, yet mainline churches pushed abstinence, fire and damnation, the shame of divorce, ignorance about homosexuality, and other issues. Thus a new congregant population arose: the friends of Jesus. These people are my age or older; they were raised one faith but failed to maintain the ideology due to family, politics, gender issues, etc, the list could go on.
It must be noted, “young adults’ never lost the faith in G-d, whether described as him or her. The creator existed, but our perspective on the creator didn’t match the theology being preached, and the church became aware. Denominations, after 2005, changed their approach…we saw churches ordain younger ministers; LGBT ministers rose in numbers; seminaries produced more publications, degrees, and scholarships; and churches were becoming more accepting of the various identities of their worshipers. And the new congregants finally found a home in these churches. These people accepted the Word as the way to live again, and wanted [or perhaps yearned] for a message that accepted them for themselves. Jesus’ message was rough and exciting; and it’s very disappointing that Gospels don’t reveal to us Jesus in his mid-20’s, but we know He dealt with some major “bs”.
Young people (whatever age you what to describe them as) determine the path of church, and thus there is a need to support them in faith formation and mentorship. Well this seems very forward, but it’s the truth. At some point, we bought into the church’s message because someone(s) encouraged us to…it’s a continuous cycle of the incarnational love Jesus Christ revealed to us. This isn’t science people; this is a community sharing faith stories and supporting one another. Young Adults in forming their identities need assurance and place of comfort, and church should be that place. Congregations no matter what size need to support their younger members in order to build the church and grow faith that compels us to love one another.
Old First, I compel you to advocate for Young Adults and aid them in their formation. The reorganization of the young adults at Old First, Young Adults 2.0 is an indication that the church is at a loss of young adults in communion, and we are suffering. We need young people (no ifs, ands or buts), if the church is prosper into the future – young people are the ones to see it through. You and I may defer on this issue, but the reality is when we die, who leads the church?
The first Young Adults 2.0 meeting is at 2nd Story Brewery via 2nd St on April 30th at 8p. For more information, contact John O. : firstname.lastname@example.org
John Owens, Program Assistant at Old First Reformed UCC